About Our Chapter

Our History

We were founded in December 1998, and have been making friends and community ever since. Although our Chapter is small in size, it is large in leadership and enthusiasm. Our members have served as officers and committee chairs for the Florida Native Plant Society almost continuously since the Chapter's inception. Currently, member Gene Kelly serves as Government Policy Chair for the Society, and contributing member Annie Schmidt serves as Conservation Chair.

About our Board and Committee Chairs

The Hernando Chapter Officers are elected each year in November, for a maximum of four consecutive terms. The Committee Chairs are selected by the President and serve at the pleasure of the President. All committees welcome volunteers of all interest areas and talents. To read more about it, see Hernando Chapter Bylaws!

Vince Morris – President

I am proud to be a founding member of the Hernando Chapter which got rolling the year of my daughter's birth, 1999. Here in Hernando County we've got it all – sandhills, coastal marshes, and all the other landscapes of the Brooksville Ridge. For several years I served on the Hernando County Sensitive Lands Advisory Committee on behalf of Forestry; I was an Ecologist with the Florida Forest Service for many years before recently becoming a Supervisor. You may have heard about our success in managing the Croom tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest for red-cockaded woodpeckers, and our success in establishing them in our forest. I'm also engaged in controlling all of the invasive exotic plant invaders that have made their way into our public lands.   

Jason LaRoche – Vice President

I have now been a member of the Hernando Chapter for many years, and am now Vice President since I termed out as board secretary for our Chapter. I live in Shady Hills area of Spring Hill with numerous misfit animals. I am a Florida native (like my plants) who grew up in Hudson with my folks and three brothers. My mother is mostly to credit for instilling my love and appreciation for gardening and nature from an early age. Growing up, I spent countless hours out in the Florida woods with my family and friends but it was not until my later years that I fully realized how fragile and precious natural Florida was. I ultimately decided to steer my life and career towards natural sciences to try and protect our natural resources and environment. Being a member of FNPS, and especially this chapter, has proven to be a perfect vehicle for my ambitions as a steward of natural Florida as well as my long-time love of plants.

 Mikel (Miki) Renner – Chapter Representative

Although I'm not quite a native – I moved to the State at 9 years old – one of my longest running avocations has been Florida ecology with emphasis on plants. I've lived in Miami, Homestead, Micanopy, Gainesville and outside Brooksville and have traveled extensively throughout the State. Florida's unique habitats provide me solace and healing and I hope to give back a modicum of what I get. I also served as an environmental – water resource – planner by trade for over 25 years – through my profession I sought to make other's aware of the fragility of this magnificent State. Having traveled in Central America, the Caribbean, much of the U.S., Europe and China I still think Florida is one of the closest places to paradise we have. Let's get out there and teach others, but mostly appreciate our marvelous state in all we do.

Janet Grabowski – Treasurer

Janet Grabowski has been the Manager at the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Brooksville Plant Materials Center (PMC) in Brooksville, Florida since May of 2005. She began her career with the agency in 1991, where she worked as a Biologist and Research Agronomist at the Jamie L. Whitten PMC in Coffeeville, Mississippi. During her tenure with NRCS, she has gained extensive experience in native seed production and plant restoration methods. She has BS and MS degrees in Horticulture from the University of Illinois.

James Clayton – VP for Events
Working on our Chapter Events is perfect for a guy who can't stand to miss anything. This is the same quality I brought to my stint as Chapter Rep for the Hernando Chapter. By day, I am a geologist at the South West Florida Water Management District, and I enjoy proving that native plants can survive abuse in my Hernando landscape.

Heather Sharkey – Secretary

Bruce Vanderveen – Membership and Web

Bruce Vanderveen has been an avid plant enthusiast since the 1970's. He has a Master's Degree in Plant Ecology from the University of South Dakota. Photography is one of Bruce's passions (especially plants of course). Now semi-retired, Bruce enjoys Eco-travel with his wife Linda - both in the U.S. and Central America. Bruce is a long time member of the Hernando Native Plant Society and presently works with the website and membership.

Vince Morris President
Jason LaRoche, Vice-President 
Janet Grabowski, Treasurer
Heather Sharkey, Secretary
Miki Renner, Chapter Representative
Committee Chairs
Heather Sharkey, Field Trips and Projects 
James Clayton, Public Events 
Vince Schledt, Programs
Bruce Vanderveen, Webmaster, Membership 
Cindy Liberton, Public Relations & Media
Rita Grant, Propogators