2020 Show Speaker Bios
The 2020 speakers' biographies. Here you will find out a little about the speakers as we schedule them. Some come from long distances and others are right here in the Arkansas River Valley.
Clyde Fenton works for the University of Arkansas Systems Cooperative Extension as Sebastian County Agricultural Agent. Although He provides service to both homeowners and commercial agriculture operations in all aspects of agriculture, his background has been, in large part, berry production. In 2002 Clyde and his wife, Veronica, located in North Central Arkansas. With the help of their three boys have operated Fenton's Berry Farm in Harrison where they have grown strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. He is always excited to talk with people about his longest and greatest agricultural passion.
Jeremy Prater will speak on the topic of Urban Farming. He is the Urban Program Coordinator for the
He works with local groups to start or improve community gardens, pollinator habitat, and pocket prairies. He has worked in Crawford County and formerly worked for the National Park Service.
After earning his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Arkansas in 1983, Berni served as Garland County Extension Agent--Agriculture/4-H for nearly 8 years, where in 1988 he along with 3 other agents piloted the UofA Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardener program in Arkansas and was a founding board member of the Arkansas Lawn and Garden Show. In 1991 he moved to Crawford County as Extension Agent. While in Van Buren, he was co-coordinator of the River Valley Master Gardener program and a founding member of the RVLawn & Garden show.
Anje Nevala is a retired Clinical Social Worker with over 33 years of experience in Mental Health services. She received her Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a certificate in Horticulture Therapy from Chicago Botanical Gardens and Oakton College in Chicago, Illinois.
She is an Advanced Master Gardener with the UofA Pulaski County Extension Service. Her primary objective in utilizing horticulture therapy is to provide an opportunity for participants to engage in "hands-on" activities that are based in nature and that will positively influence their lives.
Mike Wilbanks has been a sought after speaker in the field of plant gardening and design for many years. Considered a late bloomer in the area of gardening, Mike brings a wealth of information for the love of nearly anything that grows.
He is a published author on such topics as "Giving Your Gardens a Little TLC," Winterizing Roses," and more.
Retired in 2014 from the corporate business world, Mike has devoted much of his time to the Craighead County Master Gardeners. Mike is currently the Media Specialist for the County 76 advisory board of the Arkansas Master Gardeners.
H. C. Varnadore
Mary is a lifelong (self-taught) gardener--a fifth generation Arkansas (Ozark) farmer/gardener. At a young age, she was well versed at planting, hoeing, harvesting, canning and processing food. She has studied horticulture all over the US and Canada. She has also attened over a dozen International Master Gardener conferences. One of her favorite projects is working with the Arkansas Flower & Garden Show. She also aids in teaching part of the Master Gardener training program in Little Rock and around the state. She has been a Master Gardener for 28 years.
Sherrie Smith obtained her plant pathology degree at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Previously she had worked for the National Park Service and was a Missouri Nurseryman for 8 years. Sherrie is the Plant Diagnostician for the state of Arkansas. She receives samples of sick plants from all counties in Arkansas. Additionally she has an APHIS permit that allows her to receive and diagnose samples from outside Arkansas. Sick plants are examined, a diagnosis is rendered, and recommendations are offered. Under her role of instructor, she provides trainings to County Extension Agents, Extension personnel and the public. Sherrie takes her portable diagnostic lab to flower/garden shows, field days, and other special events. A weekly newsletter detailing current disease problems is offered to county agents, Master Gardeners, and other interested parties during the growing season.