Speakers & Leaders Information
Wildflower Pilgrimage Outdoor Trip Leaders
A. Leon Bates – Leon is retired as an urban forester/horticulturist (Florence, AL) and former senior botanist for TVA, Leon and his wife now reside in Polk County, TN. He is an avid hiker with the Cherokee Hiking Club, leading nature walks and presenting programs for local conservation groups. For 15 years, Leon has led wildflower, tree/shrub, and invasive plant hikes at the Pilgrimage.
Warren Bielenberg – Warren has been an avid birder for over 50 years. He has led numerous bird walks and coordinated Christmas Bird Counts in Wisconsin, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Nebraska. He retired from the National Park Service in 2001 after working 34 years in a number of NPS areas. While never working in the Smokies, he has been volunteering in the park, primarily in Cades Cove, since 2005. He is also a member of the Great Smoky Mountains Association Board of Directors and the Southeast Region Advisory Council of the National Parks Conservation Association.
A. Faye Borthick – Faye is a professor of accountancy at Georgia State University. Her interests have led her to explore biodynamic native plant gardening. She also facilitates native plant rescues for the Georgia Native Plant Society. Faye has led wildflower hikes since 2009. View her garden at http://bellsouthpwp2.net/b/o/borthick/gardens/#spring2010 .
P.E. (Ed) Bostick – Ed received his Ph.D. in Botany from UNC and is a retired professor of botany with Kennesaw State University in Marietta, GA. He is interested in edible and medicinal plants, plant geography, endemism, rare plants, and botany-geology relationships. Ed has been a regular Pilgrimage leader since 1978 on wildflower walks.
Keith Bowman – Keith began leading hikes for the Pilgrimage in 2002 as a University of Tennessee student. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forest in Syracuse, NY, studying bryophytes of northern white cedar swamps in New York State. He leads moss and fern walks.
Christine Braaten - Christine is passionate about collecting and identifying wild mushrooms, she is currently a Ph.D. student studying fungal systematics and evolution at the University of Tennessee she is an active member of the Cumberland Mycological Society and Asheville Mycological Society, local clubs designed to promote the study and appreciation wild mushrooms. She is a veteran at teaching people about fungi. We welcome her here for first time.
Jennie Burke – Jennie is an intern at Sugarlands Visitor Center. During the summer she works as a seasonal forstry technician. She has also worked for U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Jennie earned her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine. She loves birds, plants, and ecology.
John Byrd - John has been with the Anderson County school system for over 40 years, where he taught biology among other things, and began his love for anything associated with herpetology. John is director of the Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization (CRESO) which allows students to do field research on snakes, turtles, salamanders, goldenrod gall flies, etc. He is currently active in ACSW (Anderson County Schoolyard Wetlands), creating wetlands at Anderson County elementary schools to introduce students to the natural world in their own backyards. John was honored in 2010 with the Partner for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) Conservation Hero Award. He has been leading the salamander walks at the Pilgrimage for the past 20+ years.
Jay Carr - Jay is a biological science technician with the Park’s wildlife crew and earned a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Management from The University of Tennessee. After working with Northern bobwhites, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, amphibians, and several other wildlife species, he now focuses mainly on feral hogs and black bears.
Jack Carman – Jack is an amateur photographer and wildflower enthusiast, Jack is the author of Wildflowers of Tennessee field guide. He retired from his day job as an aerospace engineer in 2005. Jack has participated in the Pilgrimage since 1985 leading photography workshops.
Edward E.C. Clebsch – Ed is Professor Emeritus of botany and ecology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He received his undergraduate degrees from UT and his Ph.D. in botany from Duke. Currently, he works part-time for the Foothills Land Conservancy. The longest Pilgrimage volunteer, Ed has been part of this annual event since 1953. He leads wildflower and bird hikes.
Richard Clements – Richard is a professor of biology and environmental science at Chattanooga State Community College and served on the board of the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council for 10 years. He is interested in the flora of the Southern Appalachians and interior cedar glade habitats. Richard has led wildflower hikes at the Pilgrimage since 1987 and developed the walk on exotic pest plants.
