Grow Native! Committee

Stacy Armstrong

Stacy Armstrong
Missouri Department of Transportation

Imagine having a 385,000-acre yard to take care of—that’s what the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is faced with every day. As MoDOT’s senior roadside management specialist, Stacy Armstrong develops policies, guidelines and best practices for how these many acres are cared for. The objective is to have a roadside that is safe, provides long-term protection for the pavement and, at the same time, is visually appealing. She administers MoDOT’s roadside vegetation management programs, including mowing and herbicides, the incarcerated personnel program, and litter-prevention efforts. Along the way Armstrong has earned degrees in forestry, plant and soil science, and business. She serves on the executive boards of the International Adopt-A-Highway Association, the Missouri Community Forestry Council, and recently joined Grow Native! She is a past board member and current member of the National Roadside Vegetation Management Association. In her spare time she enjoys kickboxing, snow skiing and working on her old house.

Subcommittee: Education & Outreach (Chair)


Simon Barker
Simon Barker

Native Landscape Solutions

Co-owner of Native Landscape Solutions, Inc. and Barker Horticultural Services LLC, Simon pursues thoughtful approaches to landscaping and

always strives for innovation. There are many approaches to design, execution and stewardship for landscapes. Using different techniques, gleaned from a lifetime of experiences, Simon melds beautiful and functional landscapes from clients’ ideas and by reading the site.

Native plants and ecosystems have become a major palette that Simon draws from in the past 20, or more, years. Their resilience, beauty and ecosystem function as well as their great diversity provides inspiration and a vast repertoire to draw from.

The work of the two companies ranges from small residential landscapes to large corporate campuses and public spaces. Design, execution and long term stewardship carry ideas and vision from a first discussion to mature and long lived, beautiful landscapes.

Subcommittee: Membership Advancement (Chair)

Renee Benage

Renee Benage
Committee Chair

Renée has a life-long love of nature and gardening, and in 2008 became a Missouri Master Naturalist in the St. Louis area
Great Rivers Chapter.  For about fifteen years she has worked to add more native plants to her home landscape, and encourages others to do so as well.  She is excited to see how Grow Native! will evolve in its next 15 years.


Chris Cardwell
Green Hand Landscapes

Chris Cardwell

Chris Cardwell is the owner of Green Hand Landscapes, a residential landscape and gardening firm that services the Kansas City Metro. With a background in ecological restoration contracting, he brings his native plant expertise and advocacy to traditionally designed spaces. With an emphasis on storm water management through the use of natives, Chris designs, installs and maintains rain gardens, bio-swales and restored prairie plantings in addition to more conventional landscape maintenance and construction. Additionally, Chris has taken on the role of Program Manager for Bridging the Gap, a Kansas City-based non-profit, designing and implementing the Green Stewards Program – a workforce development program to educate and equip maintenance workers for Kansas City’s green infrastructure storm water management installations. In his spare time, Chris loves to read, hike, cook and play music.

Subcommittee: Education and Outreach


Carrie Coyne

Carrie Coyne

St. Louis Community College

As the Horticulture Program Facilitator at St. Louis Community College Carrie supports students, faculty, and staff while managing the day-to-day activities of the Program. She is focused on fostering students on their path to success and building a strong, resilient Career and Technical Education Program. Prior to her service at STLCC, she practiced landscape architecture at SWT Design where she utilized her passion for horticulture, arboriculture, and native ecologies on built projects across the country. She holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and an Associate of Horticulture from STLCC. Carrie is a Missouri registered landscape architect and ISA certified arborist.


Carol DavitCarol Davit
Executive Director, Missouri Prairie Foundation

Executive Director Carol Davit works with the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) board of directors and committees and oversees all operations of MPF – including fundraising, strategic planning, communications, advocacy, the Grow Native! program, and administration, and has edited the Missouri Prairie Journal since 1996. Davit has worked for 20 years in the conservation and environmental fields in communications, development, administration, and leadership capacities. She has worked for private, nonprofit conservation groups and at the municipal and state government levels. Carol also serves on the Jefferson City Environmental Quality Commission and the Jefferson City Stormwater Quality Advisory Committee. She has been the editor of field guides and written on a wide variety of natural history and conservation topics for the Missouri Prairie Journal, the Missouri Conservationist, and other publications. Davit and her husband and son are Stream Team #3631. Davit has a BA and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies in Interdisciplinary Studies, focusing on botany, English and French.

