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2023 Ohio Botanical Symposium

Presented by the ODNR Division of Natural Areas & Preserves, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, The Ohio State University and The Nature Conservancy.

The 17th Ohio Botanical Symposium

The first Ohio Botanical Symposium was held in 2001 with 48 attendees. The Symposium has grown over the years and now is one of the largest botany conferences in the nation. The Symposium is hosted by the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, The Ohio State University, and The Nature Conservancy Ohio. We are excited to back in-person in 2023!

The 17th Ohio Botanical Symposium will once again feature a great lineup of speakers.  Alan Weakley Ph D. will discuss new plant identification tools for Ohio and adjacent states; Talon Silverhorn will talk about the importance of plants in Midwestern tribes' culture; Bob Klips will present an in-depth look at Ohio's liverworts; Mark Peter will discuss Ohio's paleobotany; Shana Byrd will go into detail on creating and maintaining native plant gardens; Derrick Cooper will talk about the 2000-acre Morgan Swamp Preserve and rare plant conservation at the preserve; and finally, Andrew Gibson will once again present the popular talk on Ohio’s best rare plant finds.

When: Friday, March 24, 2023, 8 am - 4 pm EST

Where: Villa Milano, Columbus, OH

Registration is $50. It includes continental breakfast, an Italian buffet with 2 main dishes (vegetarian option), sides, drink and dessert, and afternoon refreshments; plus, conference materials. 


All of the presentations will be recorded and shared on the ODNR youtube channel.  


8:00 Registration opens

9:15 Opening Remarks

9:30 Keynote Address: Not your Grandfather's Flora: New Floristic Tools for Information, Appreciation, and Conservation; Alan Weakley Ph D., University of North Carolina Herbarium

10:30 Break - Refreshments; visit sponsor and vendor tables

11:00 Best Plant Discoveries of 2021-2022; Andrew Gibson, Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves

11:30 Liverworts: The Other Bryophytes; Bob Klips, The Ohio State University

12:00 Lunch - Italian Buffet

12:40 Slideshow by John Howard, a freelance photographer

1:15 Special Address: The Roots of Culture: The Relationship between Native Plants and Native People of the Midwest; Talon Silverhorn, Ohio Department of Natural Resources

2:00 Break - Refreshments

2:20 Dasycladales to Calamitales: A "Whorl"-wind, Deep-time Tour of Ohio Paleobotany; Mark Peter, Ohio Geological Survey

2:50 How to Create a Native Wildscape and Make it look Wonderful; Shana Byrd, Dawes Arboretum

3:20 Conserving Rare Plants at Morgan Swamp Nature Preserve; Derrick Cooper, The Nature Conservancy

3:50 Closing Remarks

Guest Speakers

Alan Weakley Ph.D.   Keynote Speaker

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Dr. Weakley is a renowned plant systematist, plant community ecologist, biogeographer, and conservation biologist focused on the species and systems of the Southeastern United States. Prior to coming to University of North Carolina in 2002, he had an extensive career in applied conservation biology, working with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, and NatureServe. His conservation interests and activities continue, with his service as Trustee of the N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund from 2008-2013 (which has provided $328 million through 518 grants to support the conservation of more than 298,000 acres of natural areas in North Carolina), Chair of the N.C. Plant Conservation Program’s Scientific Advisory Committee, and Chair of the N.C. Natural Heritage Program Advisory Committee. Dr. Weakley was a co-founder of the Carolina Vegetation Survey and continues as one of its four organizers. He is the author of Flora of the Southern & Mid-Atlantic States (http://www.herbarium.unc.edu/flora.htm), a taxonomic manual covering about 7000 vascular plant taxa, now the standard in use across much of the Southeastern United States.  With J. Chris Ludwig and Johnny Townsend, he co-authored the Flora of Virginia, published in 2012 and awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award for Conservation. He is also an active author, editor, reviewer, and director of the Flora of North America project and has authored or co-authored over 50 new taxa for North America.

Talon Silverhorn — Special Address

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Talon Silverhorn is a Citizen of The Eastern Shawnee Tribe and has been an interpreter in some form or another since 2007. He grew up on the Shawnee Reservation in Oklahoma and participated in traditional aspects of his culture such as ceremonies, hunting traditions, and material arts. His experiences with the intersection of race, culture, and nationality at an early age drove him to find a method of communication that did not rely on these things to be common, and so he found interpretation. He started to travel with other Tribal Citizens and give presentations at schools, historic sites, and community centers across the U.S. and Canada. From there he worked as an NAI Certified Interpretive Guide for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation from 2016 to 2021, where he discussed the formation of Early America and the intersection of identities that it brought. Talon currently serves as the Cultural Programs Manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, helping with American Indian content and with the development of the new State Park, Great Council.

