Board of Directors
Laura Wagner, Chair
Laura earned a B.S. degree in Education from Drake University and MBA from the University of St. Thomas. She grew up at her family’s business, Wagners Greenhouses in Minneapolis, and is part of the fifth generation of the family working at the greenhouse. Laura has worked at Wagners full time since 2008 and currently specializes in marketing. She enjoys taking care of flower beds and a large vegetable garden with her husband at their Shakopee, MN home. Her favorite plants are begonias because they are so versatile and easy to care for.
Joel Karsten, Vice Chair
A farm boy who grew up tending a soil garden, Joel shook up the gardening world with his first book describing his breakthrough Straw Bale Gardening concept. The New York Times called Straw Bale Gardening “a revolutionary gardening method.” Karsten earned a B.S. in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota and spends his summers tending his vegetable garden, doing research and experimenting with new ideas and methods he can pass along to his followers. He is a popular speaker, making appearances around the world.
Del Hampton, Treasurer
Del is an active participant in the Twin Cities community gardening network and member of the Minnesota Dahlia Society.
Mary Marrow, Secretary
A senior staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Mary works on legal and policy initiatives to increase access to healthy food and physical activity nationally. Before joining the Public Health Law Center, she was a public interest practitioner for over 12 years, focusing on poverty law, international human rights and environmental advocacy. In 2010, Mary worked with the Center for Public Interest Law in Accra, Ghana, through a fellowship sponsored by the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, conducting a comparative study of mining practices and the effectiveness of environmental regulations in the U.S. and Ghana. She also served in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, and managed a crisis shelter for the homeless in Alaska. Mary is an avid gardener and outdoor enthusiast.
After having four kids in five years, building a career in the corporate world, owning a dog and celebrating 25 years of marriage to her high school sweetheart, Jennifer realized that milestones are not finish-lines and learning never ends. She loves writing about her family and garden on her blog, which led her to podcasting. An avid producer and host of her own podcast, Still Growing, she embraces each week as an opportunity to meet new people with passions and expertise in an area of life that she finds absolutely fascinating: gardening. A curious and enthusiastic home gardener, she loves to learn about all aspects of gardening and dedicates her podcast to helping you and your garden grow.
Mike has worked in both public and private horticulture. He spent the first 15 years of his career at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. In 1985, he and his wife Jean opened Ambergate Gardens, a niche perennial nursery. Now retired, Mike spends his time lecturing, writing and consulting on issues related to gardening in northern regions. He is the author of Perennials A to Z, a series of articles originally published in Minnesota Horticulturist, and coauthor of Growing Perennials in Cold Climates, a gardening book written specifically for the colder regions of this country. Mike served as Central Region Director of the Perennial Plant Association from 1988 to 1994, and he remains active in numerous plant societies and trade organizations related to perennial flowers. He received the Quill & Trowel Communication Award from the Garden Writers Association, the Special Service Award from MNLA and a Service Award from the Perennial Plant Association.
An MSHS member for 20+ years, Renay loves connecting with gardeners. She grew up gardening with her mom and grandma and remembers them taking her swimming in a nearby lake after weeding the vegetable garden on hot summer days. "Not everyone was as fortunate as I was to grow up with an appreciation for and grounding in gardening," Renay says. She believes everyone should have the opportunity to learn about plants and growing. After considering a career as a concert pianist, she chose to go into real estate law, nonprofit work and government land management. When she's not working, Renay enjoys quilting, weeding and walking in nature.
Deb, a landscape design and horticulture instructor at Hennepin Tech College, is an at-large member of the MSHS board.
Judy, a member of the Saint Paul Garden Club, is an at-large member of the MSHS board.