STAFF AND BOARD


 

MIPN Staff and Board Leadership

 

Michelle Beloskur, MIPN Coordinator, 630-719-5649 ext 5649, mipn@mortonarb.org

Michelle is the Midwest Invasive Plant Network’s full-time Coordinator. She began in this role in March 2022. Michelle is a co-Director of the Public Gardens as Sentinels against Invasive Plants initiative, and serves as the Administrator for the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference. Prior to joining MIPN, Michelle was the Executive Director of the Ingham Conservation District in Michigan. As part of this position, she spearheaded and supervised the Mid-Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (2015-2021). Her background also includes experience in environmental research and regulation. Michelle holds a B.S in Biology from the University of Michigan and an M.S. in Environmental Geoscience from Michigan State University. 

 

Mark Renz, MIPN Board President, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, (608) 263-7437, mrenz@wisc.edu

Mark Renz (Ph.D.) is a Professor and Extension Weed Specialist at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mark researches and extends information about the biology and management of invasive plants. Research goals in his lab are centered on developing information that will improve management by improving the knowledge and understanding of invasive plant biology. Mark has over 15 years of experience with management of invasive plants throughout the United States in a wide range of habitats including riparian zones, roadsides, floodplains, prairies, wetlands, and forests. Education efforts focus on providing technical information and educational opportunities for agency staff, consultants, companies, and citizens concerned about invasive plants. Mark has served on MIPN’s Board of Directors for 10 years and is currently the board president.

 

Chris Evans, MIPN Board Vice President, University of Illinois, Simpson, IL cwevans@illinois.edu.

Chris is an Extension Forestry and Research Specialist. He focuses on forest management, forest health, and terrestrial invasive plant species. He also serves as the technical advisory committee chair of the Illinois Forestry Association and the co-chair of the Terrestrial Plants Committee of the Illinois Invasive Species Council.  He formerly served as the Vice President of MIPN, Vice President of the National Association of Invasive Plant Councils, board member for the North American Invasive Species Management Association, and the chair of the Illinois Invasive Plant Species Council. His previous roles include coordinating the Illinois Invasive Species Campaign and the River to River CWMA. Chris holds an M.S. in Forest Biology from Iowa State University and a B.S. Wildlife Biology from Murray State University. Chris re-joined MIPN’s Board of Directors in 2020.

 

Kurt Dreisilker, MIPN Board Treasurer, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL, (630) 725-2093, kdreisilker@mortonarb.org

Kurt is the Head of Collections Horticulture and Natural Resources at The Morton Arboretum located in Lisle, Illinois. Since 2004 he has been planning and implementing ecological restoration throughout the Arboretum's 900 acres of natural areas. The Arboretum’s status as a public garden and world-class tree museum gives Kurt a unique perspective on the management of invasive plant species. He has a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied plant biology and natural resources management. Kurt was a founding steering committee member of Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership and has served on MIPN’s Board of Directors since 2012. He currently serves as MIPN’s treasurer and helped to foster the relationship between MIPN and The Arboretum as MIPN’s host and fiscal sponsor.

 

Shikha Singh, MIPN Board Secretary, Jackson County Conservation District/Jackson Lenawee Washtenaw Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (JLW CISMA), Jackson, MI, shikha.singh@macd.org. 

Shikha is a Biologist and CISMA Coordinator who performs invasive species survey and management activities, and provides education and outreach opportunities within the tri-county region. She also seeks ways to increase the reach of environmental education and capacity within underserved communities. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Western Ontario and came to Michigan State University to complete her graduate work in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Her master’s research focused on water and sediment quality in the Lower Grand River and Lake Michigan beaches, and her Ph.D. research centered on the water policy and conservation efforts of local and county governments. Shikha joined the MIPN Board of Directors in 2023.

 

MIPN Board Members

 

Kim Bogenschutz has been the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources since 2000. She has a BA in Biology from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MS in Fisheries Science from South Dakota State University. She has worked on aquatic habitats in Minnesota, Indiana, and Iowa for over 25 years. Kim is vice-chair of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agency's Invasive Species Committee, served as chair of the Mississippi River Basin Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS), and is a member of the ANS Task Force and American Fisheries Society Introduced Fish Section. She has also served on MIPN’s Board of Directors since February of 2016.

 

Tom Buechel is a green industry consultant and team coach through Buechel Horticulture Solutions, LLC and Compliance Officer for Nature Hills Nursery/Plant Sentry™. He also serves as Chair for the Governor’s Council for Invasive Species in Wisconsin. He has spent more than twenty-five years learning, planning, certifying, and executing advanced growing practices. He is committed to enabling green industry operations and their teams to adapt to a changing marketplace, advance sustainable growing practices, and provide the landscape and consumer with healthy, high-quality non-invasive plants. Tom holds a horticulture degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and joined MIPN’s Board of Directors in January 2020.

 

Theresa Culley, Ph.D., is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. In addition, she serves as the University’s Head of the Department of Biological Sciences. Theresa’s research focuses on the evolution of plant breeding systems and the interplay between species’ reproductive biology and population genetics. One of her current projects explores the hybridization and spread of the invasive ornamental tree Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana). She is currently collaborating with Kurt Dreisilker from Morton Arboretum on a communication platform for gardens and arboreta across North America to share information on introduced plants now escaping cultivation. Theresa has been a member of MIPN’s Board of Directors since January of 2016.

