2024 SGNPWS Speakers

Bodie Pennisi Contact: [email protected]

Title: Enhancing Your Plant Palette with the Best Native Flowers: Lessons from the Field

Dr. Bodie Pennisi, Professor and Statewide Extension Landscape Specialist, Horticulture Department, The University of Georgia

Dr. Bodie Pennisi is a professor and statewide Extension landscape specialist in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia. She is the Vince Dooley Endowed Chair of Ornamental Horticulture. Dr. Pennisi is responsible for planning and coordinating a statewide Extension program to support the professional landscape industry, and conducting applied research with emphasis on sustainable landscape practices. Dr. Pennisi studies native plants as floral provisioning resources for beneficial insects in urban and agricultural landscape contexts, such as golf courses, solar farms, and blueberry farms. She teaches three college undergraduate and graduate courses, Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants, Plant Physiology, and Plants, Pollinators, and You.

Suzanne Finger Contact: [email protected]

Title: Capturing the Heart of a Place: Designing with Native Plants and Materials in Mind

Suzanne is a licensed Landscape Architect in Georgia with over twenty-five years of experience creating meaningful outdoor experiences for her clients. After growing up on a farm in Southwest Georgia, Suzanne graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. She worked with the UGA Office of the University Architect. Then, with the Baltimore firm of Ayers Saint Gross, she helped develop and implement the University of Georgia Master Plan. She went on to work on many university campuses along the East Coast.

In 2005, Suzanne and her husband Ray, an architect, opened their own firm in the small town of Thomasville, GA, and have enjoyed serving the South Georgia and North Florida communities since then. Suzanne’s extensive plant knowledge and diverse background in master planning, writing building programs, and planting design have helped shape the landscape in her community and beyond.

Keren Giovengo Contact: [email protected],

Title: Balanced Garden: Understanding maintenance to support a healthy and diverse native landscape

Keren Giovengo is the Program Manager of the EcoScapes Sustainable Land Use Program of the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. She promotes, engages, and provides outreach, education, technical assistance, and research support on sustainable nature-based ecological practices and approaches to value biodiverse resilient native landscapes. She holds degrees in both Wildlife/Ecology and Zoology. Keren is a life-long gardener and learner, with over 38 years working on wildlife and native plant conservation, wildlife toxicology, habitat restoration, and ecological landscapes.

She grew up in Maryland but has lived in Minnesota, Delaware, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. She loves spending time with her son, Darcy (her rescued golden retriever), hikes, gardening, art, and all things of nature. She dreams of the opportunity to work in Africa or Sumatra to assist in wildlife conservation and assist in decreasing human-wildlife conflicts.

Keren formerly worked as an endangered species and wildlife contaminants biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Her earlier career also entailed working for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency conducting a statewide wildlife contaminants study which also included a heavy metal study on common loons. She also served as an international representative with a national environmental non-governmental organization on Capitol Hill regarding the protection of the environment and international Indigenous people’s rights. She is a certified national Landscape for Life TM Trainer, which is a partnership with the U.S. Botanical Garden and University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Jason Schmidt Contact: [email protected]