Denise Ellsworth, Program Director for Honeybees and Native Pollinator Education at Ohio State University in Wooster.

Denise directs the honey bee and native pollinator education program through the Ohio State University Department of Entomology on the Wooster campus. In this outreach position, she supports and teaches beekeepers, farmers, gardeners and others across the state through a variety of workshops, webinars, written materials and electronic resources.

In addition to chasing bees, Denise enjoys gardening, yoga, photography and hiking the towpath trail along the Tuscarawas river with her husband and dogs.


Anita Schiller. Director of the Biological Controls Initiative and of Mosquito Biocontrol Development in Harris County, Texas, Precinct 4.

Since 2012, Anita directs and administers Harris County Precinct 4’s program to identify, research and develop effective agents for biological control of medically important arthropod species, that is insects, spiders and similar animals. Her current focus is the evaluation and development of mass rearing protocols for the US native Mosquito Assassin, Toxorhynchites rutilus, for its use to suppress pest mosquitoes around human habitations in Harris County Texas.

Leading up to her current role, she worked at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center for 12 years and held the Staff Master Naturalist position where she taught about local botany, conservation, zoology and pollination ecology to a varied audience from Kindergarten to adults. 

Anita’s work is at the core of her beliefs and her passion for conservation. Biocontrol strategies are an essential part of Integrated Pest Management or IPMs. While they are somewhat stigmatized for being too involved or ineffective, to her they are the most pragmatic way to landscape. She says: “‘Stacking the deck by careful planning against problems’ is like getting vaccinated and taking antimalarial drugs before traveling to the tropics.  I am cheerleading for beneficials and bio-controls using science to back up our claims and passion to change minds.  It’s a slow process but it can and will happen- hopefully in my lifetime.”


Tom Smarr, Horticulture and Natural Areas Director; Twenty-First Century Parks, Louisville

Tom Smarr is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in horticulture, botanic gardens, conservation, and organic landscaping. He holds a master’s degree in urban horticulture from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He has worked for established institutions such as the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle, WA and New England Wild Flower Society’ botanical garden “Garden in the Woods” in Framingham, MA. Tom’s most notable work has been leading horticulture management at new urban designed parks at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston, MA built on top of the infamous “Big Dig” and the High Line in New York City, NY a park built on top of an abandon railway bridge. He now leads horticulture and natural areas for Parklands of Floyds Fork, nearly 4,000 acres of parks ribbon that opened in 2016 by 21st Century Parks Inc. located in Louisville, KY.

Tom speaks widely on the importance of modern parks in urban society along with current horticulture design trends with plants and ecologically sustainable practices. He is committed to the preservation of our cultural landscapes through sensible design, horticulture and ecological practices, and public education.

Tom will speak on how to increasing habitat and landscape functionality with an eye to improving aesthetics. Many of our lands have been damaged and invaded through decades of different land practices. How do we reclaim a healthy ecological life cycle while providing beauty and usefulness? Do we need to make major modifications or utilize the alterations to the landscape? Tom will delve into these issues addressing landscape reclamation to improve wildlife habitat and public usefulness.


Russ Turpin Senior Environmental Specialist at EcoGro, Lexington.

For the past 12 years, Russ has been involved with Lexington’s ecological projects through design, construction and stewardship. He develops landscape plans and manages native plant selection, procurement, installation, monitoring and plant care. He is an ISA cetified arborist. As a licensed commercial Pesticide Operator and Applicator, Russ oversees invasive species management programs. He is a graduate from the Kentucky Professional Environmental Education Certification program and conducts educational programs and stakeholder participation events to engage the community with his projects. gives presentations to a variety of professional and community organizations. He has written several articles about EcoGro’s projects and gives presentations to a variety of professional and community organizations. He helped establish the Lexington Wild Ones chapter and served as its first president. With a personal commitment to local water quality and sustainability initiatives, he offers technical assistance and voluntary service for community plantings, stream restorations, rain gardens and other “Green” storm water practices. Russ has been appointed to serve on LFUCG’s Stormwater Stakeholder Advisory Committee and on the LFUCG Greenspace Commission to advise local government on environmental initiatives.