Rebecca A. Cook – Rebecca is an associate professor of biology at University of Memphis in Jackson, TN, Rebecca’s interests include plant ecology, population ecology, and the conservation of rare plants. Rebecca has led plant hikes at the Pilgrimage since 1991.
Patricia B. Cox – Pat works for Tennessee Valley Authority as the botanical specialist centered on conservation issues with rare plant species and communities and the impacts of nonnative invasive species. She has a Ph.D. in Botany from LSU. Pat’s involvements include the park’s All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI), Discover Life in America board, president of Association of Southeastern Biologists, Southern Appalachian Botanical Society, and Pilgrimage organizer. Since 1992, she has lead hikes on ferns, wildflowers, and new this year, invasive species.
Todd Crabtree – Todd serves as state botanist in Tennessee, monitoring and conducting searches for rare plants across the state as part of the Natural Heritage Program. He is vice-president of the Tennessee Native Plant Society and indulges in a robust interest in photography. Todd’s first year with the Pilgrimage was 2010. He leads wildflower hikes.
Terry M. Crowe – Terry is a career law enforcement officer and an avid naturalist who specializes in outdoor adventure and birding. He began bird watching in his East Tennessee backyard in 1975. He has birded primarily on the east coast but has ventured on outings throughout Florida, Arizona, Washington and Oregon. Terry has volunteered as a naturalist in Maryland and is a frequent birder along the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays as well as Cape May, New Jersey and the Great Smoky Mountains. Terry has been co-leading birding hikes with his brother Jason Mitchell at the Pilgrimage since 2005.
W. Michael Dennis – Mike is an environmental consultant working on wetlands, threatened and endangered species, habitat management plans, and permitting throughout the eastern United States. His ties to the Wildflower Pilgrimage go back to 1975 when he was a graduate student in the Botany Department at the University of Tennessee from which he received his Ph.D. He has led walks on the Kanati Fork/Thomas Divide Trail and tree/shrub identification.
Paul C. Durr – Paul is a wetland scientist with a strong interest in grasses and other grass-like plants. He has taught several classes in wetland plant identification for the US Army Corps of Engineers and TVA. He is also a former dendrology instructor at the University of Tennessee, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries. He has participated in the Pilgrimage since 1997, leading hikes on wildflowers and trees/shrubs.
Murray Evans – Murray, Professor Emeritus from the University of Tennessee, specialized in the taxonomy of ferns and flowering plants. He wrote the fern sections for major regional floras (Radford 1968 and Wofford 1989) and the Ferns and Fern Allies of the Smokies guide. Since 1965, Murray has led fern and wildflower walks at the Pilgrimage. Each year he and his wife, Dee Montie, travel from Vermont to experience spring in the Southern Appalachians.
Troy Evans - Troy is a Forestry Technician for the Park’s Vegetation Management crew
where he serves as crew leader for hemlock woolly adelgid control work. Troy
earned his B.S. in Biology at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC, and a
M.S. in Biology at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. His interests are forest ecology, invasive exotic insects and plants, and biodiversity within the Park.
Susan Farmer – Susan is an assistant professor of biology at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, GA. She received her masters and PhD degrees from the University of Tennessee in plant taxonomy with special interests in the genus Trillium and monocot systematics. For nearly 40 years, she has been photographing the spring flora. Susan began leading wildflower hikes at the Pilgrimage in 1994
Chris Fleming – Chris is an environmental consultant for BDY Environmental LLC in Nashville, TN. He received his MS degree in botany with a focus on floristics of the Southeastern United States from the University of Tennessee under the direction of Dr. B.E. Wofford. Chris’ interests include floristics, rare plants, invasive plants, and photography. He joined the Pilgrimage in 2001 and leads plant (wildflowers, trees and shrubs) hikes.
Wilson Francis – Wilson currently an assistant professor of biology at Hazard Community and Technical College in Kentucky. Wilson formerly served as a naturalist with Kentucky State Parks. He has volunteered with the Pilgrimage since 2005 and leads wildflower and forest ecology hikes.
Brad Free - Brad has been an interpretive park ranger for Great Smoky Mountains National Park for ten years. After several years of blacksmithing, farming, and other living history work at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, he currently works at Sugarlands Visitor Center.
