Our 2024 Speakers

John Ball headshot

Dr. John Ball

Dr. John Ball, Professor & Extension Forestry Specialist at South Dakota State University & South Dakota Department of Agriculture Forest Health Specialist

John Ball is currently a Professor of Forestry at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD, and serves as a campus arborist for the University and as the Forest Health Specialist for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. He received the Malo Teaching Excellence Award in 2018 for his dedication to student learning. One of his primary research interests is tree worker safety. Dr. Ball obtained his Ph.D. and M.S. in Forestry from Michigan State University and a B.S. in Forestry from Michigan Technological University. Dr. Ball is also on the Safety Committee for the Tree Care Industry Association.


Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott is Washington State University’s Extension Urban Horticulturist, bringing science-based information to gardeners and landscape professionals. She is the award-winning author of five books, including the latest edition of Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest. She is featured in the Science of Gardening video series produced by The Great Courses and was the first recipient of the Cynthia Wescott Scientific Writing Award from the Association of Garden Communicators. She also manages the “Garden Professors” blog and Facebook group.


Brian Kempf

Brian Kempf, Director of the Urban Tree Foundation in Visalia, CA, has achieved an extraordinary accomplishment with the development of the Landscape Standards for Construction with the team of  Ed Gilman, Jim Urban, and Tyson Carroll. This effort updates standards, specifications and exhibits used for landscape construction plans which will have far reaching effects on the quality and survivability of urban landcapes & forests. All of these guidelines can be found at the International Society of Arboriculture website as well as the UTF site.

Founded in 1999, the Urban Tree Foundation is dedicated to promoting and preserving the urban forest through education, planting and tree care. In collaboration with public and private agencies, UTF assists communities in becoming active partners in the planting and maintenance of the urban forest.


Dr. Leslie Beck

Dr. Leslie Beck is the Extension Weed Specialist in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at NMSU. She received her B.S. in Horticulture and Landscape Management and her M.S. in Agriculture from Tarleton State University, specializing in golf course and turfgrass management. She received her Ph.D. in Plant and Soil Science, specializing in turfgrass management, from Texas Tech University. Dr. Beck’s primary extension responsibilities include progressive statewide educational programming in weed science, including annual and perennial weed management, identification, and herbicide application for all cropping systems including agricultural commodities and turf and landscape areas.


Phillip Lujan

Phillip Lujan is the program manager and diagnostician for the Plant Diagnostic Clinic. He received his B.S and M.S in Agricultural Biology with a minor in Molecular Biology at New Mexico State University.

For four years, he was a research technician in the plant pathology and mycology program at NMSU where he gained valuable experience working with local growers helping them to manage their disease problems.

Phillip is currently pursuing his PhD in Plant and Environmental Science at NMSU where he is researching the potential use of pecan byproducts on chile peppers for improved soilborne disease management.

Joanie King

Dr. Joanie King

Dr. Joanie King is an assistant professor and Extension entomologist. She earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Texas A&M University, a M.Sc. in entomology from the University of Georgia, a B.Sc. in biology from the University of Central Florida, and an A.A. from Valencia College. Alongside her Extension and outreach focus, Dr. King’s lab focuses on host-parasite interactions, community ecology, and integrated pest management (IPM). Dr. King also researches how to plan effective science outreach and science communication. In addition to serving the NMSU community through Extension and research, she is active in the Entomological Society of America. Sharing bug science is cool! Besides her work as an entomologist, she enjoys climbing, running, and photography.


Patrick O’Meara

Patrick O’Meara, High Country Landscape, Ltd.

A certified Arborist for 20+ years, Patrick has been involved in the Denver, CO horticulture and Arborist scene since 1985. He is ISA Certified as an Arborist, Climber Specialist, Evaluator for the CTW tests and is TRAQ qualified (#RM2451 A/T.) He owns & operates a small tree-care company in south Denver, which allows him to continue his passion for climbing trees, as well as take time off to be with his family and volunteer extensively for industry events and associations, including a recent 4-year stint on the ISA Rocky Mountain Chapter board. ISA Rocky Mountain Chapter Past President.