Grow Native! Professional Conference 2020

We are excited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Grow Native! program and host the virtual 2020 Grow Native! Professional Member Conference! We hope you will enjoy the lineup of fantastic speakers and topics this year.


8:30-8:40 a.m.

Welcome from Ronda Burnett, Grow Native! Committee Chair, and Carol Davit, Executive Director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation

8:40-9:40 a.m.

Keynote Presentation and Q&A: Soil Carbon Dynamics in Restored Prairie and Native Grassland Plantings by Dr. Sara Baer

Dr. Sara Baer, Director of the Kansas Biological Survey, will provide an overview of soil and organic matter dynamics and how to increase carbon storage via native plantings. Dr. Baer will also share her research on local ecotypes.

Landscape Architect PDHs and International Society of Arboriculture CEUs available: 1 Landscape Architect, 1 Certified Arborist, 1 BCMA – Science. 

9:40-9:55 a.m.

2020 Grow Native! Ambassador Award Recognition

9:55-10:55 a.m.

Presentation and Q&A: Landscaping with Native Trees: Species Selection, Maintenance, & Ecological Benefits by Mary Nemecek and Matt Arndt

Learn from Burroughs Audubon President Mary Nemecek and Certified Arborist and Consulting Forester Matt Arndt about selecting the right native tree for the right space, tree care, and the importance of woody species as host plants for a wide variety of insects, which in turn support birds and other cherished wildlife. A selection of both canopy and understory native trees for various growing conditions and landscape applications will be shared, as well as considerations for tree selection in terms of ecological benefits.

Landscape Architect PDHs and International Society of Arboriculture CEUs available: 1 Landscape Architect, 1 Certified Arborist, 1 BCMA – Management. 

10:55-11:05 a.m.


11:05-11:45 a.m.

Presentation and Q&A: Native Landscapes for Municipalities: Challenges and Opportunities by Chuck Caverly and Doug Bauer

Doug Bauer, President of DJM, and Chuck Caverly, Native Landscape Solutions and City of Maryland Heights councilmember, will share case studies of native landscaping projects for municipalities, and share the perspective of a city official in the St. Louis area. They will explain the challenges associated with projects, opportunities they have seen, and goals for future projects in municipalities.

Landscape Architect PDHs and International Society of Arboriculture CEUs available: .5 Landscape Architect, .75 Certified Arborist, .75 Municipal Specialist, .75 BCMA – Management. 

11:45-12:10 p.m.

Grow Native! Updates by Carol Davit, MPF Executive Director: New Strategic Plan and Certification Test 

Free for Grow Native! professional members and their staff, and Missouri Prairie Foundation members, $30 for nonmembers.
Not a member yet? Individuals can become members of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, and native plant businesses can become Grow Native! professional members.

Speaker Bios


Dr. Sarah Baer

Sara Baer is currently the director of the Kansas Biological Survey, the State Biologist for Kansas and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas. Her undergraduate degree is in biology from the University of North Texas (1992) and her Master’s degree is in entomology from the University of Georgia (1995). She completed her PhD in biology at Kansas State University (2001), where she began and now leads the restoration focus of the Konza Prairie Long Term Ecological Research program. She was a professor of plant biology at Southern Illinois University for eighteen years prior to moving to KU. Her academic interests include restoration, ecosystem, and soil ecology. Her research uses manipulative approaches and natural variation in managed systems to address theoretical and applied questions about factors influencing plant community, soil, and ecosystem change during ecological restoration, primarily in grassland.

Mary Nemecek

Mary Nemecek is an avid conservationist and birder. She serves as the conservation chair for Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater KC, on the steering committee for KC Wildlands, board member of the Missouri Parks Association and a member of the Missouri Bird Records Committee. In 2015 Mary was instrumental in securing a $229,000 grant for increasing monarch habitat in the Kansas City area.  She has worked with partners on assuring the permanent protection of Snowball Hill and the Dr. Harry and Mrs. Lina Berrier Memorial Conservation Area (formerly South Fork) prairies near KC and the restoration of Shirling Sanctuary, a remnant, bottomland forest in Kansas City’s urban core.  You can read her articles for Grow Native! in Conservation Federation, a publication of the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

Matt Arndt

Matt Arndt is a consulting forester and arborist, and is the owner of Matt’s Healthy Woods & Wildlife. He carries certifications from both the Society of American Foresters and the International Society of Arboriculture. In addition to his full-time forestry work, Matt also has side businesses in native seed production and custom web development. He has served as President of the Missouri Consulting Foresters Association since 2013, and is the vice-chair of the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force. He also serves on the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the NRCS State Technical Committee, the Missouri Farm Bureau Forestry Advisory Committee, and the Cameron Park Board.


Charles “Chuck” Caverly

Charles “Chuck” Caverly has over 30 years experience in the landscape design, maintenance and native plant industry. Chuck joined Native Landscaping Solutions in July of 2014 bringing to the team both native and horticulture industry plant material and operational knowledge coupled with planning and zoning municipal experiences. Chuck has created numerous residential and commercial landscape design projects integrating native plants, hardscape materials, and site drainage. Through his municipal experiences, Chuck has participated in comprehensive plan development, strategic area management plan for the Howard Bend Levee District, Great Streets Initiative, and has become an active board member with the St. Louis County Municipal League in addition to being a board member of the Missouri Municipal League.


Doug Bauer

Doug is president of DJM Ecological Services, Inc. & Pure Air Natives, Inc., a pair of companies dedicated to the furtherance of native plants in the urban landscape. He has project experience throughout the Midwest and has completed engagements with clients across many business and government sectors. His specific skill set involves developing, installing & maintaining naturalized plantings in environments that aren’t so natural—think bioswales, rain gardens, green roofs, permitted stormwater facilities, levees, urban park districts, and corporate campuses.

Doug has degrees from the University of Illinois & University of Chicago, and has spent the past couple months splitting his time between multiple green roofs in Clayton, MO, a series of mitigation plantings on islands in Pool 12 of the Upper Mississippi River near Dubuque, IA, and various urban redevelopment projects in St Louis and Kansas City. Doug is married (Aubrey) has two daughters, Harper & Blaine and a son, Oliver.



Ronda Burnett

Ronda is the chair of the Grow Native! committee. She has been a Community Conservation Planner with the Missouri Department of Conservation since 2005. She helps communities connect to nature and enjoy the enhanced quality of life made possible by healthy fish, forest, and wildlife resources. Ronda holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University and a Master of Urban, Environmental, and Land Use Planning from the University of Kansas.


Carol Davit

Carol Davit is the Executive Director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, overseeing all operations of this conservation organization and land trust, including its Grow Native! program. Davit has worked for 20 years in the conservation and environmental fields in communications, development, administration, and leadership capacities. She has worked for private, nonprofit conservation groups and at the municipal and state government levels.