Bios & Sessions 2020

Keynote: Insect Apocalypse? What Is Really Happening, Why it Matters and How Native Plants are a Vital Part of the Solution by Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation,

  • You can thank insect pollinators for 1/3 of every mouthful of food that you eat.
  • Without small flies in streams for young fish to eat – your last grilled salmon would have been impossible.
  • If you like songbirds, you can thank an insect – 96% of birds rely on insects for survival.

With well over one million known species, insects and other invertebrates eclipse all other forms of life on Earth. They are essential to the reproduction of most flowering plants, including many fruits, vegetables, and nuts; they are food for birds, fish, and other animals; they filter water and help clean rivers and streams; and they clean up waste from plants and animals. Just four of the many insect services—dung burial, pest control, pollination, and wildlife nutrition—have an estimated annual value in the United States alone of at least $57 billion. They truly are the “little things that run the world.”

Though they are indisputably the most important creatures on earth, invertebrates are in trouble.  Recent regional reports and trends in biomonitoring suggest that insects are experiencing a multi continental crisis evident as reductions in abundance, diversity and biomass. Given the centrality of insects to terrestrial and freshwater aquatic ecosystems and the food chain that supports humans, the potential importance of this crisis cannot be overstated.

Native plants and insects are the fabric of the planet. These plants and animals have evolved together to form food and energy webs that are vital for all life on earth. If we hope to stem the losses of insect diversity and the services they provide, society must take steps at all levels to protect, restore and enhance native plant habitat across landscapes, from wildlands to farmlands to urban cores. Protecting and managing existing native plant habitat is an essential step as natural areas can act as reservoirs for invertebrate diversity.

Scott Hoffman Black will explain the latest science on insect declines and highlight important ways everyone can incorporate invertebrate conservation into their lives.

CROPPED_Scott Hoffman Black_Xerces Society - 07-23-2018

Scott Hoffman Black is an internationally renowned conservationist who has been at the forefront of the conservation movement for three decades. He is executive director of the Xerces Society, which under his leadership has become the premier invertebrate conservation organization in North America. Scott’s work has led to protection and restoration of habitat on millions of acres of rangelands, forests, and farmland as well as protection for many endangered species. He is an author of the best-selling Attracting Native Pollinators and Gardening for Butterflies and has written more than two hundred other publications including a recent chapter on climate change and insects. His work has been honored with several awards, including the 2011 Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences Honor Alumnus Award, the U.S. Forest Service Wings Across the Americas 2012 Butterfly Conservation Award and the 2019 Wings Across the Americas International Research Partnership Award.

Breakout Session 1

  • New to Natives Track: Native Plants for Patios, Pocket-Prairies and Postage-Stamp Yards by Deryn Davidson
    • Think using native plants in the landscape is just for land-owners and folks with large yards? Think again! In this talk we will discuss all of the ways that people with less space (down to a pot on a balcony or apartment patio) can use native plants to enrich their space and provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.
    • DerynDavidson (2)Deryn Davidson holds a B.S. in Horticulture from Colorado State University and a Master’s of Landscape Architecture from the University of Arizona. Her passion for native plants and pollinators grew during her time as a horticulturist at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. Currently, Deryn is the CSU Horticulture Extension Agent for Boulder County, a position in which she is able to help educate the public about the importance of pollinators and their habitat, good design, and responsible horticulture practices.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Seed Collection and Germination Theory by Mike Bone
    • Seed collection is an important part of any personal or public plant collection. How, where, when as well as some considerations will help you accomplish your goals. Understanding how seed work as well as being able to label and understand the parts of a seed will guide you into making smart choices on how to germinate. From gardening for your home to, maintaining a living collection, to mass harvesting for reclamation or sale seeds are the starting point of plant life. In this lecture we will go from the field to the point of putting the seed into media.
    • mike-bone.jpgMike has been with the Denver Botanic gardens since 2002 where he has focused his career on the study of plants of the steppe regions of the world and their adjacent mountain ranges. In his time at the DBG Mike has traveled to Central and Middle Asia, Southern Africa, and extensively throughout the American west to collect seed and study the plants and ecology of the steppes. When not traveling Mike oversees the Steppe Garden, trial gardens, plant breeding, and propagation of wild collected material brought into the gardens. Mike has been working with the Plant Select® program for 20 years to bring climate appropriate plants to the marketplace for the Colorado front range and beyond. In his personal time Mike is an enthusiastic gardener and collector of plants. At his home in suburban Denver, CO Mike has rock gardens, crevice gardens, steppe gardens, a small greenhouse, and vegetable gardens. As an author Mike has been a contributor for 6 books published through the Denver Botanic gardens which includes Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World’s Semi-arid Regions. Mike also produces articles for local, regional, and national publications.

