Nature Notes is a collaboration between Minnesota Master Naturalists and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum staff. Meet our regular contributors:

Alan Branhagen

Alan Branhagen is Director of Operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum where he supervises capital improvements, horticulture and natural resources, plant curation, facilities and information technology. He is the author of Native Plants of the Midwest: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden and The Gardener’s Butterfly Book. Beyond public garden management, Alan is an all-around plantsman and naturalist, specializing in botany, birds and butterflies. He is currently creating a new garden and restoring the woodland around his home overlooking the Minnesota River Valley. Read his contributions to Nature Notes.

Sydney Chandler

As an avid observer of the world, Sydney Chandler loves to soak up outdoor adventures. She enjoys being part of the collaborative learning community that is the Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer program. The more she learns, the more her curiosity grows! She thrives on making connections between fields and challenging herself and others with new perspectives. Read Sydney’s contributions to Nature Notes.

Holly Einess

Holly Einess has a Biology degree from St. Olaf College and is a MN Master Naturalist Volunteer. She loves learning about Minnesota’s plants, animals, and ecosystems and sharing that learning with others. She enjoys kayaking Minnehaha Creek, cross-country skiing, hiking with her dog Birkie and husband Brian, and camping in the BWCA. Her dream is for humans to welcome nature into their everyday lives and to live in kinship with their fellow creatures on this planet. Read Holly’s contributions to Nature Notes.

Sarah Jackson is a PR / Media Specialist for the Arboretum. She’s a longtime gardener and former journalist who worked for many years specifically in garden media. Sarah went through the Master Gardener training program in Seattle in 2008. Today she tends a full-sun, half-acre property in Minnetonka, where she grows ornamentals and veggies for her friends and family, particularly her son, who will eat the veggies … sometimesRead Sarah’s contributions to Nature Notes.

Jean Larson

Jean Larson has a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation and a minor in integrative medicine from the University of Minnesota. She is also an assistant professor at the University’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. She is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, a registered horticultural therapist, and has a certificate in disability services and administration from the Institute of Community Integration. She is a two-time Fulbright scholar.

Larson’s work has taken her to Japan, England, Sweden, Norway, Taiwan and Israel. She is at home on her family farm north of the Twin Cities along with her husband, dogs, cats, goats, chickens and horses. Read her contributions to Nature Notes.

Lee Anne Laskey

Lee Anne Laskey loves spending time outdoors in all of our inviting Minnesota seasons, especially if she is hiking, snowshoeing, biking or gardening. She enjoys sharing her nature experiences in hopes that it will inspire others to closely observe and learn about the natural wonders around them. She craves her weekly walks on her favorite trails here at the Arboretum and at many of the Three Rivers Parks.  She feels very fortunate to have been staff at both in the past and for the valuable mentors in her life because of that. You can find her often on the weekends, with her husband & Golden Doodle Jo, camping in their cozy teardrop together. Read Lee Anne’s contributions to Nature Notes.

Greg Lecker

As a naturalist, Greg Lecker interprets our environment through photography and words, and especially through oil paintings that he creates on location (plein air). Water resources sustain his life and his work as a painter. “Getting his feet wet” in creek and watershed cleanup projects has shaped Greg. He’s raised money and awareness for the Mississippi River by paddling 200 miles with Friends of the Mississippi River. Greg looks forward to traveling to the Arctic Circle in September-October 2020 for an artist and science residency with The Artic Circle program. Follow Greg’s work on Facebook or, and read his contributions to Nature Notes.

Reba Luiken joined the Arboretum’s education team as the coordinator of informal interpretation in 2018. She specializes in all things free and fun!  Her degrees in plant biology, religious studies and history of science have given her a special interest in learning about the natural world from multiple creative perspectives including science, art and nature play.

Liz Potasek

Liz Potasek is a writer and editor with the Arboretum. She’s enjoyed visiting the Arboretum since she was a young child, and loves learning more about the research, events and gardens that make the Arb so special. Read her contributions to Nature Notes.

Mary Beth Pottratz

Nature writing is a passion for Mary Beth Pottratz, and she specialized in just that with her bachelor’s degree in Professional Journalism from the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism. She certified as a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer in 2007, and started blogging for Nature Notes at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 2011. She loves citizen science volunteer programs, especially Hennepin County’s Wetland Health Evaluation Program, University of Minnesota’s Monarch Larva Monitoring Program, Audubon bird counts, phenology tracking in Nature’s Notebook and iNaturalist, Three Rivers Park District’s dragonfly surveys, and many more. Read her contributions to Nature Notes.

Other Contributers: Erin Buchholz, Richard DeVries, Susie Eaton Hopper, Jeffrey Johnson, Nick Kreevich, Patrick Petersen, Boak Wiesner