at the Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Steve Ulstad, AIA (Ulstad Architects), has provided professional services (Architecture, Landscape Design, Interior Design) to the Dubuque area since 1982.
Married to Jane for 45 years, they have four grown children and seven active grandchildren.
Jeff Mozena is retired President/CEO, and current Chairman of the Board of Premier Bank, Dubuque, Iowa.
The controller at Home + Floor Show in Dubuque, Dawn Bandy is a recent graduate of the University of Dubuque’s Life program, earning a Master of Business Administration degree in April 2022, in addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting in 1999.
Marsha Abbott is a financial advisor with Edward Jones Investments in Dubuque, Iowa. Prior to working at the firm, she graduated summa cum laude and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in both finance and real estate at the University of Northern Iowa.
Residing in Dubuque with her husband, Brad, and their three children, Lexy, Gavin and Claire, they enjoy skiing, watching movies, and just spending time together as a family.
During Wylie Bledsoe's work life, he had been a supervisor at Mercury Marine for 43 years and had enjoyed fixing machinery and keeping things running. He and his wife, Jean, relocated to Dubuque when he retired in 2005, as they enjoyed the area and the people.
Debi Butler is the imagination behind The Wanderwood Gardens, an immersive woodland playground for day-dreamers of all ages, where people of all ages can come to connect with nature and each other. Its inspiration stems from Debi and Andy Butlers' granddaughters and their love for flowers and nature. The Butlers dreamt of a place where their family could explore, play, and enjoy the beauty of nature. The result is The Wanderwood Gardens. Currently, in the early stages of construction, The Wanderwood Gardens will be connected to the Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens and promises to be a place full of joy and imagination for visitors for many years to come. Debi holds multiple degrees in Psychology: an M.A. from Loras College and a B.A. from Augustana College. Throughout the years, she has been active in community organizations focusing on mental health and brain health. The benefits of being outdoors have been integral to Debi's personal and professional growth.
Mel Graves was born in Cleveland, Ohio, raised in Pocatello, Idaho, and went to college in Baltimore, Maryland, and Chicago, Illinois. He came to Dubuque in 1976 and has lived and worked here since, including 32 years as a REALTOR with Brissey Realty. Mel has served on the Arboretum board since 1995 and was Treasurer 18 of those years.
Merlin Green grew up on a farm in southwest Minnesota, learning to drive a tractor at the age of 5!
After completing a degree in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Minnesota, he and his wife Jo moved to Dubuque where Merlin began his employment at the John Deere Dubuque Works in the product engineering department. Most of his career involved developing software for the rapid analysis of field test data.
Lynne Hager is Vice President of Marketing at MidWestOne Bank.
Dennis Hoyer worked at John Deere for 42 years in a number of capacities, including positions in the factory and the office. He managed many projects for the company and was the Product Line Manager for John Deere’s Motor Grader Line and the Materials Manager in Sweden for the Construction and Forestry Division.
The Founder and Collaborative Strategist for Focus Forward, LLC, Wendy brings a depth and breadth of business and nonprofit expertise and experience in campaign management, organizational leadership, fundraising, strategic thinking, and best practices. With more than 37 years of experience in healthcare, higher education, and banking, she takes sound business principles and applies them to help move organizations toward greater effectiveness and efficiency in achieving outcomes.
The founder of the nonprofit organization, Two by Two Character Development, Kristin Woodward-Vaassen's passion to help people, animals, and the environment began in the mid-80s while teaching elementary students. After 20 years in the classroom, Kristin was motivated to inspire good character in all children, thus the Kindhearted Kids Program evolved and is now impacting children throughout thirty-one states.
Jenna Hirtz started as the second director for the Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens in the fall of 2021. Her previous work experience:
Her schooling began at Northeast Iowa Community College, where she earned an Associate’s degree in Accounting. She then transferred to the University of Dubuque where she completed a Bachelor’s in Accounting, Business, and Human Resource Management as well as a Master of Business Administration.
Long-time Dubuque educator and conservation leader Jared McGovern is the Director of The Wanderwood Gardens. Set to open in Spring 2025, Jared will work with the Butlers during its development and construction phase as well as help lead in its opening and ongoing operations.
A Peosta Native, Jared is a devoted husband, father, and nature enthusiastic. Jared's interest in nature and passion for environmental education led him to complete undergraduate studies in Conservation and Environmental Interpretation/Education at Iowa State University and later graduate studies in Organizational Leadership at Clarke University. Most recently, Jared served as the Director of Conservation Programs at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.
Laura's education began at Northeast Iowa Community College and continued at Loras College where she obtained her B.A. in Communication with a major in Public Relations. Previous work experience includes:
These jobs not only helped her to gain valuable knowledge and skills for the future, but she was also able to feed her passion for making connections. Laura enjoys spending her free time with her husband, Jim, and their seven children (6 of whom are grown), boating on the Mississippi with her extended family, cooking/baking (and ALWAYS sharing), and gardening.
Ann Merizon's plant and landscape journey began with a job in a small family-owned nursery. She then achieved a Level 2 Master Gardener certification while living in Kalispell, Montana. After returning to the Midwest, Ann earned an A.A. in Landscape Horticulture with an emphasis in Landscape Maintenance. This led to various roles in the industry and ultimately her own landscape maintenance business.
Previous work experience includes:
Ann also holds a B.S. in Elementary Education.
A Clarke University business graduate, Barb Block's past work experience includes Auxiliary Manager at NICC; Senior Media Manager at McGraw-Hill; Event and Fundraiser Coordinator and Bookkeeper at Tri-State Christian School; and, most recently, Caretaker (along with husband Dan) and Volunteer Coordinator at the DABG.