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Meet Our Instructors

Philip Bauerle

Landscape Technician, Eichenlaub, Inc. 

Philip is a Landscape Technician and member of the Plant Healthcare Team with Eichenlaub, Inc. Before that he was the Master Gardener Coordinator with the Allegheny County Penn State Extension Master Gardeners, where he organized volunteer projects and provided horticulture education. He has his BA in Biology from The College of Wooster.

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Rick Carr

Farm Director, Rodale Institute 

From laboratory research to field applications, Rick Carr has been studying the science and utilization of compost, vermicompost, and liquid compost extracts. In 2012, Rick earned a Master of Science degree in Plant Pathology from Cornell University. Under the advisement of Dr. Eric Nelson, Rick conducted research on understanding the mechanisms associated with vermicompost-mediated disease suppression. His research has contributed to understanding biologically-based disease suppression as well as new information on Pythium aphanidermatum development and pathogenicity. When Rick was not in the lab, he was often doing outreach and education with Master Composters and Gardeners of New York State. Shortly after graduating from Cornell, Rick left the United States for a one-year research opportunity on a large certified organic farm in Argentina. While there he developed a new perspective on how laboratory studies translate to on-farm research and application, which led to a position at Rodale Institute as Compost Production Specialist.  As part of the research staff, his projects included managing the Institute’s large-scale composting facility, examining the compost nutrient dynamics from on-farm composting, maximizing the nutrient contribution of pastures for pork production, and exploring novel manure and pasture management strategies to reduce swine parasites in organic pastured pork production. Rick is now the Farm Director of Rodale Institute and directs farming operations at all seven of Rodale Institute campuses across four states. He still manages “his” compost yard at Rodale Institute.

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Sandy Feather

Ornametnal Horticulture Educator, Penn State Extension

Sandy is the ornamental horticulture educator for southwestern Pennsylvania with Penn State Extension. She develops and delivers research-based educational programs for landscape professionals as part of Penn State Extension’s Green Industry Team. These include sessions to help participants obtain professional certifications such as certified arborist and licensed pesticide applicator, plant identification and usage, and identifying and managing plant problems. 

Meg Graham

Owner, May Apple Ecological Gardening and Design

Meg has a background in fine art and farming, having graduated from CMU and worked for Healtcrest Urban Farm and Cutting Root Apothecary. She also has a background in horticulture and gardening, earning a Certificate in Horticulture from Phipps, working as a gardener for the High Line Park in NYC and co-owning Dirt Landscaping Collective for many years before beginning her own business, May Apple Ecological Gardening and Design. Meg is a Phipps Sustainable Landcare Accredited Professional. 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.

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Keith McNeish

Grounds Manager, Pittsburgh Job Corps

Keith is the grounds manager for Pittsburgh Job Corps, a 25-acre federal job training facility with turf, mature trees and ornamental beds which Keith has transitioned to organic management. Keith also owns and operates Ecological Landscape Innovations, a landscaping company that offers soil mineral and biology testing, compost tea application and organic remediation. In addition, Keith serves as the Organic Landcare Consultant for Allegheny County, helping transition portions of South Hills Golf Course to organic management. Keith completed Phipps Master Gardener training in 2011.

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Juliette Olshock

Sustainable Landcare Program Coordinator, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 

Juliette is the Sustainable Landcare Program Coordinator at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. She is a former classroom teacher and small landscape business owner. Her work with Phipps Sustainable Landcare combines these two experiences. She holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Sustainable Systems and Masters of Education Degree in Environmental Education from Slippery Rock University. Juliette enjoys playing in the soil, growing a variety of plants, and creating a backyard oasis at her home in Hazelwood.  

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Danielle Rhea

Danielle is a statewide water resources educator for Penn State Extension based in Jefferson County. She provides educational programming and products related to private drinking water, pond management, agriculture and water, stormwater management, and watershed protection and restoration. Danielle has a master of acience degree from Duquesne University in environmental science and management.

Jess Runco

Owner, Touch of Green

Jess is owner of Touch of Green, a sustainable landscaping company which focuses on environmentally managed green spaces. 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 home owners hoping to go green.

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Masoud Sayles

Project Manager: Land Stewardship Innovation, Grounded

Masoud is a lifelong resident of the Pittsburgh Area. A graduate of Penn State University with a degree in Geobiology, Masoud passionately pursues his interest in permaculture design. Prior to joining Grounded, Masoud worked joyfully alongside gardeners at his local community garden, as well as finding employment propagating plants for a local neighborhood nursery. During this time, he worked alongside members of his community in creating various gardens and on trash cleanups, engendering within him an interest in both social and environmental justice. At Grounded Strategies, he is thrilled to be a part of a group that proliferates green spaces throughout Allegheny County. While on staff at Grounded, Masoud earned his Sustainable Landcare Accreditation. 

Caitlin Seiler

Vice President of Stewardship, Allegheny Land Trust

Caitlin Seiler is the vice president of stewardship for Allegheny Land Trust (ALT). She oversees the protection and management of all ALT protected lands. Her work involves upholding baseline land trust accreditation requirements for ALT’s protected lands, developing management plans for ALT owned conservation areas and implementing restoration and improvement projects. Caitlin has been with ALT for nearly 10 years and started as a volunteer removing invasive species.

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Dr. Erica Smithwick

Professor of Geography in the Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Smithwick is a Distinguished Professor of Geography in the Department of Geography at The Pennsylvania State University, where she also serves as Director of the Center for Landscape Dynamics in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, and an Associate Director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment. She directed Penn State’s Ecology institute between 2017 and 2021. She also served as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in South Africa, where she has conducted research since 2009. Dr. Smithwick has received numerous research awards from the NSF, NASA, DOE, NPS, the USGS, and beyond. This work is focused on problems that require trans-disciplinary teamwork to address complex environmental challenges. Trained as a landscape and ecosystem ecologist, her work aims to support sustainable land management decision-making under climate change, with particular focus on forest resilience to wildfire and natural carbon sequestration strategies. 

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Joe Stavish

Community Education Coordinator, Tree Pittsburgh

Joe Stavish is the Community Education Coordinator with Tree Pittsburgh. He coordinates the Tree Tender Certification courses, facilitates many programs including garden club talks, school visits, and nursery tours, and presents at national and regional conferences such as the Arbor Day Foundation’s Partners in Community Forestry Conference. He has instructed facilities and grounds crew trainings at universities including Carnegie Mellon, Chatham, and the University of Pittsburgh. Joe holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Slippery Rock University in Park and Resource Management with a minor in Environmental Education. 

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Gabe Tilove

Director of Adult Education and Community Outreach, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 

Gabe Tilove is Phipps Conservatory’s Director of Adult Education and Community Outreach. Gabe oversees the Phipps Sustainable Landcare program; the community vegetable gardening program, Homegrown; and Phipps Master Gardener program.   

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George Weigel

Retired Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist and author

George has written five gardening books, including the “Pennsylvania Getting Started Garden Guide,” and “Pennsylvania Month-by-Month Gardening.” George writes a garden column for The Harrisburg Patriot-News and other online gardening posts for PennLive.com and his own website. He is a retired Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist, has written for several magazines, including Horticulture, Central PA Magazine, and Pennsylvania Gardener and for 18 years did drawings and consults for home gardeners. 

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