Adult Education Programs would not be possible without our team of expert instructors. A highly qualified faculty includes Arboretum staff, college professors, naturalists, researchers, master gardeners, and industry professionals.

Read more about our instructors, organized by discipline,  below.

Studies in Horticulture & Landscape Design | Studies in the Mindful Arts | Studies in Natural History, Ecology & Culture

Studies in Horticulture & Landscape Design

Brie Arthur

Gardening with Grains | Tuesday, March 17, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

Brie Arthur studied landscape design and horticulture at Purdue University. After more than a decade of experience as a grower and propagator, she now combines her passion for plants and sustainable land management by communicating the value of gardening across the U.S. She appears on the PBS Television show “Growing a Greener World,” and her debut book “The Foodscape Revolution” is a best seller. Arthur was honored in 2017 as the first recipient of the American Horticultural Society’s Emerging Horticultural Professional Award.

Rebecca Ayres

Beginning Bonsai A | Saturday, April 18, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, April 25, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Beginning Bonsai B | Saturday, April 18, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 26, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. 

Rebecca Ayres is a ceramic artist and gardener. A longtime Arboretum volunteer, she assists the bonsai curator with the exhibition garden, the collection and the Carolina Bonsai Expo. She is a member of the Blue Ridge Bonsai Society, where she has taught workshops and classes, and is a recent graduate of the N.C. Arboretum’s Blue Ridge Naturalist Certificate of Merit program.

George Briggs

Landscape Architecture: Process to Practice | Thursday, April 16, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

George Briggs has served since 1987 in Asheville as the first executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum. He also chairs the board of directors of the Olmsted Landscape Institute, a 501(c)(3) corporation leading a national initiative dedicated to preserving and promoting the landscape architectural process of Frederick Law Olmsted and to innovating measurement tools for evaluating the performance of managed landscapes. He also serves on the North Carolina Biotechnology Center board of directors and formerly its executive committee. His professional recognition includes the Turner Award for Excellence in the Built Environment awarded by the North Carolina Office of State Construction, the Professional Award of the American Horticultural Society, Environmental Hero Award by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Honorary Member by the Garden Club of America, Service Award by the American Public Gardens Association, and Certificate of Appreciation from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Arboretum has been recognized among eight outreach programs recognized by the American Public Gardens Association, based on innovations in entrepreneurial programs. Mr. Briggs is a fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects and holds degrees from Vanderbilt University, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia in business administration, horticulture and landscape architecture, respectively.

Sarah Coury

The Winter Garden that Doesn’t Sleep | Saturday, February 1, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Creating a Multi-Use Native Plant Garden | Saturday, February 29, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
NEW Creating a Multi-Use Native Plant Garden B | Friday, March 20, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
All About Willows| Building a Living Willow Structure | Sunday, April 26, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Sarah Coury co-owns Saturnia Farm in Haywood County, which specializes in holistic production of perennials, natives plants and cut flowers. She helps manage several large gardens in Asheville, and formerly worked as a horticulturalist at The North Carolina Arboretum. Sarah’s background is in wildlife conservation, and her passion is creating multi-use garden spaces that provide both high habitat value for native plants and animals, and the healing qualities of beauty for people.

Clara Curtis

Winter Plants of Interest | Wednesday, January 22, 1 – 4 p.m.
Winter Gardening Projects | Wednesday, January 29, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Seasonal Landscape Planning | Two weeks: Wednesdays, March 18 – March 25, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Spring Plants of Interest | Wednesday, April 29, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Clara Curtis is the senior director for mission delivery at The North Carolina Arboretum. She holds a bachelor’s degree in horticultural science from N.C. State University. Her designs for the Arboretum’s Quilt Garden, container gardens and seasonal and permanent landscapes are featured for the 25th season and have been featured on UNC-TV and with the Emmy® Award winning Show, “In the Garden with Bryce Lane”, Our State magazine and by the Associated Press. Curtis received the Award of Merit from the American Public Gardens Association in 2018 for her career achievements.

Drake Fowler

Sketching and Lettering for Landscape Planning | Friday, April 17, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

Drake Fowler is the Arboretum’s deputy executive director. Fowler is a licensed landscape architect in North Carolina and has managed the offices for one of the country’s top design firms. As a landscape architect, he has worked in city planning, site master planning, complete street design, wayfinding, and low impact design. His projects have won national awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects and are certified platinum for leadership in energy and environmental design.

