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Lexy Baird

Lexy Baird is a queer cultivator and creator of foods. She has been an avid home baker and cook since 2014. As a graduate from the Masters of Food Studies program at Chatham University, Lexy has found passion in creating community through cooking. Her workshops bring forward preservation knowledge and a focus on the senses we use in the kitchen. Professionally, she works as a Sustainable Gardener and does everything from starting seeds, to growing produce and preserving it.

Philip Bauerle

Philip Bauerle is a Plant Healthcare Technician with Davey Tree Care Expert Company. Before his current position, he worked as a landscape technician and member of the Plant Healthcare Team with Eichenlaub, Inc. He has also served as the Interim Master Gardener Coordinator with the Allegheny County Penn State Extension, where he organized volunteer projects and provided horticulture education. He holds a Bachelor of Art in biology from the College of Wooster.

Joshua Beblo

Joshua Beblo holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Education from Duquesne University. He has taught various courses in the landscape architecture programs at Penn State University and Chatham University, frequently on landscape design history, planting design and plant identification. In addition, he consults on private and public design projects for planting design and gives garden lectures at numerous organizations.

Polly Berginc

Polly Berginc is an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD), a manager certified Master Florist, a certified floral evaluator/judge, and is currently a floral instructor for the Floral Design Certificate program at Phipps Conservatory. Her 35-year career includes; former shop owner, national design and workshop presenter, award recipient, special event designer and floral instructor. She has participated and led design teams at the Philadelphia Flower Show for the past several years. She has also represented AIFD while working at the White House on the floral design team during the Christmas holiday season. She is an active member in a garden club and enjoys growing flowers in her home gardens for her design work. Polly is currently a freelance designer, floral instructor and serves on the Board of Trustees for the AIFD Foundation as the NE chapter representative and scholarship liaison. Her passion is to continue inspiring and mentoring others to promote the field of floral design artistry. 

Dan Brockett

Dan Brockett has been creating handwoven baskets from willow grown on his 12-acre property, Foggy Blossom Farm, in Leechburg, PA. He is a self-taught weaver focused on sharing the sustainability, functionality and natural beauty of his material. He currently teaches basketry workshops in Pittsburgh and throughout the United States.

Erika Bruce

Erika Bruce developed a love for baking when she went to culinary school over 25 years ago. After working with many bakeries and restaurants, she went on to develop recipes for Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, and currently works for Milk Street Magazine and TV. In 2020, she started her online baking business, Le Beau Gateau, specializing in European-inspired cakes and pastries. Coming soon to Garfield, Erika, along with Beth Taylor and Chloe Newman, is the co-founders of Third Space Bakery and Teaching Kitchen.

Kosta Buonos

Kosta Buonos is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a master's degree in agricultural education and a bachelor's degree in landscape contracting with a minor in horticulture. He has almost 30 years of experience in the landscape industry and is currently the owner of Green Creations Landscape Services LLC where he and his team focus on sustainable design and land care.

Braley Burke

Braley Burke is the Integrated Pest Management specialist at Phipps Conservatory. Her work focuses on how to sustainably manage pests and promote beneficial insects. She has a Bachelor of Science in environmental protection and a Master of Science in entomology from West Virginia University.

Laken Burns

Laken Burns is a Display and Edibles Horticulturist at Phipps Conservatory. Also known as Farmer Burns, Laken grows produce in the Edible Garden, the hydroponic greenhouse and cares for two display rooms in the Conservatory. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture for horticulture from West Virginia University and was the editorial intern for the American Horticultural Society in 2019.

Kaitlyn Caramela

Kaitlyn Caramela is the owner and head designer of Steel City Florals. She has been in the green industry for almost 10 years doing a variety of work in landscaping, floral design, teaching, curriculum planning and volunteer work. She earned her Horticultural Technology Certificate from Bidwell Training Center, as well as being self-taught. Kaitlyn has been a floral design instructor at Phipps Conservatory for several years and enjoys teaching about color theory and modern floral design construction.

Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen started PetalVision Glass in 2016, which transforms flora and fauna into glass designs that can be gifted and worn proudly. After moving to Pittsburgh in 2015 and working under local artists, she her own studio practice full-time. Currently, Sarah’s work focuses on nature and the effects of consumerism with the use of glass mosaics.

Drew Cranisky

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and graduate of Chatham University's Master Food Studies program. Drew also launched Drew's Clues, a trivia and entertainment company in the Pittsburgh area. When he’s not writing trivia, you’ll probably find Drew bartending, record shopping or working on a cat-themed jigsaw puzzle.  

