Think Trees New Mexico is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the education, training, and appreciation of trees, arboriculture, and horticulture throughout New Mexico. Think Trees New Mexico provides training to professionals in the Green Industry of New Mexico and surrounding regions, by hosting an annual conference in Albuquerque, NM. We have hosted this conference since 1986 with an all-volunteer board of committed tree industry members and supporters.
The Think Trees Board is elected by the board of directors. The executive board is the president, vice-president, recording secretary, treasurer, and past-president. The board of directors supports the mission of our organization.
A separate category of our supporters is the “Friends of Think Trees.” These are active volunteers who share in the ongoing efforts to organize and present our annual conference.
Think Trees New Mexico strives to provide our audience with up-to-date accurate, relevant information on trees and their care by bringing nationally recognized speakers and local experts to our conference, We believe in the value of trees, not just as amenities to the human landscape but as living elements in their own right.
Our conference provides Continuing Education Units for both ISA-Certified Arborists and for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) licensed pesticide applicators. You can take the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification exam at Think Trees New Mexico. Registration for ISA exams is through the ISA’s website.
Thank you, everyone, that attend our monthly meetings to organize and present the conference. Since 1986 our success continues to depend on these volunteers and includes everyone that attends and supports the annual Think Trees Conference.
At Think Trees New Mexico, we do think about trees. We believe in the value and beauty of trees.
Be a part of the future – plant and care for trees today!!
Board of Directors
Marisa Thompson, Ph.D.
New Mexico State University, Department of Extension Plant Sciences
Marisa is the Urban Horticulture Specialist, a state-wide position based in Los Lunas, for the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service. She is responsible for active Extension and Research programs involving sustainable horticultural practices for New Mexicans. Marisa worked pairing plants and people at nurseries in Albuquerque before becoming an Extension Master Gardener for Bernalillo County in 2008 and a Las Cruces Tree Steward in 2014. Her MS in Horticulture involved a study of pecan orchard floor management and how weeds affect water status, soil nutrient availability, and nut yield of mature pecan trees. Marisa received a Ph.D. in Plant and Environmental Sciences in August 2017 for her research on pecan flowering mechanisms with a focus on plant hormones and genes that control floral initiation.
She writes the gardening column, Southwest Yard & Garden, which is published weekly in newspapers and magazines across the state. Access the column archives and other hort-related resources at desertblooms.nmsu.edu. Or find her on social media @NMDesertBlooms (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok!).
Village Arborist LLC
Tom is a Sandoval County Master Gardener, a Rio Rancho Tree Steward, an ISA Certified Arborist, specializing in education and assessment, an ABQ BioPark Zoo docent, and a published author.
Thomas Neiman was born and educated in the Garden State of New Jersey, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics at Upsala College. He combined thirty-five years of military and federal service, beginning as an Air Traffic Controller in Texas, moving to New Mexico in 1978, and completing his career as a System Specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Director, Vegetation Management and Wildfire Mitigation
Filsinger Energy Partners
Anne Beard has worked in the arboriculture field for over 30 years. She is a member of the ISA/Utility Arborist Association, is a Certified Arborist/Utility Specialist, and is TRAQ qualified.
Anne has, by her efforts, informed her customers, the general public, and industry professionals on the importance of trees, their benefits to the environment, and their proper care. She has many varied experiences speaking at local, national, and international venues.
Anne has served Think Trees New Mexico as Treasurer and currently is a Board member. Anne has served as President of the International Society of Arboriculture. She has served the ISA in many ways including ISA Certification Test Committee, and Utility Arborist Association President. She received the UAA President’s Award for her contributions to Utility Arboriculture. She holds a BS in Forestry – Administration and an MBA.
Kayla Marie O'Connor
Legacy Tree Company
Kayla has 10 years of experience in the field of horticulture. She's worked on high-production organic farms and wildflower seed farms utilized for restoration purposes in Montana. She was an Assistant Manager at a local nursery in Georgia. It was at Plant World where she became endlessly enthusiastic about the plants of the Southwest. Kayla moved into landscape maintenance as an Account Manager and directed a varied portfolio ranging from model homes, high end homeowners’ associations, retirement communities and mixed-use commercial sites. High Desert, Loma Colorado and Mirehaven Del Webb were her favorite projects.