Breakout Session 2

  • New to Natives Track: Kill Your Lawn and Save Colorado by Jim Tolstrup
    • The average person in Colorado uses 90 gallons of water every day on landscaping alone. With a changing climate and a rapidly growing population our current rate of water consumption is unsustainable. As a result, our rivers are drying up and opportunities for habitat creation within our landscapes are being lost. For over a decade, Jim Tolstrup and the High Plains Environmental Center have been promoting the use of beautiful, water-saving, native plants in landscaping. They have also been helping Homeowners, HOAs, and Developers to establish new native grass areas and convert thirsty turf grass into native grass. Jim will take participants through a step by step process for establishing native grass, including timelines, costs, different grass types, and long-term management strategies.
    • IMG_9374Jim Tolstrup is the Executive Director of the High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland, CO, a unique model for preserving native bio-diversity in midst of development. His past work includes serving as Land Steward of Shambhala Mountain Center, and running his own landscape design business in Kennebunkport, Maine where he installed gardens at George and Barbara Bush’s “Summer White House.” Jim received a Certificate in Gardening Arts from the Landscape Institute of Harvard University and the Arnold Arboretum. He teaches widely throughout Colorado, has written numerous articles on gardening and environmental stewardship, and has received awards for landscape design from, Plant Select, ALSA, ALCC, and Denver Water.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Reality Check: When Natives Do and Don’t Work for Landscaping and Gardens, and How to Win that Game by Kenton Seth
    • There are as many pitfalls and risks as there are glorious, powerful, benefits to landscaping with natives, and we must become masters at navigating these, if we are going to sell the world on the idea of landscaping with natives. Learn some of the top and most dangerous mistakes to avoid for our region from those who have made those mistakes for you.
    • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKenton Seth is a Western Colorado based Garden Designer and bona fide plant whore. He cannot help himself but work on natives, dry meadows, and rock gardens for work and pleasure, with a small backyard nursery to supply his designs with rarer and more ridiculous plants. He is a plant hunter and lecturer nationally and overseas in the rock garden world, and is co-authoring a book on crevice gardening. His business: and educational blog:

Breakout Session 3

  • New to Natives Track: Your Yard Can Make a Difference: Habitat Gardening Fundamentals by Irene Shonle
    • August 20, 2012 005 Irene (2)While we see depressing news about extinctions and species struggling, it can be empowering to realize that we can actively help pollinators and birds in our own yards.  This talk will cover the fundamentals of habitat gardening, including species selections for birds and pollinators.
    • Irene Shonle is the Horticulture Associate for Colorado State University Extension in El Paso County and has worked extensively with the Native Plant Master program.  She is past Vice President of the Colorado Native Plant Society. She has taught in the field, in the classroom, and at conferences around the State, and gardens mostly with natives at her home and in demonstration gardens.
  • Knows the Natives Track: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: IPPM for Native Gardens by Amy Yarger
    • Pests and weeds make up a small percentage of the species we encounter, and yet they have a significant impact on our landscapes, our pocketbooks and our peace of mind! In response, many native plant gardeners seek an approach that will protect the plants and the other beneficial organisms they rely on. Amy will present examples of Integrated Pollinator and Pest/Weed Management (IPPM), a maintenance framework that takes these considerations into account for healthier, more resilient landscapes.
    • Amy Yarger (2)Amy Yarger has worked in the public horticulture field since 1996. She received a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Irvine and then went on to study plant-animal interactions at the University of Michigan. Her master’s thesis concerned the effects of noxious weeds on pollinator-plant relationships. Her work at the Butterfly Pavilion, where she has worked since 2000, touches on many of her passions: plants, insects, habitat conservation and science education. She is currently on the board of the Colorado Native Plant Society, where she serves on the Horticulture and Education and Outreach committees.

Breakout Session 4

  • New to Natives Track: Right Plant, Right Place: Reading the Landscape of Your Yard by Susan Tweit
    • You’ve decided to reintegrate native plants into your landscaping. How do you know what will grow where? Plant ecologist and lifelong native-plant lover Susan J. Tweit will walk you through how to interpret plant needs from nursery labels and other guides, and how to read the landscape of your yard to “see” where each type of plant will be happiest. Learn how to discern microclimates—that hot spot by a south-facing wall could be the perfect place for a desert garden, for instance. The place that never gets winter sun could grow a mountain glade. Find out how to identify where the wind is worst, where the cold air settles in winter, and a quick and dirty test for soil texture. Map water-flow from buildings and paved surfaces, and learn how to channel that bonus irrigation to areas that may need an extra drink. Discover how to work with your yard to grow rewarding native plant gardens with less work.

    • Susan J. Tweit (2)Award-winning writer Susan J. Tweit is a plant biologist who began her career studying wildfires, grizzly bear habitat and sagebrush communities in Yellowstone National Park. She has written twelve books about nature and life, including The Rocky Mountain Garden Survival Guide, hailed as “the instruction book that should have come with your yard.” Tweit’s work has appeared in magazines and newspapers ranging from Audubon and Popular Mechanics to High Country News and the Los Angeles Times. She writes the popular “Whole Life” column for Rocky Mountain Gardening magazine, is Rocky Mountain Native Plants columnist for the home and garden design website Houzz, and co-founder of the Habitat Hero project. Her landscape designs and habitat restoration projects have won recognition from The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Rockies, and the North American Rock Garden Society. Tweit spent 20 years restoring a blighted industrial property and its block of urban creek in Salida, Colorado.
  • Knows the Natives Track: Rooftop and Rain Gardens by Jennifer Bousselot
    • Our Colorado native plants fill many niches in nature – they can also fill many niches in our urban environments. Native plants can be integrated into both dry (such as green roofs) and high water (such as rain garden) applications. Find out how to select appropriate native species and plan for earning additional environmental benefits from your landscape.
    • Jen2019Jennifer Bousselot is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University. Jen completed her doctorate research studying green roof species selection, including Colorado native plants, at Colorado State University in 2010 and has remained active in green roof research since then. Jen was on the 2018 City of Denver Green Roof Task Force that helped implement the green building ordinance. She is a co-author of the Colorado Native Plant Society published 3rd edition of Common Southwestern Native Plants.

Closing Panel: Before and After: Landscape Makeovers with Native Plants Panel: Deryn Davidson, Jim Tolstrup and Amy Yarger

  • Native plants can transform even the most degraded landscape into a lively oasis, but it takes planning and hard work. Deryn Davidson, Jim Tolstrup and Amy Yarger will walk you through three distinct native plant landscape projects and share how they navigated the opportunities and challenges along the way.