Our staff is supported by a team of over 75 volunteers. These volunteers together with the dedicated staff listed below reach over 60,000 people annually through education programs.
Tim Kenny - Director of Education (Tel: 952-443-1448)
Tim came to the Arboretum in 1993 and currently serves as the Director of Education. He holds a B.S. in Horticulture from South Dakota State (1979), a Master's of Science Education from the University of Minnesota (1998), and a Master's of Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota (2007). Tim's career has spanned both the for-profit and non-profit sectors; he taught science at a middle school and was a general manager of a retail and interior plant design firm in Minnetonka.
Tim's love of plants underlies and motivates all his endeavors. He is dedicated to providing Arboretum visitors high-quality educational programs that connect people with the role that plants play in their lives. Since he joined the Arboretum, Tim has had a deep concern for those denied Arboretum access due to geography or economics, specifically urban audiences. This makes the expansion of the Arboretum's outreach to the surrounding community a very important goal for Tim. He facilitates a creative and dedicated staff team in pursuit of these goals.
In 2009 Tim was awarded the Distinguished Diversity and Inclusion Staff Award by the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences for this work. He spends his free time enjoying his hobbies, gardening and photograph
Tanya Bailey - Animal-Assisted Interaction (AAI) Program Specialist, Nature-Based Therapeutic Services (Tel: 952-443-1421)
Tanya is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years’ experience providing Animal-Assisted Interactions (AAI) in mental health, wellness and learning programs for individuals, families, school districts and human service organizations. She is the Animal-Assisted Interaction Program Specialist at the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum, and a consultant and lecturer for the Center for Spirituality and Healing where she co-facilitates a graduate course in AAI. Tanya is a Pet Partners® team evaluator with Pet Partners (formerly known as Delta Society) and committee member for the Pet Partners Curriculum Development Team; a TTEAM Practitioner-in-training through Tellington-TTouch; and task force member for PATH International’s Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning (EFP/L) Membership Group. Tanya focuses on engaging people in the journey towards balance and as a multi-species practitioner, works with her registered therapy chicken, an amazing herd of horses at the U of MN’s Leatherdale Equine Center, and goats, llamas, rabbits and donkeys at program sites in the Twin Cities.
Karen Beamon - Urban Garden Youth Employment, Leadership Team/UROC Coordinator (Tel: 612-624-4873)
For the past 10 years, Karen has been involved in the Arboretum's Urban Garden Youth Program. She has been a youth participant and a facilitator for the work groups, and currently she is part of the leadership team, serving as the UROC coordinator and Youth Voices Conference facilitator.
In May 2009, Karen graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Sociology (Law, Crime, and Deviance). In September 2011, she will begin a master's program in Youth Development Leadership at the University of Minnesota.
Kim Braun - Children's Education Instructor, Field Trips and Summer Garden (Tel: 952-443-4403)
Kim joined the Arboretum staff in 2003. She teaches and develops field trips for summer fun. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, with distinction, from the University of Minnesota. She works with both the Arboretum's Children's Garden and the urban outreach Children's Garden in Residence.
Ariel Dressler - Program Manager, Family Programs (Tel: 952-443-1527)
Ariel joined the Education Department of the Arboretum in 2007. Her work at the Arboretum is focused on family activities. She earned a degree in outdoor education and interpretation from Western Washington University's Huxley College of Environmental Education. Ariel has a wide study experience at several research facilities and studied horticulture and design at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Grad School. Ariel worked as an interpretive Park Ranger at Mount St Helen's National Volcanic Monument and Mount Rainier National Park. She worked as a horticulturalist at the U.S. Botanic Gardens in Washington D.C. And, most recently she worked for the National Park Service in the Mississippi River Visitor Center at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Diane Fiebelkorn - Registrar (Tel: 952-443-1422)
Diane grew up and attended school in Norwood Young America, Minn. She worked for General Mills, Inc. for 27 years in various accounting and programming capacities. During that time she attended adult and evening classes at the University of Minnesota.
Diane has a long history as an Arboretum member and volunteer. She participated in the Master Gardener Program. She was hired as an Adult Education Assistant in 1999 and later moved to the Arboretum's Learning Center and became involved with Youth, Family & Teacher Education - as well as Cooking, Photography and Public Policy Programs.
