Featured Speakers


Derrick Catlett Derrick Catlett has been with the Middle Georgia State College - Macon Campus Grounds Department since the fall of 2005. Born in Warner Robins and graduated from Perry High School, he then attended Jacksonville State University and is a Georgia Certified Landscape Professional and ISA Certified Arborist. Upon his arrival at Middle Georgia State College Derrick took the initiative to create a GIS tree inventory to help organize and manage the campus trees. In 2009 a tornado destroyed the campus; Derrick has been instrumental in grants and projects to restore the campus tree canopy and gardens. He also is a member of the Georgia Urban Forestry Commission Board, Macon/Bibb Tree Commission, and Keep Macon/Bibb Beautiful Commission. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, hiking, swamp paddling, and live music.

Jennifer Ceska Jennifer Ceska has been Conservation Coordinator for the State Botanical Garden of Georgia since 1995. Jennifer is part of the Plant Conservation team at SBG, coordinating projects for the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, a network of conservation organizations actively working in the conservation of rare plants through research and safeguarding. She is one of the creators of the Georgia Endangered Plant Stewardship Network, an in-school project where children gain confidence in science and nurture a conservation ethic by propagating and caring for rare plant species; the Georgia Native Plant Initiative, a network of growers and agencies working to incorporate more native plants into all aspects of the Green Industry; and the Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies at SBG, a native plant production and demonstration site for landscaping and restoring with native plants of known Georgia provenance.

She received a Master’s of Science from the University of Georgia in Horticulture where she was awarded the 1994 Beattie Fellowship from the Garden Club of America and the Center for Plant Conservation supporting her research and launching her career in conservation at public gardens. Jennifer received the 2000 Professional Citation from the American Public Gardens Association for her contributions to plant conservation in the United States. The SBG won the 2013 Program of Excellence Award this June for the creation of a statewide network for conservation, the GPCA.

Her passions include plant propagation, habitat restoration, safeguarding, networking, environmental education, synchronized swimming, her Ceska Boys, and Willie Nelson.

Her favorite color is blue, and her favorite wine is “the red one.”

Contact Information:
Jennifer Ceska
Plant Conservation Program
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia
2450 S. Milledge Avenue
Athens, GA 30605
cell 770-540-7129

Elise Cormier Élise Cormier is a conservation landscape architect and principal of Smart Landscapes, an Atlanta-based microfirm specializing in connecting people with nature through sustainable design, resource management, and community engagement. Élise has more than ten years' experience designing gardens, parks, trails, playgrounds, and streets with intent to bring people together outdoors with an enhanced quality of life. Élise facilitates successful collaboration within civic organizations, building trust among diverse interests to secure support for stewardship of gardens, recreation resources, and natural areas. Élise holds a B.A. in Geology from Smith College and dual masters in Landscape Architecture and Natural Resources from North Carolina State University. Élise volunteers with the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and is adjunct faculty at Auburn University.
Her website is SmartLandscapes.

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