June Jolley

Plant Parenting for Houseplants | Saturday, February 8, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Seasonal Landscape Planning | Two weeks: Wednesdays, March 18 – March 25, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

June Jolley has served as the greenhouse production manager at the Arboretum since 1996, where she is responsible for producing plants for seasonal landscapes, interior plant displays, and sustainable landscapes. She also manages and propagates plants for the Arboretum’s plant sales. A graduate of the horticulture technology program at Haywood Community College, she organizes the annual Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Symposium for professionals in the green industry and teaches herbaceous plant propagation classes for the Arboretum. Jolley is a member of AmericaHort, as well as the Association of Education and Research Greenhouse Curators. When not caring for her own house plants, she enjoys visiting public gardens and plant trade shows.

Arthur Joura

Bonsai Tree & Landscape Appreciation: Curator’s Talk | Thursday, February 13, 4 – 6 p.m.
Radical Redesign: Bonsai Curator’s Talk & Styling Demonstration | Saturday, March 14, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Pruning Woody Plants in the Home Landscape | Tuesday, March 24, 1 – 4 p.m. 

Arthur Joura joined the Arboretum staff in April of 1990, and has been the bonsai curator since 1992. He led the design team for the Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden and has since overseen its continued development. Joura’s educational background is in fine art. Joura studied bonsai with some of the leading bonsai authorities in the United States and and in Japan. He has toured extensively as a lecturer and teacher, and has been featured on UNC-TV and in numerous regional and national publications for his work with the collection. Joura continues to administer the annual Carolina Bonsai Expo at the Arboretum.

Bryce Lane

The Power of Plants: How Gardening Captures History | Saturday, March 28, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Bryce Lane discovered his passion for plants and telling others about them while working at a small Massachusetts garden center throughout high school and college. After earning his BS and MS in Horticulture, he came to the Department of Horticultural Science at NC State University as an Instructor and Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator. For eleven seasons he hosted and produced the three-time Emmy winning UNC-TV public television show “In the Garden With Bryce Lane.” He now spends his time giving horticulture talks, leadership and communication training, and teaching part-time at NC State and the JC Raulston Arboretum. As an avid gardener in his spare time, Bryce has creatively cultivated the same one quarter acre plot for thirty-six years.

Laura Lengnick

Soil Health Check Up | Wednesday, April 8, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

Laura Lengnick is an award-winning soil scientist and author of “Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate.” She has been a sustainable food systems researcher, activist and educator for almost 30 years. A lifelong gardener, Lengnick currently cultivates a diverse mix of vegetable, fruit, medicinal, culinary and ornamental plants using biointensive and permaculture practices on her two-acre mini-farm in Buncombe County. 

Ben Pick

The Winter Garden that Doesn’t Sleep | Saturday, February 1, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Creating a Multi-Use Native Plant Garden | Saturday, February 29, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
NEW Creating a Multi-Use Native Plant Garden B | Friday, March 20, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. 

Ben Pick grew up in Asheville and has been deeply influenced by his time in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since graduating from NC State University in Horticulture Design, he has traveled and gained experience in many different gardens. He now runs a small garden services company, Meadow Edge LLC, and also co-owns a specialty plant nursery, Saturnia Farm, in Clyde, North Carolina.

Martha Rollefson

Gardening for Joy | Thursday, February 13, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Gardening for the Birds | Thursday, March 5, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. 

Martha Rollefson has been an avid spare-time gardener for over 35 years. In the last 10 years she turned 2 back yards into Certified Wildlife Habitats (one in Connecticut and one in Etowah, NC). She is also a certified bird feeding specialist with Wild Birds Unlimited in Hendersonville, NC. She gets great pleasure from sharing her passion for blending garden beauty with creating a welcoming environment for the birds, while always looking for ways to minimize drudgery and maximize joy.

Phil Roudebush

Growing and Using Culinary Herbs | Tuesday, February 4, 1 – 3 p.m.
Pets and Plants | Thursday, March 26, 1 – 3 p.m. 

