Keynote Speakers

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The 2020 Master Gardener College features two dynamic keynote speakers on Saturday, June 13:

Jeff Epping, Director of Horticulture, Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Sustainability in Focus: A Practical Approach to an Environmentally-Friendly Garden

Jeff Epping The news is full of dire predictions about global warming and its impacts on pollinators, birds, and our resources. Learn how to be part of the solution through sustainable gardening practices that enhance the environment through reduced use of chemicals, water and energy. Jeff will discuss practical applications for incorporating environmentally sound, research-based practices into your home garden.Jeff has been the Director of Horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin since 1994, and practices sustainable gardening on a large scale, but will share how he has been using these techniques in his own home garden for over 15 years.  With design ideas, plant recommendations and maintenance tips, Jeff will help you keep sustainability in focus.

Jeff has been Director of Horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens for more than 25 years. He oversees the horticultural operations and garden designs of more than ten inspirational display gardens, show-casing the best plants for south-central Wisconsin. He and his staff practice and preach environmentally conscious gardening, which is reflected in their award winning gardens visited by more than 350,000 visitors a year. Their designs put plants at the forefront to create gardens that celebrate the region, enhance the senses and satisfy our innate desire to connect with the natural world. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jeff holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture and regularly lectures and teaches throughout the country on great garden plants and designs for northern gardens.


Jared Barnes, Assistant Professor, Stephen F. Austin State University

Keep Growing: Share the Love of Plants

Jared Barnes

Horticulture was the original social network, connecting cultures since the dawn of humanity. Today, we need plants more than ever to bring us together as concerns over climate change, health and well being, and social issues plague our society. Join Dr. Jared as he shares how Master Gardeners can continue the tradition of using flora to teach and inspire others to cultivate a better world.

Jared started gardening when he was five years old, and since then he has enthusiastically pursued how to best cultivate plants and cultivate minds. He currently fulfills those passions as an assistant professor of horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.  

He obtained his Ph.D. in horticultural science from North Carolina State University; he interned the summer of 2008 at The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in Pennslyvania; and he has traveled around the United States and into eleven countries to gain a national and global perspective of horticulture. His passion has been recognized by peers in interviews in Organic Gardening, Greenhouse Grower, AmericanHort Connect, Ken Druse’s Real Dirt, and Nursery Management, and his articles have appeared in Fine Gardening and Carolina Gardener

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