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Keynote Speakers


Knock Out Natives

  • Sponsored by:


  • George Coombs, Director of Horticulture, Mt. Cuba Center


  • Mt. Cuba Center’s trial program has been evaluating native plants and their related cultivars for over a decade now. Join George Coombs as he discusses the new approach Mt. Cuba is taking to evaluate plants for both garden performance and ecological value. You will learn about several top-performing selections of Coreopsis, Baptisia, Monarda, and Phlox, including a few species and cultivars that you’ve probably never heard of. 
  • About the speaker: George Coombs is Director of Horticulture at Mt. Cuba Center, a 1,083-acre botanical garden. In his work with Mt. Cuba Center’s Trial Garden as Assistant and later as Manager of Horticultural Research, he produced award-winning reports on native plant research and introduced four new Coreopsis cultivars – including Coreopsis tripteris ‘Gold Standard’—all while cultivating relationships within the nursery industry. Coombs, who grew up on a family farm, developed an appreciation for plants and research early and studied Plant Science at the University of Delaware, graduating in 2007 with a focus in landscape horticulture. Internships at Longwood Gardens and the Chicago Botanic Garden introduced him to the field of public horticulture. As Director of Horticulture, Coombs leads a team of more than 25 horticulturists who cultivate and improve formal and naturalistic gardens.


Stay Relevant with the Power of Plants

This session is approved by the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System for 1.0 CEU

  • Shannon Currey, Marketing Director, Hoffman Nursery, Inc.


  • During prosperous times, pretty plants sell themselves. When times are lean, landscape expenses are often viewed as a luxury. How can we position our plants and services as a necessity and keep them off the budgetary chopping block? How can we better promote the power of plants? Taking a broad approach that includes purpose and functionality (in addition to beauty) can keep the horticulture industry vital and relevant. Hoffman Nursery has been in business 30+ years and has been promoting green infrastructure (GI) and the functionality of plants for almost a decade. Drawing from their experience, Shannon Currey will help you think through strategies to build your market and discover opportunities in your region.
  • About the speaker: Shannon Currey is Marketing Director for Hoffman Nursery, a wholesale nursery in North Carolina specializing in ornamental and native grasses. Shannon began her career as a social scientist, but she changed fields in 2003 to pursue horticulture. At North Carolina State University, she trained in landscape design and horticulture in the Department of Horticultural Science. She joined Hoffman Nursery in 2007 and has had a range of responsibilities—coordinating the plant evaluation program, managing the sales team, and overseeing the marketing program. Shannon writes articles for national trade publications and gives talks on grasses to design professionals and industry organizations. She is currently Southern Region Director for the Perennial Plant Association.

Green Industry Recruiting: Attract, Grow, & Keep the Right Employees

  • Sponsored by:


  • Leslie Halleck, Halleck Horticultural, LLC


  • Attracting, growing, and keeping good employees can be one of your toughest jobs as a business owner or manager. Bad hires and poor morale can destroy teams, erode profit, and damage your company’s brand. Fine-tuning your hiring practices and learning how to manage teams in the workplace, also requires you determine where you fit within the generational dynamic and how each team member approaches work and life. Leslie will address targeting recruiting strategies,  and incentive/pay strategies, employee training, and managerial tactics
  • About the speaker: Leslie F. Halleck is a certified professional horticulturist (ASHS) who has spent her 25-year career hybridizing horticulture science with home gardening consumer needs. Halleck earned a B.S. in Biology/Botany from The University of North Texas and an M.S. in Horticulture from Michigan State University. Halleck's professional experience is well-rounded, with time spent in field research, public gardens, landscaping, garden center retail, and horticulture consulting and communications. Halleck currently runs Halleck Horticultural, LLC, through which she provides horticultural consulting, business and marketing strategy, product development and branding, and content creation for green industry companies.

Keep on Trucking! And Digging, and Planting, and...

  • Craig Regelbrugge, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Government Regulations, AmericanHort 


  • Labor and the workforce, H-2A and H-2B, as well as trucking challenges top the list of landscape and nursery employers.  What might relief look like, and is any in sight?  Catch up on what’s happening in Congress and the federal agencies, and ideas on how to best cope. 
  • About the Speaker: Craig Regelbrugge has been with AmericanHort since 2007 and is currently the Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Regulations. He focuses on representing the green industry on Capitol Hill in the AmericanHort D.C. office. He holds a B.S. in Horticulture at Virginia Tech. He serves in diverse leadership positions including national co-chairman of Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform; vice chairman of National Immigration Forum; executive committee of National Council of Agricultural Employers; and a member of USDA Specialty Crop Committee.

Contact Us

Western Nursery & Landscape Association
P.O. Box 411747 Kansas City, MO 64141