Grow Native! Professional Conference 2020

Conference Agenda

In-person location: MU General Services Bldg., Room 194, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
Virtual location: Zoom

9:00-9:30 a.m.

Networking, visit exhibitors

9:30-9:45 a.m.

Welcome from Grow Native! Committee Chair Ronda Burnett

9:45-10:45 a.m.

Keynote: Observations over a 30-year Native Landscaping Career
Scott Woodbury

Over his 30-year career as the Whitmire Wildflower Garden manager at Shaw Nature Reserve, Scott Woodbury both witnessed, and fostered, a growing interest in landscaping with native plants at this premier native plant garden. In his keynote presentation, Scott will share both insightful observations and practical advice on native landscaping trends he has noted, and helped inspire, and how native landscape professionals can grow the industry over the next 30 years.


11:15 a.m.

Integrating Natives in Foodscaping (speaker will be virtual)

Presenter: Matt Lebon, owner of Custom Foodscaping


11:30 a.m.


11:30 a.m.-

12:15 p.m.

Stormwater Tax Credit Programs/Panel

Presenters: Ian Fannin-Hughes, Water Quality Specialist for the Johnson County, Kansas Stormwater Management Program, speaking about the county’s Contain the Rain program, and Jenna Jarvis, with St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District, speaking about the MSD rainscaping program and the MS4 permit. Followed by panel with both speakers and attendee questions.


12:25 p.m.

2022 Grow Native! Ambassador Award Recognition

12:25-1:30 p.m.

Lunch, networking, visit exhibitors

1:30-2:30 p.m.

Chemical Use, Native Plants, and Consumer Expectations

Presenter: Marie Blankenship, Life Scientist with the Tanks, Toxics and Pesticides Branch at EPA Region 7 in Lenexa, KS

2:30-2:45 p.m.

Natives & the Missouri Bumble Bee Atlas

Presenter: Bill White, retired Missouri Department of Conservation Biologist

2:45-3:30 p.m.

Balancing supply & demand of native plants
and expanding the native seed supply

Presenters: Trevor Bennett, professional member of the Missouri Native Seed Association; Mervin Wallace, owner, Missouri Wildflowers Nursery; and Bill White, retired MDC Biologist

In-person event (MU General Services Building, Rooms 194A&B, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri) $20 per person for Grow Native! professional members (and their staff).
Virtual event free for Grow Native! professional members and Missouri Prairie Foundation members, $30 for nonmembers. Admission to the in-person event includes a boxed lunch. REGISTRATION FOR THIS EVENT HAS NOW CLOSED.




Not a member yet? Individuals can become members of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, and native plant businesses can become Grow Native! professional members.

For native plant professionals wishing to become new Grow Native! professional members, your $30 conference registration fee will be deducted from your 2023 membership fee. Please contact for details.

Speaker Bios


Scott Woodbury

Scott Woodbury

Scott Woodbury was the horticulturist at Shaw Nature Reserve for 30 years and stepped down from that position in June 2022. He continues to work on contract for Shaw Nature Reserve to carry out native landscaping education, and has launched his own business called Cacalia: Native Garden Design and Wilding.


Trevor Bennett

Trevor Bennett is a project ecologist for DJM Ecological and the inventory manager for Pure Air Natives in St. Louis, MO. During the summer months he is involved with timber inventory and Floristic Quality Assessments as an International Society of Arborists certified arborist and cruiser for the United States Forest Service. During the winter he assumes the role with Pure Air, planning and executing the harvest of their native crops from wild sources and production areas. Trevor facilitates the creation of finished products as the head of seed cleaning and testing. He is also a professional member of the Missouri Native Seed Association.


Marie Blankenship

Marie Blankenship is a Life Scientist with the Tanks, Toxics and Pesticides Branch at EPA Region 7 in Lenexa, KS. She has been with EPA for almost four years and has served as the FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) Project Officer for Iowa, and Pollinator Protection Coordinator, Water Quality Coordinator, Endangered Species Coordinator, and Agricultural Integrated Pest Management Coordinator for the region. Prior to working at the EPA, Marie was employed by the University of Kansas, Environment, Health and Safety Department as a Laboratory Safety Inspection Manager for four years. Marie also worked at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Pesticide and Fertilizer Program as the Enforcement Section Chief for three years. She is a Registered Environmental Manager and Certified Environmental Scientist.


Ian Fannin-Hughes

Ian Fannin-Hughes is the Water Quality Specialist for the Johnson County, Kansas, Stormwater Management Program, managing environmental compliance, education, outreach and project planning efforts. Ian has previously worked in water resource management for the City of Overland Park, KS, as a water regulator for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and as a ecotoxicologist in private industry. Ian holds two Bachelors of Science degrees in Geography and Environmental Science from Kansas State University. He also holds a Professional Science Masters in Environmental Assessment from the University of Kansas where he studied green infrastructure and community resilience planning. He has over a decade of experience in planning, conserving, and restoring native plant ecosystems throughout Kansas. Ian is a father to two young kids, a disability advocate, chaotic urban gardener, and a pawpaw lover.



Jenna Jarvis

Jenna Jarvis graduated with a degree in Environmental Engineering from Missouri S&T in December 2009, and began working in Indianapolis, IN at AECOM for 7 years. She was a Wastewater Engineer at AECOM that inspected vacuum sewer installation, gravity sewer installation, and performed construction management duties on a multi-million dollar CSO Storage and Conveyance deep rock tunnel project for five years.
In 2017, Jenna began working at the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District in the Tunnels and Facilities Construction Management group. She then transitioned into her new role as Green Infrastructure Manager in January 2022. MSD’s Green Infrastructure program provides Large Scale Grants to businesses, churches, schools, developments, and non-profits for eligible rainscaping technologies, and Small Scale Grants to residents for rain gardens.


Matt Lebon

Matt Lebon, owner of Custom Foodscaping, is most passionate about creating magical food moments. He is driven by the belief that food connects us all. By cultivating food crops with a reverence for Mother Earth he believes we can begin to heal our bodies and the land. Matt got his start with farming as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, where he was initially bit by the gardening bug. He went on to study ecological design and work on several farms. For five seasons Matt worked at the EarthDance Organic Farm School until he left his role of farm manager in 2017. Now with Custom Foodscaping, Matt is a practitioner and designer of edible landscapes and gardens.


Mervin Wallace

Mervin Wallace, Brazito, MO, has been in the business of propagating and selling plants of Missouri genetic origin for more than 30 years. Through the years Mervin has also grown into his well-qualified role of educator. His Missouri Wildflowers Nursery catalog has become a handbook for beginning and longtime native plant gardeners.

Mervin has earned the respect of his naturalist peers and has given us more access to some very fine plants and the knowledge to grow them well.



Bill White

Bill White retired from the Missouri Department of Conservation effective November 1, after almost 35 years with the Department, working in the private lands and community conservation arenas. He has been instrumental in the emphasis on native plants in many state and federal landowner cost-share programs. In 2000, Bill worked with partners such as the University of Missouri, Quail Forever and the Xerces Society to bring the Bumble Bee ATLAS to Missouri to help learn what bumble bee species we still have in Missouri and what their habitat preferences have been. As a result over 150 volunteers have contributed to the ATLAS database in Missouri. Bill has surveyed over 300 bumble bees in Missouri and Nebraska. Bill is the recipient of the 2022 Grow Native! Native Plant Protector Award.


Ronda Burnett

Ronda Burnett 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.

Photos at top of page by Mervin Wallace except: second from left by Carol Davit and third from left by Scott Woodbury.

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