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Current Instructors

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Karen Bell Karen Bell holds an MFA in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to BBG, she has taught photography at the New School, the International Center of Photography, FIT, and Seton Hall University. Her photographs have been exhibited and collected throughout the U.S., including the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Public Library, and Ellis Island Museum.
Jennifer Blackwell Jenny Blackwell is curator of the Discovery Garden and Early Spring Garden. Originally from Minnesota, Jenny didn't really get bitten by the horticulture bug until she moved to New York City in 2005. After working as an intern at BBG and receiving a Certificate in Horticulture in 2008, she gardened with the compost tea masters at Battery Park City Parks Conservancy before serving as project manager for BBG's NYC Compost Project for five years. She joined BBG's Horticulture staff in 2014. Jenny is passionate about ecology and soil, and her favorite ecosystem in the Discovery Garden is the meadow
Dana Bourne Dana is an urban farmer and environmental educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Working first as a crew member at Hearty Roots Farm, bringing organic food to communities in the NYC area through a CSA model, and more recently as an environmental educator at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and GrowNYC, Dana has worked with children and adults to connect all New Yorkers to where our food comes from and the land we rely on.
Enid Braun Artist Enid Braun uses urban and nature landscape imagery in mixed-media drawing, pastel, and oil. She currently teaches private figure drawing in her Brooklyn studio and has taught for the Battery Park City Conservancy, the 92nd Street Y, and Cooper Union public programs. She recently taught Adirondacks Plein Air, a five-day workshop for the Tahawus Center in Au Sable Forks, New York, and has also been a visiting artist at the San Francisco Art Institute and at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and MFA from Pratt Institute. Check out her website for more information.
Nina Browne
Rebecca Bullene Rebecca Bullene is a botanical designer specializing in both interior and exterior landscapes. She is the founder of Greenery NYC one of the leading urban horticultural design companies in NYC.
Nancy Carey Nan Carey is a painter and potter. Her watercolors and sketchbooks are exhibited widely, and she teaches classes and workshops in watercolor painting, sketchbook journaling, and collage. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Ember Chabot Ember Chabot has a master's degree in entomology from the University of Illinois, where she completed a research project in molecular ecology using DNA sequencing techniques to inform the reintroduction of an endangered aquatic insect species. She has also worked professionally as a scuba diver to control an invasive aquatic plant species in lakes across New York State. In addition to BBG, she works as a full-time educator at a private high school in Brooklyn.
Kwok Kay Choey Kwok Kay Choey is an artist and tai chi instructor. He received his art education in Singapore, New York, and Europe and is proficient in both Chinese and Western painting. He has led painting/calligraphy workshops at the Metropolitan Museum and at the American Museum of Natural History and taught at Queens College, Westchester Community College Center for the Arts, and elsewhere. A practitioner of tai chi/qi gong for more than 50 years, he often participates in tai chi seminars in Asia and has instructor certification in Tai Chi for Arthritis from the Dr. Paul Lam Tai Chi for Health Institute. He practices the Yang style, tracing tai chi's martial arts origins while emphasizing its health benefits.
Mary Christiansen Artist Mary Christiansen taught art at the Brearley School for 29 years and has also been an instructor in botanical art at the New York Botanical Garden, where she received a certificate in botanical art. She has exhibited her work in many juried group shows, including the American Society of Botanical Artists exhibitions at the New York Horticultural Society and at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC.
Molly Culver Molly Oliver Culver is a farmer, educator, and floral designer based in Brooklyn. Her work in community food justice and farming began in the South Bronx in 2005 with Just Food, and she went on to work with many greening organizations in New York City, including GreenThumb, Earth Matter NY, and Green Guerillas. She holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, UC Santa Cruz, and since 2011 has worked as co-farm manager at the one-acre Youth Farm in Crown Heights, where she oversees crop production as well as farm education and training programs for adults. Molly is a co-founder of Farm School NYC, where she teaches the Growing Soils and Propagation courses, and runs her own sustainable floral design company, Molly Oliver Flowers.
Jason Duverney-Gaspar Jason Duverney-Gaspar is the assistant program coordinator for BBG's Children's Garden. His passion for horticulture and education was nurtured at Longwood Gardens, where he graduated from the Professional Gardener Program. Before pursuing horticulture at BBG, Jason worked as the director of garden programs for the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum in Brooklyn.