Phil Roudebush is a native of Indiana and lived in Colorado, Missouri, Mississippi and Kansas before moving to North Carolina in 2015. He is a retired veterinarian who has worked in small animal practice, taught in several veterinary schools and did research, product development and technical communication in the animal health industry. Phil has maintained a large vegetable garden, herb garden, pumpkin patch, water garden and a 30-acre native grass hay pasture. He was an Extension Master Gardener in Shawnee County, Kansas before moving to Asheville and is a certified Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Buncombe County.

Joe Sanders

Build Your Own Bluebird Box | Wednesday, February 19, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Joe Sanders has been working with bluebird restoration for over 30 years and is currently a County Representative for the North Carolina Bluebird Society. He has taught classes to numerous community garden groups and currently monitors nest boxes during the nesting season, including those on the Arboretum grounds.

Nina Shippen

Residential Landscape Design | Four weeks: Wednesdays, February 5 – 26, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Principles of Ecological Gardening | Three weeks: Tuesdays, February 11 – 25, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Methods of Ecological Gardening | Friday, April 24, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. 

Nina Shippen practices residential landscape and garden design through her company Gardeniña, which focuses on coupling the principles of healing gardens with sound ecologic practices to create satisfying gardens for her clients. A graduate of the landscape design program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, she has lived and gardened in Transylvania County since 2005.

Jennifer Verprauskus

Introduction to Permaculture | Tuesday, March 17, and Thursday, March 19, 1 – 4 p.m.
Native Edible Plants: A Historical Look at Landscape Design | Thursday, April 23, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Jennifer Verprauskus is a North Carolina Licensed Landscape Architect and a Permaculture Design Certificate Holder. She went to the University of Massachusetts and studied Landscape Architecture. Since graduating, she has traveled the world to help people grow trees and their own food. She is the founder of both UpBeet Landscapes and BareRoot Designs, PLLC.

Lisa Wagner

Tapping into the Creative Side of Gardening | Friday, March 13, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Spring Gardening Projects | Tuesday, April 7, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Gardening Round Table | Tuesday, April 14, 2 – 4 p.m.
Creating a Naturalistic Landscape | Wednesday, April 22, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Lisa Wagner served as director of education at the South Carolina Botanical Garden at Clemson University for almost 20 years, where she taught and lectured on a variety of topics. A plant ecologist who holds a doctorate in botany from the University of California Berkeley, Wagner is a passionate gardener, interested in native plants and designing gardens that are wildlife friendly and sustainable. Her blog, Natural Gardening, can be seen at

Studies in the Mindful Arts

Nicole Annette

Words that Serve: Writing for Self-Awareness and Mindfulness | Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 

Nicole Annette is a self-proclaimed Journal Junky® who understands the power of Intentional Journaling. Journaling has played a huge role in her life, and has promoted insight, healing, personal and professional growth. Her passion is to inspire others to transform their lives through the Intentional Journaling Practice. Nicole holds a B.A. in Psychology and a M.Ed. in Adult Learning and Development. She has facilitated groups, college courses, workshops, and trainings on the subjects of literacy, personal development, self-awareness, life skills, and Intentional Journaling for the past 15 years. Nicole is also the Owner and Maker behind the Journal Junky® brand: a line of earth-friendly stationery, workbooks, and guided journals. She enjoys meeting new people, hearing their stories, and connecting others.

Rebecca Caldwell

Indomitable Women of Western North Carolina | Five weeks: Tuesdays, March 3 – 31, 4 – 6 p.m. 

Rebecca Caldwell is a writer and educator who serves as the adult education programs manager at The North Carolina Arboretum. She has taught literature and writing at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Clemson University and Western Carolina University. She is also trained as a counselor specializing in expressive arts and ecopsychology. While working in Student Affairs at Western Carolina University, she started the Women’s Center, a resource, advising and advocacy center open to all students. Her doctoral coursework and research at the University of Virginia focused on creativity, intrinsic motivation and the adult learner.

Diana Christopherson

Sumi-e: Japanese Brush Painting | Six weeks: Tuesdays, April 21 – May 26, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Diana Christopherson studied the Japanese brush painting techniques of sumi-e for over 25 years under the tutelage of Reiko Ito Shellum, a Japanese master teacher of the Nanga School. Christopherson taught at Northern Dakota County TriDistrict Community Education from 2008 to 2012.

Miles Cramer

Teas of China: Class and Tasting | Sunday, March 29, 1 – 3 p.m.