Robin Goddard - Robin is retired after 32 years of teaching. Honors include Tennessee Environmental Teacher of the Year and Who’s Who in American Teachers. She is a VIP costumed interpreter at Little Greenbrier School; portrays Ann Davis, Mother of the Park, in many programs; teaches at Tremont; and was a 75th Anniversary Ambassador for the Park. She also works with the National Parks Community Outreach programs and the Jr. Ranger Program. She has been a VIP since 1969 and received the top President’s Volunteer Call to Service Award from President Barack Obama.
Yolande McCurdy Gottfried – Yolande is a volunteer botanist with the Sewanee Herbarium at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. She began volunteering with the Pilgrimage in 1996 leading wildflower hikes. Yolande plays dulcimer with her husband in local music jams.
Doris Gove – Doris is a semi-retired biologist and writer. She has written six natural history books for children and three hiking guides, The Smokies Yukky Book, and Great Smoky Mountains Trivia. She is also a contributor of trail descriptions to the Hiking Trails of the Smokies guidebook. Doris has been leading all-day wildflower and natural history hikes at the Pilgrimage since 1982.
Pum (Kunsiri) Grubbs – Pum is an assistant professor of Biology at Winthrop University where she studies plant molecular systematics, economic botany and plant diversity. Pum has lead wildflower and fern hikes since 2012.
Ila Hatter – Ila is renowned for her extensive knowledge of plants and their folklore. She wrote Roadside Rambles, a wild foods cookbook, produced the DVD Mountain Kitchen and a video series Wild Edibles and Medicinals of Appalachia, and edited the ethnobotany book Plants of the Cherokee. Ila hosted “Folkways” and “Our State” programs for UNC-TV (PBS), and has appeared on CNN, TurnerSouth, RFDTV, and A&E networks. Her web site, http://www.wildcrafting.com featu,res plant photos, videos, and other information. Ila has been leading edible and medicinal plant walks at the Pilgrimage since 1987.
Roger L. Hedge – Roger is an ecologist with the Indiana Natural Heritage Program, working with rare species, natural areas inventory and management, and environmental review. He began his career as an interpretive naturalist with Indiana State Parks. He has been leading wildflower walks at the Pilgrimage since 2008. Field botany and birding are his main interests.
Frances Hensley Frances earned a B.S. degree from the University of Arkansas and taught school in Arkansas and Iowa. She is a member of Daughters of the American Colonists, Daughters of the American Revolution, Ossoili, and Blue Star Mothers. She has been a VIP since 1998. Her specialties include bird and wildflower identification with related studies in Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Canada.
Fred Holtzclaw – Fred is a high school biology teacher currently working for the Webb School in Knoxville. He and his wife Theresa are avid hikers (2,500 miles in the Alps!) with interests in plants, birds, and using nature as a classroom. Fred has volunteered with the Pilgrimage since 1978 leading wildflower and bird hikes.
Dennis Horn – Dennis is an engineer, naturalist, amateur botanist, and wildflower photographer. Charter member and director of the Tennessee Native Plant Society, he is co-editor of their field guide Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, and the Southern Appalachians. Dennis serves on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Rare Plants in Tennessee and received a Certificate of Merit from the state for his conservation efforts. Since 1982, he has led wildflower and tree/shrub hikes at the Pilgrimage.
Brittney Hughes - Brittney is park naturalist for DeSoto State Park in Fort Payne, AL, and has led wildflower and medicinal plant hikes there and at Little River Canyon National Preserve. She is an amateur photographer and wildflower enthusiast with interests in medicinal and edible plants, ethnobotany, rare and endangered plants, and gardening with native plants. Brittney loves mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and camping. She is a recent addition to the Pilgrimage leader lineup.
Margie Hunter – Margie is the author of Gardening with the Native Plants of Tennessee: The Spirit of Place. She began leading wildflower hikes in 2005. A graduate of Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont’s Southern Appalachian Naturalist Certificate Program, she is actively studying the natural history of Tennessee, particularly the flora. Margie is hiking all the trails in the park and blogging about the experience at http://hikinginthesmokies.wordpress.com .
Robert W. Hutson – Robert is an amateur photographer and wildflower enthusiast and co-author of Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers with Carlos C. Campbell, William F. Hutson, and Aaron J. Sharp. He has been with the Pilgrimage since 2005 and leads wildflower photography sessions. Robert has been hiking and photographing in the Smokies for over 50 years.
