The Heritage Garden program is growing throughout the Columbia Basin with seven conservation districts and three native plant society chapters participating. Developed by the Benton Conservation District in partnership with the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, the program is designed to honor the cultural and natural heritage of the Columbia River Basin while utilizing sustainable gardening practices. The Heritage Garden program transforms traditional landscapes into beautiful pollinator-friendly native plant gardens. Join us to learn how this program was developed, how different areas of the basin are implementing the program and be inspired by photos of established gardens and wildlife that call these gardens home.
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Assistant Manager·Benton and Franklin Conservation Districts
Heather Wendt is the co-creator, and Director of the Heritage Garden (HG) Program. She is also the co-author of the Plant Selection Guide, Heritage Gardens of the Columbia River Basin. Heather has worked for conservation districts since 1997. She currently serves as the Assistant Manager for both the Benton and Franklin Conservation Districts, and she is responsible for implementing the HG Program in Benton and Franklin Counties. Heather also serves as the Co-Chair of the Columba Basin Chapter WNPS.
Program Coordinator·Yakima Heritage Garden
Kelsey Kelmel is the Yakima Heritage Garden Program Coordinator. She also works for a native plant nursery where she grows native and drought tolerant species. Kelsey loves to connect folks to the local shrub-steppe flora and is actively involved in the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society. She is currently in the midst of converting her brother’s lawn of Bermuda grass into a native, drought tolerant landscape and is an avid food gardener with an affinity for vermicomposting aka worm bins.
Project Manager·Columbia Basin CD
Dinah Rouleau, Project Manager at Columbia Basin CD, has spent most of her life in both Grant and Adams Counties. Shortly after graduating from Whitworth in 2020 with a Plant Biology degree, she started working for the Columbia Basin Conservation District. She currently lives in Ritzville with her husband, three horses, three dogs and several reptiles. Dinah’s favorite native forb is Lewis’ Flax.
Resource Specialist·Cascadia Conservation District
Elizabeth Jackson joined Cascadia Conservation District as a Resource Specialist in February 2021. Her main programs include Heritage Gardens in Chelan County, agricultural landowner assistance and cost-share, urban agriculture, irrigation efficiencies, Salmon Safe certifications, and education and outreach for adults and youth. She earned a master’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from Oregon State University in 2021. Currently, she is a member of Wenatchee Valley Chapter WNPS. Elizabeth enjoys traveling, gardening, hiking, and caring for foster animals on her urban ranch.
Resource Technician·Kittitas County Conservation District
Wendy Mee has called Kittitas County home for over 50 years. She is a CWU graduate with a BS in Biology with a Horticultural Specialization. Wendy holds a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning 2003 from Utah State University. Her thesis project was the publication of Water Wise: Native Plants for Intermountain West Landscapes. Wendy currently works as a Resource Technician for the Kittitas County Conservation District. Her duties include providing landowner assistance with wildlife and pollinator plantings, riparian plantings, Firewise home assessments and fuel reduction efforts and the Heritage Garden program.