As Matt moves on to his new position as Coordinator of Continuing Education at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia he leaves a tremendous legacy of increased knowledge, enthusiasm, and inspiration in our community. In tribute, we reprint here an early “Meet a Member” column from our chapter newsletter. Visit often Matt.
Meet a Member:
Matt’s enthusiasm for the natural world began at a very early age. He remembers planting a division of chives his grandmother gave him when he was only three years old. Now that’s a memory to be envious of. As a youngster growing up in the very urban city of Sterling Heights, Michigan, he somehow found areas in the fragmented flood plain of the Clinton river where he enjoyed finding frogs, fish, and snakes.
After surviving the high school years, Matt was off to Michigan State. There he earned his Bachelor of Science in Landscape Design Construction Management. Impressed and encouraged by the faculty, he went on to add a Masters of Horticultural Science to his academic credentials. In earning this advanced degree he focused on urban forestry. His research saw him managing 300 trees he had planted in four different communities throughout the state. This work caused him to spend a lot of time at the top of a very tall ladder evaluating the canopies. Twenty feet up on a ladder above suburban highways certainly isn’t the usual hangout for a graduate student.
Matt’s experience since grad school is vast. He worked at Toledo Botanical Gardens in both production and sale of native plants. While there, he maintained existing gardens and designed and installed a 2,000 sq. foot rain garden. It was while doing this work that his appreciation of native plants as functional landscape plants emerged. Since then he’s designed and installed numerous native plantings at such sites as Wildwood Preserve Metropark, the Lucas County Courthouse, and most recently at the Robert J. Anderson Training Center downtown. (See upcoming volunteer opportunity for this site elsewhere in this publication.)
In conjunction with Toledo GROWS, Matt now is developing an Urban Agriculture Program at Owens Community College. As a full time faculty member of the Landscape and Turfgrass Management Program College he instructs seventeen different courses, both for credit and non-credit, and workshops throughout the year.
Along with his many professional activities, he manages to balance his life as an avid outdoorsman by hiking, camping, fishing, golfing, and boating. You’ll often find him with a camera around his neck photographing landscapes, plants, and people. However there is nothing he enjoys more than teaching and sharing his passion for the preservation of our natural plant resources.
While Matt has been in the background supporting our Wild Ones chapter for many years, he recently became a member in order to better help encourage awareness of the native plant movement. He has already offered to chair a Design Review committee for our chapter. (More on this exclusive member benefit later.)
We are certainly glad you joined us Matt and look forward to learning a lot from you. (Don’t miss Matt’s tour of Nichol’s Arboretum – see event calendar.)