Meet the Editors
Noelle JohnsonArizona Plant Lady
As a horticulturalist, Noelle has worked for multiple golf courses, small communities, property management companies and a major homebuilder. Her current and favorite job is working as a landscape consultant (or garden coach), as well as writing about gardening.
In addition to her blog, Noelle’s articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines and monthly newsletters. She has also spoken on such topics as hummingbird and butterfly gardening, citrus raising, low-maintenance gardening and veggie gardening for beginners. Because of her love in gardening, Noelle has also become interested in birds. She occasionally serves as a bird rehabilitator in her community and says her feeder is always full.
Jill StaakeMy Florida Backyard
Though she lived in northern Ohio until 2005, she eagerly plunged into gardening in the South and found it suited her perfectly. Wildlife, especially birds and butterflies, have always been important to her, so the focus of her own garden is attracting wildlife and sustaining Florida’s native plants and animals.
Writing about nature and gardening not only gives Jill a chance to share her knowledge, it also prompts her to keep learning. She started her blog a few years ago to keep her family up north up to speed on the happenings around her garden, and it has grown to include followers all over the country. When she’s not writing about birding or gardening, you’ll find Jill volunteering at the MOSI BioWorks Butterfly Garden in Tampa, where she’s gained great knowledge on gardening in the Southeast.
SeEtta MossBirds And Nature
Though she has always been a nature enthusiast and backyard birdwatcher, SeEtta is now an avid birder, enthusiastic naturalist and skilled bird photographer. She has traveled to many areas in the United States, including all of Birds and Blooms‘ south central region, as well as Mexico and Costa Rica to enjoy the birds and other amenities provided by the ecosystems in those areas.
SeEtta is very concerned about the loss of habitat for birds, butterflies and other pollinators so she has worked to make her urban yard wildlife-friendly by going native—that is, planting native and near-native plants. She is very active in her local chapter of the National Audubon Society as well as the state Audubon organization. She has been blogging about birds and nature since 2005.
Stacy Tornio, Editor, Birds & Blooms
When I was a kid, I used to moan and groan about waking up at 5 a.m. to harvest corn. They claimed it was something about working in the cool part of the day, but I thought it was pure torture. Now, I’m thankful for my gardening roots and enjoy growing tomatoes, pepper, melons, cucumbers and a whole lot more with my own kids. We also feed the birds, plant containers and anything else that involves getting our hands dirty in the backyard.
Kirsten Sweet, Associate Editor, Birds & Blooms
I am a self-proclaimed birding and gardening newbie. I have learned so much throughout my years with Birds & Blooms, and now I am finally able to put that knowledge to good use as I start to put down some roots. For years, I watched my mom slave over her garden and I never truly appreciated the effort. My family’s already got the gardening bug, so it’s fun to share my bird knowledge with them, too. I might be a newbie now, but I know I’ll be a birder and gardener for life because these two activities are truly addicting.
Lorie West, Editorial Assistant, Birds & Blooms
My folks taught me, by example, that anytime you saw a cardinal, oriole or sandhill crane, the first thing you did was call, “Come look!” I was a petulant kid hefting huge bouquets of lilacs, peonies and mock orange Mom had carefully wrapped in newspaper for my teachers. Now I’m ready for my own serious exploits into birds and blooms, and I’m privileged to be a part of this community so I can practice the best part of it all: sharing!
Hugh Powell, Science Editor at the Cornell Lab of OrnithologyAll About Birds
Hugh writes about science and conservation. He was brought up bird watching and was the only kid among four siblings for whom the hobby stuck. Hugh studied Black-backed Woodpeckers at the University of Montana and attended the science writing program at University of California, Santa Cruz. He has worked at the Cornell Lab since 2008 and is a member of their bicycle-powered World Series of Birding team, the “Anti-Petrels.” Mostly he likes to look at whatever’s outside his window, especially when he’s on deadline.
Ben Jones, director of Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas. This 120-acre preserve includes restored prairie, forest and wetland habitat and a state-of-the-art interpretive center nestled along the Trinity River in the Great Trinity Forest.
Ben grew up in Nederland, Texas between the Gulf Coast and the Big Thicket. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and a Master of Science in Veterinary Anatomy from Texas A&M University in College Station. Ben served for three years with Andersen Consulting then joined the Dallas Zoo in 1998. Over his 9 years with the zoo, he managed an interpretive staff and education animal collection. He designed educational programming, managed volunteers, and helped launch a new children’s zoo.
Claire Watson, the Cool Wave(tm) pansy spokesperson, is an expert on cool-season garden color and design. She loves keeping gardeners in-the-know on upcoming trends, plant varieties and resources.