Kristine Johnson - Kristine is Supervisory Forester in the Park, where her duties include forest insect and disease management, exotic plant control, ecological restoration and integrated pest management. Prior to the Smokies, she worked as a Ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway and at Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP, and as a bio science tech for the US Forest Service in Asheville, NC. She has a M. S. degree in forestry from the University of Tennessee, is a past president and current board member of the TN Exotic Pest Plant Council, and has been a Wildflower Pilgrimage leader since 1989.
Larry Klotz – Larry recently retired as a professor of biology at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and volunteers as curator of their herbarium and greenhouse. He performs contract botanical field surveys for the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, National Park Service, and private entities. With the exception of three years, Larry has volunteered at the Pilgrimage since 1982, leading wildflower and tree/shrub hikes.
Karen LaMere – Karen works as a naturalist/park manager for the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association. She is Ho-Chunk, a Winnebago Native American and serves as director for the Council for the Interpretation of Native Peoples and is a board member of the National Association for Interpretation. Karen has led Native American programs and hikes at the Pilgrimage since 2002.
Ed Lickey – Ed teaches field botany and mycology as an assistant professor of biology at Bridgewater College in Virginia. He has been leading backcountry and mushroom hikes at the Pilgrimage since 1997.
Jeremy Lloyd - Jeremy began living and working in the Park in 1996. As a naturalist with Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, he runs hiking programs and summer camps and teaches several courses in the Southern Appalachian Naturalist Certification program. He is the author of two books: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Pocket Guide & Journal and A Home In Walker Valley: The Story of Tremont.
Hal D. Mahan – Hal is the co-owner of The Compleat Naturalist in Asheville, NC. Hal is also an adjunct professor at UNC (Asheville) and Warren Wilson College. He was a biology professor in Michigan, served as executive director of natural history museums in Michigan, Ohio, and California, and is founding president of the Roger Tory Peterson Institutes in Jamestown, NY. Hal has been leading bird hikes for the Pilgrimage since 1994.
Laura Mahan – Laura is owner of The Compleat Naturalist (http://www.compleatnaturalist.com) in Asheville, NC, a business specializing in books, tools, and supplies for naturalists at all levels, and serves on the board of Discover Life in America. With degrees in botany and biology, she is interested in the description and classification of plant communities. She enjoys teaching others to recognize plants by family characteristics and is adept at identifying birds by song. Since 1994, Laura has led bird and beginning wildflower hikes at the Pilgrimage.
Bill Martin – Bill is Professor Emeritus at Eastern Kentucky University where he taught biology. He also served as director of the state’s Division of Natural Areas. His interests center around eastern deciduous forests – old growth forests and forest succession, health, and change. He has been a leader annually since 1981 covering old-growth forests (especially Brushy Mountain), wildflowers, and woody plants..
Carol Ann McCormick – Carol Ann is the assistant curator of the University of North Carolina Herbarium in Chapel Hill and a co-author of GSMA’s Wildflowers of the Smokies guide. With the exception of 1993, when she was 8 months pregnant with her first child, Rose, Carol Ann has been a Pilgrimage leader of wildflower hikes since 1989. In an unrelated, but fascinating tidbit, she won the Howell Living History Farm Draft Horse Plowing Contest (Novice Division) in 1990!
Roger McCoy – Roger received an MS in Botany from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and has worked with the Tennessee Natural Heritage Program since 1998. He searches, monitors, and maps rare plant species and natural communities. A recent addition to the Pilgrimage leader lineup, Roger began helping in 2010 and leads wildflower hikes.
Ed McDowell – Ed is a retired US Air Force aviator and Aerospace Corporation executive. Interests in gardening and native plants have resulted in leadership positions with Georgia Native Plant Society, Georgia Botanical Society, Georgia Master Gardeners Association, and Cullowhee Native Plants in the Landscape Conference. A nature photographer and naturalist, Ed has led wildflower and tree/shrub hikes at the Pilgrimage since 2000.
