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Meeting Minutes

Read the minutes (PDF) of the most-recent Friends of the UCSC Arboretum meeting.

(The board meeting minutes are posted after they have been approved. The approval may take up to 4-8 weeks after the meeting before they are posted here. For past minutes, please visit the Arboretum library or write to )



Board, Friends of the UCSC Arboretum

The Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum (Friends) Board is a group of between 9 and 15 members of the organization who support the staff to carry out research, conservation and public education activities. Friends focus primarily on public education, fundraising, special events, programming, and enhancing the visitor experience.

Apply for membership on the board

We are actively seeking new members for the board. Qualified and committed individuals are encouraged to apply online. Before completing the application we recommend you read the by-laws and the Board Agreement.

Current Members of the Board

Officers (one-year terms):

Julia Cowell, President
Tom Karwin, Vice President
Michele Averill, Secretary

At-large members (two-year terms):

Scott Adams,
Michele Averill,
Julia Cowell,
Andrea Hesse,
Christine Jennifer,
Stephanie Nielsen,
Kieth Wandry

Scott Adams.

Scott grew up in Aptos. His father was an ophthalmologist in the county for twenty years and was a passionate gardener (especially Banksias...and less successfully, Proteas), so he has fond memories of tromping out to the arboretum on foggy Saturday mornings to gaze at the Protea barbigera!

 He has been working in agricultural science in Watsonville since graduation from Santa Clara University in 1998.  He has spent the past seven years as a raspberry and blackberry breeder.  In the five years previous to that he worked for a large cut flower nursery (roses and gerberas) and prior to that as a bio-control systems specialist, installing bio-control (predatory insects/mites) programs with greenhouse growers in California and Baja California.

   Gardening is his passion, specifically hummingbird gardening and it's something he has been active in over the last 3 or 4 years.  He loves the Arboretum, its plant collections, and what it represents to our county.

Basically, all that to say that he is passionate about plants and hummingbirds and would love to be a part of the arboretum and what it does for our community.

Michele Averill, Secretary.

  Having grown up in pastoral Corralitos, Michele Averill has been an avid gardener since childhood. She is also dedicated to increasing community involvement in charitable causes.

  As the Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louise Regional Hospital Foundation Michele increased annual giving, initiated a Capital Campaign, planned many successful fundraising events, and received the support from many community leaders on a variety of projects designed to enhance patient care.

  Combining her passion for horticulture and charitable giving, Michele was instrumental in forming a partnership between the Master Gardener Program of Santa Clara County and Saint Louise Hospital. Through this partnership a garden was established on the Saint Louise Hospital campus. The garden provides refuge for patients and families, and provides donated fruits and vegetables to St. Joseph’s Family Center in Gilroy to feed the hungry.

  Michele has also been an active member of the Gilroy Rotary for over five years, participating in the planning of the annual Rotary Flower Sale Fundraiser. Michele continues to serve on various committees supporting their fundraising efforts.

  In her free time Michele and her puppy “Emme” can be found happily gardening together…

Julia Muennich Cowell, President, term ending 2014.

Julia and her husband moved to Santa Cruz from Chicago in June, 2010. Gardening there was quite the challenge with a 100 degree range in temperature over a year. The Cowells learned to appreciate the structure of dormant plants in winter, thrilled with the first plants of spring, enjoyed many prairie natives all summer and admired the brilliant colors of the Midwestern autumn. She is the executive editor of The Journal of School Nursing, the research journal of the National Association of School Nurses. Her volunteer services have included chairing the Board of Directors of the Visiting Nurse Association Foundation of Chicago, a $50 million foundation dedicated to community health services, to volunteering at the Morton Arboretum in Chicago. While her professional life has been in nursing practice and nursing education and research, her love of gardening comes from childhood. Growing up in Southwestern Ohio, her father was an avid gardener and some of the happiest days of her youth were mowing a 30 acre field of bluegrass. She participated in the volunteer training at the UCSC Arboretum in 2010 and has been weeding in the California Native Garden. She has chaired or the Arboretum Events Committee and participates in the Meet & Greet on week-ends. She has a BSN from the University of Cincinnati, a MSN in public health nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and a PhD in public policy analysis from UIC. She reports that while an amateur in gardening, she has organizational skills that can contribute to the arboretum.

Andrea Hesse, term ending 2014.

Andrea is the Director of Client Relationship Management (information technology) at UCSC. In that role she manages staff and projects to ensure that faculty research- and teaching-related IT needs are met. Her experience includes serving as the Director/Curator of the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery at UCSC, Outdoor Education Director of the Boulder Creek YMCA, and Executive Director of the Delta School.

She has a B.A. in Art History from UCSC and a Masters in Public Administration from San Jose State University.

She has a connection with the Arboretum stemming back to when her now teenage daughter went on school field trips there and more recently as an enthusiastic supporter of the plant sales and Hummingbird Days events.

Christine Jennifer (Appointed by the Board after 2012 elections.)

"I love spending time exploring the extraordinary gardens at the Arboretum, wandering amongst the people and the plants. Nature reminds me to look for, and appreciate the beauty found in all living things,” says Christine Jennifer. “The Arboretum is an important sanctuary, a beautiful gift."