Katy DeMent

Katy DeMent is a self-taught working studio artist and organic gardener who creates her art from plants and found objects. DeMent uses handmade recycled paper as a gateway to the many sustainable aspects of art making, creating stronger connections with the environment. No materials are arbitrary as each piece she creates tells a story with layers of vintage ephemera on bits of cloth held together with handmade papers crafted from fibers she collects and grows.

Melissa Fabian

Melissa Fabian is in her ninth year as an instructor for the Phipps Botanical Illustration Certificate program. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Education in art education and has taught middle and high school students art for 35 years. She is the co-founder of an art group, 3Rivers Botanical and Nature Artists. Melissa has juried and curated many botanical and nature art exhibits and sells her own nature themed artworks.

Leslie Fehling

Leslie Fehling is a watercolor artist, instructor and art blogger, who has taught painting workshops in the United States and abroad since 2014. Her illustrated watercolor journals are filled with sketches that celebrate everyday life and chronicle her travel adventures. Her unique approach to illustrated watercolor journaling has empowered students of all skill levels to think more creatively and paint with greater confidence. She is the owner of Leslie Fehling Studio.

Boaz Frankel

Boaz Frankel is a writer, filmmaker and gardener. He completed the Phipps Master Gardener program in 2019 and enjoys exploring the connections between plants, culture and history in his work. He's also the host of NEXTpittsburgh's Yinzer Backstage Pass series and a correspondent on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live.

Chris Galarza

Chris Galarza is the founder of Forward Dining Solutions LLC. Chef Chris is a trail blazer in the world of kitchen electrification and sustainability working to create sustainable kitchens that promote healthy, efficient and equitable working conditions across the globe.

Meg Graham

Meg Graham is the owner of May Apple Ecological Gardening and Design. She has a background in fine art and farming, having graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and worked for places such as Healthcrest Urban Farm and Cutting Root Apothecary. She does garden design, installation and fosters the creation and preservation of natural and built spaces in diverse environments both in the city and outlying areas.

Kevin Haughey

Kevin Haughey, the retired bonsai manager at Phipps Conservatory, has more than 30 years of experience with this ancient art form. He is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and a member of the Pittsburgh Bonsai Society.

Kayla Heffernan

Kayla Heffernan, who has been making candles since 2016, is now the founder and owner of PGHCandle. She opened her first brick and mortar store in Pittsburgh's Northside in November 2022.

Christine Hutson

Christine Hutson has been working as a calligrapher and nature illustrator for over 30 years and has been teaching at Phipps Conservatory since 2011. One of her specialties includes medieval and renaissance art techniques, inspired by manuscript books and the work of old masters such as Joris Hoefnagel and Pierre Joseph Redoute. 

Jayashree Iyengar

Jayashree Iyengar is the owner and manager of Popping Mustard Seeds LLC and an experienced chef. She started her Indian vegetarian cooking class business in 2015 and her custom-created vegetarian Indian meal kits in 2022. She transitioned from a mechanical engineer to the food world and completed her master's degree in food studies from Chatham University in 2019. She grew up in Chennai, India before she moved to the United States over forty years ago to pursue her graduate studies. Her goal is to present a fun and informative cooking experience.

Debbie Jacknin

Debbie Jacknin, co-owner of Songbird Artistry with her daughters, brings over two decades of expertise in teaching polymer clay, jewelry making, knitting, crocheting, needle felting and stained-glass mosaics. More than just a boutique, Songbird Artistry is a haven of creativity and community.

Andrea Jackson

Andrea Jackson is a nurse, a Master Gardener and a folk herbalist. She has been studying, working with and loving herbs for more than half of her life. She lectures frequently to groups from professional organizations to garden clubs. 

Brenda G. Jordan

Brenda G. Jordan has a Bachelor of Art in studio art and Doctor of Philosophy in Japanese art history. She specializes in watercolor botanical art and landscapes. She currently directs the University of Pittsburgh’s project for the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia, located within the Asian Studies Center at the University.

Leslie Kaplan

Leslie Kaplan is a Phipps Master Gardener and owner of Rush Creek Design, specializing in residential gardens. She enjoys collecting and using unusual and rare plants in her gardens.

Korkey Noah Kibbey

Korkey Noah Kibbey has over 20 years of experience in a diverse range of floral design styles, which has led to success as a freelance designer. Currently, he is a principle creative visionary for many local event florists and retailers.

Acadia Klain

Acadia Klain is a practicing architect specializing in sustainability and passive house design. She received a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University and a Landscape Studies Certificate from Chatham University. 