Erin Eck Erin Eck is a Horticulture Supervisor at Friends of the High Line where she also writes the horticulture blog, Gardening in the Sky. She also designs gardens for OP/A, a Brooklyn-based architectural design firm. Before joining the High Line in 2013, Erin worked as a research assistant, studying soil health in NYC community gardens. She continues to be deeply interested in soil health and its impact on plant health.
Kim Eierman Specializing in ecological landscapes and native plants, Kim Eierman is a certified horticulturist through the American Society for Horticultural Science, master gardener, master naturalist, and accredited organic land care professional. In addition to BBG, she teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College (where she is also on the steering committee), and several other institutions. Kim is an active speaker on many ecological gardening topics and also provides horticultural consulting to homeowners and commercial clients.
Sara Epstein Sara Epstein manages BBG's school programs and partnerships and enjoys teaching and learning about plants with everyone.
Greg Frux A native of Brooklyn, artist Gregory Frux draws inspiration from both urban and wilderness landscapes. His cityscapes explore parks and gardens as well as industrial sites, and his wilderness work derives from are a lifetime of trekking internationally. He has been artist in residence in four national parks and worked as shipboard artist in north and south polar regions. His work is in the collections of Library of Congress, American Mountaineering Museum, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NYC Department of Education, and National Park Service. Greg has also been an instructor at the Art Students League.
Ashley Gamell Ashley Gamell has devoted her career to sharing her passion for plants with others and catalyzing a deeper connection with nature for kids, adults, and kids at heart. She has a decade of experience in horticulture, education, and exhibit development at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and has also taught at the New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Brainery. She now works from the Hudson Valley as a freelance writer, educator, and consultant.
Joseph Giunta Joseph Giunta has led bird walks for the Nature Conservancy and the South Fork Natural History Society and taught a beginning birding course for Summer Fest. He has birded extensively in the U.S., Panama, Belize, Venezuela, and Costa Rica.
Hester Griffin Hester Griffin is an urban farmer and gardener. She began farming as an intern at Brooklyn Grange and then moved to Maine to work with organic farmers Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman at Four Season Farm. Hester returned to NYC to work at Queens County Farm Museum and is currently a horticultural assistant in BBG's Discovery Garden.
Richard Haugland In the mid-1990s, Richard Haugland switched his career to horticulture after receiving a Certificate in Horticulture from BBG. He has since worked for New York City's Union Square Park, City Hall Park, and most recently the Narrows Botanical Garden, where he manages the greenhouse, farm, and pollinating gardens. He has taught classes at BBG ranging from seed starting and flower gardens to lawn care.
Madineyah Isaacs Madineyah Isaacs is a personal mastery and leadership coach and floral enthusiast representing Stems Brooklyn. She loves nature and helping people get back to their true nature; combining these two passions into mindfulness flower arranging was a natural step. Her career includes extensive traveling and coaching, in group settings and one-on-one, in Italy, London, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
Adriana Jamieson Adriana Jamison is a floral designer, potter, and student of herbalism at ArborVitae, based in Brooklyn. Shortly after realizing her future was destined to be among plants, she began creating vessels to hold them. Adriana leans toward a tempestuous style when designing with flowers and strives to remain true to natural textures and forms. Her greatest joy in designing is transposing the duality and unpredictability of nature.
Mimi Jorling Mimi Jorling is one of BBG's librarians where, among other library duties, she answers the Plant Info Line. She is a horticulturist with over 20 years' experience working in public parks and residential gardens and has an interest in medicinal plants.
Paul Keim Paul Keim, who holds a BFA from Pratt Institute, is a full-time printer and colorist and an avid birdwatcher and naturalist. He belongs to the Brooklyn Watercolor Society and the Brooklyn Bird Club, where he has served as president.
Aimee Kirby Aimee Kirby is the founder and creative director of Ferox Studio, a garden and floral design firm working in the Northeast and beyond. She sees gardens and flora not only as a thing of beauty but also as opportunities to embrace natural media as art and functional installation. Aimee specializes in projects focused on pollinator palettes, soft textures, and layered multiseasonal appeal.
Keiko Kitazawa Koch Keiko Kitazawa Koch is a tea ceremony instructor in the Omotesenke style. She teaches at various locations in the New York City area, including Globus Tea House, where she regularly provides lessons. She also performs tea ceremony demonstrations at schools and public spaces, including most recently at the renowned Zuiho-in (Daitoku-ji) in Kyoto.