Miles Cramer has been working in the tea industry for the last decade with Dobra Tea, a full service tea house that imports direct from gardens all over the world. In his work, he has traveled to tea gardens in Asia and learned first hand from tea masters about cultivation, production and tea culture. He teaches educational workshops throughout the southeast, introducing people to the deep heritage and joy of drinking high quality tea.

Rick Daley

Introduction to Lightroom | Saturday, February 1, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

A professional outdoor photographer for 15 years, Rick Daley has taught both private students (novice to professional) and at art institutions, notably the Sedona Art Center where he has been on the faculty for 10 years. His work has appeared in magazines and books from Alaska Air to the Encyclopedia of Zoos. His exhibits have included the International Color Exhibit, the Washington, D.C. Gallery of Photography, LA Digital Exhibits, Texas Tech College, and many others.

Gwen Diehn

Making a Coptic Stitch Journal | Saturday, January 25, and Sunday, January 26, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Natural Impressions: Designing, Carving and Using Rubber Stamps | Saturday, February 29 and Sunday, March 1, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Gwen Diehn is an emerita professor of art at Warren Wilson College and has taught art workshops for many years. She earned the Master of Fine Arts degree from Vermont College of Art and her prints, mixed media pieces, drawings and artists’ books are in many public and private collections. She is the author of several books including “Simple Printmaking” and “Real Life Journals.” Her most recent book, “Drawing Ten Thousand Things,” was published in 2017.

Elizabeth Ellison

Watercolors: The Tools We Use | Friday, April 17 – Sunday, April 19, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Elizabeth Ellison is a professional artist with a gallery and studio in Bryson City, N.C. She is noted for depicting the varied wildflowers, animals, and landscapes of the region. Her pen-and-ink drawings and watercolor washes accompany the writing of her husband George Ellison. Together they have published a number of books, including “Blue Ridge Nature Journal” and “Mountain Passages.” Ellison has exhibited widely and she continues to enjoy teaching students of all levels.

Aurora Gantz

Herbal Self Care | Sunday, February 9, 1 – 3 p.m.

Aurora Gantz has been working with herbs since they were a small child running barefoot in the Rocky Mountains. Through the years, they have utilized herbs to provide care for themselves and others. They have a deep passion for self care, gardening, and tea.

M. King Goslin

Silk Reeling: Spiraling Energy of Tai Chi | Eight weeks: Tuesdays, March 24 – May 12, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

M. King Goslin has been teaching Tai Chi since 2010. Her teachers include Bob Feesor, Caroline Demoise, Master Wu Wen Ching, Dr. Russell Smiley, Dr. Paul Lam and most recently Sifu Dan Jones. She teaches ongoing classes at the YMCA and at the Arboretum and delights in learning, sharing her discoveries and teaching others what is possible.

Andrea Kulish

Ukrainian Pysanky Egg Workshop | Sunday, March 8, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Andrea Kulish, a first-generation Ukrainian-American, learned the intricate art of pysanky eggs as a young girl sitting in on her mother’s weekly classes. Now she not only creates these beautiful objects with unique folk-inspired designs, but teaches classes in the art herself. Andrea may be found working in her studio in the River Arts District of Asheville, a creative space also featuring woodblock and silkscreen designs, jewelry, art cards, and mixed media works.

Catherine Langsdorf

Lettering with Flowery Flourishes | Thursday, March 19, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Catherine Langsdorf began her pursuit of calligraphy in 1987 for the purpose of addressing her own wedding invitations. Langsdorf is the sole proprietor of Long Village Studio, working with clients on one-of-a-kind lettering projects. She studies and teaches a variety of lettering styles and has published instructional articles in calligraphic journals. Her art has been featured in a number of books and can be seen online at

Susan Lingg

Exploring Watercolor A | Saturday, March 21, 1 – 4 p.m.
Exploring Watercolor B | Thursday, April 9, 1 – 4 p.m.

