Speakers Bureau

Speaker’s Bureau

The following speakers have made presentations to the Eureka Chapter. Our Bureau represents speakers with many years of experience with genus Rhododendron: locally, along the Pacific coast, and internationally. We endorse these rhododendron experts for speaking engagements. For more information regarding the Speaker’s Bureau or speaking engagements, please contact the Eureka Chapter.

Harold Greer

Harold Greer

Hal is owner of Greer Gardens in Eugene, Oregon. He is an ARS Gold Medalist and Past President. He has authored “Greer’s Guidebook to Available Rhododendrons” and co-authored “Rhododendron Hybrids” with Homer Salley.

Harold is a renowned international speaker, well known for his superb photography and his informative and entertaining programs.

Steve Hootman

Steve Hootman is the Executive Director and Curator of the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Washington. Over the past 26 years, Steve has become a foremost international authority on Rhododendron taxonomy and distribution. He was awarded the American Rhododendron Society’s highest honor, the Gold Medal, in 2007 for his internationally significant scope of work with genus Rhododendron.

The Foundation maintains the largest collection of species rhododendrons in the United States and is committed to disseminating information about them, as well as plants and seeds, to further understanding of this large, complex and fascinating genus.

Dennis McKiver

Dennis McKiver has been a member of the Noyo Chapter, Mendocino County, since 2001. Dennis has over 1,000 varieties of rhododendron hybrids and species growing on his property. He is an active member and volunteer at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Each spring he leads weekly tours of the gardens with an emphasis on how to plant and raise rhododendrons and which ones will do the best in different climate zones.

Jack Olsen

Jack Olson is a member of the Eugene Chapter in Oregon. He has been a member of the American Rhododendron society since the early 1970’s, and is now a life member. Dennis has a three acre garden where he grows rhododendron seedlings. Many of his named varieties have been trophy winners.

Bruce Palmer

Chapter Past President Bruce Palmer is Professor Emeritus of the Community College system of the University of Hawaii. He taught introductory biology at Maui Community College from 1968 to 1993. Bruce was also Dean of Instruction at the college for 6 years. Prior to moving to Hawaii he taught math and science at Ferndale High School in Humboldt County California. He is an accomplished and successful grant writer.

In 2015, Bruce was the recipient of the American Rhododendron Society Gold Medal. He publishes a regular article, the “Word” column for the both the Eureka Chapter Newsletter and the ARS Newsletter. Bruce and his wife Nelda have been members of the Eureka Chapter since 1994.

Gisele Schoniger

Gisele “G” Schoniger is Manager and Organic Gardening Educator at Kellogg Garden Products. In her 33 years in the Garden Industry, Gisele has accumulated a wide range of experience and knowledge. She earned her degree in Ornamental Horticulture from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo. She has owned an Interiorscape company, worked for the State Department of Agriculture, practiced as a horticultural therapist with senior citizens and launched an outstanding sales career by helping establish top-selling organic gardening products. Gisele shares her wealth of gardening wisdom as an educator to the industry and consumers in the western region of the country.. Her workshops are upbeat, educational and entertaining.

Don Selcer

Dr. Don Selcer has traveled to many of the Rhododendron meccas of the world. He has recently retired after more than 30 years in his medical practice. Don now volunteers at the University of California Botanical Garden in the Asian section. He has traveled to Sikkim with the Britt Smith/ARS trip in 1992 and to Yunnan China on a trip led by Graham Smith (Pukeiiti) and other New Zealanders in 1999. He has traveled on expeditions with the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden collecting seeds in 2001 and 2012.

Parker Smith

Parker Smith is an American Rhododendron Society Silver Medal honoree. Parker recently authored the book “Rhododendrons for California”. He received his Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture in 1965. He has been licensed in California and designing landscapes for over 40 years, throughout California but primarily in the Sonoma and Napa Areas. His passion is hybridizing rhododendrons.

Mike Stewart

Mike Stewart is a world famous rhododendron expert and speaker. He and his wife, Maria, own Dover Nursery in Sandy, Oregon. Mike is an ARS past President and recipient of ARS’s Gold Medal. He is an excellent speaker and photographer. He is also President of the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. Mike and Maria have co-chaired many international conventions and western regional conferences for the ARS.

Kathy VanVeen

Kathy is the daughter and granddaughter of Rhododendron nurserymen who started the Van Veen Nursery in the 1930’s. She was awarded the American Rhododendron Society’s highest honor, The Gold Medal, in 2011. ARS past president, Mike Stewart said of Kathy: “She can root a pencil.” Kathy is a University of Washington graduate with degrees in Oceanography, Geology, and PHD in Quaternary Paleoecology (fossil pollen in sediment cores from oceans and lakes). She grew up with the ARS and has been very involved with the Portland Chapter wearing many hats including president. She has been involved with the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland. Kathy’s father, Ted Van Veen, wrote and published the first definitive Rhododendron picture book “Rhododendrons in America” in 1969. So well received, it was translated into Japanese.

Don Wallace

Don Wallace is the owner of Singing Tree Gardens, in McKinleyville, California. Over the past 20 years Don has planted, propagated, hybridized, and grown from seed many rhododendrons. He is the past president of the Eureka Chapter. Currently, Don is active in hybridizing rhododendrons for fragrance, as well as new and exciting flower colors and great foliage. Don is a frequent speaker at Chapter meetings and conferences along the Pacific Coast. Don serves as board chairman of speaker programs for the Eureka Chapter.

Tim Walsh

Tim’s fascination and passion with rhododendrons began in the late 1980’s. Soon after, he joined the ARS and Eureka Chapter. He was awarded the ARS Silver Medal in 2008. Tim was one of the founding directors of the Humboldt Botanical Gardens (HBG). He has recruited other Chapter members as they continue to develop, select and care for plants at the HBG ‘Temperate Woodland Garden’. Tim is a UC Extension Master Gardener. He is a past president of the Eureka Chapter and currently the District 5 Director of the American Rhododendron Society.