Barbara Kurland Barbara Kurland is BBG's director of Learning and Partnerships, where she manages school programs and teacher-training programs as well as partnerships with other institutions. She holds a BA from Vassar College and an MA from Lehman College, CUNY, both in biology, and before joining the Garden in 1989, she taught middle and high school science in the New York City public schools.
Will Lenihan Will Lenihan is the curator of the Native Flora Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the former curator of Natural Science at the Staten Island Museum. He is a graduate of BBG's Horticulture Certificate Program and the State University of New York at Plattsburgh's Ecology program. He is also a lifelong carnivorous plant enthusiast.
Allison Maletz Allison Maletz is a contemporary watercolor and mixed media artist, with degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design and the Slade School of Fine Art, London. She has exhibited her work widely in Europe and the U.S. She has also taught people of all ages and currently leads classes in painting, drawing, illustration, installation, and professional practices for artists at Parsons School of Design, Marymount Manhattan College, and various continuing education courses in NYC.
Caitlin Marinelli Caitlin Marinelli is a holistic life coach based in Brooklyn. After completing a master's degree in social work at Columbia, she moved to India for five years, where she launched and managed two fast-growing social enterprises focused on health and environment. She also became a certified practitioner and teacher of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and Reiki, with a focus on the therapeutic impact of these practices. Upon returning to the US, Caitlin launched her integrative coaching practice to help her clients design lives with greater peace, purpose, and joy. Caitlin is also a passionate permaculture practitioner and a BBG Garden Guide.
Leda Meredith Leda Meredith is an ethnobotanist who specializes in edible and medicinal plants and sustainable food systems. She is the author of several books, including Northeast Foraging and Preserving Everything. She also writes a wild edible plants blog for Mother Earth News and posts her adventures in food and botany online at Leda Meredith: The Forager's Feast.
Robert Moss Robb Moss is a freelance florist and floral instructor at BBG and the New York Botanical Garden and also teaches classes for local gardeners and social clubs.
Krissie Nagy Krissie Nagy has been making and selling her whimsical kokedama at the Brooklyn Flea since April, 2013. She is also the owner of BK Bumpkin, an ecological garden design/build firm based in Brooklyn. When Krissie isn't building a garden or making a moss ball, she is usually cooking meals at home and feeding her pet worms the kitchen scraps.
Elizabeth O'Reilly Elizabeth O'Reilly received her MFA from Brooklyn College and her B.Ed from the National University of Ireland. She has received numerous residencies and awards, is the subject of a documentary, Ealaiontóir Thar Sáile (An Artist Abroad), and is represented at George Billis Gallery in New York. She has taught at the New School for Social Research, Pratt Institute, and Brooklyn College and conducts private workshops out of her studio in Brooklyn.
Anna Paltseva Anna Paltseva is a soil scientist at the Urban Soils Institute and Brooklyn College Analytical Center. She working toward a doctorate degree in earth and environmental science with a concentration in geology from CUNY Graduate Center, where her research focuses on urban soil contamination and bioavailability of heavy metals in urban soils. Besides at BBG, the Russian native has taught at Brooklyn College and at the New York Botanical Garden.
Cheryl Paswater Cheryl Paswater is a Brooklyn-based certified fermentationist , educator, and health coach, who after a near-death experience turned to holistic medicine for help. After radical diet and lifestyle changes, she started teaching fermentation, old-world food preservation, healthy eating, sustainable food, and holistic health. She runs a popular fermentation project and CSA called Contraband Ferments.
Irene Pease Irene Pease, aka the Friendly Neighborhood Astronomer, enjoys sharing views through her telescopes to passersby on busy sidewalks and under darker skies in Prospect Park. In addition to astronomizing around Brooklyn, she teaches physics at York College, CUNY, and produces the Hayden Planetarium video blog, Skylight. Irene is a frequent presenter and cohost of Astronomy on Tap NYC and a presenter for Hayden Planetarium's Astronomy Live series.
Dawn Petter Dawn Petter teaches classes about the art of plant-based healing with the aim of making herbs and herbal medicine applicable to people's daily lives. She incorporates her training from Arbor Vitae School of Traditional Herbalism with her natural creative flare. In addition to teaching, Dawn works as a herbalist and flower-essence practitioner, leads herb walks, and runs an online apothecary shop called Petalune Herbals.