Susan Lingg is a full-time artist who has been studying and sharing the watercolor medium through demonstrations, exhibits and teaching since the 1980s. The fluidity and transparency of watercolor drives her to new explorations of light, color and texture, and she enjoys enabling others to access their own creativity in watercolor and papermaking. Her work can be seen online at

Peter Loewer

Botanical Illustration | Four weeks: Wednesdays, March 18 – April 8, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Peter Loewer is a writer and botanical artist, graduating from the Albright Art School of the University of Buffalo with a degree in graphics and a minor in art history. Upon graduation he was awarded the Max Beckmann Fellowship to the Brooklyn Museum Art School. Peter’s published works include Growing and Decorating with Ornamental Grasses, The Evening Garden, Thoreau’s Garden, and Jefferson’s Garden. His book The Wild Gardener was named one of the best 75 garden books of the 20th Century by the American Horticultural Society. All of his publications are illustrated with his own photography or artwork. He is the Contributing Editor for “Carolina Gardener” magazine. Today, Loewer lectures and teaches at AB-Tech, conducts exploratory walks at the Road Scholar program at the Montreat Conference Center, and gardens alongside Kenilworth Lake in Asheville.

Brent Martin

Poets of the Blue Ridge: Reading Deeper | Tuesday, February 4, and Wednesday, February 5, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Meeting Horace Kephart, the Man with the Knapsack | Monday, March 9, and Tuesday, March 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Brent Martin is the owner of Alarka Institute in the Cowee community of western North Carolina. Alarka Institute offers literary, art, and nature based workshops along with custom designed private individual and group outdoor experiences. He is the author of several poetry and non-fiction chapbooks, and a forthcoming collection of natural history essays to be published by History Press. He has an M.A and ABD in History from Georgia State University, and has worked in environmental conservation for almost three decades.

Anne Murray

Introduction to Paper Marbling | Friday, March 13, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Intermediate Paper Marbling | Saturday, March 14, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Crafting the Casebound Journal | Saturday, April 18, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Anne Murray has been passionate about bookmaking ever since encountering The Penland Book of Handmade Books at the public library in 2006. Her skills in binding, paper making, marbling, creating book cloth, and woodworking have been acquired from the John Campbell Folk School (Brasstown, NC), the Penland School of Crafts (Penland, NC),and the Sawtooth School for Visual Art (Winston-Salem, NC), as well as from several well-known paper and book artists. After years of developing and expanding her skills, Murray is now a full-time artist specializing in bookbinding, papermaking, marbling, and book repair.  A teacher at heart, she finds pleasure in sharing her passion for paper and book arts.

Susan Patrice

The Enveloping Landscape: Contemplative Photography in Practice | Friday, February 14, 4 – 6:30 p.m. | Saturday, February 15, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Susan Patrice is a documentary photographer, community artist, and founder of Makers Circle, a nonprofit organization that designs community-based arts projects dedicated to cultural transformation and healing. Her photography and public installations focus primarily on the Southern Landscape and its people and features intimate images that touch deeply into the questions of place, gender, and belonging.

Tom Rash

The Search for Something Hidden: Reading Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders | Four weeks: Tuesdays, April 7 – 28, 6 – 8 p.m.

Tom Rash graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in English and completed his master’s in English at Clemson University. A book reviewer and essayist, he has taught English and writing at Clemson University, A-B Tech Community College, and Shaw University. Rash has worked as a freelance editor since 1985 and is the owner and managing editor of Asheville Editing. His editing clients include his brother, award-winning author Ron Rash. Tom is also currently working on a documentary film detailing the influence of Thomas Wolfe’s novel Look Homeward, Angel.

Yanina Salerno

BioForest Immersion A | Sunday, January 26, 1 – 3:30 p.m.
BioForest Immersion B | Sunday, March 1, 1 – 3:30 p.m.
BioForest Immersion C | Sunday, March 29, 1 – 3:30 p.m.
BioForest Immersion D | Sunday, April 26, 1 – 3:30 p.m.

Yanina Salerno is a lover of the land who believes many have forgotten our innate connection & relationship with the forest. She is a forest therapy guide, a certified Reiki healer, a Pachakuti Mesa Tradition Cross-Cultural Shamanic Arts apprentice, holds a Certificate in Forest Management Technology-Natural Resource Specialist, and is currently working towards a North Carolina Environmental Education Certification.

Cynthia Shealy

Nature, Art, and Community: Responding to Our Changing World | Wednesday, April 22, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Cynthia Shealy is a certified EMDR Consultant, registered yoga teacher, and expressive arts therapist. She has a private therapy practice in Asheville, NC where she works with individuals and leads community expressive arts workshops in the area. Her “whole person” approach incorporates the therapeutic tools of Ecotherapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, mindfulness, humor, creativity, yoga, movement, and a healthy dose of curiosity and self compassion.