Randy Gage - Learning Center Program Coordinator; Field Trips, School Partnerships, Summer Urban Garden Work Experience (Tel: 952-443-1478)
Randy joined the education staff in January, 2002. His principle duties were as the Plantmobile Coordinator. Since then his duties have changed and he is currently the Manager of School Services. In this role, he coordinates the Arboretum School fieldtrips and the Partnership for Growing Science Teaching. During the summer, Randy coordinates the on-site Children's Garden and the summer urban garden work experience programs. Randy earned a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies from Macalester College in 1996. He holds a professional certificate in Horticultural Therapy from the Denver Center for Horticultural Therapy in 2001. Randy is working on a Master's of Environmental Education in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota.
Christine Gamm - Program Manager, Plantmobile And Summer Day Camps (Tel: 952-443-1449)
Christine joined the Arboretum's education staff in 2003. She coordinates the Plantmobile outreach program and Summer Day Camps. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn. with a degree in Peace Studies and Environmental Studies, and furthered her education with the Permaculture Research Institute-MN, the University of Minnesota's Horticulture Department, and working at local organic vegetable farms. Christine has presented at various local events including the 2005 American Public Gardens Association conference and the 2006 North American Association for Environmental Education conference. She has been working with children and the environment since 1999, and in 2006 the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University presented her the Caritas award for her efforts.
Christine joined with her parents in reinvigorating her family's farm. They now run a small but successful vegetable farm-share (CSA) program.
Zeta Kilbride - Youth Educator (Tel: 952-443-1450)
Zeta has been working with the Arboretum Education Department in various capacities since 2011. She has completed graduate studies in Multiple-Subject Education at San Francisco State University, and holds an Elementary Education teaching license in the state of Minnesota. At the Arboretum Zeta leads field trips both at the Arboretum and at elementary schools with the Plantmobile. She is also involved with coordinating and leading groups for the summertime Urban Garden Youth Employment program, and Guided Adventures summer field trips.
Maria Klein - Adult Education Team Member (Tel: 952-443-1450)
Maria joined the Arboretum staff in 1994 and edited the Arboretum's bi-monthly membership newsletter and annual reports until 2008. She also coordinated art exhibits in the Reedy Gallery from 2005-2009. She now works on public policy and continuing adult education.
Maria has a B.A. in psychology from Metro State University and speaks French and Italian. She has spent most of her career as a writer, editor, and volunteer in the Twin Cities non-profit sector, serving with agencies such as the Minneapolis Arts Commission, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota Alliance for Arts in Education and Edina schools. Currently, she serves as president of her neighborhood association - when she's not stitching, reading, tending the garden or traveling to visit her grandchildren.
Jean Larson - Manager, Nature-Based Therapeutic Services (NBT) (Tel: 952-443-1421)
Jean has managed the Center for Therapeutic Horticulture and Recreation Services at the Arboretum since 1991 and in 2012, expanded this program to Nature-Based Therapeutic Services. She has a Ph.D. in Education (emphasis in therapeutic recreation) with a minor in integrative medicine from the University of MN. Jean is also an Assistant Professor for the Center for Spirituality and Healing as part of the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center. She teaches four courses - Introduction to Therapeutic Horticulture, Therapeutic Landscape Design, Applications in Therapeutic Horticulture and most recently, Animals in Healthcare. She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and a Registered Horticultural Therapist, and she is certified in Disability Services with a specialization in serving people with developmental disabilities.
Jean's work for the Arboretum has taken her to Japan, England, Sweden and Israel. Jean facilitates therapeutic horticulture programs for a variety of people including those with developmental disabilities, eating disorders, Parkinson's. When not working for the University, Jean is at home enjoying her family farm north of the Twin Cities along with her husband, dogs, cats, chickens and horses.
Jill Leenay - Business Manager, Arboretum Education Department (Tel: 952-443-1527)
Jill joined the Arboterum Education team in 2012. She holds a B.A. from the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she developed a love of the great outdoors. Jill assists Arboretum pogram managers in the creation and marketing of successful programs. Her previous professional experience at corporations such as Disney and Marriott help to shape her focus on excellence through customer satisfaction. She is thrilled to be among a staff whose focus is to increase awareness of the powerful connections between people and plants.
Josie Milan - Adult Education Registrar (Tel: 952-443-1516)
Josie joined the Education Department in December, 2009. She began taking horticulture courses over 20 years ago when her husband started his military career. Many moves and jobs later, it is only fitting that she found herself back home in Minnesota and working at the Arboretum. During her 20 years as a military spouse, she was limited to container gardening, though enjoyed experiencing the local flora and fauna of places they lived and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe. Josie is working on a certification in Therapeutic Horticulture, is an ordained minister and enjoys gardening in her own backyard.