Maria Elena Pombo Maria Elena Pombo is the founder of Fragmentario, a creative studio based in Brooklyn, where she uses plants to color fiber and create unique textile goods; she also offers dye services and workshops on natural dyes. A fashion design graduate from Parsons School of Design and former designer at Michael Kors, Mari has been studying natural dyes independently for more than four years and has taught workshops in Italy, Spain, Germany, and New York City.
Margarita Poulson Margarita Poulson, current Gardener of BBG's Water Garden and former curator of BBG's interior displays and Washington Avenue gardens, makes unique jewelry pieces using botanical materials, a passion she discovered and embraced as a Horticulture intern at BBG. She draws inspiration from the cultural traditions, folklore, and natural history of the seeds, bark, stems, and flowers she incorporates into her work. Margarita enjoys sharing and exploring her craft while teaching the Art of Botanical Jewelry Making at BBG and NYBG.
Rashid Poulson Brooklyn native Rashid Poulson is deputy director of horticulture at Brooklyn Bridge Park. He's also a MillionTrees Training Program alumnus, where he studied arboriculture, urban landscape design, and ecological restoration and gardened at the High Line park. His current focus is on park management, though he is still an active green roof gardener at Brooklyn Bridge Park, as well as its leading arborist.
Marek Pundzak
Deneen Reynolds-Knott
Christopher Roddick Christopher Roddick is an ISA-certified arborist at BBG. He is also the coauthor of the BBG handbook The Tree Care Primer, a BBG All-Region Guide.
Carla Rodriguez
Nigel Rollings Nigel Rollings is a designer and builder of gardens in the New York area and has taught classes at BBG since 1995. He won the Association of Professional Landscape Designers Silver Award for residential garden design in 2006.
Adele Rossetti Adele Rossetti is the illustrator of Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Discovery Garden interpretation consoles and a fellow of the BBG Florilegium Society. She has an MFA in painting and an MS in history of art, design, and architecture from Pratt Institute. She has taught art extensively and has received numerous honors and awards, including a 2016 Fulbright Scholarship. She is also a lecturer, scientific illustrator, private art tutor, and exhibiting artist.
Valerie Striar Valerie Striar teaches and practices mindfulness meditation, following the Insight Meditation tradition. She is also a yoga teacher, choreographer, and dance and theater artist, teaching artist, and longtime lover of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She completed her teacher training with Inward Bound Mindfulness Education for Teens, iBme, and completed the Power of Awareness training with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. Valerie incorporates her practice of Compassionate Communication into her teaching, applying principles of nonjudgment, empathy, and understanding. Valerie has been leading seasonal walking meditation groups at the Garden since 2014. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Nathaniel Whitmore Nathaniel Whitmore grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and began harvesting wild medicinal herbs as a teenager. He is well known as an expert forager and has been teaching about wild plant and mushroom identification for over 15 years. He practices shiatsu (acupressure) and herbal medicine at Worker Bee Community Acupuncture in Milford, Pennsylvania, where he is helping to develop a domestically sourced Chinese herbal apothecary. He also practices and teaches in several locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including at ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism.
Greenest Block Winner
Heather Wolf Heather Wolf is a Brooklyn-based birder and author of Birding at the Bridge: In Search of Every Bird on the Brooklyn Waterfront. She works for Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a web developer for such sites as eBird and Birds of North America. Heather has taught birding classes at Brooklyn Brainery, given lectures for various organizations, including NYC Audubon and Brooklyn Public Library, and has led bird walks for Brooklyn Bridge Park, Washington Square Park Eco Projects, Florida Trail Association, and more. She blogs her photos at
Rachael Wren Rachael Wren is a painter whose work includes elements of both landscape and geometric abstraction. She has exhibited her paintings widely and has received numerous awards and residencies. Rachael has taught workshops at Wave Hill and the Art Students League, as well as all levels of drawing and painting classes at several universities. She has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Washington.
Julianne Zaleta Julianne Zaleta is a professional herbalist, aromatherapist, and natural perfumer. As the proprietor of the Brooklyn-based Alchemologie Natural Perfume, she crafts artisanal and bespoke perfumes as well as aromatic and therapeutic remedies and elixirs for a wide variety of ailments. She is a certified aromatherapist as well as a licensed massage therapist and meditation teacher.