our experts

Our experts have a diverse background and a great wealth of knowledge in topics related to green gardening and integrated pest management. They work in a variety of positions in the private, public, and non-profit sectors to study, educate, and promote sustainable gardening practices. Acting as both our review board, assessing and reviewing the content of IPMopedia before it becomes public, as well as our panel of experts, responding to your inquiries and questions, our experts are what makes IPMopedia a beneficial resource for green gardening enthusiasts. Without them IPMopedia would not be possible. Take some time to get to know our experts.

Emily Bishton
Emily is a landscape designer and consultant who specializes in wildlife-friendly and child-friendly gardens, and is teaching clients how to use organic practices to install and maintain their gardens. She is a Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH) with a degree in Landscape Design, an EnviroStar Co-Star, Coalition of Organic Landscapers (COOL) and Plant Amnesty Referral Service member. Emily also has a passion for teaching adults and children about earth-friendly gardening practices through speaking engagements and writing for Seattle Public Utilities, the Green Gardening Program, and the Magnuson Park Jr. Nature Explorer summer camp program. Recent design projects include the new Orca School Garden, the Sand Point Child Development Center, and the Magnuson Park Community Center Bird-Friendly Landscape. She has also volunteered extensively for many years to develop and support youth education programs throughout the county.

Barbara DeCaro
Barbara is the Resource Conservation Coordinator for Seattle Parks and Recreation. Her work is focused on municipal environmental management systems development and implementation, and staff continuing education and training programs, including programs for water conservation, integrated pest management, and best management practices for landscape, horticulture and forestry.

Barbara holds a Bachelor's degree in Botany from the University of Washington in Seattle and has studied and worked in the horticultural field for over 30 years. She has worked for 26 years managing municipal landscape assets, the last 21 years with Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Falaah Jones- Seattle Tilth Garden Hotline Educator
Falaah is fairly new to the gardening scene after spending decades indoors as a neonatal biochemist and laboratory research technologist. She is intrigued by the "whys and hows" of plant and soil biology and practices organic gardening at home, growing vegetables, fruits, and a vast assortment of ornamentals. She is transforming her side-yard into a wildlife area with native and bird-friendly trees and shrubs. Falaah is a Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH) and has completed the bulk of courses towards a degree in Landscape Management at Edmonds Community College. Her landscape maintenance business allows her to interact extensively with her clients, instructing them on proper pruning techniques, plant choices, and disease and cultural issues. She is a King County Master Recyler Composter, a former educator with the King County Hazardous Wastemobile, and a member of Plant Amnesty. She is a new chicken owner and is busy writing her memoirs, including stories of her father's love of rhododendrons and Japanese maples and her mother's antics in the vegetable garden.

Laura Matter- Seattle Tilth Garden Hotline Educator
Laura has been a practicing horticulturist for the past 30 years, and has a B.A. in Botany from the University of Washington. She has worked as a weed control specialist, and supervisor of an interior plant maintenance crew in downtown Seattle high-rise buildings. During 10 years with Seattle City Light, she worked with her crew to replace and reduce pesticide use at the utility. Under her guidance, a large electrical station was able to be registered as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary with the State of WA after being enhanced with native plants, birdhouses, and using natural alternatives instead of pesticides. Laura has her own business providing landscape consultations and garden tutoring, specializing in native plantings, wildlife habitat and edible gardens, and also works at Swanson's Nursery. She has been the site coordinator of the Picardo Farm P-Patch for the past 4 years, and volunteered in public schools and community planting projects.

Todd Murray
Todd is a member of the Horticulture and Agriculture for Washington State University Extension in King County. He provides educational leadership and opportunities in horticulture to homeowners, nursery/garden center personnel, park, school and municipal landscape maintenance personnel, private landscapers, 4-H leaders and Master Gardener volunteers. His program goals include improving the economic, environmental, and social long-term viability of agriculture and horticulture in King County. Todd emphasizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM), resource recycling and other conservation practices that help maintain environmental quality. He also helps commercial growers and homeowners identify and solve plant and pest problems. To learn more, visit here.

Lisa Niehaus
Lisa works for King County in the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program. This program works to protect public health and environmental quality by helping citizens, businesses and government reduce the threat posed by the use, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials. Lisa also works with the EnviroStars and EnviroStars for Landscapers Programs to certify and recognize landscape companies and organizations that use sustainable and environmentally responsible landscape management practices. She specializes in Integrated Pest Management, Natural Landscaping, Healthy Schools and pesticide reduction issues.

Her background includes a BS in Botany with an emphasis in Environmental Education and nearly twenty years as a professional public sector gardener and horticulturist. She is also a licensed pesticide operator.

Amy Ockerlander- Seattle Tilth Garden Hotline Educator
Amy started her gardening career in her parents' organic gardens in Wisconsin and Alaska, which cultivated her interest in creating a garden to call her own. Her current urban garden started with the removal of over 2,000 sq. feet of concrete pavement, requiring extensive soil-building to bring life back into the soil. Now a haven for birds and insects and filled with lush, layered plantings, it is a testament to the power of organic matter! Amy is a Certified Professional Horticulturalist (CPH) with nearly 10 years of experience in the retail nursery trade. She has most recently completed a rainwater harvesting course at Edmonds Community College helping to build a non-potable water catchment system for the Horticulture Department's greenhouses. She is a practicing artist with a background in public education, teaching in the public school system and serving as a docent at the Seattle Art Museum.

Doug Rice
Doug is the Outreach Program Coordinator for Community Outreach and Grants for the King County Water and Land Resources Division. Previous his current post, Doug spent 15 years in advertising, graphics and marketing and now has spent 15 years as a landscape architect working for King County in Washington State. Because of his particular mix of trainings he has been able to develop powerful communication and outreach tools around environmental issues. Originally, he developed a host of interpretive signs for King County which has led to a whole style and approach to these awareness building tools. He later created an advertising campaign using the now famous "Bert the Salmon" mascot. Bert's main messages were related to IPM, water quality, and conservation. Doug then pioneered the use of community based social marketing in King County by creating the award winning Natural Yard Care Neighborhoods program that has a strong focus on IPM and other environmentally protective and public health aspects. More recently Doug has been involved in creating and leading a regional stormwater public outreach campaign in the name of 34+ municipalities which will involve more social marketing, a media campaign and a measurement plan. All these campaigns and programs emphasize behavior change and alternatives, not just knowledge. Additionally, he has been a member of the Pesticide Working Group for about 5 years.

Gwen Vernon
Gwen is a senior associate at Cascadia Consulting Group in Seattle. Since 1995, she has conducted outreach and education programs in the Puget Sound region on soil, water, waste, pesticide reduction, and organics management. Gwen currently coordinates Seattle's well-known Green Gardening Program , which provides education on pesticide reduction and soil building to landscape professionals (including Spanish and Vietnamese speaking professionals), nursery and garden center staff, college horticulture students, and homeowners. She has also coordinated IPM trainings for various school districts, directed compost bin distribution and food/yard waste education events, worked with businesses to reduce solid and hazardous waste, taught "Soils for Salmon" classes to middle and high school students, and designed multicultural education programs on hazardous household products and alternatives.

Gwen is a Master Gardener, Master Recycler Composter, and Master Home Environmentalist. She is also on the board of the Washington Organic Recycling Council (WORC) and participates in the Regional Pesticide Coordinating Committee (RPCC). She is fluent in Spanish, and has a Masters in Education.

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