Jenne Sluder

Deep Relaxation: Yoga Nidra A | Sunday, January 19, 2 – 4 p.m.
Unwind & Renew: A Mind-Body Wellness Retreat | Friday, January 24, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m., and Saturday, January 25, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Clear Mind, Relaxed Body: Meditation and Your Health | Six weeks: Wednesdays, February 19 – March 25, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Deep Relaxation: Yoga Nidra B | Sunday, February 23, 2 – 4 p.m.
Deep Relaxation: Yoga Nidra C | Sunday, March 22, 2 – 4 p.m.
Deep Relaxation: Yoga Nidra D | Sunday, April 19, 2 – 4 p.m.

Jenne Sluder is a qualified mental health professional and is certified through the International Association of Yoga Therapists as a trauma-sensitive therapeutic yoga instructor. She holds a Master’s in Transpersonal Psychology: Ecopsychology from Naropa University and specializes in mind-body approaches to improving mental and physical health. An Asheville native, Sluder works with individuals and with groups using somatic (body-based), contemplative (mindfulness-based), ecological (nature-based), and compassion-based practices.

Rose Szabo

Introduction to Felting | Friday, February 7, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Rose Szabo has enjoyed the many aspects of felting for the past 13 years. From simple wet felted beads to complex nuno felted garments, she enjoys experimenting with new techniques. Rose has a passion for felting and would like to share that with others.

Studies in Natural History, Ecology & Culture

Carlton Burke

Screech Owl Meet & Greet | Build a Screech Owl House | Friday, January 31, 1 – 4 p.m.
Build a Rustic Wren House | Friday, February 14, 1 – 4 p.m.
Winter Tree Identification B | Saturday, February 15, 1 – 4 p.m.
Vertebrate Zoology of the Blue Ridge | Six weeks: Fridays, February 21 – March 27, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Cougars and Coyotes: Mystery Mammals of the Mountains | Saturday, February 22, 1 – 4 p.m.
Spring Tree Identification B | Thursday, April 30, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

Carlton Burke is a naturalist and educator who operates Carolina Mountain Naturalists, an educational service which offers wildlife and nature educational programs throughout western North Carolina. He also was on the staff of the western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville for over 25 years as the Curator of Exhibits. Carlton co-hosts a weekly radio program NATURE NEWS and is also a NC state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Kevin Burke

Sparrow Identification Workshop | Thursday, January 30, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Breakfast & Birding A | Friday, March 6, 8 – 10 a.m.
What’s Up With Woodpeckers | Thursday, March 19, 1 – 4 p.m.
Breakfast & Birding B | Friday, April 3, 8 – 10 a.m.
Spring Warblers | Wednesday, April 8, 1 – 4 p.m.

Kevin Burke was introduced to birding while taking an ornithology class and has been birding every day since. He has a degree in resource recreation and tourism from the University of Idaho and honed his birding skills teaching environmental education. Kevin has led birding trips across the country to Washington’s San Juan Islands and Idaho’s back country and abroad with trips to Portugal and Colombia. His lifelong journey has developed into a desire to share his knowledge and help others grow their skills.

Luke Cannon

The American Beaver: An Amazing Keystone Species | Thursday, April 9, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

More than a botanist, Luke Cannon is an avid naturalist and long time pursuer and teacher of our astounding natural world.   His passion for exploring the ecological intricacies of our living planet have inspired his studies of plants, mammals, birds, insects, lichens, fungi and more.  Luke offers regular classes and walks in Western North Carolina to share his knowledge of the local ecology and his enthusiasm for building closer relationships with the wilds around us.  Find him at

Brad Daniel

Natural History Interpretation | Four weeks: Thursdays, February 6 – March 5, 1 – 4:30 p.m.

Brad Daniel has been a college professor, wilderness trip leader and field instructor for over 34 years, using outdoor experiences to engage the heart, challenge the mind and nurture the spirit. He is a Certified N.C. Environmental Educator and Certified Interpretive Guide. He holds master’s degrees in biology/ecology and outdoor teacher education, and a Ph.D. in environmental studies. He is the executive director of 2nd Nature TREC.

