Presenter Biographies


Below are bios for the speakers for the upcoming Conservancy programs.  To register for an event, visit the Upcoming Events page


Presenter Biographies

Ray Bosmans- President of the MidAtlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society

 M AUG 8- Visit to Ray Bosmans' Turtle and Snake Gardens- Limited to first 30 registrants Saturday 10am FREE

Professor Emeritus, University of MD Extension Ray was an Extension Educator and Regional Horticulture Specialist; in these positions he also answered hundreds of questions about snakes found in the Maryland landscape. Ray also taught countless classes for Extension, community colleges, 4H camps and nature centers about snakes. He has made you tube videos for the University's Home and Garden Information Center website. Ray currently serves as the President of the Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society.


Sherry Conklin

 M MAR 14- Day Tripping: 50 Natural Places & Gardens Saturday 10am FREE

Sherry Conklin, a retired Howard County high school English teacher, combines a love of literature with a love of gardens. She attended yearly seminars at Winterthur gardens where trips to neighboring DuPont gardens became a passion.

Sherry and Linda are active Master Gardeners. They enjoy visiting gardens and sharing their insights and experiences. From wild native spaces to formal gardens, they will cover the spectrum.

Vernyce Dannells:

M MAR 21- Stories for the Equinox: A 2015 World Storytelling Day Event-Saturday 1pm-4pm  $

Vernyce is a multi-cultural performance artist whose "jumble jungle" background informs much of her work. She honed her abilities while producing arts and culture features for National Public Radio affiliates in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest. Now, whether opening Honolulu's famed Talk Story Festival or scaring folk witless at A Philadelphia's Teenager's Inc. Ghost Walk, watching her breathe life and light (and sometimes fright) into a story gives a new twist to Shakespeare's line, "The tale's the thing!"

Author of the chapbook Temporarily Abated, published by Cadenza Press, and the recently released Arcadia Press edition in its historical places series, Overbrook Farms, Vernyce uses her pen, voice, body and choice to weave spirited, indelible enchantments on her audiences.

Linda Decker

 M MAR 14- Day Tripping: 50 Natural Places & Gardens Saturday 10am FREE

Linda Decker, a graduate engineer, worked in the telecommunications field. She attributes her love of gardens to summers spent with her grandmother poking in the dirt coaxing things to grow.

Sherry and Linda are active Master Gardeners. They enjoy visiting gardens and sharing their insights and experiences. From wild native spaces to formal gardens, they will cover the spectrum.

Middleton Evans: Award-winning Photographer and Author

M NOV 15- Miracle Pond Sunday 4pm  $

Middleton Evans is one of Maryland’s most devoted photographers. A Baltimore native, Middleton has spent the majority of his 25-year career documenting the many faces of Maryland. Favorite subjects include Chesapeake Bay waterman, cities and towns, festivals, farm life and equestrian sports. A milestone was reached in 2001 when Maryland Public Television selected Mr. Evans as one of six local photographers to be featured in the documentary film Images of Maryland: 1900-2000, chronicling the state’s most distinguished lensmen of the twentieth century.

Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, Greg Mort and Anne Raver

M MAR 19- The Art of Stewardship Juried Art Show- Opening Thursday 6pm  $

Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, Founder and Director of the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), has encouraged and showcased the works of intuitive artists with a special delight in those artists and exhibition themes attuned to the beauty of nature. Not only was the inaugural AVAM exhibition, "The Tree of Life", but her national museum was also the first to exhibit the diary of famed nature-activist, Julia Butterfly Hill, written during her 2-year tree-top vigil to protect the giant redwoods from clear cutting. Rebecca, a creative force herself who credits love of nature as the dominant force in her own understanding of beauty, energizes every person she touches. An evening with her is not to be missed!




Greg Mort , internationally acclaimed artist , is president of the Board of Trustees of The Art of Stewardship Project a private foundation established by the Mort Family to encourage stewardship of the earth and environmental awareness through the arts. The Art of Stewardship Project assists arts communities by organizing and providing forums for interaction and dialogue offering resources and opportunities to artists in their role as Stewards of our Earth. It initiates and hosts exhibitions and discussions for artists, environmental and educational organizations to explore creative ideas, alliances and partnerships which support sustainability of the environment. provides local, state, national and global information and resources to individuals artists and arts and environmental organizations that wish to interface on this issue.