Ken McFarland – Ken is a lecturer in the Division of Biology and manages the research greenhouses and gardens at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He worked with Dr. Aaron J. Sharp on the Mexican Moss Flora project and researched bryophytes in Central and South America and the southern Appalachians. Ken is chairman of the Pilgrimage organizing committee and has volunteered since 1976, leading moss walks and the Sunday forest ecology hike.
Mike Meldrum - Mike from New Baltimore, Michigan, has been a park ranger for 12 years in Cades Cove with resource education doing visitor programs. Prior to the NPS he worked as robotics technician and consultant for Chrysler Corporation. He is a regular presenter at Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge.
Jason M. Mitchell – Jason is an avid birder and field biologist specializing in natural history and ornithology. He has authored articles on birdlife and worked extensively with great blue herons, shorebirds, neotropical songbirds, game birds, and golden and bald eagles, studying bird ID and distribution in all regions of the U.S. Jason is currently on special assignment with the Tennessee Valley Authority. He has led bird hikes for the Pilgrimage since 2004.
Dee Montie – Dee is a retired attorney and experienced Southern Appalachian hiker. She is a former president of The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. As a botany major in college, she developed a lifelong interest in flowering plants and ferns. Dee has led wildflower and fern hikes, as well as long-distance trail hikes, since 1985. Each year Dee and her husband, Murray Evans, travel from Vermont to experience spring in the Southern Appalachians.
Zack Murrell – Zack is a professor of Biology at Appalachian State University where he teaches Plant systematics and curates the ASU herbarium. Zack started leading wildflower walks during the Pilgrimage while he was a student at UT in 1980.
Becky Nichols, originally from Washington state, has worked in the Park for 13 years as an Entomologist. She has a doctorate in Entomology from the University of Missouri, with emphasis on aquatic insects. Becky works on aquatic insect monitoring, as well as the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, a large project aimed at discovering all life forms in the Smokies.
Sarah Marie Noble – Sarah Marie is an assistant professor of biology at the University of Mobile and an adjunct professor of chemistry at Spring Hill College. Her botanical interests are spray zone bryophytes and subaerial algae. Sarah Marie has lived in many parts of the U.S., from Hawaii and Alaska to Arizona and Alabama. She began leading moss and algae/aquatic organisms walks for the Pilgrimage in 2000.
Raymond Palmer - Raymond has volunteered in the Park since 1999, serving principally as Visitor Assistant and Outreach Educator, providing information, guiding hikes dealing with park history and natural resources, and assisting in the park library.
Tom Patrick – Tom is a botanist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Tom works on the location, conservation, and status of rare plants. He received a B.S. in forestry and an M.S. in botany in his native New York, then spent several years investigating trilliums, particularly in the Great Smoky Mountains. Wild orchids and inventorying flora in natural areas are also specialties. Tom has only missed one Pilgrimage since 1975 and leads wildflower and tree/shrub walks including the taxonomy hike into White Oak Sink, a favorite area.
Loy R. (Rick) Phillippe – Rick is collections manager of the vascular plant and mycological collections for the Illinois Natural History Survey, Institute of Natural Resources Sustainability at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He also works with the park’s All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory vouchering specimens by watershed. A native of Illinois, he did his undergraduate work there and received his Ph.D. in botany from the University of Tennessee. Rick has been with the Pilgrimage since 1975 leading all-day wildflower hikes.
J. Dan Pittillo – Dan is a retired biology professor from Western Carolina University and former curator of their herbarium. He also served many years as director of Highlands Biological Station and the Bartram Trail Society as well as newsletter editor for Southern Appalachian Botanical Society. Author of numerous professional publications, his interests include regional floras, rare plant distributions, conservation, and land development planning. Dan has led wildflower, fern, and tree/shrub hikes since 2002.
Derick B. Poindexter – Derick is a research botanist at Appalachian State University, Derick also serves as project manager for Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC), an organization devoted to making the resources of nearly 222 regional herbaria in the southeast available online. Derick began leading wildflower and tree/shrub hikes in 2005.
Larry Pounds – Larry is a botanical consultant with a Ph.D. in plant ecology and specializes in rare plants and habitats. He is on the boards of the Tennessee Native Plant Society and Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning. Larry has worked with the Pilgrimage since 2002 leading all-day wildflower hikes.