Scott Dean

Spring Flora Identification A | Six weeks: Tuesdays, April 7 – May 19, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Spring Flora Identification B | Six weeks: Wednesdays, April 8 – May 20, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Scott Dean was born and raised in the mountains of southern Appalachia, specifically the coalfields of West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. He developed the original Ecology, Botany, and Zoology curricula for the Blue Ridge Naturalist Program, and has been both a classroom and field instructor with the program since its inception. He has led walks for UNC Asheville and the Cullowhee Native Plants Conference, been a featured speaker at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park Wildflower program, and spoken at various social and civic events in the Asheville area over the last twenty years.

Mary Jean Ronan Herzog

Qualitative Research Basics: Collecting Stories and Oral Histories | Friday, February 14, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Mary Jean Ronan Herzog is Professor Emeritus in the School of Teaching and Learning at Western Carolina University. She has written several articles on the subject of interviewing and analyzing qualitative forms of data.

Alexandra Holland

Botany Basics | Eight sessions: Tuesdays and Thursdays, April 21 – May 14, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Alexandra Holland graduated from Duke University and earned her Master’s degree in botany from the University of Texas at Austin. She was in the first class of students to be certified as Blue Ridge Naturalists. Alexandra managed the UTEX Culture Collection of Algae at UT Austin and spent many hours working with education programs at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. She has taught botany for over a decade and leads nature hikes in Western NC for groups of all ages.

Marilyn Kolton & Louis Dwarshius

Slow & Steady Wildflower Walk | Tuesday, April 14, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Marilyn Kolton and Louis Dwarshius are certified Blue Ridge Naturalists who have taught a variety of courses on field birding and wildflower identification. Both are past presidents of Audubon societies, and have led many interpretative nature hikes.

Dan Lazar

Ecology of the Blue Ridge | Five weeks: Thursdays, April 23 – May 21, 12:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Dan Lazar served for many years as the director of education at the Western North Carolina Nature Center, followed by several years as executive director of the Colburn Earth Science Museum. Dan has a degree in forest biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and has been an instructor in the Blue Ridge Naturalist program since 2005.

Jennifer Love

Understanding Lichens A | Saturday, January 25, 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Understanding Lichens B | Saturday, March 7, 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Jennifer Love is the Macon County Schools STEM Coordinator who has been participating in a lichen distribution database in Georgia. She has taught her basic lichen class at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, NC Arboretum and Alarka Expeditions. Jennifer and her husband Jason enjoy searching for these unique and complicated organisms while exploring their North Carolina home.

Jonathan Marchal

Intro to iNaturalist and Smartphone Ecology | Saturday, February 15; 9:30 am – 12:30 pm

Jonathan Marchal has led outdoor ecology and recreation programming for over twenty years for youth and adults, and serves as Youth Education Manager at the Arboretum and is the creator of ecoEXPLORE, a youth citizen science initiative. He has prior work experience with the National Park System, North Carolina State Parks and Trout Unlimited. He is an award winning, certified environmental educator and has served as the president of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina. Jonathan holds an AAS in Recreation and Wildlife Management, a BA in Ecology and a Master’s Degree in Park, Recreation and Tourism Management. He is the project lead for Team WNC in the City Nature Challenge.

Stephan Martin

Embracing the Dark: Light Pollution and Health | Friday, January 24, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Treasures of the Winter Night Sky | Wednesday, January 29, 4 – 6:30 p.m.
Treasures of the Spring Night Sky | Wednesday, April 15, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
The Lure and Lore of the Night Sky | Two weeks: Wednesdays, April 22 – 29, 6 – 8 p.m.

Stephan Martin is an astronomer and educator who has taught astronomy at colleges and universities across the U.S. for more than 25 years. He has lectured on light pollution and its effects on the environment and has offered stargazing and introductory astronomy workshops domestically and internationally.

Rachel Muir

Endangered: Understanding the Biology and Conservation of Imperiled Species | Four weeks: Wednesdays, April 22 – May 13, 6 – 8 p.m.

Rachel Muir is a scientist emeritus for the U.S Geological Survey. An ecologist by training, Rachel’s career included conducting research, directing science policy and developing conservation strategies regarding water resources, energy development, climate science and support of the Endangered Species Act. She is a volunteer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assisting with conservation efforts for aquatic species in western North Carolina.

