Listed below are the available speakers through our Master Gardener Speakers Bureau.  Please feel free to request a speaker based on her/his area of expertise by filling out a Speaker Request form.

Our Speakers

Leann Bachman

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? This class covers a wide variety of types of gardens, including container, tire gardens, square-foot, roof top, sack, and other tips. These are all illustrated in pictures of gardens built in developing countries.

Lisa Bakerink

Lisa Bakerink, a member of Master Gardeners since 2011, specializes in Butterfly Gardening.  She has raised and tagged monarch butterflies since 1999 and actively volunteers at the Dr. Bill Rosten Native Butterfly House in Springfield.  She is interested in promoting the planting of natives and in preserving natural ecosystems.  Lisa serves as a board member for both Friends of the Garden and Master Gardeners of Greene County.  She is also a member of the Greater Ozarks Hosta Society, the Missouri Prairie Foundation, and the Missouri Native Plant Society.  As volunteer coordinator for the Master Gardener Hotline, Lisa is very interested in assisting the public with their home gardening questions.  She is available to speak on a variety of garden-related topics.

Jana Belk

Jana has been using and growing herbs for over 25 years. Let her entertain you with her herbal knowledge. Master Gardener class of 2000.

Mark Bernskoetter

Mark Bernskoetter has been involved in gardening since childhood and has a great respect for nature. He became a Master Gardener in 2004 and used to write the articles for the News Leader “Ask the Master Gardener” column.  He served as president and board member for the Master Gardeners of Greene County. Mark enjoys talking about gardening and sharing experiences of growing things as much as digging in the soil and experimenting with new plants.  He has addressed many groups on a wide variety of gardening topics.


Renae Bernskoetter

Renae has been gardening since she was a child.  Starting in her parent’s vegetable garden where she and her siblings learned the art of pulling weeds.  Over the years she also learned the amazing process of composting from her parents.  They would bury the veggie scraps in the garden and she would find them while making mud pies, then in the spring the scraps were nowhere to be found.  She quickly found a love for growing flowers.  She could not, however, convince her parents to switch the whole garden over to flowers.  Renae likes to grow anything, at least once, and to try new techniques in the garden, especially those that can save time weeding. Renae became a Master Gardener in 2004 and is currently the Public Education Chair for the Master Gardeners of Greene County.

Allen Busiek

Allen is a Master Gardener from the Christian County Master Gardener class of 2009. He is skilled in food production, including aquaponics greenhouses, raised beds for strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, and asparagus.

Barb Emge

Barb’s fascination with growing plants started as a little girl after spending time in St. Louis in her Grandma’s ever changing garden and at her Ukrainian Grandpa’s farm. Her husband, Don, designed their first herb garden outside their kitchen door 35 years ago in Chaffee, Mo.  A job transfer to Kansas and 4 children later, Barb was introduced to the unusual scented geraniums and the ever growing availability of different herbs.  Another job transfer to Northern Louisiana with warm winters made it possible to garden almost year round and expand her collection of common and uncommon herbs. After 12 years in the South, Barb and her husband moved to Republic and had to rent a small trailer to move their 25 year old Bay tree, citrus collection and entire formal herb garden. Living in a downsized home and dodging 80 large pots of plants, Barb’s husband said “we’re building a greenhouse.” To pay for the new greenhouse, Barb sold herbs at Farmer’s Markets and thus Red Barn Herb Farm was born in 2005. Barb’s “hobby” turned into a new career. Her husband Don and son Matt have taken over most of the physically difficult part of the business and Barb propagates and grows the plants. She is a vendor at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks on Republic Road in Springfield and also a Master Gardener. The Emges grow 250 varieties of herbs, including 25 varieties of Basil and 30 types of mints as well as 80 varieties of Scented Geraniums. Barb loves to speak on any topic involving herbs and she is available to teach on herbal lore as well as cooking and crafting with herbs.

Dan Faflak

Dan Faflak grew up on a farm in Northern Minnesota.  He was a 4-H member and farmed for 5 years after high school.  After serving 3 years in the Army, Dan worked as an Electronic Field Engineer before earning a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of North Dakota. In 1965 he was hired by IBM and worked in Rochester, Minnesota. He later transferred to south Florida where he retired in 1988. After moving to south Florida, Dan’s interest in horticulture continued as he grew many varieties of plants and vegetables and even found himself selling at farmers markets. Being a Master Gardener in Florida for over ten years, Dan began to specialize in roses and eventually his five acres in Florida housed over 350 plants. Becoming a member of the American Rose Society in 1965 began a passion Dan has pursued for over 40 years. In 2002, Dan and his wife Pat moved to Table Rock Lake and eventually to Springfield. Dan is still growing roses, many in containers. After serving in many local and district positions for the American Rose Society, Dan is now also a member of the Master Gardeners of Greene County Class of 2011.