James S. (Jim) Pringle – Jim received his Ph.D. in botany from the University of Tennessee and taught systematic botany and paleobotany at McMaster University and fern systematics at Queen’s University Biological Station, both in Ontario, Canada. He began leading wildflower hikes for the Pilgrimage in 1980 and currently serves as plant taxonomist for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where he leads wildflower and bird walks and plant identification workshops.
Annette Ranger – Annette is a retired high school teacher and continues to work with school children as an elementary science lab instructor for grades K-5 in Georgia, where she designed a hands-on extension of the science curriculum for each grade level. She has been a regular Pilgrimage leader since 1986 on natural history and wildflower hikes. In the mid-seventies, she served as a camp counselor with Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont for two years and met long-time local residents.
Nancy Rennie – Nancy is a retired landscape designer and horticultural consultant with degrees in botany and ornamental horticulture whose work emphasized the use of native plants. In addition to operating her own landscape design business, she has worked as grounds manager for a community college and coordinator of grounds/garden volunteers for a nature center. Nancy and husband John lead wildflower and nature walks twice a year for a lodge in the mountains of western North Carolina. She has lead Pilgrimage wildflower hikes since 1967.
John Rennie – John is Professor Emeritus of forestry and a member of the former graduate program in ecology at the University of Tennessee. He taught and did research related to measurement and sampling of forest resources with emphasis on the field applications. Since retiring, he and wife Nancy have traveled extensively to national parks and other natural areas throughout the U.S. John first attended the Pilgrimage in 1969 and has regularly led wildflower hikes since 2000.
Janet Rock Janet has been a botanist for GSMNP since 1989. Although her job mainly focuses on rare plant monitoring and inventories, she has studied the effects of whitetailed deer on Cades Cove vegetation, and the impacts of ramp and ginseng harvesting on park populations. She received her MS in Biology (emphasis in Botany) from Western Carolina University before becoming employed in the Great Smokies.
Floyd Scott – Floyd is a professor of biology and principal investigator in The Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. He serves as director of APSU’s David H. Snyder Museum of Zoology and developed Web sites for state amphibians and reptiles - www1.apsu.edu/amatlas and www1.apsu.edu/reptatlas. Floyd has led salamander hikes since 1990.
Joey Shaw - Joey is an associate professor of Biology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he teaches plant systematics and biogeography. Joey has lead backcountry hikes and wildflower walks at the WFP since 1997 while he was a graduate student at University of Tennessee.
Allen Sweetser – Allen is retired from the construction business. He studied forestry at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Allen and his wife Susan both grew up in Knoxville, visiting the Smoky Mountains throughout their lives. Both are lifetime members of the Tennessee Native Plant Society and assist with All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory fern surveys in the park. They have led wildflower hikes at the Pilgrimage since 1998. Allen has often led backcountry hikes.
Susan Sweetser – Susan is a retired social worker for the State of Tennessee, helping people with disabilities. Susan and her husband Allen were both raised in Knoxville and have enjoyed the Smokies all their lives. Both are lifetime members of the Tennessee Native Plant Society and assist with All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory fern surveys in the park. They have led wildflower hikes at the Pilgrimage since 1998.
Paul Threadgill – Paul is a professor of biology at Maryville College in Maryville, TN, Paul teaches Introductory Biology, Plant Diversity, Flowering Plants, and Natural History of the Southern Appalachians. He has interests in seed and seedling ecology, native biennials, and the genus Asarum. Since 1997, Paul has led wildflower hikes and the Wildflower Identification for Beginners program.
Ken Voorhis - Ken has been Executive Director of Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont since 1984. He and his staff have developed successful programs that encourage children and adults in the appreciation of the Smokies and their connection to the natural world. Tremont is nationally known and respected, being one of only a few residential environmental education centers within a national park. Ken has been connecting people and nature for over 30 years working in programs in OH, NC, MN, PA, and now TN. He is also an avid photographer (Smokies Guide to Trees, etc), storyteller, and musician.
Gary Walker – Gary is a professot of Biology at Appalachian State University where he studies cliff-face ecology. He has been leading ecology walks at the WFP since he was a graduate student of Dr. Ed Clebsch’ at the University of Tennessee in the 1980’s.
