Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology and Founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY Syracuse
Author of

The language of plants – How traditional indigenous teachings can help heal our relationship with Nature 

Plants, animals are our oldest teachers, though we have lost the ability to hear them. Long before western science arrived on these shores, the indigenous people were scientists in their own right. Our indigenous herbalists teach us to pay attention when plants come to you; they are bringing you something you need to learn; and those lessons are the source of knowledge that will enable a way of life in balance with natural law.  To cultivate a deeper relationship with Nature, we must once again become fluent in the language of plants and animals, indeed of all living beings. 

Kimmerer is a proponent of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), a field of anthropological study which describes the indigenous forms of traditional knowledge regarding the sustainability of local resources. Her presentation will draw heavily on her understanding of TEK as a cumulative body of knowledge, belief, and practice, handed down through generations, via traditional songs, stories and beliefs. It is concerned with the relationship between all living beings, including humans,with their environment. 

ROBIN WALL KIMMERER is Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) and Director of The Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY Syracuse. She is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and combines her heritage with her scientific and environmental passions. 

She is the author of numerous scientific articles and the books Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, which was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing in 2005, and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, released in 2013 (and reviewed in the Star Tribune here). In 2015 she addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.”

As a writer and a scientist, her interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.


Botanist and Restoration Ecologist

Botanical Wanderings – Building a personal relationship with Nature

Social media are awash in pictures of kids, pets, selfies and photogenic meals. While the pro-con debate about social media continues, one this is certain, it is here to stay as the go-to means of communication for a large and growing portion of the population.  The members of one local Facebook group, Botanical Wanderings, stick to one subject: plants — native plants, rare plants, favorite plants, endangered plants and plants they need help identifying.  It is one of number of social outlets that is being used to expand our connectivity to nature and each other, in an ever-broadening network. Botanist and restoration ecologist Michael Lynch, the founder of the group will share his thoughts on the upside of web-based social networks and websites like  www.inaturalist.org and www.minnesotawildflowers.info; and the significant role they can play in sharing our stories and expanding our knowing of the natural world we live in. 

MICHAEL LYNCH is a botanist and restoration ecologist, who studied Applied Plant Science at the University of Minnesota, He has worked for the City of Minnetonka as a Natural Resource Technician and is now an independent Botanist and Restoration Ecologist, offering his services and expertise to municipalities and individuals.


Principal & Founder of 
Author of 
Living in the Liberated Landscape: How our gardens and landscapes can be a source of environmental change

Native plants are increasingly accepted in landscape architecture and design; but knowing how to incorporate and work with the ecological patterns and processes associated with those plants is less well understood. All too often we think of our gardens and landscapes in terms of static compositions of carefully placed and managed plants.  But our gardens and landscapes can be more dynamic—and arguably more rewarding— by taking advantage of plants’ natural abilities to reproduce and proliferate.  

Learn how designer Larry Weaner combines design with the reproductive abilities of plants as well as ecological processes to create compelling, ever-evolving landscapes that bring new meaning to partnering with nature.  Using examples from his own property as well as diverse client projects, Larry will share how this give-and-take approach can result in compelling, low-maintenance landscapes that free plants to perform according to their natural abilities and liberate people from having to cater to their landscapes’ every need. 

LARRY WEANER founded Larry Weaner Landscape Associates in Philadelphia, PA in 1982, combining expertise in horticulture, environmental science, and the traditions of garden design.

His design and restoration work spans more than ten states and has been profiled in national publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Garden Design, American Gardener, Wildflower Magazine, and ASLA’s “The Dirt” blog.

In 1990, Larry developed New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL), a conference and workshop series dedicated to advancing the art and science of natural landscape design. This influential series has a loyal following in the landscape field and in 2016 received the New England Wildflower Society’s first annual Regional Impact Award.

Larry is the co-author of Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change with Tom Christopher (Timber Press, 2016). Their book received a 2017 Book Award from the American Horticultural Society. 


Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Sarah Foltz Jordan & Karin Jokela

Since 1971 The Xerces Society has worked to protect invertebrates and their habitats. Invertebrates are an essential part of all ecosystems, contributing to the survival of wildlife, the pollination of crops, and the health of our environment.