By Marsha Gebhardt
President, Wild Ones – St. Louis Chapter
I am extremely happy to tell you all that we have added two outstanding members-at-large to our Wild Ones-St. Louis Chapter Board of Directors. We welcomed Sue Leahy and James Faupel to their first board meeting in August. These two additions fill our board with four officers and the maximum of four members-at-large.
Sue and James have jumped in with both feet. (Weird expression – I think that’s the only way one can jump. Otherwise it’s a hop, right?)
Welcome Sue Leahy
Sue has agreed to chair our PR and Marketing Committee (lucky us, as that was the focus of her undergraduate studies). Immediately, she made major progress on a few projects that have been languishing for a year. For example, at the request of the board, she brought to the first meeting layouts and cost estimates for new yard signage for Wild Ones grants and Landscape Challenge homes. They look great, and you’ll all hear more soon.
I asked Sue to describe the native plant experience she brings with her and how that will benefit our Wild Ones chapter:
“I have been landscaping with native plants for about 10 years. It all started with a butterfly garden and took off from there. I researched, took classes, and asked a lot of questions!
“Our landscape is now Platinum certified through the St. Louis Audubon Bring Conservation Home program for which I also serve as a habitat advisor. I am having an impact on friends as they are now asking me for advice on native upgrades to their own yards. I am also designing the layout for a three-tiered butterfly garden that friends are installing in their new home.
“I feel the ‘native plant movement’ is taking hold, and we will go forward at a more rapid pace than in previous years. It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Wild Ones Board.”
Not incidentally, Sue was a key player in the 2016 St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour. She coordinated the participation of the homeowners, which was a very large and important job.
Welcome James Faupel
First, James is going to be overseeing a very exciting Wild Ones event which will occur in early 2017. Everyone will learn more about this in the next few months. Meanwhile, you should know that it was his initiation of this project that brought him to our attention as a potential board member. We’re so very pleased that he agreed, and agreed with enthusiasm.
This is what James wrote when I asked him about his experiences:
“I’ve been a lover of the Missouri outdoors since I was a child, inspired by my father’s and older brothers’ love of it. With that came my fascination with understanding how plants, animals, and humans affected the environment.
“When going through the horticulture program in college, I learned the usefulness of native plants over their non-native and sometimes invasive counterparts. My enthusiastic professor Dave Tylka was also a little to blame for my passion of native plants, as he can definitely get people excited about them. During college my biggest interests in native horticulture were trees, shrubs, and design.
After going through the hort program, I jumped from a construction career into the horticulture industry full steam. While working at a local nursery, I pushed customers toward using natives when I could. While working there I started a native landscaping company that I did part-time. I also went on to become a certified arborist. After a few years of that, I moved on to working for a local landscape/maintenance company in Kirkwood. There I was lead horticulturist and designer. I have now become a horticulturist for Missouri Botanical Garden out at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, learning more about native plants every day. From here I’m on to spreading the word of bringing nature back to everyone’s yards.”
Please join me in welcoming Sue and James as they add their talents and dedication to those of current and past board members.