Bobbie Pell

Celtic Legacies: Ballads of Appalachian Culture | Friday, February 28, 4 – 6:30 p.m. | Saturday, February 29, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

For over 35 years, Bobbie Pell has shared her love of story with audiences of all ages through written works, storytelling performances, and workshops. Her specialty area, Celtic folklore and traditions, focuses on folk / faerie lore, ballads, and archetypal myths. Bobbie, a national award-winning author, shares her creative writing teaching skills with students of all levels to inspire them towards finding their own written voice.

Thomas Ross

Meteorology of the Blue Ridge | Five weeks: Tuesdays, February 18 – March 17, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Weather for Gardeners | Two weeks: Thursdays, March 19 – 26, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

Tom Ross is a meteorologist who is retired from federal service. He was a senior forecaster at Accu-Weather, Inc., for nearly 10 years before starting work in 1985 with the National Climatic Data Center. He was involved in climate monitoring for several years, creating and updating a monthly popular “Climate Watch” series. He owns High Country Nursery in Fairview, specializing in growing Japanese maples, conifers, roses and other fine landscape plants and trees.

Tim Spira

Wildflower Ecology: A Step Beyond Identification | Wednesday, April 8, 6 – 8 p.m.

Tim Spira is a plant ecologist, native plant gardener, and professor emeritus at Clemson University where he taught plant ecology and field botany, as well as a summer wildflower course for teachers. He’s the author of Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont: A Naturalist’s Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia, as well asWaterfalls and Wildflowers in the Southern Appalachians: 30 Great Hikes (both UNC Press).

Aaron Steed

All About Corvids | Friday, March 20, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Nocturnal Birds of the Blue Ridge | Friday, March 27, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., and Friday, April 3, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Spring in Sandy Mush: A Field Trip | Friday, April 17, 8 – 11:15 a.m.

Aaron Steed has been interested in birds and nature his entire life. Originally from Wilmington, NC, Aaron is a graduate of the UNC-Asheville Biology department and has worked numerous ornithological field positions across the US, focusing primarily on endangered species. Aaron currently works as office manager and tour guide at Ventures Birding, and has led groups to Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Honduras, Belize, Peru, Cuba, and Spain as well as a multitude of destinations across the US. He lives in West Asheville with his wife and menagerie of pets (2 cats, 2 dogs, 10 chickens, and a beta fish).

Simon Thompson

Duck Day: A Field Trip | Friday, January 31, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The Wonder of Birds | Tuesday, February 18, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Spring Migration of Birds | Wednesday, March 25, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Bird Songs of the Spring Woodlands | Thursday, April 9, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Simon Thompson is an international birding expert originally from Suffolk, England, who now calls Western North Carolina home. He spent six months in China studying crane and birds of prey migration as a member of the British China Crane Watch expedition. Thompson is the director of the Ventures Nature Travel program in Tryon, N.C.

Tom Tribble

Survival by Degrees: Birds and Climate Change | Tuesday, February 11, 4 – 6 p.m.

Tom Tribble served six years as President and is now Immediate Past President of Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society, the local Audubon chapter that covers Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and several adjacent counties. Tom has been an Audubon member and avid birder for more than 40 years. Tom worked for 30 years at the NC Center for Geographic Information & Analysis, the State’s Geographic Information System, retiring in 2013. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a Master’s degree from Duke University.

Marc Williams

Winter Tree Identification A | Saturday, February 8, 1 – 4 p.m.
Spring Tree Identification A | Friday, April 17, 1 – 4 p.m. 

Ethnobiologist Marc Williams has taught hundreds of classes to thousands of people about plants, humans, other life forms and their interface. His training includes a B.A. in Environmental Studies/Sustainable Agriculture from Warren Wilson College with a minor in Business and a M.A. in Appalachian Studies/Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University with a minor in Planning/Geography. He is the Executive director of Plants and Healers International and has spent over 20 years working at various restaurants, farms, and travels throughout 30 countries in Central/ North/South America, Europe and all 50 states in the USA.

Steve Yurkovich

Geology of the Blue Ridge | Five weeks: Tuesdays, March 17 – April 14, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Steve Yurkovich is a professor emeritus at Western Carolina University. For 40 years he was an educator in the geosciences program and researcher in Appalachian geology. He holds a doctorate from Brown University and is a licensed N.C. Professional Geologist. Yurkovich has produced a number of research publications related to the geology of western North Carolina and has led classes and field trips for numerous school, civic, environmental and professional groups.