 

Emily Finch is the Invasive Species Specialist for the Martin, Daviess, and Orange County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) in southern Indiana and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Northland College. She has worked for various Indiana SWCDs as an Invasive Specialist since 2019 and provides technical assistance to landowners, and invasive species education/outreach in the region. Emily is originally from Wisconsin and spent several years there and in Michigan managing invasive species in the state park system and as Coordinator for the Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition, a five county CISMA along the Wisconsin-Michigan border. After moving to Indiana in 2016 she also worked for USDA Wildlife Services and the nonprofit State of Indiana Cooperative Invasives Management (SICIM) before beginning her work with SWCDs. Emily joined the board in 2020 and has previously served as MIPN vice-president.

 

David Gorden, FASLA, is a landscape architect with Mark M. Holeman, Inc., an Indianapolis design-build firm he joined over 30 years ago.  He is a past Trustee of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and a past president of both the Indiana Chapter of ASLA and the Horticultural Society of Newfields (Indianapolis Museum of Art). David has been involved in invasive plant issues and their role in the designed landscape since 2001. A graduate of the landscape architecture program of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, he was in 2018 named a Fellow of ASLA.  He has been a member of MIPN’s Board of Directors since 2014.

 

Chris Henze is the Roadside Vegetation Manager and County Weed Commissioner for the Johnson County Secondary Road Department in Eastern Iowa. Chris has been managing noxious weeds and invasive species in roadsides for nearly 20 years while being in charge of the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program (IRVM). While on the job you may find Chris conducting prescribed burns, planting native grasses and wildflowers in roadsides, installing erosion controls, in a tractor or running a chainsaw. Chris is also chairperson of the Hawkeye Cooperative Weed Management Area and is active in grant activities as well as invasive species management and educational efforts. Chris has served on the MIPN Board of Directors since 2010.

 

Marcus Key is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Assistant Coordinator with the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS/GLRI portfolio includes 1.5 million dollars in invasive species prevention, early detection, and control projects.  Marcus manages two NPS/GLRI projects that treat 2,500 acres of invasive plants and educate 50,000 people annually with prevention methods.  Marcus participates in the GLRI multi-agency Focus Area 2 invasive species work group that makes decisions on GLRI invasive species projects and proposals. Marcus re-joined MIPN’s Board of Directors in 2020.     

 

Jennifer Larson is the Invasive Plant Specialist with Forest Health Protection in the St. Paul Field Office of State, Private and Tribal Forestry, U.S. Forest Service. This deputy area of the Forest Service provides technical and financial assistance to partners in a 7-state area including MN, IA, MO, WI, IL, MI, and IN. Prior to her current position, she worked on U.S. Geological Survey research surrounding terrestrial invasive plants in the northern Great Plains. She holds a M.S. in Resource Ecology and Management from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Jen is serving as a MIPN board liaison with the Forest Service, where she participates in board discussions but is not a voting member.

 

Lauren Lepore serves as the Education and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Invasive Species Centre, and project manager of the Early Detection & Rapid Response Network of Ontario. She works directly with citizens and closely with provincial government and federal partners, which gives her both an Ontarian and Canadian perspective. Working with citizens and volunteers and educating on invasive plants are her primary areas of interest. Lauren joined MIPN's Board of Directors in January 2019.

 

Mike Maine is an IVM Sales Specialist with Helena Agri with experience in forestry, turf and ornamental, vegetation management, invasive species, utility, and aquatic management. He has worked with many county highway departments in Minnesota and Iowa providing recommendations for roadside invasive species management. He has also worked with ecological restoration companies in Minnesota and Wisconsin consulting on, and providing recommendations for, controlling invasive species in various habitats. Prior to joining Helena Agri Mike worked in the industry for over 10 years leading crews in various invasive species and utility brush management projects. Mike joined the MIPN Board of Directors in 2023.

 

Reid Smeda (PhD) is a professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri. His areas of research include agricultural weed management, weed herbicide resistance, and control of invasive species outside of an agricultural context. He is particularly interested in Industrial Vegetation Management, the management of problem vegetation along transportation corridors, utility lines, and in other developed settings. As the education coordinator for the National Railroad Contractors Association, Dr. Smeda arranges annual training for a pesticide certification exams. Dr. Smeda joined MIPN's Board of Directors in October of 2017.

 

Kim Steinberger is the Restoration Project Manager for the Nature Conservancy in Michigan. She began working for The Nature Conservancy in 2013 starting in the New York chapter and then the Ohio chapter in 2014. While working for both chapters her jobs consisted of surveying and treating aquatic and terrestrial invasive plants in sensitive ecosystems. In January 2015, Kim joined the Michigan chapter of the Nature Conservancy helping to manage unique and sensitive ecosystems throughout southern Michigan. In her current position, she helps to oversee restoration and stewardship work across TNC preserves and partner lands throughout the lower peninsula in Michigan. Kim joined the MIPN Board of Directors in 2023.

 

Kristopher Stone is the Director of Boone County Arboretum a position he has held since 2002. Kris is highly active in various community organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area and Ohio Valley region, building community awareness and networking for the Arboretum.  He serves as immediate past President of the Northern Kentucky Urban and Community Forestry Council, Advisory member of Boone County Urban Forest Commission, past President and Board member of the Kentucky Invasive Plant Council, Immediate Past President of Taking Root, and is an ex-officio board member of Friends of Boone County Arboretum. Kris serves on the steering committee of the Theodore Klein Plant Award Selection Committee, and the Kentucky Urban Forestry Council, ensuring the Arboretum provides full support of these efforts.  He also serves on various other ad hoc committees for community and state organizations when time allows. Kris is a former writer for Kentucky Gardener Magazine where he contributed monthly as the Ask the Expert columnist.

 

Laura Van Riper is the Terrestrial Invasive Species Coordinator for the Ecological and Water Resources Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Previously, Laura earned a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Minnesota. Her position at the DNR focuses on terrestrial invasive species prevention, management, policy, and outreach. Laura joined MIPN’s Board of Directors in 2011 and has previously served as Vice President.