J. David Whitehead – David works for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as wildlife manager for Tellico Lake and South Cherokee Wildlife Management Areas in East Tennessee. Prior to joining TWRA, he worked in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with bears and wild hogs, gaining 30 years experience over his career. Appropriately, he has been leading Pilgrimage bear and hog walks/talks since 2001.
B.E. (Gene) Wofford – Gene is director of the University of Tennessee Herbarium. He is author of Guide to the Vascular Plants of the Blue Ridge and co-author, along with Edward W. Chester, of Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Tennessee. One of the Pilgrimage organizers, he has been involved regularly since 1970, leading wildflower and tree/shrub hikes. UT’s Herbarium Web site features images, distribution maps, and other data about Tennessee plants at http://tenn.bio.utk.edu/vascular.
Joe Yarkovich - Joe a native of Pittsburgh, PA, holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Allegheny College and a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science from University of Tennessee. He has spent time working with black bears and wild hogs throughout the United States before returning to the Smoky Mountains to manage and research the Park’s reintroduced elk herd.
Wildflower Pilgrimage Indoor Speakers
Eddie Swimmer – Native American dancer, storyteller, public speaker; for several years held the title of World Champion Hoop Dancer and toured the world with Native American dance groups.
Ila Hatter – “The Lady of the Forest”… interpretive naturalist, artist, and wildcrafter, with over 38 year of experience teaching the cultural heritage of native plants. Staff instructor for the University of Tennessee’s Field School, and guest instructor at Cleveland Clinic Symposium, and the John C. Campbell Folk School; living history demonstrator at Stone Mountain State Park; interpretive hike leader for Cullowhee Native Plant Conference. She has been featured on 14 documentaries and produced two books.
John Elder – Communications professional with over 18 years of experience in public relations, special events, advertising and marketing; currently Program Sales manager at Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Randy McGinnis – Board member of the International Native American Flute Association; has released two CDs, “Ancient Voices” and “Walking with the Spirits, the latter of which won the Native American Music Award for Best Compilation Album.
Carroll McMahan – Special Projects Facilitator at Sevierville Chamber of Commerce; newspaper columnist and local historian.
Kris Light – Science outreach educator and naturalist; currently science education outreach educator at American Museum of Science and Energy.
Carol Wolfe – Carol is a writer and nature photographer, specializing in wildflowers of the Mid-west and Appalachians.
Peg Beute – Peg is a Senior naturalist and programs manager at Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville.
Steve O’Neil – Steve is a naturalist and outdoor educator; operates Earthshine Nature Programs; conducts hundreds of nature and wildlife presentations to adults and children; volunteer wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles and opossums.
Davy Arch – Davy is a Cherokee storyteller, lecturer, and woodcarver. His carved masks have been on display at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and his stories have been published in the award-winning book Living Stories of the Cherokee.
Wildflower Pilgrimage Evening Speakers
Wednesday night April 24, 2013
Randy McGinnis – Randy is a Board member of the International Native American Flute Association; has released two CDs, “Ancient Voices” and “Walking with the Spirits, the latter of which won the Native American Music Award for Best Compilation Album.
Thursday night April 25, 2013
Nathan Sanders - Nathan is the James R. Cox Professor of Ecology at the University of Tennessee. He studies biodiversity in mountains around the world, and why that biodiversity matters for the functioning of ecosystems in a changing world.
Friday night April 26, 2013
Scott E. Schlarbaum - Scott joined the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries in 1984 and is currently a James R. Cox Professor of Forest Genetics. Professor Schlarbaum is responsible for teaching an undergraduate course, directing graduate students, and for the leadership of the University of Tennessee’s Tree Improvement Program, which is in its 53th year. He is the author of numerous articles on forest genetics, tree improvement, forest health, and plant cytogenetics. Professor Schlarbaum has testified as an expert witness on forestry and forest health issues before various subcommittees and committees of the U. S. House of Representatives. He has served as an Associate Editor for SilvaeGenetica and ForestGenetics andwas the Science Advisor for Exotic Forest Pests to the National Park Service from 2005-2010. Additionally, Professor Schlarbaum has served for many years on the USDA Crop Germplasm Advisory Committee for Woody Landscape Plants.