Anne Raver has been writing about gardening and the environment for 25 years. As an award-winning columnist and feature writer for Newsday and the New York Times, she moved to her family farm in Maryland and continued writing free-lance while growing heirloom tomatoes and garlic. A graduate of Oberlin College with a masters degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and a former Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Anne is also a Carroll County Master Gardener! Such credentials could only lead to writing a book like Deep in the Green, a collection of essays about gardening and much more. Ms. Raver is currently working on another collection of essays about coming home to Maryland and a sixth-generation farm, preserved under the Maryland Environmental Trust. While tending the organic hayfields and acres of native grasses that help to clean the Bay Anne is writing for the New York Times, County Gardens and Landscape Architecture.





Parviz Ghavamian- Assistant Professor of Astrophysics at Towson University

M AUG 12- Perseids Meteor Shower Wednesday 10pm-1am  FREE

Dr. Parviz Ghavamian is an astrophysicist and assistant professor at Towson University.  His research focuses on supernova remnants (exploded stars), with interest in the very hot gas created in galaxies from supernovae — as well as how shocks create that hot gas. As a postdoctoral researcher, he worked at Rutgers and Johns Hopkins, then the Space Telescope Science Institute as an instrument scientist for the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph; he’s been at Towson since 2011.

Joel Goodman DDS

M NOV 17- Leonids Meteor Shower Tuesday 10pm-1am  FREE

M DEC 13- Geminids Meteor Shower Sunday 10pm-1am  FREE

Joel Goodman (Stardoc) is a retired family dentist who now devotes his time to promoting astronomy and space education in Howard County.  He heads up a youth club, the Celestial Searchers, and presents school programs on various astro topics.  Besides teaching astronomy at Howard Community College and coordinating planetarium programming at the Robinson Nature Center, he is also the Observatory Chair of the Howard Astronomical League.  He is thrilled to announce that this publicly accessible observatory is breaking ground in early 2014 at Alpha Ridge Park (2 miles west of the Conservancy).  We look forward to the “first light” star party sometime in 2014.  Stay tuned!




Jennifer Holland- Author

Jennifer S. Holland is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom, Unlikely Loves: 43 Heartwarming True Stories from the Animal Kingdom and Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom. She has written for, among others, National GeographicThe Discovery ChannelNPR, and The Washington Post, specializing in science and natural history. She lives with her husband, three dogs, and dozens of snakes and geckos, and divides her time between Silver Spring, Maryland, and a cabin in the woods near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Stephanie Holzman

Stephanie is a graduate of the Hahnemann University with Master's degree in Creative Arts Therapy and a graduate of Lynchburg College with BA degrees in both Studio Art and Psychology. She is a creative arts therapist, educator, Master Gardener, and mother of three, who enjoys working with adolescents and children. Sharing her love of the outdoors with children has just come--naturally! As an educator and volunteer naturalist at the Conservancy for several years, Stephanie leads groups of elementary-, middle-, high-school, and special needs students to explore and study in nature's classroom. She is also a talented artist and musician and skillfully weaves these gifts through her storytelling and lessons. With jobs, committees and organizations over the years, Stephanie has had varied opportunities to foster creativity and the love of learning for many, both indoors and out of doors.


Walter Jones-

M MAR 21- Stories for the Equinox: A 2015 World Storytelling Day Event-Saturday 1pm-4pm  $

Multi-instrumentalist Walter Jones Jr. sings, dances and encourages audiences of all ages to sing along, dance along and join the journey as we explore various cultures, historical events and colorful characters from your favorite stories from around the world.

Walter Jones Jr. has been a public school special educator, entertainer and children and families minister for over 30 years. He has a natural rapport with children of all ages. He has been honored as a “Sign of Hope” in the Baltimore community by the mayor and city council; “Teacher of the Year” at Matthew Henson Elementary school; featured artist for the Grand Opening of the Richmond Children’s Museum; and featured artist for the Summer Reading Programs for both Baltimore County and Baltimore City public libraries.