Carl Huffman

Carl is the retired owner/operator of a garden center and landscaping company. He is co-founder of a giant produce weigh-off in Republic, MO. Master Gardener class of 2007.

Tom Lakowske

Tom Lakowske is a master gardener, board member of Friends of the Garden, and president of the Greater Ozarks Hosta Society. He coordinated the 2011 renovations to the Hosta Garden at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park. Tom started Alta Birdsong, his extraordinary backyard garden, in 1998 and now has one of the most beautiful private gardens in southwest Missouri. His shade garden features seven garden rooms, three fountains, lovely paths, over 125 hosta varieties, 50 Japanese maple varieties, and dozens of clematis vines. His website,, includes hundreds of gardening tips, a complete gardening calendar, free landscape design plans, and a  how-to series. Tom has several special presentations including “All About Hostas”, “Shade Gardening” and “Creating A Garden Sanctuary”.

Peter Longley

Peter is Horticultural Interpreter at the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center and Gardens. Master Gardener class of 2010.

Tori Lucero

Tori is a late bloomer to the gardening world. She became a Master Gardener in 2009 after attempting to apply the trial and error method on her own garden, which was successful on a small scale. Tori’s attraction to the Master Gardener organization was their mission of civic duty to provide fresh vegetables to the local food pantry and to encourage others in self reliance through education in responsible gardening techniques.  After completing her course studies, she devoted her time to the vegetable and square foot garden at Nathanael Greene Park in Springfield. Tori has been known to strike up conversations with strangers and can talk for hours on organic gardening, square foot methodology, and the movement towards safety in foods. Her new areas of interest are herbs and seed saving. When the season prevents her from active participation in the garden, you can find Tori spending hours at a time reading about various heirloom varieties or garden techniques. Tori has spoken numerous times for the Master Gardeners of Greene County Speakers Bureau on vegetable gardening, companion planting, ‘Cultivating a Master Gardener’, and many other gardening related subjects.

Susan Mattheis

Susan Mattheis is a botanist and environmental scientist who joined the Master Gardener Program in 2000.  During her career she has assisted in the historic landscape restoration at Wilson’ Creek National Battlefield, natural resources management for the Department of the Army, glade restoration at The Nature Conservancy’s Rocky Barrens, controlled burns for the Missouri Prairie Foundation and forest restoration for the Missouri Department of Conservation.  She has managed garden departments at two major retail outlets and appeared as Ms. Fix-It on KOLR 10.  Susan views gardening as a moving meditation that stills the mind, renews the spirit and allows us to touch the earth.

Rebecca Nickols

Rebecca’s love of gardening was influenced at an early age by her grandmother and has steadily grown over the years.  She became a Master Gardener in 2007 and volunteers at the Xeriscape demonstration garden and the Master Gardener hotline.  After moving to their current 7-acre rural property, Rebecca and her husband have enjoyed incorporating a flock of backyard chickens into their organic gardening practices and have an ever-expanding vegetable garden, but Rebecca’s main focus is gardening to attract wildlife. By planting native trees, shrubs and wildflowers. her landscape attracts a variety of birds and butterflies each season. Rebecca also grows a large selection of winter hardy sedums and succulents which she uses to make the living-roof birdhouses, bird-feeders, living wreaths and vertical gardens her and her husband sell for their small business, Rebecca’s Bird Gardens. You can visit their booth at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks during the spring and summer months or online at Rebecca is available to speak on a variety of gardening topics including butterfly gardening, creating bird gardens and wildlife habitats – and gardening with chickens!.

Paul C. Robertson

Paul C. Robertson has been a backyard organic vegetable gardener for over three decades.  Having spent 20 years in the Air Force, he has gardened in Delaware, New Jersey, and Topeka, Kansas in addition to his present garden in Battlefield, MO.  He had a large 30′ by 50′ garden when he lived in the country north of Fellows Lake, and presently has a 15′ by 30′ garden in the middle of his small backyard where he grows a little bit of a lot of different vegetables.  He is a dedicated organic gardener and does not even have Sevin or other chemical pesticides in his garden shed!  He also has a small wildflower garden in his front yard and gets many compliments about it.

Missy Sanford

missy bestMissy Sanford, Class of 2011, currently serves as Master Gardeners of Greene County President. Missy loves working in her garden and sharing what she knows. At home on the farm, she raises 4000 pheasant, cares for 16 raised beds in her vegetable garden, trains 8 Springer Field Spaniels and cares for her 10 acre native prairie on the back side of her farm.  She has taught raised bed gardening, Spring Gardening and the Wintersown Method. Missy shares with most of the northern counties in our area since she lives at Dunnegan.


