31st Horticulture Conference Speakers

Thursday, February 9, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.

The 2012 Horitculture Conference speakers are listed in the order that they are presenting.

George Briggs

Professional Title:

Executive Director of the North Carolina Arboretum

Biographical Sketch:

Since 1987 George Briggs has served as the first permanent executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system. Established in 1986, the Arboretum is located in Asheville on 434 scenic acres adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisgah National Forest. Mr. Briggs has guided development of the Arboretum from its origins as a trailer in the woods through $35 million in capital development. He oversees annual budgets exceeding $3 million, 45 employees and 250 volunteers. The North Carolina Arboretum attracts a growing audience exceeding 376,000 visitors annually and implements place-based economic strategies in a variety of sectors.

A native North Carolinian, Mr. Briggs served for six years as director of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum system at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, following six years as an assistant professor of Horticulture at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. He holds a Master of Landscape Architecture professional degree from the University of Virginia, where he was one of four Thomas Jefferson Fellows, and undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and Horticulture from Vanderbilt University and Virginia Tech, respectively.

Mr. Briggs serves on the North Carolina Biotechnology Center board of directors and as member and past chair of the Western Advisory Committee of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and has been instrumental in fostering a regional commitment to “natural biotechnology and integrative medicine.” He established the Arboretum’s Bent Creek Germplasm Repository, co-founded and chairs the Bent Creek Institute, Inc., and is a steering committee member for the US Botanical Safety Laboratory. Mr. Briggs serves as president of the Centers for Environmental and Climatic Interaction, Inc., a regional collaborative creating economic and scientific value through partnership with the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and in the form of a NOAA Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites based in Asheville. He is a member of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce board, and member of the Pack Square Park Conservancy board that is completing an $18 million park in downtown Asheville.

Mr. Briggs’ leadership at the Arboretum was recognized with the 2008 Frank B. Turner Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Office of State Construction of the North Carolina Department of Administration, for excellence in management of design and construction regarding state facilities.

He was elected in 2007 to the Council of Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Mr. Briggs has served on visiting review committees at the University of Delaware, Callaway Gardens, Longwood Gardens, and has served as management consultant to numerous organizations. He is the author of “Indoor Plants,” a college textbook published by John Wiley and Sons. He was the recipient of the American Horticultural Society’s 1998 Professional Award, one of three 2006 Honorary Memberships in the Garden Club of America, and one of ten 2006 national “Environmental Hero” awards by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mr. Briggs was presented the 2006 Service Award by the American Public Gardens Association, having served in various leadership roles over 30 years, including the office of president. In 2000 he chaired the first-ever World Botanic Gardens Congress attended by 1,000 national and international delegates. With 30 partnering international public garden associations, the Asheville Congress crafted the “International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation,” an agenda now adopted by almost 500 public gardens worldwide.

Dr. Rebecca Schnelle

Professional Title:

Assistant Extension Professor for Floriculture and Greenhouse Crops at the University of Kentucky

Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Rebecca Schnelle is the assistant extension professor for floriculture and greenhouse crops at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. She received a B.S. in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 2003 and a Ph.D. in Horticulture from the University of Florida in 2008. Rebecca's extension programs are focused on assisting Kentucky's many new and established floriculture producers improve the sustainability of their operations. This sustainability mission will assist growers in selecting the most suitable crops for their business and the most efficient ways to produce them while assuring that their crops will perform well for the end consumer. Current projects include the Kentucky statewide bedding plant trial garden program; a network of landscape performance trial gardens spanning nine Kentucky counties. Dr. Schnelle's research program includes projects focused on improving height control strategies and post harvest life of greenhouse crops as well as beneficial insects in the landscape. Rebecca also co-teaches greenhouse and nursery production during spring semesters.

Dr. Nicole Ward

Professional Title:

Extension Specialist for Fruit Crops, Ornamentals and Forestry

Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Nicole Ward joined the Department of Plant Pathology at UK this August as an Extension Specialist for fruit crops, ornamentals, and forestry. In addition to earning a B.S. in Horticulture Science and a PhD in Plant Pathology at Louisiana State University, Nicole owned and operated a landscape contracting business for 12 years. Nicole looks forward to working with county Extension agents, growers, and other stakeholders around the state.

Dr. David W. Williams

Professional Title:

Associate Professor, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences (same as Agronomy), University of Kentucky

Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Williams has been directly involved in turfgrass management and science for his entire career. This includes positions as a practitioner (golf course superintendent, director of university grounds) before pursuing advanced degrees. He has also served in leadership positions in several national organizations and is the long-time secretary/treasurer of the Kentucky Turfgrass Council.

Dr. Lee Townsend

Professional Title:

Extension Entomologist for the University of Kentucky

Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Lee Townsend has been an extension entomologist in the UK Department of Entomology since 1979 with responsibilities for insects affecting landscapes, livestock, and forages. He also coordinates the Pesticide Safety Education Program for the state.

Emily K. Dobbs

Professional Title:

First Year Masters Student in Dr. Daniel Potter's Turfgrass and Ornamental Entomology Laboratory at the University of Kentucky

Biographical Sketch:

Emily K. Dobbs is originally from the Cincinnati area and graduated in May 2011 from Transylvania University. Her research focuses on insect biodiversity and ecosystem services in naturalized areas on golf courses and on pollinator biodiversity and services in Operation Pollinator sites.

Jonathan L. Larson

Professional Title:

Ph.D. Student in the Turfgrass Entomology Laboratory at the University of Kentucky

Biographical Sketch:

Jonathan L. Larson is originally from Indiana and graduated from Purdue University. His research is focused on the ecotoxicology of insecticides and what their impacts are on beneficial invertebrates.

Dr. Bill Fountain

Professional Title:

Extension Professor of Arboculture and Landscape Management

Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Bill Fountain is a graduate of Mississippi State University (BS - Horticulture) and Louisiana State University (MS & PhD - Horticulture) and has been at the University of Kentucky since 1979 where he has an extension - teaching appointment with emphasis in Arboriculture and Landscape Management. Bill has been on the ISA Board of Directors since 2000. He has served on numerous ISA committees and was selected as a True Professionals Winner in 2010. Bill is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist and an ISA Certified Tree Risk Assessor. He has taken two sabbatical leaves in Southeast Asia and travels there frequently to provide training for the ISA Arborist certification program and Best Management Practices. These efforts have been instrumental in leading these countries into the ISA Arborist Certification program and becoming ISA Associate Organizations.

Kim Cowherd

Professional Title:

County Horticulture Extension Agent for Franklin County

Biographical Sketch:

Kim Cowherd is a Frankfort, Kentucky native. She graduated from Franklin County High School and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture from Murray State University. Kim is currently working on a Master's degree in Community and Leadership Development at the University of Kentucky.

Kim has owned and managed a landscape nursery; worked as a landscape planner for the Kentucky Horse Park; and has worked for the Commonwealth of Ky in the Finance Cabinet, Department for Facilities Management, in the Landscape Branch and Building Services Branch. Kim was responsible for landscape design, grounds maintenance and facilities management for various State government owned properties. Kim was also involved in special event planning for events such as the Governor's Derby Breakfast and Inaugurals. She retired from the State in November 2005.

Kim is currently the County Horticulture Extension Agent for Franklin County.

CKOTA Speakers



Fayette County Cooperative Extension Office
1140 Red Mile Place, Lexington, KY 40504-1172


  • 5 CEUs for ISA Certified Arborists
  • 1.5 CEUs for Landscape Architects
  • 2 CEUs (1 general, 1 specific) for Pesticide Applicator