Keynote Speakers

Jenks Farmer

Owner, Jenks Farmer, Plantsman

Augustus Jenkins Farmer III is a renaissance plantsman. He fell in love with the natural world while growing up in a family of artists, musicians, and farmers. Jenks went on to get a more formal education in plant sciences at Clemson University and then botanical garden design at the University of Washington.

For 20 years, he’s led teams to establish and plant the vision for two of South Carolina’s major botanical gardens. He is the former director of Riverbanks Botanical Garden and founding horticulturist of Moore Farms Garden. His designs for homes, museums, and businesses have received recognition and awards and have delighted hundreds of thousands of visitors with the joyful, easy exuberance of hand-crafted gardens.

An engaging storyteller and teacher, Jenks has a real talent for getting people of all ages and from all walks of life to go outside and get their hands dirty. He’s also presented lectures for groups as varied as the North Carolina State Agricultural faculty, the Smithsonian, Wave Hill, Master Gardener clubs, and, of course, his grandmother’s Allendale Ladies Afternoon Reading Club.

His writing has been published in scientific journals and popular magazines like Organic Gardening and Horticulture. He is the author of the quarterly publication Gardening with Crinum Lilies and Deep Rooted Wisdom: Lessons Learned from Generations of Gardeners, published by Timber Press in 2014.

Visit Jenks Farmer’s website at:

Michael Mulvaney

Cropping Systems Specialist, UF/IFAS

Michael’s appointment is 60% research and 40% extension. The main crops of interest in his program include peanut, cotton, corn, soybean, wheat, and carinata. Fertilizer inputs are one of the highest operational expenses for growers, and also a major source of nutrient loading to Florida waterbodies due to high infiltration rates of the sandy soils found throughout the panhandle of Florida and the Southeast. One strategy to simultaneously reduce farm expenses and improve environmental quality is to improve nutrient use efficiencies of cropping systems.

Michael has extensive international experience, having worked and traveled in over 50 countries on six continents, most recently as Cropping Systems Agronomist with CIMMYT in Mexico, and before that as the Assistant Program Director for the USAID SANREM CRSP at Virginia Tech.

Carol Michel

Author, Potted and Pruned, Living a Gardening Life

Carol Michel loves to garden and loves most everything about gardening... good soil, plants, flowers, books, tools, and other gardeners. She considers herself a Gardenangelist, an evangelist for gardening who loves gardening and wants others to love it, too.

Carol has been gardening in some capacity her whole life, starting as a toddler following behind her Dad as he planted peas every spring. She wore out the gardening books at her local library by checking them out over and over again. And there still might be a soup spoon or two—her childhood digging tool of choice—buried in the backyard.

Carol is a graduate of the Purdue University School of Agriculture with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture Production. She then went on to get a computer technology degree and worked in that field for 33 years.

Carol is a long time garden blogger, probably most notable for coming up with Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. For the past ten years and still going, gardeners around the world post on their own blogs about what's blooming in their gardens on the 15th of every month and then leave a link on Carol’s blog post about what's blooming in their garden. Keeping that record has really helped her garden. Carol has planted many flowers through the last ten years so she can have "perpetual spring" nearly all year long in her Zone 6a garden in central Indiana.

Carol cannot resist old gardening books, so she calls her library the Home for Old Gardening Books (and Seed Catalogs). She knows she has the largest collection of gardening hoes as no one has ever disputed her claim to such.  She’s also the keeper of the secrets to happiness in a garden. It's a big responsibility!

Last but not least, Carol Michel is the author of the recently released book Potted & Pruned: Living a Gardening Life. Her blog has well over 2,500 posts going back to 2004. Potted and Pruned is a compilation of some of the best of those posts plus some new essays. Carol potted them up, pruned them a bit, and made otherwise cleaned them up for the book!

You may view Carol’s blog at:

Matt Smith

Plant Pathology Assistant Professor, UF/IFAS

As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and the curator of the UF Fungal Herbarium (FLAS), Matt Smith has duties in three main areas: research (60%), teaching (20%) and extension (20%).

Matt teaches the UF mycology course and is responsible for identifying unknown fungi for a variety of Florida stakeholders, including the UF Plant Disease Clinic, UF-IFAS Extension Service, and the UF Veterinary School. He is broadly interested in fungal ecology, evolution, and systematics. Matt has extensively worked on the biology and systematics of hypogeous fungi (“truffles”) and the ecology of plant-symbiotic ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi. However, he has also studied a variety of other fungal groups, including plant pathogens Armillaria mellea ("oak root fungus") and Claviceps purpurea (Ergot disease of grasses) as well as the nematode-destroying fungi (Orbiliales and other Ascomycota). His work combines the synergistic use of molecular, morphological, and culture-based methods in both laboratory and field settings.

Jaret Daniels

Associate Professor & Insect Conservationist, UF/IFAS

Jaret Daniels, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida and the Director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the Florida Museum of Natural History. An entomologist by training, he specializes in the ecology and conservation of butterflies and other native insect pollinators.

Scott Allen Davis

Refuge Ranger, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Scott Allen Davis works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, St. Marks and St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuges, and the Florida Native Plant Society. His interests include plant propagation, pollinator plant restoration, ecosystem evaluation and interpretation, and much more. Scott attended Florida State University and spent most of his time in Tallahassee observing plants, monarchs favor to certain plant species, and milkweed production.

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information accessible. While extending into every community of the state, UF/IFAS has developed a national and international reputation for its accomplishments in teaching, research and Extension.


OCI stands for the Office of Conferences & Institutes. It is a full service conference planning agency at the University of Florida. OCI was created to support the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) mission to develop knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and to make that knowledge available to people to sustain and enhance the quality of life.

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