South Georgia Native Plant & Wildflower Symposium

2003 Symposium Speakers

Drought-tolerant Plants that Do Something,
Paul Thomas

Paul A. Thomas joined the University of Georgia’s Department of Extension Horticulture in 1990. He holds a B.S. degree in botany and a M.S. degree in plant and soil science from Southern Illinois University. He earned a Ph.D. in plant physiology from The Pennsylvania State University with specialization in plant carbohydrate transport.

His responsibilities include planning and implementing regional and state programs involving the greenhouse and florist industry and serving as State Extension Specialist in Floriculture. He teaches Greenhouse Management and Interiorscaping classes. Founder of Southeastern Floriculture Magazine, Dr. Thomas currently serves as their editorial content advisor. He also serves on the board of directors of the Southeast Greenhouse Conference and the Floriculture Industry Research and Scholarship Trust.

Are Invasive Plants Our Problem?
Dick Bir
Dick Bir has been a professional horticulturist for over 40 years. But more importantly, he is a gardener. As a faculty member in the horticulture department at North Carolina State University, his primary responsibilities are working with county agents and nurserymen to grow better plants for the landscape. A large part of his work is devoted to seeking better ways to grow native plants. In this role, he has been director and program coordinator for the Conference on Landscaping with Native Plants (held each summer at Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC), and has lectured on growing native woody plants from Florida to Toronto.

His writing on native plants is read around the world. His book, Growing and Propagating Showy Native Woody Plants, was published by UNC Press in 1992. Dick is also a frequent contributor to gardening magazines and trade journals including American Gardener, NMPRO and the American Nurseryman.

Tidbits, Trivia & Lore: Things You Never Knew About Native Plants
Ben Kirkland

Ben Kirkland is currently the Natural Resources Manager of The Parks at Chehaw in Albany, Georgia. He received his Associate degrees in Forest Technology and Wildlife Technology at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia.

Mr. Kirkland is a certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture and a certified Prescribed Burner with the Georgia Forestry Commission. He is also a facilitator for Project Wild, Project Wet and Project Learning Tree programs. His main avocation is the primitive technologies of native cultures and he has been teaching workshops since 1990.

Native Azaleas
John Gibson

Currently a horticultural consultant, John Gibson owns and operates the Gopher Ridge Native Plants Nursery located in Tifton, Georgia. Mr. Gibson brings a world of experience and expertise to this year’s symposium as he has served in the following capacities:

1995-1997: Director-Georgia Southern University Botanical Garden.
1989-1995: Curator-Statewide Arboretum, University of Nebraska.
1979-1989: Extension Horticulturist, University of Georgia.
If you would like more information regarding the South Georgia Native Plant & Wildflower Symposium
please phone (229) 386-7274 or email
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