Bios

We're available to speak to your group, either virtually or in person. We are also available to hold workshops. See Speakers for more information.

Rabeeya Amjad
Rabeeya has recently completed her Horticulture certificate from the University of Guelph. Rabeeya has a day job in Business Planning and has a family business of tropical plants, but is passionate about gardening. Her area of focus is native gardening and creating urban spaces for native birds and pollinators.

Tanya Bignell
Tanya has always loved flowers and dabbling with gardening in her own backyard. Upon her retirement in July 2021, she decided to take her interest in gardening up a notch. She joined the Durham Master Gardeners in March 2022 and is currently enlisted in the Guelph University Horticultural studies. With her newfound knowledge, her wish is to help her family and friends cultivate a love of gardening, while working towards her ‘dream garden’ in her own backyard.

Norine Blyth
Norine has been gardening for most of her adult life. She loves the peace and quiet that gardening brings to her. She completed her Master Gardener Certificate from Dalhousie University in 2020. Walking with and without dogs is another passion of hers.

Pam (Love) Clarke
Pam has been an active member of the Durham Master Gardeners for over 14 years, and has served for many years on the Board of the Master Gardeners of Ontario. Pam has a Horticultural Certificate from the University of Guelph. She describes herself as a “generalist” gardener. Following a long banking career, Pam gained practical gardening experience operating her own gardening services business until 2014. Now Pam concentrates on sharing her gardening knowledge and finding ways to enjoy and make her garden easy to manage.

Lindsay Code
Lindsay completed her certification as a Master Gardener in 2023. She studied both biology and environmental science and has extensive field work experience. As such, Lindsay understands the possibilities associated with native plants. Lindsay opened a landscape maintenance company in 2012 which focuses on gardening. She has been successfully assisting residential and commercial clients within the Durham Region. Lindsay is a practical gardener. She enjoys studying environments and conditions and helping people to beautify their green spaces by making informed decisions about plant selection.

Sherry Dodson
Sherry has been an active member with the Durham Master Gardeners since 2011. She completed the Horticulturist Certificate from the University of Guelph in 2014 and received her Certificate in Horticultural Therapy in 2016 from the Toronto Botanical Garden. From 2017 to 2022 she enjoyed working as a Horticultural Therapy Practitioner at WindReach Farm in Ashburn, Ontario. Sherry believes that people and plants are naturally connected, and she is passionate about working with those connections to support people who need help to feel better, move easier and be more physically active, and be more positive in their lives. She is committed to growing plants in harmony with nature, supporting birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Robynne Dunn
Robynne started gardening with her father at a very young age while growing vegetables in their backyard. Her love of gardening has continued throughout her life. Robynne has a Certificate in Landscape Design from George Brown College and is continually looking for new ways to expand her knowledge and share her passion for gardening. Joining Master Gardeners has been a fantastic opportunity to do both, and to meet some amazing people who share her enthusiasm for getting outside and marveling at all that nature has to offer.

Karen Durnin
Karen has been with the Durham Master Gardeners since 2011 and has a Certificate in Horticulture from the University of Guelph. Her passion for gardening began early. She grew up on a farm in southwestern Ontario where she learned how to grow, harvest and preserve a large variety of fruits and vegetables. She has carried this tradition on in her own gardens, growing many heirloom vegetables and a wide assortment of herbs. In the last number of years, her focus has expanded into the area of naturalized gardens and a love of native plants. She has become increasingly aware of how essential it is to provide habitat for birds and pollinators in an urban setting. As a master gardener, Karen has enjoyed the opportunity to help new and experienced gardeners learn how to grow their own food and create pollinator friendly gardens.

Roman Halkiewicz
Roman is a new Master Gardener in training. He spent four years completing a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in Poland and graduated from Poznan University of Live Sciences in 2012. In addition, he continued his education in Canada for two more years, and graduated from Durham College with honours as a Horticulture Technician in 2015. Studying and designing human natural living space has been Roman’s passion for over a decade. He currently works for the Town of Whitby as a Landscape Architect Technician.

Ingrid Janssen
Ingrid is a horticulturist, speaker, blogger and master gardener. She has been gardening for most of her life and is a passionate, some would say “crazy gardener”. She is an inspirational speaker who has appeared on Rogers TV Durham and has spoken at Canada Blooms several times. She has both ornamental and food production gardens on her country property and has been a dedicated native plant enthusiast for over 30 years. Ingrid received her Horticulturist Diploma from the University of Guelph and is an active member of several horticultural and plant societies. She has been a member of the Durham Master Gardeners since 2012.

Rabia Khan
Rabia is a Master Gardener in training with DMG's Children's Outreach Committee. She graduated from Guelph in 2022 with the Diploma in Horticultural Studies and is currently completing a certificate in Sustainable Urban Agriculture. She has taken a course in gardening with Special Populations with Toronto Botanical Gardens, and is a certified steward with Pollinator Partnership. She currently volunteers with the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association within their Communication committee. Rabia is a Seed Sitter, and a Butterflyway Ranger with the David Suzuki Foundation. Finally, Rabia is the Founder/Director of Allaah, Nature and Me and homeschools her daughter and son.

