Alan Branhagen

Alan Branhagen is Director of Operations at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and previously held the position of Director of Horticulture at Powell Gardens, Kansas City's botanical garden. He is the author of The Gardener's Butterfly Book and has written articles for publications including Fine Gardening, Missouri Gardener, Missouri Prairie Journal, Landscape Maintenance, and Restoration and Management Notes. Alan is a naturalist and plantsman specializing in botany, butterflies, and birds, utilizing his background in garden design and management. He is currently creating and restoring a three-acre prairie and woodland garden around his home.

Author of 
Native Plants of the Midwest: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden

The Gardener's Butterfly Book

Alex Eilts

Alex EiltsAlex received his doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona. He loves plants, and currently helps maintain the University of Minnesota plant diversity collection which contains over 1,600 species, spread across 200 plant families. He is also a professional science communicator, whether making videos of his own ( or playing other's videos as the festival coordinator for the Northstar Science Film Festival (

Beth Markhart

Beth MarkhartBeth holds a B.A. in plant ecology from the University of Colorado and an M.S. in plant physiology from the University of MN. She has served as a board member of the Society of Wetland Scientists and the MN Native Plant Society, instructed biology and ecology, and spoken to many professional and interest groups since 1980. As Trustee of the Markhart Organics Endowment Fund at the UMN, Beth enjoys interacting with undergraduates who enthusiastically aspire to better the world through ecologically based farming systems.

Beth is employed by Prairie Restorations, Inc., the 42-year old restoration company and producer of Minnesota native seeds and plants. The website for Prairie Restorations:

Christy Marsden

Christy MarsdenMaster Gardener Extension Educator and Education Manager

Christy Marsden is a member of the State Leadership Team with the U of M Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. As the Education Manager, Christy oversees Master Gardener Volunteer training and education statewide through the Core Course, volunteer toolkits, and other outreach methods. Christy also works with the Arboretum Education team to build adult education programs online and in conjunction with the Master Gardener Volunteer program.

Before working with the Landscape Arboretum, Christy was a county-based Horticulture Educator with the University of Wisconsin Extension in Rock County. Christy has a BS in Human Development and MS in Horticulture and Agronomy from the University of California, Davis. As a native of California she's learned to love the seasons, especially amongst the trees.

Laura Vogel

Laura Vogel

Arboretum Adult Education Programs Manager
As Adult Education Programs Manager, Laura connects adults to their natural world, and strives to connect public horticulture to issues of environmental, food, and social justice. This is achieved through programs, workshops, walks, and summits in gardening, photography, culinary topics and more.

Laura started her path in horticulture with 4-H and landscaping her parents' backyard. She has a B.S. in Public Horticulture from Purdue University and an M.S. in Public Horticulture Management from the University of Delaware and Longwood Gardens.

Professionally, Laura has been part of the education staff at Missouri Botanical Garden, Longwood Gardens, and Brookside Gardens.

In her free time, Laura tries to keep up with twin toddlers and squeezes in vegetable gardening and cooking on the side.