2023 Education Learning Tracks @ D.I.G. Conference
Discover industry best practices, fresh ideas, and creative solutions to common challenges when you take part in education, tours, workshops, and more.

Keynote Speaker: Nick Castro, Soluble Solutions
Nick is a highly accomplished professional with over 20 years of experience in Agriculture and a passion for mental health education. With a background in Tropical Plants and Soil Sciences, Nick brings a global perspective to his work, managing teams of > 100 individuals and budgets > $45 million.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Charlie Hall, Professor of Horticultural Sciences
Dr. Charlie Hall is a sought-after speaker in our industry, an economist training and a professor in Texas A&M’s Department of Horticultural Sciences. Dr. Hall currently serves as Chief Economist for AmericanHort and as Co-Chair of the Advisory Council for Seed Your Future.

Speaker: Heather Holm, Pollinator Conservationist and Author
Heather Holm is a pollinator conservationist and award-winning author of four books: Pollinators of Native Plants (2014), Bees (2017), Wasps (2021), and Common Native Bees of the Eastern United States (2022).

Speaker: Elliott Duemler, Native Perennials Manager
Elliott Duemler provides the native-plant industry leadership in the Midwest as the Native Perennial Manager at Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries. He oversees all aspects related to TCRN’s perennial plug production.

Speaker: Kim Grant, Director of Digital Strategy at 2060 Digital
Kim’s sales and marketing career spans 30 years with the last decade dedicated to developing the St. Louis division of 2060 Digital, a performance-oriented agency focused on driving measurable outcomes for local, regional, and national brands. 2060 Digital is in 10 markets nationwide and is a division of Hubbard Interactive.

Speaker: Dr. Jared Hoyle, PhD, Manager, Corteva Agriscience
Dr. Jared Hoyle is a Territory Manager for Corteva Agriscience covering multiple Midwest states, living in Manhattan, KS. Hoyle serves the turf and ornamental industry not only with Corteva but also by maintaining various leadership positions, presenting and publishing within the T&O industry at regional and national levels.

Speaker: Melissa Custic, The Morton Arboretum
Melissa Custic is the Chicago Region Trees Initiative Operations Manager, overseeing projects developed by multi-agency work groups and helping the Chicago Region become the greenest, most livable, most resilient region in North America.

Speaker: Matt Bunch, The Giving Grove
Matt has 30 years experience in the horticulture field, in commercial, residential, municipal, botanical garden, and non-profit capacities. Matt is the Program Director of the Giving Grove orchard program of Kansas City Community Gardens, and the Horticulturist for The Giving Grove National Org.

Speaker: Adam Linnemann, The Green Executive®
Adam Linnemann is the founder and CEO of The Green Executive, a landscape industry peer group and consulting firm. With over 29 years of landscape industry experience, Adam has grown his nationally recognized landscape company, Linnemann Lawn Care & Landscaping, Inc. from the bottom up.

Speaker: Hilary Noonan, Syntax Land Design and Mad Hatter Compost Tea
Hilary Noonan, MLA, focuses on making every site she works on healthier through a dynamic systems design focus. She loves the combination of science, engineering, and art that the practice of landscape architecture affords her. She holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Kansas State University, 2009, a BA from Yale University, 1991, and a Certification in Permaculture, 2011.

Speaker: Jean Ponzi, Missouri Botanical Garden
Jean Ponzi serves as Green Resources Manager at Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. A 28-year veteran of the Garden’s EarthWays Center team, Green Jean currently applies her sustainability expertise as manager of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, operator of the Garden’s Green Resources Info Service, and on the leadership team for the regional initiative BiodiverseCity St. Louis.

Speaker: Rebecca Hankins, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri
Rebecca is passionate about plants and what they teach us about resiliency, diversity, partnership, and community. At Forest ReLeaf, she advocates for environmental justice in communities suffering from low tree canopy. Rebecca earned her Certificate of Proficiency in Horticulture at St. Louis CC – Meramec.

Speaker: Cody Azotea, Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions, Inc.
Senior account manager with 13 years of landscape experience in St. Louis. Currently overseeing landscape maintenance contract with Washington University in St. Louis Danforth and School of Medicine campuses. Passionate about horticulture and connecting people to plants. M.S. Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, ISA certified arborist and Grow Native professional certification.