Christine’s professional background is in journalism, fundraising, business development and garden design. Prior to volunteering at the Arboretum, she served on the board of Women’s Crisis Support – Defensa de Mujeres and continues to volunteer with the American Red Cross in public affairs for disaster relief. She aspires to serve as an advocate for those in need, and places a high priority on the protection and honoring of life. She is excited about the Arboretum’s proactive and innovative efforts to protect and conserve the native plants in our region.

A self-described plant nerd and wanna-be bird nerd, Christine is happiest in a garden, and imagines that someday, when her children are grown perhaps, adventuring into bird watching. Though for now she’s making do with Todd Newberry’s book – The Ardent Birder. For fun and sleep inducement she is also reading a nameless book on botanical Latin. However, despite many years spent designing gardens and cultivating a working knowledge of plant-speak, she still can’t pronounce the Latin plant names correctly. When time allows, she likes helping out at the Arboretum’s weekly Tuesday morning weeding party in the California Native Garden. There she is learning some proper plant pronunciation from fellow weeders as well as how to better differentiate a weed from a lesser-known native.

Thomas Karwin, Vice President, term ending 2014.

Tom made documentary and instructional films at UCLA from 1960–65, then moved to UCSC, where he managed academic support services, coordinated university-school partnerships and other projects, and wrote many grant proposals. After retiring in 1991, Tom was recalled several times for special projects at UCSC.

At UCLA, Tom received a B.A. in Theater Arts/Television and an M.A. in Theater Arts/Film, and was advanced to candidacy for a PhD in Education/Curriculum & Instruction.

In retirement, Tom developed grant proposals for educational and non-profit agencies, and served for three years on the federal Taxpayer Advisory Panel. Currently, he is co-coordinator of a $5.75 million project to advance digital literacy and broadband adoption in Monterey County.

Tom is an avid gardener, a UC Master Gardener and a garden writer: the Monterey Herald has been publishing his weekly garden column for the past ten years.

Stephanie Nielsen.

  Stephanie Nielsen has been an Arboretum volunteer for several years. She is currently working on enabling members to join the organization via an online process. She is very interested in creating a mobile web tour that enables visitors to find out about the plants they enjoy at the Arboretum.

  Stephanie has worked at UCSC in the Information Technology Services Division for seven years. She has extensive experience in project and records management, business systems analysis, and software and web development. She has a B.A. in Economics.

  Stephanie is on the Board of the UCSC Women’s Club and the Santa Cruz Knitting Guild. She and her husband, a physics professor at UCSC, live at Ranch View Terrace, overlooking the Arboretum and its eucalyptus grove.

Keith Wandry, term ending 2014.

Keith is a highly skilled project manager and QA/continuous improvement professional in the information technology field. He has extensive customer service and public relations experience, with a focus on solving complex problems, building technical solutions, and increasing productivity and cost savings.

Keith is a frequent visitor to the Arboretum, in part because of his interest (and education) in photography. Most recently he has been at the Arboretum participating in an intensive 10-week program resulting in his being certified as a California Naturalist.

Sherry Wasserman, term ending 2014.

Sherry has over fifteen (15) years experience leading and managing community health centers. In these roles she has been successful in raising money for several capital campaigns, managing a large staff, working with a board of directors, organizing events, conducting strategic planning efforts, and creating newsletters and fund appeals.

Sherry graduated with an education major and has taken courses in graphic design and business administration.

She is a long-standing weekly volunteer weeder in the Arboretum California Native Garden, enjoying working in the dirt as the people in the Arboretum volunteer community.


Mike Gerhold, Past President
Brett Hall, Director of the Arboretum
Herbie Lee, UCSC Vice Provost of Academic Affairs

Special thanks to members of the 2011-2012 Board of Directors:

Mike Gerhold, President
Tom Karwin, Vice President
Paula Cole, Secretary, ex officio
Jessica Bailey
Julia Cowell
Vicki Garside
Bruce Lyon (founding member of the Science Advisory Council)
Matt Ritter (founding member of the Science Advisory Council)
Lynn Roberts
Lincoln Taiz (founding member of the Science Advisory Council)
Michael Vasey (founding member and Chair of the Science Advisory Council)

Affliated with the Board is the Arboretum Science Council (formerly the Arboretum Science Advisory Council.)
The members of the Arboretum Science Council are:

Dr. Michael Vasey, Chair, Arboretum Sci. Council, San Francisco State Univ.
Dr. Lincoln Taiz, UC Santa Cruz
Mike Gerhold, UC Santa Cruz, Friends of the Arboretum
Dr. Linda Anderson, UC Santa Cruz
Dr. Jarmilla Pittermann, UC Santa Cruz
Dr. Todd Newberry, UC Santa Cruz
Dr. Bruce Lyon, UC Santa Cruz
Dr. Matt Ritter,Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Stephen McCabe, UC Santa Cruz
Dr. Jean Langenheim, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum
Dr. Michael Loik, UC Santa Cruz
Dr. Kat Anderson, UC Davis
Brett Hall, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum
Kimberly O’Donnell, Secretary, PhD. Program, UCSC