Featured Speakers

Gale Buchanan is a native of Madison County, Florida. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agronomy from the University of Florida in 1959 and 1962, respectively, and the Ph.D. in Plant Physiology, with minors in Botany and Agronomy, from Iowa State University in 1965.

Dr. Buchanan spent the first 21 years of his professional career with Auburn University in the Department of Agronomy and Soils, with primary teaching and research responsibilities in weed science. He served as Dean and Director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station from October 1, 1980 to September 30, 1985.

On April 14, 1986, he was appointed Associate Director of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations and Resident Director of the Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton, Georgia. He served as Interim Director of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations from June 1994 to February 1995. He became Dean and Director of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences March 1, 1995, and served until 2006. He retired from the U.S. Army National Guard in 1992 and holds the federally recognized rank of Colonel 0-6 (ret).

He was nominated by President Bush in 2005 to serve as Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 12, 2006.


Rick Huffman is principal and founder of Earth Design Inc. with over 30 years of experience in landscape design, horticulture, bioengineering, and ecology. He has particular expertise in native plants as they occur in natural models. As founder and past-president of the South Carolina Native Plant Society, he has brought awareness of these natural models to the public through presentations and workshops on a statewide and regional level.

Mr Huffman is a member of The American Society of Landscape Architects and is active in the US Green Building Council‘s South Carolina Chapter. Rick was named the Upstate Forever Volunteer of the Year for 2010. Mr. Huffman received the 2003 Environmental Educator of the Year Award from the Environmental Educators Association of South Carolina. In 2006, Mr. Huffman received the Governors Award for Environmental Awareness for his educational outreach and conservation efforts across the state.

His commitment to education is reflected in his work at Earth Design. Mr. Huffman has worked extensively with local schools, teachers, and administrators to promote environmental education and implementation of indigenous plants on school grounds. He has conducted numerous environmental education workshops for the South Carolina Wildlife Federations Schoolyard Habitat Program, the Environmental Educators Association of South Carolina (EEAC), and the South Carolina Marine Educators Association (SCMEA).

Mr. Huffman’s responsibilities as owner/principal of Earth Design include client communications, proposal preparation, project research, contract preparation, and oversight of daily office functions. As an integral part of the Earth Design team, Mr. Huffman has performed on LEED certified landscape designs for high schools, office complexes, roof gardens, interactive gardens for children‘s hospitals, sustainable residential landscape designs, and master plans for parks and environmental education centers.


Jessica Stephens is a Chicago, Illinois native and received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Butler University in Indianapolis. Her undergraduate research experience was primarily urban ecology and she has continued to focus on the use of herbarium records and surveys to assess floristic changes in Indianapolis through time. Upon moving to the Southeast in 2007 she fell in love with the biodiversity in this region, particularly in pitcher plant bogs. She recently received her Masters degree at Auburn University working on the pitcher plant moth and is currently working towards a PhD in Plant Biology at the University of Georgia on the evolution of carnivory in the pitcher plant genus, Sarracenia. Her goal is to highlight this unique and amazing system for future conservation of pitcher plant bogs through both research and educational outreach.


Dr. Jenny Cruse Sanders is the Vice President for Science and Conservation at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. She directs conservation programs for rare plants and amphibians, develops research with the Garden’s collections, and promotes opportunities for the public to engage in scientific discussions and discovery. These activities are coordinated with expert staff in other departments at the Garden, as well as with scientists at academic institutions across the southeastern US.

She has always wanted to do conservation work in a museum setting that provides connections to both scientific collections and public outreach opportunities. Cruse-Sanders completed an undergraduate program in biology at Boston University that included fieldwork and research at the New England Aquarium. Her graduate work was in the Botany Department at the University of Georgia. Her M.S. research was a floristic survey of Currahee and Soapstone mountains near Toccoa, Georgia. The unusual plant communities in this area included rare species such as federally endangered Echinacea laevigata (smooth purple coneflower). She studied the evolutionary impacts of harvesting wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) from Southeastern forests for her Ph.D. research. During her graduate student days, she also worked as an intern for the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance (GPCA) and State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Her experience with the GPCA and graduate research gave Jenny an opportunity to work with multiple state and federal agencies which provided training and partnerships important for her current position.

Cruse-Sanders did postdoctoral research in the molecular biology laboratory at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Next, Jenny joined the faculty at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC and directed the Salem College Herbarium (listed by Index Herbariorum as the oldest herbarium in the U.S.). Her academic training and postgraduate experience made the perfect fit for her position at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Jenny’s life outside the garden is shared with her husband Darby Sanders who works for Savanna College of Art and Design in Atlanta, eight-year-old daughter Tallulah Rose, who loves reading, dancing and exploring pitcher plant bogs, and twin daughters Estella Faye and Luna Dorothy, both adventurous and happy girls.


Dr. Kris Braman is Professor of Entomology on the UGA Griffin Campus. Her research since joining the Georgia Station faculty in 1989 has explored the ecology and management of arthropod pests associated with turfgrass and woody ornamentals in the urban environment. The focus of Dr. Braman‘s research is the development of decision making guidelines for landscape pests which incorporate knowledge of the biology, behavior, and damage potential of the pests and those regulating influences due to associated beneficial arthropods. A synopsis of Research, Extension and Instruction efforts as well as key pests and beneficials found in turf and ornamentals may be viewed at her Landscape Pest Management web site.

Recent research emphases include: use of degree-day forecasting, host plant resistance, and enhancement of natural enemy complexes for azalea lace bug management, dynamics of beneficial arthropods in managed turf, damage impact relations among several species of white grubs and their turfgrass host plants, and basic biological studies of nonnative pest mole crickets.

Current collaborative projects with scientists in other disciplines, e.g., crop and soil sciences and horticulture, address the influence of cultural management practices on pest and beneficial arthropods in the landscape, development of improved turfgrass and woody ornamental cultivars, and effects of landscape pest management and fertilization on water quality and the environment.


Dan S. Miller earned a B.S. Chemistry in 1967 from Ohio State University. He earned a M.S. in Organic Chemistry in 1969 from Florida State University. Dan was a Research Chemist from 1969-1971 at E.I. DuPont Company. Miller was a Forensic Chemist with the Florida Deparment of Law Enforcement in Tallahassee, from 1971 until he retired in 2003. During that time, beginning in 1990, he became, and still is, the owner of Trillium Gardens, a plant nursery specializing in the propagation and growth of native wildflowers, trees and shrubs from the southeast.


Amy B. Carter is in charge of the Landscape & Grounds at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus. She also manages the Coastal Plain Research Arboretum, a growing collection of plants that are native to the Southeastern U.S. She is involved with education and outreach programs at the Arboretum.

Amy Carter has worked in the Green Industry for over thirty years. She was Estate Manager at Seaside Farms in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. and Landscape Superintendent at Dataw Island, Beaufort, S.C. before returning to her home state of Georgia.

Carter is an active volunteer with the Flint River Fuller Center for Housing at Lake Blackshear. She was awarded a Certificate of Merit from the Garden Club of Georgia for outstanding contributions in 2003. She is a Georgia Certified Landscape Professional, and certified in Erosion & Sediment Control. She earned a B. S. degree in Plant Sciences from Clemson University.

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