Keynoting the symposium is Larry Weaner, principal and founder of Weaner Landscape Associates of Philadelphia, PA, combining expertise in horticulture, environmental science, and the traditions of garden design. His design and restoration work spans more than ten states and has been profiled in national publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Garden Design, American Gardener, Wildflower Magazine, and ASLA’s “The Dirt” blog.
Weaner has received numerous awards for his work, including the Landscape Design Award from the New England Wildflower Society for use of native plants in “exceptional and distinctive landscape compositions” and the Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award from The Native Plant Center. The Garden Club of America awarded him an honorary membership in 2015.
His approach to creating and managing native landscapes appeals to audiences nationwide. Larry has presented at American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual Meetings and state chapter meetings, Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) events, Cultural Landscape Foundation tours, and the Garden Writers Association National Conference. He has also spoken at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, the New York Botanical Garden, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Mad Gardeners Conference, the Millersville Native Plant Conference, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, the National Arboretum in Washington, DC, the National Wildlife Federation, the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, the New England Grows conference, and the U.S. Botanic Garden, among many other venues. He is a founding member of Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), a former member of APLD’s Environmental Committee, and an Affiliate member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).
In 1990, Weaner developed New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL), a conference and workshop series dedicated to advancing the art and science of natural landscape design. Co-sponsors of NDAL programs include the Atlanta Botanic Garden, Brandywine Conservancy, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Connecticut College Arboretum, Holden Arboretum, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Morton Arboretum, and Tower Hill Botanic Garden, among others. This influential series has a loyal following in the landscape field and in 2016 received the New England Wildflower Society’s first annual Regional Impact Award.
Weaner recently authored Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change with Tom Christopher (Timber Press, 2016). Their book received a 2017 Book Award from the American Horticultural Society. Symposium goers may purchase this book and have it signed by the author.
Dwayne Estes, PhD, is the Executive Director at Southeastern Grasslands Initiative. He is a Full Professor of Biology, Director of the APSU Herbarium, and Principal Investigator for the Center of Excellence for Field Biology. In January 2017, he co-founded SGI with colleague, Theo Witsell. Under his leadership as director of SGI, the fledgling organization has secured more than $2 million dollars in funding, and in the past five years he and his collaborators have been awarded three grants from the National Science Foundation. Dwayne’s research interests include the flora, ecology, history, biodiversity, and biogeography of the Southeastern U.S. with emphasis on grasslands. He has published 20+ publications and co-authored the Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee published in 2015 by the University of Tennessee Press. He enjoys mentoring his six graduate students and working hand-in-hand with a dedicated SGI team. He has been active in building diverse support for Southeastern US grasslands conservation, including bringing together philanthropists, government agencies, non-profits, corporate and small-business partners, private landowners and ranchers, historians, educators, and citizen scientists.
Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, PhD is the Director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. The State Botanical Garden is a 313 acre university garden with 30 acres of cultivated gardens and five miles of trails through natural areas. As part of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, the garden serves the citizens of Georgia through educational programming, horticultural expertise and display gardens, and conservation programs developed at the Mimsie Lanier Center for Native Plant Studies. She has a M.S. and Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Georgia, and she completed her B.A in Biology at Boston University. Until 2017 she served as the Vice President for Science and Conservation at the Atlanta Botanical Garden where she launched the Center for Southeastern Conservation and helped to host the inaugural Southeastern Partners in Plant Conservation meeting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, and GA Department of Natural Resources. She is the recipient of the 2016 Marsh Award for International Plant Conservation from Botanic Garden Conservation International, the 2016 Carl N. Becker Stewardship Award from the Natural Areas Association, and 2015 USDA Forest Service, Wings Across America International Award for Urban Communities in Conservation. Through collaborative partnerships, she has helped to build networks for conservation across the southeastern U.S. and develop community sustainability programs to establish native plants and pollinator habitats in greenspaces.