Barbara St. Clair

Barbara is an active member of Master Gardeners of Greene County and a self-described obsessive year-round gardener.  She began gardening in earnest approximately forty years ago when she and her husband lived on a 30-acre farm outside Galena.  There they raised a huge vegetable garden and had a one-acre blueberry farm.  Since moving into town twelve years ago, Barbara indulged her urge to “buy every plant available!” by planting all of her front and back yard.  She has been the chairperson for the Xeriscape Garden on National Avenue for six years.  Barbara is available to speak on a variety of gardening topics.


Katie Steinhoff

Katie is the coordinator for the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center. She has a master’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from the University of Tennessee. She has 10 years’ experience in public gardens, working in conservatories, stylized nature trails, education, and operating display and collection gardens. Katie’s presentations include:

GARDEN BUGS AND THUGS – Keeping the Peace and Maintaining Balance in the Garden. Nobody became a gardener thinking they would be going off to war. However, when your piece of paradise is threatened, all instincts are to bring out the full arsenal. In this program you will learn about some common insects and weeds found in the garden and a balanced approach to responding to these potential threats.

WEED ID MANAGEMENT. Walk through the seasons of weeds and discuss when and how to manage them.

HORTICULTURE AS THERAPY. Nurturing and connecting with nature is good for the mind, body, and soul. Learn how gardening can be used to help achieve physical and mind strengthening goals.

KEW GARDENS. The Royal Botanical Gardens in London have served as the model and inspiration for many of the public gardens in America. Take a look at the Gardens as seen during the 2012 Olympics.

WREATH MAKING. Discover traditions from Della Robbia to Williamsburg up to the 21st century. Learn about different ways to harvest from the garden to incorporate into your holiday décor.

WINTER GARDEN. Did you know freezing temperatures are possible 8 months out of the year in Springfield? Consider the winter season for the backbone in your garden design. Learn about plants that perform fine in summer, but are stunning in late fall, winter, and early spring.

WHAT’S NEW AT THE SPRINGFIELD BOTANICAL GARDENS? Did you know Springfield, MO has a botanical garden with 21 themed gardens, 15 special plant collections, several play structures and naturalized areas? Take a tour of the very unique, Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park without leaving your seat. Discover there’s something for everyone in the wide world of plants!

Patricia Tursi

Patricia Patterson Tursi, PhD.  A retired psychologist, her practice focused on health of mind, body  and nutrients.  Patricia was in the 1987 Georgia Master Gardener Class and the 2003 Missouri class and the 2013 Master Naturalist Program. In the 90’s, she and her late husband had an Arkansas farm using paddocks and chicken tractors and she has experience in large scale business landscaping and has worked as a plant technician with indoor plants.  She has gardened for various private residences, doing garden establishment and maintenance.  As editor of  Missouri Organic Association State Newsletter and  the SE Organic Newsletter she has promoted organic growing. She has presented on The Soil Food web, on Uncommon Perennial Food Plants and is primarily interested in plant nutrient density and in developing healthy soils with natural soil additives including biochar, and other natural soil amendments. Patricia has presented on  The Soil Food web, on Uncommon Perennial Food Plants,  Plant Nutrient Density and Developing Healthy soils with Natural Soil Additives ( including biochar), and other natural soil amendments.  She has also presented on Gardening In Our Changing Environment.

Randy Underwood

Randy Underwood has been a member of the Master Gardeners of Greene  County  since 2003. Having grown up on a farm in Southwest Missouri , Randy pursued his interest in horticulture by graduating from University of Missouri Agricultural School and working as a manager in the lawn and garden department of a local business. Since 2004, Randy has also managed the turf plots at the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden in Nathanael Greene Park.  Randy specializes in teaching about the proper care and beautification of your lawn.

Nancy Wiser

My interest in gardening was cultivated at an early age. While growing up on a crop and stock farm near Lebanon, Missouri, I labored in family vegetable and flower gardens gaining a practical education in weeding, hoeing, and pest control. Each year, my dad would save a corner of our family garden for me to design and plant a garden. That small garden was just my own, and I spent many delightful days caring for that tiny piece of heaven.

After college, the farm life was traded for urban life, but the desire and love to plant and grow did not wane. While teaching elementary school, I was provided ample opportunity to use my practical “farm” education. There was always something growing in my classroom or outside our window. It was very rewarding to awaken the “gardening spirit” in young minds. I was privileged to experience over and over the sheer delight of witnessing that magical moment when tiny bean plants emerge from soil-filled milk cartons. The reaction was always the same…simply miraculous. It was a joy to share my knowledge and love for plants!

In 2013, I became a Master Gardener joining Greene County Master Gardeners. It is a great place to gain knowledge and share. Currently, I volunteer for Speakers’ Bureau and the Greene County Master Gardener Hotline. I am available to speak on a variety of topics relating to vegetable gardening, children’s gardening, garden journaling and raised bed or container gardening.