Powell Gardens' staff includes a talented crew of people who keep the Gardens looking spectacular and running efficiently! In addition to the horticulturists and gardeners you see in the Gardens and the friendly employees who greet you as you enter, we also have people raising funds, coordinating volunteer schedules, planning classes for kids and adults, selecting items for Perennial Gifts, maintaining the property, crunching numbers, handling human resource issues, fixing computers, coordinating rentals, publicizing the Gardens and much more. It is a small staff—for example, one department of two handles accounting, human resources and information technology. We employ 40 people year-round and nearly 60 during the peak season.
Eric Tschanz, President & CEO
What began has a summer job at Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio, turned into a life-long career in public garden management for Eric Tschanz. After earning a horticulture degree at Ohio State University he became a Fellow in the Longwood Program at the University of Delaware and Longwood Gardens. After graduating in 1977 with a Master’s degree in Botanic Garden Management, Eric returned to Cox Arboretum as the horticultural superintendent.
In 1982 he accepted the position as the first Director of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. He joined Powell Gardens in 1988, leading the organization through the first two phases of the Gardens' master plan and the installation of the Heartland Harvest Garden—the largest edible landscape in the country.
Since 1985 Eric has been an active member of the American Public Gardens Association, serving on numerous professional committees and as a board member. In 1997 he became a member of the executive committee, serving as Vice President and President. He spearheaded the development of the AABGA's Year 2000 strategic plan.
He is an honorary member of the Garden Club of America-Westport Garden Club. In 2010 Eric was honored by the American Horticultural Society with the 2010 Professional Award.
Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture
Alan joined the Powell Gardens team as Director of Horticulture in 1996, supervising all design and management of horticulture in the gardens as well as the 970 acre property’s natural resources and wildlands.
Before joining Powell Gardens he was Deputy Director of Resource Development for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District for more than 9 years. He received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University and a Master of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University with emphasis on planning, plants and garden design.
Alan is an all-around plantsman and naturalist (specializing in birds, butterflies and botany). His design for the Island Garden won the top large garden design award for use of perennials by the Perennial Plant Association. Alan also designed the permanent planting scheme for the Heartland Harvest Garden and spoke about landscaping with edible plants for the American Public Garden Association's national meeting in 2010. Alan wrote The Gardener’s Butterfly Book in 2001 and has written for Fine Gardening, Landscape Maintenance, Restoration and Management Notes and routinely for The Kansas City Gardener.
Alan joined Powell Gardens to focus on his love of detailed garden design with an unlimited palette of plants in a setting that embraces the great outdoors. He says leading the team of committed gardeners and horticulturists who make it all come together is rewarding.
Walking the gardens incognito and observing visitors' interactions with the beautiful plants and nature of the site brings great satisfaction. In his free time, Alan regularly hikes the Byron Shutz Nature Trail, not only to stay physically fit but also to enjoy the extraordinary native birds, butterflies and other wildlife and wild flora of the site.
Barbara Fetchenhier, Heartland Harvest Garden Interpreter
Seventeen years ago Barbara walked into her dream job at Powell Gardens. She still feels that way about her work. In fact, Barbara says it keeps getting better. This spring she became the Interpreter for the Heartland Harvest Garden, the nation's largest edible landscape. It is the perfect role for Barbara, who now shares her passion and enthusiasm for growing edibles with visitors through informal tours, 'Fresh Bites' demos, workshops and much more.
Barbara wants to connect with Heartland Harvest Garden visitors to ensure that they leave the Garden having learned something new or tasted something different. She invites everyone to come taste the experience!
Away from work, Barbara is a beekeeper and farmer. She and her husband Jeff run Fetchen' Honey Farm, where they sustainably grow fruits, vegetables, nuts and mushrooms, and raise poultry. She is also a Master Gardener with the Master Gardeners of Johnson County, Missouri. Barbara's farm has been featured in publications, including Nature's Garden (a Better Homes and Gardens' magazine) and was included on the Master Gardeners of Johnson County, Missouri Garden Tour in June 2012.
Anne Wildeboor, Horticulturist for Seasonal Displays & Special Events
Anne has the distinction of being the only person in the Powell Gardens horticulture department to have worked in every position available! After interning in the summer of 1998, Anne was hooked. The next summer she volunteered on the Island Garden and after graduating became the gardener at the Visitor Education Center. Soon after, she took the senior gardener position in the Perennial Garden, where she worked for four years. After a brief hiatus to work at a private estate in Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Anne returned to Powell Gardens in 2008.
Today, Anne is responsible for the conservatory displays—from generating ideas for themes to installing and maintaining the exhibits. She also oversees the Terrace Gardens, designing with the latest and greatest annuals, as well as installing and maintaining these beds. Behind the scenes, Anne is in charge of ordering all of the seed and vegetative plugs for the Gardens, which wind up everywhere from the Heartland Harvest Garden to the Spring Plant Sale.
Anne also manages logistics for many of the Gardens’ events. She helps manage butterfly and moth hatching during the Festival of Butterflies, lays out the scarecrow exhibit each fall and handles all of the lighting for the December luminary walk. Her eye for design also is put to use in creating memorable centerpieces for garden fund-raising events.
“This job keeps me on my toes and there’s always something new, fun and different to do,” Anne says.
Anne graduated from Kansas State University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a specialization in Greenhouse Management.