Photograph by Michael Ableman, from the book Fields of Plenty (Chronicle Books 2005). 

Registration is open!Upper Midwest Regional Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Conference 2018

Our Plants, Our Planet, Our Volunteers                          

Experience empowering speakers, enhance your horticulture knowledge, attend exclusive workshops, network with your peers, and explore ways to inspire and engage your community in sustaining a healthy planet, through healthy plants, for healthy people.

View a photo album of the conference

2018 Conference Plenary Speakers

Tom Smarr
Horticulture & Natural Areas Director
21st Century Parks Inc.
Louisville, Kentucky

Tom Smarr is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in horticulture, botanic gardens, conservation, and organic landscaping. He holds a master’s degree in urban horticulture from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.  He has worked for established institutions such as the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle, WA and New England Wild Flower Society’ botanical garden “Garden in the Woods” in Framingham, MA.  But Tom’s most notable work has been leading horticulture management at new urban designed parks starting with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in downtown Boston, MA built on top of the infamous “Big Dig” and the High Line in New York City. He now leads horticulture and natural areas design and management for Parklands of Floyds Fork, an almost 4,000 acres parks project opened in 2016 by 21st Century Parks Inc. located in Louisville, KY.

Tom speaks widely on the importance of modern parks in urban society along with current horticulture design trends with plants and ecologically sustainable practices. He is committed to the preservation of our cultural landscapes through sensible design, horticulture practices, and public education.

Marla Spivak

Dr. Marla Spivak
Distinguished McKnight University Professor Apiculture / Social Insects
University of Minnesota 

Marla Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and McKnight Distinguished Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota. Recent awards include the 2015 Minnesota AgriGrowth Distinguished Service Award, the 2016 Siehl Prize laureate for excellence in agriculture, and the 2016 Wings WorldQuest Women of Discovery Earth Award. She and Gary Reuter bred a line of honey bees, the Minnesota Hygienic line, to defend themselves against diseases and parasitic mites. Current research includes studies of the benefits of plant resins (propolis) to honey bees, and the effects of agricultural landscapes and pesticides on bee health. Marla's interest in bees began when she worked for a commercial beekeeper in New Mexico in 1975. She obtained her PhD from the University of Kansas in 1989 on the identification and ecology of Africanized and European honey bees in Costa Rica.  She was a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona before coming to the University of Minnesota in 1993. 

In order to provide access for those who need financial assistance with registration, please contact your local Master Gardener Coordinator/Leadership, if local financial assistance is not available, contact


Pre-Conference Tours     


Confirmed Speakers        

Poster Showcase             

Meet Your Planning Team   

Additional Information     

Area Accommodations      

Endorsing Organizations
and Sponsors     

View and Print Conference Flyer


Call 612-301-1210

Cancellation Policy: Registration cancellations must be made two weeks prior to class date in order to receive refund. A $5 processing fee will apply.

Achieve your CE Goal!
Continuing Education*

Certificates of attendance will be available for:

  • Extension Master Gardeners
  • Extension Master Naturalists
  • Tree Care Advisors
  • Others, by request

* Certificates of Attendance must be submitted to your governing organization in order to determine if hours are eligible for continuing education credit. Contact your county/region for more information.