Currently, Kayla is assisting her fiance in growing Legacy Tree Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It took the lure of the desert and a passionate arborist to convince her to put down roots in the Land of Enchantment. She's excited about Arboriculture and is inspired by the brilliant humans here that surround her in the industry.
Kayla is excited about growing vegetables, budgets, newspapers, flamenco, and building community. She's dedicated to creating a space for Burquenos to learn, experience, and be inspired by trees that have been properly cared for.
Trees of Corrales
Andrew Lisignoli has been on the Think Tree board for numerous terms because of the contribution The Think Tree Conference has brought to our urban forests. Andrew has been working with trees for over 50 years primarily in the nursery industry growing trees for our communities. He has been with Trees of Corrales since 1995. He has also served as the Senator for the New Mexico Chapter of the Nursery and Greenhouse Association. He believes that by networking within the various partners in the Green Industry we can achieve a thriving urban canopy.
NM Garden Clubs
Suzanne Andrego was born in St. Louis, MO, and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She is a lifetime Albuquerque gardener and a retired homeopathic physician. Suzy is a 27-year Master Gardener, a Master Flower Show Judge for National Garden Clubs, President of NM Judges Council, and a Past President of New Mexico Garden Clubs.
She has served on the largest volunteer board in the US, National Garden Clubs, Inc., for 18 years, and in her lifelong volunteer career, she has held various roles, positions, and chairmanships for various national and regional organizations including New Mexico Garden Clubs Environmental School, Landscape Design School, Flower Show Schools, NMGC Educational Schools, and National Garden Clubs Flower Show School.
She has been involved in many plant societies and garden clubs around New Mexico and presents programs on horticulture and floral design topics across the US.
Suzy is passionate about plants, trees, and our environment and is excited to be one of the newest board members of Think Trees NM and to help grow the organization.
Erin Burtch has experience in landscape architecture, project management, and construction administration for a wide range of project types for communities throughout New Mexico. She has developed a deep understanding of the need to balance design with budgetary and maintenance considerations while integrating the concerns and desires of all relevant stakeholders for each project. She also has a keen understanding of quality control and assurance in the generation of construction documents and construction implementation. Erin has been involved in the design and construction administration of public and private school facilities, commercial and office development, and planned residential communities.
Bernalillo County Extension Horticulture Agent
Joseph was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Growing up he loved spending time at the Albuquerque Botanic Garden. It was there that he sparked an interest in plant science. Thankfully, he landed an internship with the City of Albuquerque Biopark which was the start to a career in botany. Joseph was awarded the 2018 Career and Technical Education award at RGHS which allowed him to demonstrate various leadership qualities.
Joseph used this experience and training to get accepted to New Mexico State University. He chose a major in Horticulture because it is unique and tailored to his interests. Joseph has worked at various greenhouses and nurseries all over New Mexico and holds a ton of plant knowledge. Some call him a plant "guru". Joseph was also a farm manager for Robert. F. Kennedy Charter School where he took care of a two-acre farm. There Joseph served as the program coordinator for an integrated farm to school program which taught a group of 20 high school students sustainability and conservation practices.
Joseph took on the role of the Bernalillo County Horticulture Agent in July 2023. He serves as a program coordinator for the Albuquerque Master Gardener Program which trains the community in all things horticulture. Joseph works closely with farmers and gardeners from all around the county offering advice and helping to diagnose various horticulture related problems. He also works with specialists at the NMSU main campus in Las Cruces who in turn help educate the community. Joseph is very grateful to be here and looks forwards to what the future has in store.
He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management from Northern Arizona University in 1968. George worked as Resource Manager at Duke City Lumber Company working in purchasing, developing, and delivering saw timber to Espanola and Vallecitos Sawmills for 22 years. At the Cibola National Forest, Mountainair Ranger District he provided recreation and forest management for a year and a half. Spent sixteen years at the State of NM Forestry Division as the Timber Management Officer, NM Forest Re-Leaf Coordinator, and for 11 years as State Urban Forester then retired in June 2007. Presently, George is contracting with Ciudad Soil & Water Conservation District as the Forest Health Program Assessor. He has been providing residential forest/woodland thinning programs and fire risk management for ten years.