Linda Kramer

Linda Kramer completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The Pennsylvania State University. After 20 years as an estate gardener, she now works as a landscape gardener. She has taught many workshops and classes for the Master Gardener program at Phipps Conservatory.

Emily Larsen

Emily Larsen is a private chef, culinary educator and founder of Spilling the Soup LLC.  She has worked diligently with the local non-profit community here in Pittsburgh to boost culinary education and decrease food insecurity.  Her virtual and in-person cooking classes aim to bring joy, confidence, smiles and delicious food to every kitchen.

Amy Lewandowski

Amy Lewandowski is a watercolor artist from Northeast Ohio. She graduated with honors from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration. She has been teaching watercolor and drawing at workshops and private classes since 2013. She is also a signature member of the Ohio Watercolor Society and has exhibited her paintings in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Amy Lindenberger

Amy Lindenberger has been teaching colored pencil techniques in Phipps Conservatory’s Botanical Art and Illustration program since 2005. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drawing from the University of Akron and has been working with the colored pencil medium for more than 40 years. Amy is a charter, signature and 10-year Merit Award winner with the Colored Pencil Society of America, and is the author of six colored pencil books, including her most recent; COLORS: A Workbook, based on the mastering color classes she teaches at Phipps.

Judith Mackenroth

Judith Mackenroth is an experienced mushroom forager and the owner of Walnut Ridge Farm in Cabot, Pennsylvania. Judy shares her knowledge about mushroom safety and foraging at various organizations around the greater Pittsburgh Area. Judith also has an extensive knowledge of natural dyes, especially those created by mushrooms, and is always eager to share this knowledge with the next generation. Whether you’re exploring mushrooms, learning how to use natural dyes, weaving or enjoying Celtic music, Judy will always add a touch of magic to her classes. 

Michele Frey McCann

Michele Frey McCann is a Pennsylvania Registered Landscape Architect with over 37 years of professional experience. In addition, she has served as an adjunct faculty member for both Chatham University's Master of Landscape Architecture program and the Community College of Allegheny County’s Landscape Design program. She continues to teach adult education classes for Phipps Conservatory and The Pennsylvania State University. Michele has extensive botanic garden design experience through her work at Longwood Gardens and Phipps. 

Robin Menard

Robin Menard shares her love of nature and art by capturing botanicals in graphite, ink, watercolor and colored pencil. She is also a graphic designer, marketer and a member for both the American Society of Botanical Artists and the Allegheny Highlands Botanical Art Society.

Hanna Mosca

Hanna Mosca manages several urban farms and greenhouses for Grow Pittsburgh and spends most of her free time tending to the backyard garden cooking and preserving the bounty it brings. She loves the community that Drew’s Clues, hosted by Drew Cranisky, has created. Especially the group that came together week after week to play trivia throughout the pandemic.

Sarah Needham

Sarah Needham is the owner of LeafHopper Designs, an eco-chic boutique featuring upcycled bouquets and more. She has worked as a freelancer for numerous floral shops in Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.

Naoma Neff

Naoma Neff has had a passion for flowers since childhood and always wanted to be a florist - now she is living the dream! She began her journey by studying at Phipps Conservatory and successfully completing the Floral Design Certificate program. Naoma is currently an owner and full-time florist at Lily Dale Floral Designs which serves Butler County and the surrounding areas.

Martha O’Grady

Martha O’Grady became certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy as a forest therapy guide to share her deep connection to our living, breathing planet. By helping people fall in love with the more than human world, she strives to inspire conservation while easing stress and anxiety. Martha has a long-standing meditation practice which has taken her to sacred sites around the world. When not out exploring, she works as a writer and producer.

Juliette Olshock

Juliette Olshock is the Sustainable Landcare Program Coordinator at Phipps Conservatory, where she organizes educational opportunities for local land care professionals and home gardeners focusing on sustainable landcare principles and practices. She holds a Master of Science in sustainable systems and Master of Education in environmental education, from Slippery Rock University.

Jess Runco

Jess Runco is the owner of Touch of Green, a sustainable landscaping company which focuses on environmentally managed green spaces. As a Phipps Sustainable Landcare Accredited Professional, they are passionate about creating garden ecosystems with an emphasis on native plantings, rainwater management and lawn alternatives. With a background in residential organic lawn care, Jess has taught many classes at Phipps on the subject for homeowners hoping to go green.

Oliver Pinder

Oliver Pinder is a black, queer, chef, baker and the owner of Wild Rise Bakery LLC. Oliver and Wild Rise specialize in gluten free breads and assorted baked goods and has been actively supplying the Pittsburgh community and environs with quality, artisanal products since 2019. He has taught classes on gluten free baking, cooking and hot sauce creation at such locations as Phipps Conservatory and CRAFT at Chatham University since 2018.

