Monday: Virtual Education Day

 MG College Banner Image - new logo

Join us on Monday, June 13 for the Virtual Education Day.  This day is completely virtual and can be viewed online.* It features five spectacular speakers addressing topics you won’t want to miss!  Our theme of reconnecting MSU Extension Master Gardeners (EMGs) with MSU means that all of this year’s virtual speakers are MSU faculty and researchers who will cover interesting and timely topics.  Sessions will provide opportunities for live questions and will also qualify for MSU EMG education hours.

*You may register for this event with or without registering for the in-person days on June 16/17.

Beronda Montgomery, MSU Foundation Professor and Interim Assistant Vice President of the Office of Research and Innovation  Michigan State University,

Lessons from Plants


Dr. Beronda L. Montgomery uses “Lessons from Plants” to share plant-based knowledge and to develop and disseminate accessible lessons on the awareness and adaptability of plants. More information coming soon!

Bio: Beronda L. Montgomery, Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and scholar who pursues a common theme of understanding how individuals perceive, respond to, and are impacted by the environments in which they exist. Dr. Montgomery is currently MSU Foundation Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University. She also serves as Assistant Vice President for Research & Innovation at MSU. Dr. Montgomery has been elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2020), the American Academy of Microbiology (2018), the American Society of Plant Biologists (2021), and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2022). Among other honors, she was also named one of Cell’s 100 Inspiring Black Scientists in America in 2020 and was the winner of the 2021 Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award.


Bradley Rowe, Professor, MSU Department of Horticulture

Green Roofs: Taking the Landscape and Garden to New Heights 

Brad Rowe

As we continue to construct impervious surfaces due to development, the necessity to recover green space is becoming increasingly critical. Vegetated or green roofs are one potential remedy for this problem as they can provide numerous environmental and economic benefits to an individual building owner, its inhabitants, and to the community at large. Learn about the various types of green roofs, how they are constructed and suitable plant species, as well as the impact they have on the environment.  Hear about the research being done on green roofs at MSU and get step by step instructions on how to build one yourself!

Brad Rowe received his Ph.D. in Horticultural Science from North Carolina State University and joined the faculty at Michigan State in 1997. He has directed the MSU green roof research program since its inception in 2000, was involved in the design and installation of the 10.4 acre green roof at Ford Motor Company’s truck assembly plant in Dearborn, was the founding chair of the international Green Roofs for Healthy Cities research committee, and was the recipient of  the GRHC Excellence in Research Award in 2008. His green roof research focuses on plant selection, growing substrates, stormwater management, energy conservation, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and roof vegetable production. He teaches courses in plant propagation, landscape construction, landscape contract management, viticulture and berry production, and green roofs and walls. Brad also owns and operates a small blueberry farm.


Norm Lownds, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Theme Gardens: Connecting Kids and Plants

Norm Lownds

Join Dr. Norm to explore using Theme Gardens as an effective way to engage kids with plants and gardens. Explore what it means to “experience plants” and then take a walk (maybe even a run) through the 4-H Children’s Gardens and the Theme Gardens there. Spend a little in the Perfume Garden, Performing Plants Garden, Dinosaur Garden, Butterfly Garden, Pizza Garden and others. Get some inspiration and then let your imaginations run with your Theme Garden ideas and plans.

Dr. Lownds holds BS, MS and PhD degrees in Horticulture from Michigan State University.  He has been Curator of the Michigan 4-H Children's Gardens for the past 25 years and has actively worked with teachers, students and school gardens for over 30 years, first in the desert climate of Southern New Mexico and now at Michigan State University.


John Biernbaum, Emeritus Professor, Michigan State University

Teacher seeks pupils.  Must have earnest desire to weed out myths and cultivate a new vision supporting a return to planetary evolution 

John Biernbaum

John's first year away from MSU provided time to reflect, read and begin compiling years of personal and professional experience into the most important story he can share. The presentation is about developing a new vision and tasks to increase the probability that humanity can continue to garden and have a healthy lifestyle here on planet Earth. His goal is to increase your optimism that by changing perceptions and minds we can return to a process of planetary evolution that has been disrupted. John will share some important concepts he has learned, and demonstrate how to weed out myths about the development of agriculture and human “civilization” the last few thousand years. John will propose that based on historical precedence we can cultivate a new creation story and vision of the role of humanity in the community of life.  

For 25 years, John Biernbaum has been co-owner, operator, planner and caretaker of Pear Tree Farm, a 25-year-old, 10-acre homestead with approximately 0.35 acre of managed annual and perennial gardens, a passive solar greenhouse, a buried root cellar and 3 acres (12 sections) of fenced pasture for rotational grazing.  He is an Emeritus Professor of Horticulture at Michigan State University, where he most recently taught courses in organic farming principles and practices, organic transplant production, compost production and use, and protected cultivation in passive solar greenhouses. He did research and farmer/community outreach on organic soil and fertility management, use of high tunnels and vermicomposting of food scraps for year-round diversified organic farming and urban agriculture.  He completed a Permaculture Design Certificate course in 2021.

Rufus Isaacs, Professor and Extension Specialist, Michigan State University

How Can Michigan Gardeners Help Save the Bees?

Rufus Isaacs

In this presentation, Dr. Isaacs will review what we know about the current status of Michigan’s wild bee species, how gardens can be made more supportive for these valuable insects, and how MSU Extension Master Gardeners can contribute to community science projects that are tracking bee populations. The talk will provide links to existing programs that provide a toolbox of information that can help you, your garden association, and groups you work with support the ongoing efforts to monitor these beneficial insects.

Dr. Isaacs is a Professor and Extension Specialist at Michigan State University where he leads the Berry Crops Entomology laboratory in the Department of Entomology (College of Agriculture & Natural Resources). His research and extension program is a regionally and nationally recognized source for information on how to manage insects that influence vineyards and berry farms. Pollination is a key issue for the Michigan berry industries, plus it has become of international importance due to concerns about bee health, so his team is engaged in projects to understand the diversity, ecology, and management of bees and other pollinators in Michigan farms and natural landscapes.