Dolly Konzelmann
Dolly completed the Master Gardener training in 2023 through the University of Guelph. She continues her education through seminars, research and working in her vegetable, herb and flower gardens. Dolly enjoys year-round gardening in her greenhouse and is looking forward to working with her newly built cold frame. She has been a DMG member since 2020.

Leah Kuhne
Leah joined Durham Master Gardeners in 2022 motivated by her love of plants and gardening. As a Master Gardener in Training, Leah draws on her lifelong backyard gardening skills and is expanding her horticultural knowledge through the University of Guelph. Leah is a Food Scientist and Red Seal Chef and loves to combine her knowledge of food with fruit, vegetable and herb gardening to make lots of homegrown meals and preserves.

Carmen Lint
Carmen has always enjoyed working in her yards on the weekend and upon retirement, became a snowbird and joined the Oshawa Garden Club. While volunteering with the club at Parkwood she became interested in broadening her knowledge of gardening, enrolled at Dalhousie University’s Master Gardener Program and became a Master Gardener in Training in 2021. Carmen is interested in Garden Design and native plants.

Anita Mensink
Anita inherited her interest in gardening from her immigrant grandparents who gardened to feed their family, and her father who won Trillium awards for his garden in Hamilton. She studied Retail Floriculture at Humber College and has worked in florist shops in Hamilton and Waterloo. Native plant gardening has become her cottage hobby after having worked at a native plant greenhouse for thirteen years. Anita is presently working on her Horticulture Certificate through the University of Guelph.

Sarah Powell
Sarah inherited her instinct for gardening from her mother and grandmother. Starting with houseplants at Queen’s University and moving on to small urban gardens in Toronto, she now cultivates four acres of trees, meadow, turf and perennials, fighting a constant battle with invasive species and loving the ability to plan and dream as the garden grows. Sarah has been a writer, producer and director of commercials for car companies, and is happy to be pursuing her Master Gardener training at Dalhousie and volunteering in her community of Newcastle.

Sharon Rabenda
Sharon likes the sense of peace and well being that gardening brings to her. She inherited the love of gardening from her mom and has enjoyed 'digging in the dirt' for many years. In 2018 she began online studies with University of Guelph completing the Horticulture Diploma in 2021. In 2019, after 30+ years of working in the finance field, she began working in the horticulture field at a local garden centre and golf course. Her particular interests include shade gardening, native plants, drought tolerant perennials, soil health and compost. She has been a member of DMG since 2019.

Judy Rivers
Judy has enjoyed gardening for over 30 years and completed the Landscape Design Program at Humber College. She has been with Durham Master Gardeners since 2017. Judy worked at a large local nursery for over seven years providing advice and assistance with plant selection and landscape designs. Active in her community, Judy is a member of the Whitby Sustainability Advisory Committee and is a past member of the Whitby In Blooms committee and assisted with the annual garden tour and Speakers Series. She is also a palliative and bereavement volunteer with VON Durham Hospice. Judy completed a Certificate in Horticultural Therapy in 2018 through the Toronto Botanical Gardens - combining her love of plants and serving others within her community. In her spare time, she enjoys walks in nature and creating unique terrariums and planters using succulents.

Gini Sage
Gini has over 40 years of gardening experience in urban and country settings. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry, and earned a diploma in Landscape Design from the University of Guelph. Gini is an active Master Gardener, volunteering with Master Gardeners of Ontario for twenty years. Her primary interests include growing vegetables and herbs, including incorporation of them into ornamental gardens, and expanding the use of native plants in the urban landscape. Additionally, she enjoys utilizing her design background in the development of creative solutions for landscape problems.

Tracey Smyth
Tracey has been with the Durham Master Gardeners since 2012 and continues to upgrade her horticultural and design skills through seminars and online courses with the University of Guelph. Until recently she ran a residential garden coaching and landscape design business in Durham Region but has retired in order to focus on designing and building a new native garden on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.

Laurelee Stocks
After teaching for 34 years Laurelee is now loving retired life and wonders how she ever had time to work she's so busy. She has been volunteering with the Toronto Zoo for many years and is involved with other community groups. Laurelee has completed the Horticulture Certificate from the University of Guelph and considers herself a lifelong learner. She is passionate about starting plants from seeds, native plants, and growing vegetables. She loves being outside and you will usually find her out in all types of weather walking her dog or working in her garden.

Helen Vander Byl
Helen grew up on a farm in Eastern Ontario where her love of the outdoors was nourished. She is particularly interested in composting, vegetable gardening and native plants. Since retiring in 2015 she has been spending a lot of time in her gardens in Whitby and at the cottage in the Algonquin Highlands. Helen has recently completed the Master Gardener training through the University of Guelph and looks forward to being a life long learner. She has been a member of the Durham Master Gardeners since 2018.

Cori Whittington
Cori has been with Durham Master Gardeners since 2013, and has loved gardening and caring for nature and the environment since childhood. After a career in teaching she is enjoying spending her days outside volunteering and working at a stable, farm and native plants nursery.

Isia Yeo
Isia has a love for the outdoors; hiking, camping, canoeing and or course gardening. Gardening offers her the opportunity to create and share her knowledge of plants with her grandchildren. She has her Sustainable Landscape Certificate from Guelph University and is working on completing her Horticultural Certificate.