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Speaker: Anita Brooks, Motivational Speaker, Author, Business Coach
A multi-published, best-selling author, from the page and stage, Anita passionately inspires fresh starts with fresh faith. Through her P4 Power Coaching™ practice, she helps improve processes, performance, and profitability, by teaching leaders how to plug invisible drains and effectively deal with people challenges.

Speaker: Dr. Shawn Askew, Professor of Turfgrass Weed Science
A professor of turfgrass weed science at Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. Dr. Askew's primary responsibility is to provide statewide leadership in the development of weed control programs for turfgrass. He conducts research, teaches classes, and mentors graduate students at Virginia Tech.

Speaker: Matt Bruns - Toro Company, Regional Sales Manager
Matt is an IA Regional Ambassador, has the IA’s CIC and CLIA Certifications, current EPA Water Sense Partner, and is a past Education Director for the St. Louis GIA. Due to his industry knowledge and positive feedback from participants, Matt is a regular speaker at many events.

Speaker: Kelly Dowell, Owner, Keldo Digital
Kelly Dowell has over 15 years of experience working in one of St. Louis’s largest residential lawn maintenance companies. She's worked in all areas of the business including admin, operations, sales, account management, and HR. She won Lawn and Landscape Magazine’s Emerging Leader Award which encouraged her to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams of creating Keldo Digital, a digital marketing and consulting agency.

Speaker: Laura Fernald Ekasetya, The Piet Oudolf Collection
Laura worked at Lurie Garden for 10 years first as Horticulturist, then as Director and Head Horticulturist. Her responsibilities included guiding Lurie Garden as it matures – maintaining the vision of its designers while leading it into a new climate era.

Speaker: Dr. Brad Jakubowski, PH.D - Candidate of Agronomy
Dr. Brad Jakubowski has been involved with the Green Industry for over 25 years in golf, sports fields, and education. Brad has lectured on topics ranging from meteorology and agronomy to irrigation, fertility and golf course management. Currently an Instructor of Turfgrass at Penn State University.

Speaker: Dr. Jonathan Larson, University of Kentucky
Dr. Jonathan Larson is an Extension professor for the University of Kentucky who provides insect expertise for people dealing with issues in urban landscapes, turfgrasses, nursery crops, greenhouses, and households. He teaches across a variety of platforms using social media, videos, and traditional Extension publications.

Speaker: Danny Moncheski, ISA Certified Arborist
Upon obtaining a B.S. from the University of Missouri, He has worked as an Utility Arborist, Consultant Forester, Sales Arborist, and Community Forester before transitioning into his current roles as head of tree sales at Kirkwood Gardens Nursery/SiteOne Landscape Supply.

Speaker: Dave Gunn - ISA Certified Arborist
Owner of St. Louis Asethetic Pruning, Dave Gunn has worked in the horticulture industry since 2008, and worked for the Missouri Botanical Garden from 2012-2021. Dave is an ISA Certified Arborist and graduated with a degree in Horticulture from Meramec Community College. He currently owns and operates St. Louis Aesthetic Pruning, specializing in the structural and aesthetic pruning of trees and shrubs.

Speaker: Paul Jacobs, USGA Argonomist
Paul has been with the USGA for 6 years as an agronomist. He graduated from Michigan State and before joining the USGA he worked at a local course in Michigan, then to Tucson CC, Shinnecock Hills GC, and Bel-Air CC.

Speaker: Dr. Greg Munshaw, Director of Agronomy, Pinnacle Ag Research Center
Gregg is the author of numerous scientific and extension articles and has educated about turf around the world. Dr. Munshaw is passionate about reducing turfgrass inputs and has previously served as the Director of Research for the Alliance for Low-Input Sustainable Turf, a non-profit dedicated to developing improved varieties. He focuses on turfgrass stress alleviation testing new genetics, products, and practices to improve turf and soil health.

Speaker: Paul Wait - National Irrigation Sales Manager, Zurn Industries, LLC
As a product specialist on Zurn Wilkins water safety and water control products, Paul has spent his tenure at Zurn Industries focusing on sales, strategic deployment, training, and marketing.

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