Nancy Nelson - Children's Education Instructor - Field Trips, Summer Garden And Peapods Program (Tel: 952-443-4405)
Nancy joined the Arboretum's education staff in 2006. She has had many experiences in different locations, but she returned to her true love of teaching when she came to the Arboretum. Nancy received a B.A. in music therapy from the University of Minnesota in 1976. She worked with profoundly developmentally challenged children with severe medical problems. She was among the first in the country to develop educational programs for special needs children in the 1970s.
On her return to Minnesota, she developed programs for Homeward Bound, a non-profit organization. Nancy created environmental education field trips, wrote curriculum and taught during her many years volunteering at Westwood Environmental Learning Center in St. Louis Park. Her interests in plants drove her to become a member, and later chair, of the Parks and Recreation Commission for St. Louis Park. It was this experience that lead her to pursue a master's degree program in urban planning.
Arika Paukner - Volunteer Center Manager (Tel: 952-443-1461)
Arika began working for the Arboretum in 1996 as a youth employed through the urban outreach programs offered in Minneapolis. She worked seasonally in the summers for about 10 years, eventually working her way up to Children's Garden Teacher. She later helped supervise and teach teens in the Urban Garden Youth Employment program. During her years with the Arboretum outreach programs, Arika also completed a B.F.A. in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, with a minor in German from the University of Minnesota (2005).
In late 2009, Arika became the Arboretum's Volunteer Center Manager, where her focus is helping engage community groups, corporations and individuals with volunteer opportunities that help the Arboretum fulfill its mission and programming needs. Currently the Arboretum has over 800 volunteers who play an integral role in the success and beauty of the Arboretum and its many programs, gardens, and events.
If you are interested in becoming a Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Volunteer please click here.
Allyson Rudy - Adult Education Team Member (Tel: 952-443-1450)
Allyson joined the Arboretum in June 2008. Allyson has over 20 years of experience creating educational and enriching programs. She has a B.S. in Psychology from Alfred University in New York. Her special interests are learning, gardening, pottery, cycling, hiking, travel, music, good food and cooking.
Sandy Tanck - Manager of Interpretation & Public Programs (Tel: 952-443-1451)
Sandy joined the Arboretum in 1979. She has a B.S. in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin, and an M.S. in Horticultural Science, minor in Science Education from the University of Minnesota. She has 30 years experience creating educational programs and activities that engage people with plants and nature.
She has spent a number of years working with schools, including writing curriculum, fieldtrips, delivering teacher courses and workshops and leading grant-funded partnerships between the Arboretum and suburban, urban and out-state schools in northern Minnesota reservation communities. She also led the design of the children's education facility and its surrounding landscape features at the Arboretum, and developed the Sunshine for Dinner interactive exhibits and Under the Oak nature play area housed there. Currently she oversees the Arboretum's interpretation including family and early childhood programs, guided tours, signage and special exhibitions.
Susan Thurston-Hamerski - Manager of Adult Education (Tel: 952-443-1471)
Susan came to the Arboretum in the summer of 2010 to manage the adult education programming after more than nine years creating non-credit adult learning programs in the University's College of Continuing Education. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1980 from Mankato State University and a master's degree from Hamline University in 1988. She began her career as a journalist working for an agricultural publication, moved to daily newspaper life, and then on to public relations, education, and program development and corporate foundation relations first at St. Olaf College and then Carleton College before coming to the University. Through her current position, she is able to bring together her substantial background in creating engaging life-long learning experiences, a love of the land, and her commitment to advance sustainable and earth-friendly ways to live in our beautiful world.
She loves to make art in various mediums, teaches writing in all genres to all age groups, and is an avid journal keeper. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, periodicals, and anthologies, including the Minneapolis StarTribune, Minnesota Monthly, Fox River Review, and Flurry. Her work is included in the anthologies Tremors, Vibrations Enough to Rearrange the World; Penchant, and the soon-to-be-released Low Down and Coming On: A Feast of Delicious and Dangerous Poems about Pigs. She is co-author with Chef Jenny Breen of the cookbook Cooking Up the Good Life (May 2011 - University of Minnesota Press). One of her novels, Song for Grendel's Sister, is on submission with her agent.
The mission of the Education department is to create active ways for people to explore the vital links between themselves, plants and the earth.
Please visit our Learn page to discover the scope of services provided by this dedicated staff.
or email: ArbEdu@umn.edu