MEET OUR STAFF!
Donna Legare and Jody Walthall met while students at the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources & Conservation. Both were studying wildlife ecology. Even then, they shared a love of native plants. While in Gainesville, whenever an area was cleared for building or development, they would dig up plants and bring them home. When they graduated, Donna and Jody decided to forego getting master’s degrees in favor of putting what they loved and had learned into practice. They moved back to Tallahassee, where Jody’s mother had offered them a piece of the family property.
Right about the same time Donna and Jody moved to Tallahassee, state forester and native plant enthusiast, Chuck Salter, ran an ad in the paper for his nursery in Madison. It caught Jody’s eye and he went to visit Salter. In the course of conversation, Chuck said he wished there was an outlet for his carefully collected and propagated native plants in Tallahassee. A light bulb went off, and a nursery was born.
Most of all, we provide a well-trained staff of enthusiastic naturalists and horticulturists at our store everyday to assist people toward this goal.
Lilly Anderson-Messec started working at Native Nurseries in 2006 and became the nursery manager in 2013. She is inspired by the captivating and complex relationships between native plants and native wildlife. A passionate vegetable gardener as well as a native plant enthusiast, she teaches many workshops at Native on these subjects as well as writing articles for the Tallahassee Democrat. She also is our wildflower, tree and shrub buyer. Born and raised in Tallahassee, Lilly has also lived in Montana and Colorado. In her free time she enjoys exploring the ecologically rich and diverse regions of the Panhandle, observing and photographing plants and wildlife, as well as swimming and kayaking our beautiful springs and rivers.
Liz Marshall started working at Native Nurseries in 1987 after completing the Horticulture Program at Lively Tech. She is the annual/perennial buyer and co-manager of the Wren’s Nest Gift Shop and a member of the retail staff. She also custom designs/plants containers for our customers. Liz has a large circle of friends and family, and spends as much time with them as possible, preferably at the beach…
Norma Skaggs started working at Native Nurseries in January, 1990, after completing the Horticulture Program at Lively Tech. She has held the responsibilities of herb and wildflower buyer, tree and shrub buyer, book buyer and has taught various workshops here at the nursery. She is also a member of the retail staff. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, gardening and dancing in her leisure time.
Brian Bryson started working at Native Nurseries in 1991. He is a talented landscape artist, and most of the drawings in our newsletter are his. We sell prints of his many bird and seashore/boat watercolors here at the nursery. Brian also painted the mural in the Children’s Nature Nook and the various signs in the store. The cardinal on our new street sign is a reproduction of Brian’s artwork. Brian also designs and install water features. Check out some of the ponds he’s designed and installed for our customers. He’s a member of the retail staff and is currently being trained by Jody in landscape design. In his spare time, Brian enjoys making blackberry jam and sailing and (like Jody) built his own sailboat.
Timothy Roop started working at Native Nurseries in February of 2004. He is an ISA Certified Arborist, the foreman of our landscape crew and an all-round handy guy - a very handy guy! When he’s not out on a landscape job, Timothy is a member of the retail staff. And when he isn’t working, he’s climbing trees, smoking beans, roasting hot peppers and concocting hot sauce.
Mary McMullen (office manager) started working at Native Nureries in January of 2000 after completing the Horticulture Program at Lively Tech. She orders the organic gardening products, pottery and tools, manages the nursery advertising and is a member of the retail staff. She is the co-author of this site and the original designer of our previous website. When she isn’t working, Mary loves to cook, garden, read and write.
Joe, son of Donna and Jody, came to work full time at Native Nurseries upon graduating from FSU with an economics degree in June 2010. He manages the fiscal responsibilities of the nursery, is the buyer for our wild bird shop and a member of the retail staff. Joe is also a very talented chef (we all wish he’d bring samples to work with him more often).
Elizabeth Georges started working at Native Nurseries in October of 2013. She is co-manager of the Wren’s Nest Gift Shop, our herb and veggie buyer and hosts some of the herb and cooking workshops. She has an artistic talent that we are happy to utilize. Outside of work she enjoys exploring the natural wonders of the deep south, swimming, hiking, making her own soaps and skin care products and woodworking (she and Jody built a canoe together)!
Jimmy Gunderson started working at Native Nurseries in 2008. He is part of the landscape crew, a member of the retail staff and very good at anything related to building.
Seth Dunaway has been a long time employee and a core member of the landscape crew, retail staff and has been recently training under Jody and Brian as landscape designer. His cheerful attitude and smile is much appreciated by customers and co-workers alike. When he's not working at Native, he's enjoying the outdoors.
Tristan Kirby-Kopzynski started working at Native Nurseries when he was a junior in high school in September of 2012. He’s at FSU now working towards a degree in engineering. Tristan bags and stocks the bird seed, makes suet and potting soil and carries customer’s purchases to their vehicles among other tasks. Recently, he’s also begun to work retail and occasionally goes out with the landscape crew. When he’s not busy with work and school, he enjoys outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, hiking and boating.
Megan is a student at TCC. She helps with birdseed, weeding, making things look nice and is just an overall wonderful helping hand at the nursery. She also is a part of the retail staff. In her free time she enjoys making art, gardening, reading about history, wildlife and ecology.
Mason currently attends Sail High School. He works part time at the nursery doing jobs like stocking birdseed, making suet, mixing potting soil, grounds maintenance etc. He enjoys writing, poetry, rock climbing and hiking.
Jordan, our newest employee, moved back to Tallahassee from Asheville, NC in winter of 2018 knowing Tallahassee was a much better place to be. He was originally hired to work with the landscape crew, however, his customer service along with good work ethic landed him on the retail staff. He is a great extra hand and is currently training to become our "tree and shrub guy." Outside the nursery he enjoys spending time with his labrador retriever, Kylo and playing the drums.