Lisa Rasmussen

Lisa Rasmussen has been an art and design instructor for the last 30 years and an instructor with the Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate program at Phipps Conservatory since 2022. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from Carnegie Mellon University, a Master of Science in education from Russell Sage College and a Master of Fine Arts in graphic design from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has been teaching drawing, painting, and graphic design at various colleges and universities in the region for the last 17 years. She is currently Assistant Professor of Art and Communication at Waynesburg University.

Trevor Ring

Trevor Ring received a Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts in food studies from Chatham University and has taught the topic of fermentation for nearly a decade. His business, Community Cultures, produces seasonal products and aims to make fermentation build community, create a more resilient food system and harness creativity.

Therese Robbins

Therese Robbins is a community herbalist, permaculture garden designer, organic land care professional and self-described plant nerd. She is passionate about building mindful relationships with plants and sharing her knowledge of plants and herbal medicine with her community. She enjoys growing, foraging and educating others on local food, native plants and medicinal flora.

Michelle Soto

Michelle Soto grows medicinal herbs, cut flowers and pollinator plants at Cutting Root Farm & Apothecary to foster more connection and appreciation for natural abundance and joy. She loves teaching, blending teas and watching butterflies. 

Alex Spiro

Alex Spiro is the current Bonsai and Japanese Garden Display Horticulturist at Phipps Conservatory. He has a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Allegheny College and is a member of the Pittsburgh Bonsai Society. Alex has been working at Phipps since 2020.

Stan Swartz

Stan Swartz has studied T’ai Chi Ch’uan since 1973 with four senior students of Grand Master Cheng Man-Ching. Stan has taught in New York City, Florida, Europe and Puerto Rico. In 1982, he returned to Pittsburgh and began offering beginner through advanced level classes of T'ai Chi.

Patty Swartz

Patty Swartz has been studying T’ai Chi Ch’uan with fellow T’ai Chi instructor, Stan Swartz, since 1988. Patty teaches the Eight Methods of T’ai Chi for beginners, T’ai Chi form classes and private classes for students with physical limitations.

Alekka Sweeney

Alekka Sweeney is a private and pastry chef with over 25 years of experience in restaurants, bakeries and hotels. After graduating from The Pennsylvania Institute of the Culinary Arts she moved to Atlanta to be the Assistant Pastry chef for a restaurant group and later moved to Chicago to open her own school focused on teaching baking and pastry classes. Her love of family brought her back to Pittsburgh where she started her own private chef and teaching business called Chef Alekka LLC. Her business focuses on bringing her love of food and teaching to the comfort of your own home.

Beth Taylor

Beth Taylor, who has a background in child development and a master’s degree in food studies from Chatham University, loves to help people of all ages gather in the kitchen to learn and eat. Most recently, she ran culinary education programs for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, Luminari’s Camp Delicious and Common Threads. By working as a food tour guide and freelance writer, Beth enjoys sharing the local food scene with others. Her newest endeavor is opening Third Space Bakery Co-op with two colleagues.

John Totten

John Totten is co-owner of the landscape gardening firm Garden! LLC and a woodland plant nursery called Locust Spring Nursery. He and business partner, Linda Kramer, have consulted on native plant projects for Chatham University, The Pittsburgh Zoo and Fallingwater. John and Linda founded the Audubon Society’s native plant nursery and have taught classes on native plants and their uses in the designed landscape for The Pennsylvania State University, Chatham University and Phipps Conservatory.

Tia Tumminello

Tia Tumminello is the founder and broom maker of Husk Brooms. As a Pittsburgh native passionate about traditional craft, she offers broom making workshops and attends craft shows across the state. She graduated from Temple University with a degree in art education and is committed to continuing her craft education.

Collette Walsh

Collette Walsh is a Brooklyn, New York, native who moved to Pittsburgh in 2016 to start her urban flower farm, Sol Patch Garden. She loves farming and being a part of the slow flower movement. She cares passionately about sustainable agriculture and building efficient farm systems designed for optimal productivity. Collette designs and creates beautiful arrangements with the flowers she grows, but her first love is tending to the flowers in her fields.

Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas

Dr. Maria Wheeler-Dubas is a life-long nature enthusiast with a passion for conservation education; she has worked in museums, zoos, and public gardens for over twenty years. She is currently the Science Education Outreach Manager at Phipps Conservatory.

Photo © Paul g. Wiegman