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Staff Profile - Christina Pfeiffer

Christina Pfeiffer has been Horticulturist at the Washington Park Arboretum since 1987. The Arboretum, managed by the College's Center for Urban Horticulture in collaboration with the City of Seattle and the Arboretum Foundation, has plantings of about 4,300 species and cultivars of woody plants from throughout the world. Its complex management structure, public prominence, and wide-ranging mission (from providing a place of pleasure and recreation for thousands of people each year, to furthering botanical and horticultural research, to developing education programs for public outreach to K-12 through life) make it a "challenging and exciting place to work," says Chris.

Chris works with Arboretum collections management staff. Her job responsibilities include management of the landscape maintenance program for plant collections and garden renovation projects, as well as supervision of maintenance staff and volunteers. She also provides coordination with Seattle Parks Department staff who cooperate in the maintenance of the Arboretum grounds. Chris says, "My job requires a working knowledge of maintenance practices, plant biology and identification, soils, pests, weed control, irrigation, and landscape ecology, as well as the administrative functions of supervision and project coordination. I am an advocate for the needs of the site, the collections, and the staff by writing articles and reports, public speaking, and providing technical support for grant proposals. I also support various outreach functions of the Arboretum through writing, leading tours, and developing presentations and student mentoring projects for academic programs utilizing the Arboretum."

Chris was born and grew up in Dearborn, MI. She says, "My interest in horticulture began through my mother's appreciation of our home garden in a neighborhood filled with large shade trees. This inspired me to take a horticulture class in high school. At college my interests centered on art and plants. After two years, my love of the outdoors and fascination with trees won out and I pursued a landscape horticulture degree at Michigan State University (with a minor in art). I also wanted to do work that makes a positive difference in the world and found that working with arboreta allowed me to do this. I spent five years as a maintenance horticulturist at the Holden Arboretum in Mentor, OH before coming to the UW as a graduate student. I received my M.S. in Urban Horticulture in 1986 with a thesis on the analysis of landscape design and maintenance requirements in urban parking lots-a project that I think of as the epitome of urban landscaping!" Chris is also an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist.

Chris joined the Arboretum staff on the cusp of significant changes, with the renovation of the Winter Garden and Sorbus Collection just underway and a shift toward emphasis on improving the content and display of the collections, as well as improving the quality of care. "We've had one or more projects in progress ever since I arrived-from drainage installation on Azalea Way to the new Puget Sound Rhododendron Hybrid display. All this, along with work on the Arboretum master plan over the past few years, have made the Arboretum a continually challenging and rewarding place to be. The dedicated team of staff, students, volunteers, and donors who share in a commitment to horticulture and the basic mission of the Arboretum have made all of these projects possible.

Some aspects of the job I especially enjoy are watching the development and natural changes in the landscape over time and applying horticulture techniques to solve problems and make improvements. I also appreciate the connection to the UW's faculty and student research projects and classes, including CFR classes in plant protection, landscape management, and hydrology, who use the Arboretum for research projects."

Chris and her husband, George (also a CFR alum (M.S., '81), live in Seattle. In addition to her work at the Arboretum, Chris has been active in the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture for many years, and is a past board member. In her spare time she enjoys working in her home garden and participating in a book group. She says, "My fascination with gardening has been infused with renewed wonder as my four-year-old son Max accompanies me in the garden, creating some interesting 'projects' of his own along the way! And I've been able to use my experience and knowledge gained on the job to teach about plants at Max's preschool."

Staff News

Robert Allen's last day at CFR was April 29, 2000. Robert is off to adventures in Australia.

Congratulations to Jennifer Blecha, Program Coordinator for the Continuing Education Program! Jennifer is off to the University of Minnesota on a full fellowship for a Ph.D. focusing on sustainable agricultural systems.

Rachel Carroll, CINTRAFOR's current Secretary, has announced that she will be leaving the College to attend the University of Florida's graduate program in poetry.

Kendall Carson joined the CINTRAFOR staff as Secretary, effective April 18, 2000. Kendall is new to the UW and will be supporting both CINTRAFOR and the Rural Technology Initiative (RTI).

A welcome to Brad Coston and Marc Morrison, the new computer guys! Marc comes to the College from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Seattle. Brad previously worked for Unisoft, Inc. and in public education. Both place a high value on client support and will use their excellent technical knowledge to carry on the good work set in place by David Norton and Matt Baldwin.

Jane Edelson, formerly a part-time hourly employee, is a new Research Analyst working with CINTRAFOR, effective April 4, 2000.

Bob Gonyea retired after 30 years of service, effective May 31, 2000. He was associated with a number of research programs, particularly the former Regional Forest Nutrition Research Program and the Stand Management Cooperative (SMC) where he most recently was Manager of Program Operations with responsibilities for creating, maintaining, and measuring field installations and assisting with budget and contract management. Bob will continue to work with the SMC on a part-time basis, primarily during the field season.

Barbara Harrison, Program Coordinator, will be leaving ONRC after two years of service. Barbara will be moving to Delaware to further her career in forest policy and economics.

Larry Mason, the Rural Technology Initiative's (RTI) project coordinator, was invited to the Yale University Forest Forum where he spoke on the Northwest Forest Plan. He also made a presentation on RTI projects to assist small forestland owners and forestry consultants.

Elizabeth Moundalexis joined the ONRC staff as the newly funded Rural Technology Initiative's Outreach Coordinator for Education Programs. Elizabeth has an M.S. in coastal ecology from the University of North Carolina.

Sue Olsen is moving on to a part-time position with the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Sandra Scott is the College's new Payroll Fiscal Specialist, effective May 12, 2000. Sandra comes to CFR from the Department of Medicine.

A welcome to Leesa Wright, new Secretary for CINTRAFOR and RTI, effective May 1, 2000. Leesa comes to CFR from the School of Dentistry. .

Staff Reports

Stan Humann reports on his April 28-30, 2000 trip to Nebraska City, NE to represent the College and its alumni association at the annual Arbor Day Foundation Awards ceremony. The awards recognize accomplishments in tree planting, care, conservation, and environmental stewardship. The College's 1999 Arbor Day Fair was a recipient of the Foundation's "Celebration Award."

Stan says, "Clearly, this event is a 'big deal' in Nebraska City, probably surpassed only by its fall apple celebration. In many respects, the trip was a command performance. Beginning with the reception on Friday evening and ending with the trustees' brainstorming session and brunch for public and program attendees, award recipients were the center of activities. On Saturday, we took a short bus tour of the Arbor Day Farm and Nebraska City (6,500 population). We also participated in a tree planting ceremony at Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton's mansion, toured the mansion, and were present at a wreath placing at the Morton gravesite. Lunch followed, attended by trustees and other town dignitaries, after which award winners climbed on a hay trailer and joined the local Arbor Day parade! About 325 people attended the awards ceremony and banquet. Each award winner's project was introduced by a short video presentation. It was lengthy (22 award winners) and very humbling. Sunday morning we participated in a brainstorming session on how more people could be encouraged to plant more trees. The showcased projects and the discussion were inspiring and were a strong motivation to continue the College's Arbor Day efforts."

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