Subcommittee: Governance and Finance (Chair)


Paula DiazPaula Diaz
GardeNerd Consultations

Paula Diaz is the owner of GardeNerd Consultations, which provides designs incorporating native plants into traditional home and business landscapes. Paula is a University of Missouri Advanced Master Gardener who actively promotes native plant gardening through the Master Gardeners Speaker’s Bureau. She is a founding and current member of Raymore Tree Board, a member of Cass County Sustainability committee, and a professional GrowNative! Member, as well as a member of the Missouri Native Plant Society. Paula serves on the University of Missouri Cass County Extension Council and was awarded the University of Missouri’s highest volunteer honor in 2013 by being named to the MU Extension’s Leaders Honor Roll.

Subcommittee: Education & Outreach


James Faupel
St. Louis, MO

James Faupel

James Faupel currently works at Shaw Nature Reserve, division of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He has been a horticulturist there for a little over two years, where he manages about 3 acres of gardens and landscapes in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden, and close to 50 acres of prairie and open woodland restoration that surround the garden. James got his degree from the horticulture program at St. Louis Community College Meramec, and was a certified arborist through the ISA . His previous horticulture experiences range from working at a landscape contractor in St. Louis as their lead designer to also owning his own native landscaping service for a short time while working full time at a retail nursery in Chesterfield. James is very active in the St. Louis horticulture/native plant community and volunteers for the local chapter of the Wild Ones. He is their current vice president. James is constantly trying to educate himself further on our native flora, and their uses in both landscaping and restoration.

Subcommittee: Outreach & Education

Will Gibson
Down to Earth Services
Green Thumb Gardens

Will Gibson

William Roth Gibson is the founder of Down to Earth Services, a company that is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of native plant communities. The company designs, builds and maintains landscapes working with native plants and sustainable solutions. William also co-owns Green Thumb Gardens, a retail nursery suppling native plants to the Kansas City region.  William's background and education are in environmental history and political science. After receiving a dual degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, he returned to the KC region and started his path as an entrepreneur. Will serves on numerous committees in the KC area including: The Kansas City Native Plant Initiative, Tree Champions, Heartland Conservation Alliance, Grow Native!, and his local Chamber Organization. Will is a vocal advocate for changes in the Green Industry and work force development. 

Subcommittee: Marketing & Communications


Betty GraceBetty Grace
Grace Native Seed

Betty Grace and her husband, Jim, live on a farm in northwest Missouri and operate Grace Native Seed.  They raise, harvest and sell native grass and wildflower seed, grow plugs and plants, and run a forage-based cattle operation. The Graces have been members of Grow Native! since just after its inception, and are also long-time members of the Missouri Prairie Foundation.  Betty and Jim belong to the Missouri Native Seed Association where Betty has served as president.

Subcommittee: Membership Advancement


Jason JensenJason Jensen
Missouri Department of Conservation – Private Land Services

Jason Jensen is the Ozark Field Management Chief for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Private Land Services Division. Jenson oversees conservation services from his agency to private landowners in the Missouri Ozarks.

Subcommittee: Marketing & Communications


Nate KeenerNate Keener
Director of Sustainability, Lewis and Clark Community College

Nate Keener is Director of Sustainability at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL. He works with the Restoration Ecology program on campus to implement native planted bioswales and prairie installations. He is part of the Grow Native! Southwestern Illinois Committee tasked with bringing Grow Native! to Illinois. He was part of the planning committee responsible for the February, 2016 “Native by Design: Landscapes Beyond Beauty” workshop featuring Doug Tallamy. He is an avid naturalist who enjoys gardening and hiking.

Subcommittee: Education & Outreach


Becky McMahonBecky McMahon
DJM Ecological

Becky McMahon is a Project Ecologist and Vice President of DJM Ecological Services, Inc.   With a degree in Conservation Biology from Arizona State University, she specializes in habitat assessment, installation, and stewardship of wetlands, prairies, savannahs, woodlands, and glades.  She has directly impacted the pollinator movement within the Saint Louis metropolitan and surrounding states by working on over 70+ projects spanning private, municipal, state, and federal contracts.

Becky serves on the Board for the Open Space Council, is a certified arborist, a licensed pesticide applicator, and is OSHA 30 certified.  In her spare time she can be found climbing a tree with her daughter or hanging out with her duck and chickens.  Dirt under her nails is a sign of a day well spent.

Subcommittee: Marketing & Communications


Pete MillierPete Millier
Botanic Garden – University of Missouri, Columbia

Pete Millier is the Director of Campus Facilities-Landscape Services and the Mizzou Botanic Garden at the University of Missouri in Columbia. The Mizzou Botanic Garden’s purpose is to support the University’s mission of education, research, and extension to better the lives of all Missourians. The ‘teaching’ by MUBG of sustainable horticulture through demonstration, programming, or outreach contributes to improved lives. MUBG is always looking for innovative programs that share these same goals and Millier believes that the work of the Grow Native! program is one program that does this.

