2019 Conference Speakers

Rory Klick has worked in nursery production, design-build, natural areas restoration and community greening for 39 years, including positions with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Botanic Garden.  She holds degrees in horticulture (BS), landscape architecture (MSLA) and plant ecology (MS), and is deeply committed to sustainable landscape approaches.  Rory has served on the national Board of Directors for the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA, 2002-2008), written articles for ACGA and the National Gardening Association, and presented at numerous gardening conferences and symposia in both the U.S and Canada. 

Locally she served on the Lake County Planning Commission (2009-2014), served as a youth mentor for the Center for Conservation Leadership with Lake Forest Openlands (2015, 2017), and is active in mentoring new community and school gardens.  Married to a fellow botanist and restoration ecologist, she and her husband Ken have three children, and try to live simply and have a small footprint in their home life.  Now in her twelfth year as faculty at College of Lake County, Rory serves as the department chair of the CLC Horticulture Program, and received the college‚Äôs teaching excellence award for 2012-2013


Kelsay Shaw, Possibility Place Nursery  
Kelsay started early working with native plants, growing prairie perennials with his brother at age 6. He even got his sixth grade teacher to let him design and install a native garden for her while still in his class. After years of working with native plants, Kelsey pursued a degree in botany from Eastern Illinois University and later joined his father’s business, Possibility Place in Monee, IL.

Their nursery specializes in growing plants native to northern Illinois, especially native trees and shrubs. Kelsay is the botanist and sales consultant at the nursery. He has taught classes on native plants and their uses in landscaping, as well as consulting on larger projects. Throughout his life he has been espousing the benefits of using natives in all forms on landscaping and restoration. Kelsay knows at every urban/suburban site, there is a native plant that will fit it. It is just a question of putting the right plant in the right place.



John Mariani RLA, ASLA, Landserve, LLC…Landscapes for Life!!  Growing up working in both the landscape construction and nursery business for his grandfather and in the maintenance field with his father earned John Mariani valuable practical experience. He later brought his design and marketing skills garnered at the University of Illinois to the table: instituting the professional image that launched Mariani Landscape from very modest beginnings as a lawn mowing service in 1958 to the top 100 powerhouse company it is today.

As the company’s first Landscape Architect and creator of the design department, John recruited and developed its award winning design staff and set the tone for excellence in design, construction and the special management demands of traditional gardens and varied land projects throughout the Chicago area, the Midwest and also internationally. He has received recognition from the public and private sector and has been the recipient of awards for his own projects and those produced under his guidance and direction.

Mariani  has hosted multiple speaking engagements and has formally addressed groups at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Morton Arboretum and many other significant public and private nature and garden organizations throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. He has authored numerous articles on landscape design for both traditional and native landscapes and is presently writing an instructional book on sustainable landscape practices, restoring his own small farm in southeastern Wisconsin back to “pre-settlement” prairie/savannah condition.


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