Mike Kerwin-

M APR 25- Earth Day: Make a Difference! Bird Walk Saturday 8am FREE

M SEP 12- Cool Ways to Observe Bird Migrations Saturday 10am FREE

Mike Kerwin is Vice President of Analytics at Avemco Aviation, in Frederick Maryland. He graduated with a B.A. from Ursinus College and earned his Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation — the industry’s highest achievement — in 1984, and has since taught several thousand hours of insurance courses, including more than 40 lectures around the country. Mike’s passion for things with wings not only includes aircraft, he is a very active amateur ornithologist. Mike is a long time member and past President of the Howard County Bird Club. Mike loves to share his passion for birds, He has taught the Boy Scout Birding merit badge, and for over 20 years he has taught birding at Burleigh Manor Middle School outdoor Education Program and has led numerous walks for the Bird Club. Mike resides in Burleigh Manor with his wife Jean; their 3 adult sons also live in Maryland.

Jackie Bailey Labovitz- Photographer/Curator

M JAN 24- Wildflowers in the Understory: A Perspective on "Painting" with Nature's Light Saturday 7pm $

Jackie Bailey Labovitz grew up in rural Virginia, and graduated with a degree in fine arts. After completing a fellowship at the National Endowment for the Arts, she became an independent art curator. She created collections for embassies, consulates, and corporations around the world.

Lately, Jackie has returned to her roots - literally and figuratively - in rural Virginia. She uses her artistically trained eye to photograph native flora and fauna.  (biography from her website at

Frank Marsden: Expert wildlife spotter and photographer

M NOV 14- Spotting Wildlife in Winter Saturday 10am FREE

  I began my naturalist and photographic journey in 1991 by observing, teaching and taking pictures of the wildlife and sights at Eden Mill Nature Center. I have always wanted to share with others my adventures and joy of seeing and learning about wildlife during my travels. Over the years I have had the good fortune to lead over 20 backcountry canoeing  trips  to  Algonquin Park in Canada, the Allagash River in Maine, and trips in the Adirondacks. I have helped lead numerous trips to Wyoming and Costa Rica, and during all of these teaching adventures, my journal and camera are rarely not  with  me. My camera has been an extension of my eyes and mind……a tool to bring wildlife and environmental  education back to the visitors of Eden Mill.

   I have been fortunate enough to be the Program Director, canoe instructor, naturalist, teacher, and anything they will let me be at Eden Mill, since 1991. 

Richard Martin:

M JUN 13- Survival Skills in the Woods Saturday 10am FREE

Richard Martin is a Maryland native, primitive skills enthusiast, owl caretaker, archery instructor, kayak instructor, and hunter… Rich does a little bit of everything! When not on the water, Rich can be found participating in myriad activities including volunteering as a naturalist with the Howard County Conservancy. He also loves riding his bike, walking in the woods, and enjoying the outdoors with his wife, 2 kids and the family dogs.  Rich started doing primitive skills in the mid-90s at Tom Brown Jr.'s Tracker School and has demonstrated skills throughout Maryland.


Wendy Ng

M FEB 14- Asian Cultural Traditions: Celebrating Nature Saturday 10am  FREE

Wendy W. Ng spent her formative years in Hong Kong before coming to the U.S. for her undergraduate and graduate education. She has since then married, became a mother of two sons, worked in a few careers, homeschooled her two sons through part of their education, and taken on many volunteer opportunities.  Although she long ago settled into life in the U.S., she still misses the eager anticipation and exciting celebration the Lunar New Year which receive scant (albeit increasing) attention here.  As her sons were growing up, she recaptured some of those Lunar New Year memories by sharing the customs and cultural practices at their school.  Since then, she has continued to spread understanding of these traditions by presentations to other groups she has encountered. 



Kyong Parker

M FEB 14- Asian Cultural Traditions: Celebrating Nature Saturday 10am  FREE

Kyong was born in Seoul, Korea, but has lived in Howard County, Maryland, for most of her life. Growing up, she was more preoccupied with assimilating and fitting in than appreciating in her roots. Over the years, however, her husband and children’s overwhelming enthusiasm for Korean culture and food has been infectious. She now treasures her early memories and her upbringing in shared traditions, however tenuous her understanding. This February, she looks forward to sharing some of her favorite Korean Lunar New Year customs.