George is involved in the following: Member and Fellow, Society of American Foresters, 25 years; Member, International Society of Arboriculture, 20 years; Member, Board of Directors Think Trees New Mexico, 20 years; State Commissioner, Board of Commissioners, New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps; and Lecture circuit, presenting “Trees Are Killing Our Forests”.
Green Summit Landscape Management
Gary Fears is a co-owner of Green Summit Landscape Management, a full-service landscape company known for offering a variety of landscaping amenities and building strong client relationships. Fears specifically oversee New Business Development and Customer Service. His passion for landscaping began at the age of eleven when his father dropped him off at the end of a street with a lawnmower. He would move from house to house, offering lawn care to his first customers. Everyone has grass in Kentucky where Fears grew up. This middle school summer job has since blossomed into a professional career in the landscaping industry. Fears has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a minor in Landscape Management from Brigham Young University. He is also Landscape Industry Certified through the National Association of Landscape Professionals and holds a JS Sprinkler License and NMDA Pesticide License. In 2008, Fears moved to Albuquerque after being recruited by an industry-leading landscape company. Seven years later, he established his own business, and Green Summit continues to grow and service the community in the greater Albuquerque area. After many years of living in New Mexico with his wife and four children, he is proud to call the Land of Enchantment his home.
Desert Gardens Outdoor Services Inc.
Clay is the owner of Desert Gardens Outdoor Services, Inc.. He has been in the landscape and tree business for over 25 years and has been a certified Arborist through the ISA since 2005.
Judy Nickell is a well-experienced Albuquerque gardener and tree enthusiast. She is a Certified Arborist, Master Gardener, member of the Albuquerque Rose Society and Valley Garden Club. She is also a published author with such works as "“Easy, Casual Everyday Spanish” and “Atrisco to Zena Lona: A Snappy Survey of Selected Albuquerque Street Names.” She also wrote a garden column for "The Albuquerque Tribune".
State of NM Forestry
Alyssa O’Brien is the Urban and Community Forestry Program Manager for NM State Forestry working with New Mexicans to improve and increase their community forests. Previously she worked as a Program Manager for the City of Albuquerque managing 30,000 acres of Open Space Land with her primary focus being on the Rio Grande Valley State Park. She also has worked as the Horticulture Manager for the Butterfly Pavilion in CO and the Houston Zoo creating and maintaining habitats and food for millions of critters. She has experience in forestry and riparian restoration, climate change mitigation, horticulture, plant propagation, municipal tree management, landscape design, greenhouse design and maintenance, and volunteer coordination.
She currently serves as the NM Board Representative for the ISA – RMC chapter, and is on the EPA’s Middle Rio Grande Urban Waters Steering Committee.
When not working she is busy pursuing her Masters in Natural Resource Stewardship and Ecological Restoration and Forest Ecology from Colorado State University.
Bryan D. Suhr
Bryan D Suhr, Consulting Arborist
I am a second-generation New Mexico arborist, Albuquerque native, and a founding member of Think Trees NM. I became an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist and have supported Arborist Certification since 1992. I have earned additional national credentials including the ISA Utility Specialist in 2003, ISA Municipal Specialist in 2004, and I became an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist in 2010 and relinquished my Certified Arborist credential. I have an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (2016) and a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP (2009)) through the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).
Retired from the University of New Mexico where it was my great opportunity to care for over five thousand trees almost every day for over twenty-one years. I got to plant many (800+) trees introducing many new selections into the campus arboretum.
Now I am an independent consulting arborist, serving individuals and communities across our state, advising clients on their trees and best practices for caring for them. I am passionate about trees, educating people about trees, and for the past 50 years, I’ve been caring for trees and learning more about them every day.
Legacy Tree Company
Mr. Joran Viers is a senior arborist working with Legacy Tree Company. His prior work includes self-employment as a Consulting Arborist, City Forester for the City of Albuquerque, County Horticulture Agent, and County Director for the Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service of New Mexico State University. Viers was born in Albuquerque but grew up in California, Costa Rica, and Arkansas. He has a life-long love of plants and the natural sciences. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of New Mexico, and a Masters degree in Botany from the University of Florida. Mr. Viers has been a member of Think Trees NM since 2003, an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist since 2016, and holds Tree Risk Assessment Qualification from ISA. He has been a tree-hugging nature lover all his life and plans to continue doing so into the future.