Subcommittee: Education & Outreach



Bill RuppertBill Ruppert
National Nursery Products – St. Louis

William (Bill) Ruppert, since 1990, owns and manages the St. Louis office of National Nursery Products, a horticultural sales, marketing and consulting company representing a diversity of wholesale growers specializing in Midwest natives, selections of American natives, and non-invasive ornamental landscape plants. Ruppert is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a B.S. in ornamental horticulture and landscape design. Upon graduation, he began his horticulture career working at the University coordinating the landscape redevelopment and enhancement of the University of Missouri – Columbia campus which was a large part of (then) Chancellor Barbara S. Uehling’s campus beautification initiative. Ruppert maintains active leadership involvement with a variety of professional green industry and community service organizations including Missouri Green Industry Alliance (MoGIA), MU Ag Alumni Board of Directors, Mizzou Botanic Garden Friends Board, MU Extension St. Louis Extension Council, Landscape and Nursery Association of Greater St. Louis, Gateway Greening, and Missouri Prairie Foundation Grow Native! Committee.

Subcommittees: Education & Outreach, Marketing & Communications


Jennifer SchamberJennifer Schamber
Greenscape Gardens

Jennifer Schamber is the General Manager of Greenscape Gardens in St. Louis, Missouri. She currently serves on the board of the Western Nursery & Landscape Association and is a writer for the Gateway Gardener Magazine. Previously, she has served as President of the Landscape & Nursery Association of Greater St. Louis as well as Vice Present of the Horticulture Co-op of Metro St. She is a recipient of Green Profit Magazine’s Young Retailer Award and Greenscape Gardens is recognized as a 2015 Revolutionary 100 Garden Center by Today’s Garden Center Magazine. She received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from St. Louis University and studied horticulture at St. Louis Community College-Meramec.

Subcommittees: Education & Outreach, Governance & Finance


Susan Van de RietSusie Van de Riet
Forest Park Forever

Susan is currently employed as a Gardener with the Horticulture staff for Forest Park Forever in St. Louis, MO.  She also runs a landscape design and consulting business specializing in native plants.  Her website ( serves as a resource for homeowners that promotes effective use of native plants in landscaping and shows the relationship between native plants, sustainability, and wildlife.

Subcommittee: Education & Outreach


Mervin WallaceMervin Wallace
Missouri Wildflowers Nursery

Mervin Wallace, Brazito, MO, has been in the business of propagating and selling plants of Missouri genetic origin for more than 30 years. Through the years Mervin has also grown into his well-qualified role of educator. His Missouri Wildflowers Nursery catalog has become a handbook for beginning and longtime native plant gardeners.

Mervin has earned the respect of his naturalist peers and has given us more access to some very fine plants and the knowledge to grow them well.

Subcommittee: Governance & Finance


Virginia Woulfe-Beile
Sierra Club/Piasa Palisades Group

Hi, I am Virginia Woulfe-Beile, Three Rivers Project Coordinator for the Piasa Palisades Group of the Sierra Club. My education background is in Horticulture and Organizational leadership. Before joining the staff of the Sierra Club I worked in land management as a Golf Course and Park’s Superintendent. As much as I loved working outdoors I was experiencing a moral dilemma in regards to manipulating landscapes with chemical inputs. I wanted to be true to my love for nature and all things wild and beautiful as well as quality of life issues in my community.  Being involved with the Sierra Club, first professionally through public land use issues and eventually as a member and volunteer, I found I was able to follow my passions. I was elected to serve on the Piasa Palisades Executive Committee in 2007 and joined the staff in 2012.

The Three Rivers Project works in Madison, Calhoun and Jersey Counties, protecting the big rivers, helping secure a new energy future and building vibrant communities.  We achieve these goals in many ways; monitoring air and water quality, leading local food and native plants initiatives, providing environmental education, and organizing conservation and restoration projects.

I live in Godfrey Illinois with my husband Dave and Labrador Retriever Posie Jo and have 24 year old twins Phillip and Kaylin.

Subcommittee: Membership Advancement


David YoungDavid Young
Missouri Prairie Foundation, Board Member

David B. Young is retired from the Missouri Department of Conservation where he was a wildlife regional supervisor responsible for over 100,000 acres of public lands, developing and supervising wildlife management programs in West Central Missouri. As a retiree, he is self-employed as a part-time landscape maintenance technician and is a Master Gardener Emeritus in Johnson County. His hobbies are hunting, fishing, family activities, and traveling. He holds membership in MPF (life member); CFM (life member); and NWTF.

Subcommittee: Governance & Finance


Kim Young
Forrest Keeling Nursery

Subcommittee: Membership Advancement