Debra Berger is now passionate about plants and creating spaces that nurture and inspire people, though she didn’t start this way. Raised in urban Brooklyn, NY, when she was a little girl she thought flowers came from a florist, and trees grew uniformly planted one car apart.
As she grew older, she began to feel on some intrinsic level that gardens could be places for nurturing the spirit. In 1991, she left the city to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz in upstate New York. The campus was nestled among forests, farms, and orchards. Surrounded by nature, she observed the succession of the changing seasons and how a sense of place connects us to home.
From her fine arts studies, she learned about color, composition, history, and aesthetics. At about this time, she encountered a book that proved fateful called Noah’s Garden, by Sara Stein. In it, she wrote about restoring the ecology by taking all the back-to-back yards in suburbia, removing the vast stretches of lawn, and re-planting them with native plants, essentially creating a green belt that mimics nature. That inspired her to change direction and hope to one day fuse her background in art and design with a desire to integrate our role as stewards of the earth.
In 2006, Debra moved from living in Los Angeles to Portland where she began to transition from a 13-year graphic design career to landscape design. She completed advanced certifications in Permaculture and Organic Gardening. Debra’s path, in turn, then led to her completing an AAS degree in the Landscape Design program at Portland Community College.
Debra is currently the Design Manager at Paradise Restored Landscaping and served as the 2015 Co-President on the Oregon chapter board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD). Relocating to the lusher setting of Portland, she feels she has added years to her longevity and enjoys spending time with family, especially doting on Spike, her three-legged kitty.
Kate Bodin is the Executive Director of Portland Botanical Gardens. She is leading the effort to build the garden in partnership with the co-founders and board. Kate brings to her role a passion for building programs, years of leadership and management experience, and a joy for working with people and plants. She spent eleven years as the academic leader at two art colleges and later she became a registered horticultural therapist.
She has studied horticulture, horticultural therapy and holds an MEd in Creative Arts and Learning and an undergraduate degree in visual art. Kate grew up on the coast of Massachusetts and fell in love with Portland’s temperate climate when she moved here in 2005.
Kate is an avid and experienced gardener, photographer, and outdoorswoman and she loves to travel anywhere there are plants to be studied.
Elizabeth Brewster holds a BA in Humanities from the New College of USF and a BS in Horticulture from the University of Maryland. She worked as a horticulturist for the Washington National Cathedral and Tudor Place in Washington, DC, and the William Paca Garden in Annapolis MD. She spent five years working as a landscape designer and project manager for residential design/build companies in Virginia and Oregon. She is an avid hiker and enjoys going anywhere you can see glaciers and wildflowers.
Robert Bundy is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist. He has been a full-time arborist for 15 years, managed a tree crew for 6 years, and currently owns and operates his own contract climbing business. He specializes in technical tree removal, pruning, crown support systems, and training in the latest climbing techniques and safe work practices. He has won over twenty tree climbing championships including the Pacific Northwest Tree Climbing Championship five times.
Leslie Campbell has always enjoyed and been fascinated by the natural world. Her love of nature has led her to be a hydrogeologist within an environmental consulting firm, a creator of a habitat-based design business, and an outdoor science educator and leader.
As an educator, Leslie continuously and curiously explores the wonder and awe inherent in nature and ourselves. Leslie teaches Applied Ecology and Design which explores the intersection between the science of ecology and the value of creating enlivened and beautiful spaces for well-being, both in individuals and in all life systems and communities. Her greatest joy is to explore and discover, with others, the beautiful interrelationships we have with our natural resources and space.
As the founder of Habitat Landscape Design based in Portland Oregon, projects involve collaboration and experiential experiences in which we work alongside municipalities, communities, teachers, and students to cultivate, nurture, and support the understanding of local ecological functions and systems in support of understanding our interconnections with natural resources.
Currently, Leslie teaches Ecologically Principled Design at Portland Community College and elsewhere. She relies heavily on local scientific studies and material gleaned from actively engaged land steward work. Leslie works alongside many partnerships including The Columbia Land Trust, The Payette Land Trust in Idaho, The Backyard Habitat Certification Program, The Audubon Society, The Xerces Society for the Conservation of Invertebrates, many Soil and Water Conservation Districts, local Parks and Recreation Districts, and the United States Geologic Survey.
Projects include building college-level science-based outdoor science curriculum, the creation of public pollinator gardens and bioswales, the teaching of community wildlife garden-making classes, and the development and integration of place-based student-led experiential ecosystem science into the 5th grade earth science curriculum. All her projects reflect her love for, and integration of, nature as a sacred and beloved space for well-being, and serve to honor the important role we have as responsible and reciprocal stewards of our ecosystem.
Jennifer Peters Jennifer grew up in the Rocky Mountains and holds degrees in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of Wyoming and Purdue University.
Upon moving to Oregon in the mid-1990s, she changed her career path and pursued landscape design in the Landscape Technology Program here at PCC. She has been working in the industry ever since as a landscape designer, contractor, and instructor.
She currently co-owns a design/build landscape firm in the Portland metro area that specializes in boulder placement and large scale-water features.
Jennifer is a faculty member of LAT and holds the AAS Landscape Technology degree. She is a licensed landscape contractor.
Her current passion is transforming instruction to better support students in pursuit of their personal and professional goals. When not teaching or playing around in the mud with big rocks and water, she enjoys hiking, camping, gardening, and all things outdoors.
David Sandrock, Ph.D. Horticulture
David Sandrock David Sandrock is a faculty member in the Landscape Technology Program at PCC. David earned a BS and MS in Horticulture from the University of Georgia under world-renowned plantsman Michael Dirr. He earned a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University (OSU) in 2003.
For five years, he taught landscape design, construction, and management and researched Landscape Horticulture at the University of Florida and OSU.
David is a licensed landscape contractor, general contractor, and an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. When he’s not teaching, David enjoys spending time with his family, art, and being outside.
Henry Soto Henry has been active in the landscape industry for the last 25 years. He has worked for various local companies in irrigation, project, and account manager positions. Henry now owns his own construction and consulting business focusing on landscape construction and developing sustainable systems.
Henry’s other passion is in sustainable food production where he runs a small organic farm growing produce for a CSA program and providing hands-on education.
Henry grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and graduated from Prescott College earning a degree in Sustainable Community Development. In the 1990s he studied permaculture and has been an instructor with various organizations including The Traditional Native American Farmers Association which worked on permaculture projects within native communities.
Henry loves being in the outdoors, living in tune with nature, and always striving to lessen our impact on the environment.