Kristin Pedemonti-

M MAR 21- Stories for the Equinox: A 2015 World Storytelling Day Event-Saturday 1pm-4pm  $

As conduit, connector and catalyst Kristin builds bridges between people and cultures, breaking down stereotypes and barriers through Traditional and True stories of acceptance, perseverance, possibility, resilience and understanding. Her stories are collected through worldwide travels as well as interviews with artists, educators, entrepreneurs, innovators and students in the developing and developed world. Kristin’s tales illustrate that everyone has a story, those stories matter and we all have the potential to make an impact on the world around us, no matter what our age, background, gender or geography.

Award winning, cause-focused storyteller, speaker, author, lead facilitator for CGI member Artfully Aware and TED Talks talent search finalist, Kristin Pedemonti performs world-wide at festivals, conferences, TEDx, universities, schools corporate and special events. She’s performed throughout the US including NYC & globally in Belfast, Berlin, Bogota, Gdansk, London, Nairobi, Naples, Paris, Stockholm, Warsaw & beyond.

In 2005 Kristin sold her home & most of her possessions to create/facilitate Literacy Outreach in Belize, where she has conducted programs for 33,000 youth and trained 800 teachers how to use their own cultural stories in schools. Her book, Building Bridges Between; Connecting Culture, Classrooms & Communities is slated for publication. In 2013, Kristin facilitated Artfully Aware's Community Created Book Project in Kenya, Ghana and Haiti. The resulting books, Ghana Is... and Perseverance & Possibility in Kenya are now available.

Dr. Michael J Raupp-
 Professor & Extension Specialist, Ornamental Horticulture, IPM, Entomology

M AUG 20- Monarchs and Mojitos Thursday 7pm  FREE EVENT ($ for drinks)

Mike is a professor and extension specialist at the University of Maryland at College Park and Science Channel Expert.  As internationally recognized expert, Mike has more than 200 publications and has made more than 900 presentations on the ecology and management of insects and mites. He is has appeared on all major television networks and has been featured on The Science Channel, National Geographic, Dr. Oz and Jay Leno. His “Bug of the Week” website,, an information source on the natural history of insects, received more than one million visits since its inception. Mike has received a dozen regional or national awards for excellence in extension programming and media communications including the Secretary of Agriculture's Award for Environmental Protection. His most recent book “26 Things that Bug Me” introduces youngsters to the wonders of insects and natural history using pictures and rhymes while “Managing Insect and Mites on Woody Landscape Plants” is a standard for the arboricultural industry.


Dr. Alex Storrs - Astrophysicist

M NOV 17- Leonids Meteor Shower Tuesday 10pm-1am  FREE

M DEC 13- Geminids Meteor Shower Sunday 10pm-1am  FREE

Alex Storrs is an associate professor in the department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences at Towson University. He did his undergraduate work in X-Ray astronomy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, getting a B.S. in Physics in 1982. He then went to grad. school at the University of Hawaii, getting a Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1987 with a dissertation on Halley’s comet. He has probably seen more of that comet than anyone else in the human race. After postdocs at Goddard Spaceflight Center and the University of Texas, he worked at Space Telescope Science Institute for nine years, becoming known as “Mr. Moving Targets”. He started at Towson University in the fall of 2000 and got tenure in 2004. He is director of both the Watson-King Planetarium and the Observatory at Towson Univeristy.





Van Wensil- Naturalist

 B MAR 21- Signs of Spring Hike Saturday 10am  FREE

B AUG 15- Edible Plant Hike Saturday 10am  FREE

Van has spent a lifetime living close to the land. Currently a partner in a small farming enterprise, she is a naturalist with vast knowledge of wildlife. She hunts and prepares local mushrooms, grows her own vegetables and forages delicious edibles from the woods, is a talented potter, and gifted artist. For years she taught art to pre-school and elementary school children in Elkridge. When her son and daughter were young, they created fantastic fairy houses. She brings that joy now to children of friends, neighbors, and visitors to the Conservancy.