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SPEAK series addresses sustainability

Trine University’s Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Knowledge (SPEAK) will host a Sustainability Summit speaker series leading up to the organization’s Earth Fest 2020 celebration in April.

Events in the series are free and open to the public. Each will begin at 6 p.m. in Wells Theatre, inside Taylor Hall on the Trine campus, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Nate Simons will kick off the series on March 12 with “Recovery of Lakes Country’s Native Habitats.” Simons, a registered landscape architect and executive director of Blue Heron Ministries, will provide a brief natural history of the Steuben County area, its loss, and its recovery.

Simons graduated in 1985 with Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Bachelor of Science degrees from Ball State University with a minor in natural resources. His interest is in historic modeling of wetland, prairie, savanna and oak woodland communities. His practiced exploration is in restoring wild places through the control of exotic/invasive species, the reintroduction of native plant species communities, and prescribed fire management. His passion and adventure in life is stewardship of creation played out in the fields of restoration ecology and native landscape restoration.

On March 19, Martha Ferguson, owner of Riverview Native Nursery in DeKalb County, will speak on “Native Plants – Beauty and Biodiversity.” She will discuss landscape-worthy native plants, their ecological benefit and how to use them in a garden. She also will share how to be part of the Homegrown National Park, from Doug Tallamy’s new book, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.

Ferguson has grown native plants for 30 years, and currently sells perennials, grasses, sedges, shrubs and trees native to northeast Indiana through Riverview Native Nursery. She is a Master Naturalist and advanced Master Gardener who previously directed the garden restoration project at the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site. She consults with homeowners for Fort Wayne’s rain garden program and serves as chair of the Program Committee of the Northeast Chapter of IN Native Plant Society.

Tim Maloney, senior policy director at the Hoosier Environmental Council, will discuss “Funding Wildlife Habitats” on March 26. His talk will concern wildlife habitat conservation funding: its storied past, impact, the precipitous decline in funding, and the extremely compelling case for new funding.

Maloney leads the Hoosier Environmental Council’s programs on forestry, land use and public transit. In addition, he is the Council’s principal presence at the Indiana legislature. He has served as the Council`s executive director and previously as its Natural Heritage Director. He has been chair of the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club as well as a field organizer for the Sierra Club and National Clean Air Coalition. He also has served on the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. He was a founding member of the HEC Board of Directors and holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic studies/psychology from Indiana University.

Kristen Thomas will close the series on April 2 with “Thinking about Stormwater,” a brief description of the City of Angola’s MS4 stormwater program, what stormwater is and why we should be concerned about it.

Thomas joined the City of Angola in 2018 as the MS4 Coordinator to oversee the city’s stormwater management program. She currently serves as both the stormwater coordinator and floodplain administrator for Angola. Prior to assuming her current position, she was involved in public health for more than 20 years. Her experience included traveling throughout Indiana as a food safety inspection training specialist for the Indiana State Department of Health, as well as working within Steuben County, serving as the administrator of the county health department. She is a graduate of Tri-State University, now Trine, with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.

For more information about the Sustainability Summit, visit the Trine SPEAK for the Earth page on Facebook.