Andrew Lane Gibson

Division of Natural Areas & Preserves

Andrew Lane Gibson is an Ohio native and lifelong admirer of the natural world. He has spent the last decade as a field botanist with the Ohio Division of Natural Areas & Preserves with a focus on surveying, monitoring, and managing the state’s rare flora and habitats. Andrew is a graduate of Ohio University and Hocking College with degrees in plant biology and wildlife biology. Vascular plants are his passion especially the realms of Cyperaceae, Orchidaceae, and Pteridophyta. Andrew enjoys sharing his adventures on Ohio’s biodiversity, beauty, natural history and beyond on his popular Instagram, The Buckeye Botanist.

Robert Klips

The Ohio State University

Robert Klips is an associate professor emeritus in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at Ohio State University (OSU), where he continues to teach courses in plant identification and ecology. He manages the bryophyte and lichen specimen collections in the herbarium at OSU’s Museum of Biological Diversity and is the author of a new book “Common Mosses, Liverworts and Lichens of Ohio,” published by Ohio University Press. Skilled in botanical macrophotography, Klips served as the photographer for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s 2017 Common Lichens of Ohio Field Guide and has contributed images to dozens of books, periodicals, and websites. He frequently conducts field work and educates nature study groups about the identification, ecology, and distribution of Ohio plants and lichens.

Mark Peter

Ohio Geological Survey

Mark has been working as a paleontologist for the Ohio Geological Survey since 2017 and is writing a doctoral dissertation in invertebrate paleontology at The Ohio State University. His project concerns the evolution of an extinct group of Paleozoic Era echinoderms (sea star relatives), the ­flexible crinoids. Having grown up in Cincinnati, an area world-renowned for its Ordovician-age marine fossils, Mark became fascinated by Ohio paleontology at a young age. Since joining the Survey, he has written lay publications concerning geology and paleontology, engaged in educational outreach, and created content for geological exhibits in state parks, among other projects. He is the author of the award-winning booklet, Statehouse Fossils: A Guide to Fossils of the Ohio Capitol (2020).

Shana Byrd

Dawes Arboretum

Passionate about native plant conservation, Shana has been involved with natural resource management and education for 22 years. Earning her Bachelor of Science in Environmental & Plant Biology, she specialized in Field Botany at Ohio University. Working with the Sustainable Forestry Program of Rural Action, she led education events on a range of ecological subjects. As Director of the Restoration Ecology Program at the Wilds, she focused on applied research and habitat conservation. Following her Master of Arts in Zoology in the Global Field Program at Miami University, she encouraged environmental stewardship. Now serving as Senior Director of Science and Conservation at The Dawes Arboretum, Shana leads ecological restoration, guiding plant conservation strategies, helping advance the plant collections and herbarium. Through this role, and volunteer service on the Licking Land Trust Board of Directors, Shana hopes to inspire others to protect our greenspace and promote the restoration of the ecosystems we all depend on.

Derrick Cooper

The Nature Conservancy

Derrick Cooper’s conservation journey started in Northeast Ohio where he grew up. Gaining a Bachelor of Science from Cleveland State University, he developed the foundation for his career in conservation. He started his conservation career as a seasonal with The Nature Conservancy Ohio and have completed 5 years of service with this organization. Working for The Nature Conservancy exposed him to working with rare plants which has been his driving force ever since. Today, Derrick manages The Nature Conservancy Ohio lands in Northeast Ohio and the rare flora found within them.

Thank you to the 2023 Ohio Botanical Symposium sponsors:

Appalachia Ohio Alliance

Cincinnati Wild Flower Preservation Society

Cleveland Metroparks

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Columbus Audubon Society



Holden Forests and Gardens

Lake Erie Islands Conservancy

M.A.D. Scientist

Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio

Ohio EPA

Ohio Invasive Plants Council

Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association

Ohio University Press

Ohio Moss and Lichen Association

OPN Seed

Pollinator Partnership

Preservation Parks of Delaware County

Scioto Gardens

Stream and Wetlands Foundation