Botanic Garden Board Members


Puck Erickson Lohnas is a principal of Arcadia Studio and has worked in the field of landscape architecture since 1977.  She, along with her partners, established Arcadia Studio in 2001 to create a full service firm, which emphasizes the collaborative design process as a fundamental component of site-specific design. She brings that spirit of collaboration in to the community by working on a range of projects including the updating of the University of California Santa Barbara campus landscape plan, working with public and private schools in the Santa Ynez Valley planting native plants, and lecturing on environmentally conscious landscape design strategies.  


BRENDAN DOHERTY, Newsletter Editor and  Legal Counsel

Brendan acts as the Foundation's secretary and legal counsel, and liaison with the Teen Court program.  He grew up in Santa Ynez and currently maintains a law practice in Solvang. He continues to enjoy the area's outdoor opportunities, from hiking and birding to vegetable gardening.  



Rachelle moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in 2011 after getting married.  In 2012, while working as a CPA at C&D, llp in Solvang, Rachelle was recruited to join the Board of Directors as Treasurer.  She introduced the Christmas Wreath Making Class to the Garden and has enjoyed watching it grow in popularity over the last few years.  She loves helping to build the garden, knowing that it is unique place for her children and others to connect with nature and develop a lasting relationship with the natural world.


AMY WOLFSLAU,   Secretary

Amy Wolfslau, J.D., M.Ed. – SYV Botanic Garden Board Member and Secretary of the Board (beginning 2015).  Attorney: Civil Litigation, Copyright, Trademark, and Script Clearance.  Adjunct High School Administrator for Title I and English Language Learner Programs.  Secondary Education Teacher: International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement in Social Studies, English Language Arts, English as a Second Language.  Co-founder of the Committee for Equity and Excellence in Education, (EEE) a Parent/Teacher/Student organization.  Prior Board Member for Just Communities of the Central Coast (JCCC) a social justice organization.


EVA  POWERS,  Education Director and Earth Day Coordinator

Eva is the owner of Creative Garden Design 805 with 20 years of landscape Design experience in Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County. Eva is a garden column writer for Santa Ynez Valley News, a wife of 31 years to her husband Warren, and mother of their two children.

As the botanic garden’s Education Director, she manages and schedules a growing list of exciting and educational school field trips and classes, hosted either at the SYV Botanic Garden or in the local area. Eva is also involved in coastal preservation, seeking protection of what undeveloped land that is left in Santa Barbara County, protecting our wildlife, native fauna and promoting managed public access. 


MIKE DELGADO,  Flora and Fauna

Mike worked for 36 yrs for Ventura Co. Fire Department and lives in Santa Ynez.  He is a Master Gardener and holds California Cert. for Environmental Horticulture.  Mike completed an 8 month internship at Filoli, developing their native seed collection program and nursery.  He also volunteers as a docent at Sedgwick Reserve in Santa Ynez. He shares his passion for gardens in nature and plant propagation with visitors of all ages. 

After graduation from Santa Barbara City College in Environmental Horticulture, Mike received an 8 month internship at Filoli Garden in the SF Bay Area. The project for internship was collecting native seeds from the Santa Cruz woodland. 

Mike is also a board member of Santa Ynez Natural History Society.  He is married to Mary Jane and has three children.  Mike, who is passionate about insects and butterflies, with the support of his wife, is developing the butterfly garden section of the garden and also manages our ‘Wildlife Cam.’

STEVE SCHULZ, Garden Coordinator

Steve moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in 1963, graduating from Santa Ynez High School in 1975.  After working as a fisherman and serving in the U.S. Navy, Steve graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture in 1993.  While working in his own landscape business, Steve was shot in an attempted car-jacking leaving him a paraplegic.  After his release from the hospital, Steve moved back to Solvang.

He became involved with the nature programs at the Sedgwick Reserve, becoming a docent and starting a native plant nursery and seed bank for on-site restoration projects.  He is one of the founders of the Botanic Garden, playing a key role in path layout and master planning.  Steve serves as our ‘hands on’ presence in the Garden, leading volunteer groups, building accessible trails, spearheading on-going planting programs and coordinating maintenance. 


KAREN JOHNSON,  Friends of the Garden

Karen Johnson is a resident of Solvang and has been involved with community enhancement with many local organizations.  She was one of the original organizers of the Garden Tours sponsored by the Santa Ynez Historical Society and has used her own garden to educate her neighborhood on the values of drought tolerant landscape and native plantings.  As an experienced educator, she has been involved in the building of the Garden's outdoor educations programs.  Karen is also working with the development of the Garden’s support group, Friends of the Garden.


DR. HELGA GEORGE, Technical Support and Data Coordination

Helga George has been an avid horticulturalist since childhood.  In addition, she has a long-term interest in the chemicals that plants make and use to defend themselves.  Helga obtained a B.S. in Agriculture with a specialization in plant science from Cornell University, an M.S. in Plant Pathology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Cornell University.  After performing 20 years of research in the plant sciences, most recently at UCSB, Helga switched to freelance writing and broadened her skills to include copywriting.  Not surprisingly, she calls her writing business Plants Rule®. 



MATT SNYDER-PENNON, Alternative Energy Specialist

Matt Snyder-Pennon has had a passion for the land from farming to gardening and it is in his DNA. His family has been ranchers in California for five generations and he continued the tradition, going to school for agriculture at Chico State. His home’s garden is filled with native plants and edibles.  Matt works as energy consultant throughout the community and brings his expertise to the Garden.  He and his husband believe that the Garden serves as an important place for inspiring their children and connecting future generations with the natural world. 


TINA KALKOWSKI, Children’s Education

Tina has been a Buellton resident for nearly 20 years. She graduated from Chapman College with a degree in Early Childhood Studies. Along with being the aquatics director for Dunn School's summer program, she has worked in the special education field throughout the valley for the past 10 years. Working for Hidden Wings, a school for young adults with special needs, she volunteers weekly at the Garden with her students and 3 year old son Curren. Tina enjoys being outdoors and taking advantage of Santa Barbara County's natural beauty.


Kyle Abello, City Liaison to SYV Botanic Garden Foundation
Buellton Recreation Coordinator