Children’s Garden Committee member bios

Members of the Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee come from many different backgrounds, professional and personal experiences! The bios below are listed in order of how long each member has been part of the committee:

Emily Bishton: Communications Leader/ Webmaster/Design Team member.  Emily grew up in a gardening family in the urban Midwest, and arrived in Seattle in 1977.   During her career in home remodeling, she began volunteering as a garden teacher at Dunlap Elem, and then took the 1996 King County Master Gardener training.  This “light bulb moment” led to a career change, horticulture school, and 23 years as a landscape designer and environmental educator.  Emily joined the Children’s Garden Committee in 2003, and served as chair from 2012-2017.  In 2005, she also founded the Magnuson Community Center Nature Programs, and served as its director and lead educator until retiring from it in the fall of 2017.  Though she now lives in a tiny village near the Arizona-Mexico border, she still teaches online sustainable gardening classes for many Puget Sound entities, volunteers for the Children’s Garden Committee though the monthly e-newsletter, website, and in person during visits to Seattle.  She says, “The Children’s Garden will always be a home for me, and I love being there with all the volunteers, kids, and families!” Emily is also a member of the Design Team, which works on planning new features for the garden, and the Mural Team which worked with artist Sandy Bricel Miller and 85 youth to create 2 new murals for the garden.  Here she is in the Children’s Garden P-Patch plot with a local girl scout troop.

Tina Kaempfer: Worm Bin Co-leader. Tina’s childhood included many visits to Sand Point Naval Air Station, where her father was stationed from 1952 until 1962.  Decades later, walking through the Children’s Garden created a beautiful surprise when she realized that it had been built in the same area where her father’s work station had been!  It also delighted her young granddaughter, who she later enrolled in Magnuson Nature Programs’ summer camps for 8 years.   Tina began volunteering in the Children’s Garden in 2006, was a Magnuson Nature Programs docent from 2014-2017, and says, “Many friends and lovely memories have been made here”.  She retired in 2014 after 24 years in special education and ELL in the Shoreline School District, and now brings her youngest granddaughter with her to the park.  Tina is also an expert at giving the “TLC treatment” to the Children’s Garden worm bin!  Here she is with kids at a Magnuson Nature Programs summer camp.

Loie Hanson: Volunteer Coordinator/Children’s Garden Representative to the MG Garden Leaders Team/Design Team member. Loie grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, in the heart of farm country.  Her dad kept a large fruit and vegetable garden, and her two aunts both had huge vegetable, fruit, and flower gardens on their farms and provided fresh arrangements for their church altar.  Loie spent many a day each summer on the farms, enjoying helping tend both of those bountiful gardens.  She moved to Seattle in 1970 to be with friends, and has been here ever since, with a long career in nursing.  Loie became a King County Master Gardener in 2008, joined the Children’s Garden Committee soon afterward, and became Refreshments Leader in 2017.   She also was a volunteer docent with Magnuson Nature Programs for two years, and says, “Now I like to share my love of gardening with my grandchildren as well as with Magnuson Children’s Garden visitors!”  Loie also represents the Children’s Garden on the Master Gardener Program “Garden Leadership Team” to advocate on its behalf and provide good communication between the two entities.  In addition, she recently took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator and is a member of the Design Team!  Here she is showing new volunteers the “clean green” yard waste area at a fall stewardship event.

Debi Quirk: Health & Safety Leader.  Debi moved to Seattle in 1980 to start graduate school, and fell in love with the Pacific NW.  She has been a registered nurse for over 40 years and currently works as a Patient Advocate.  She graduated from the King Co. Master Gardener Program in early 2015, and has been involved with the Magnuson Children’s Garden ever since.  Debi also was a volunteer docent with Magnuson Nature Programs for three years, and says, “I love seeing the kids in awe of nature: the birds, frogs, butterflies, dragonflies, beavers, and what grows in the garden, and it has been an amazing experience for me too!”  Here she is with kids at a 2017 Magnuson Nature Programs summer camp.

Eric Sladky: Infrastructure Leader. Eric graduated from the UW School of Landscape Architecture in 1984, and was an Instructor of Landscape Design at Bellevue Community College from 1985-1996, all the while running his own landscape design and construction business. He joined a Seattle Architecture firm from 1997-2010 as a landscape architect, and is currently self-employed and specializing in design and development.  In spring 2016, Eric graduated from the King Co. Master Gardener Program and “jumped in” to the Children’s Garden with both feet, volunteering to become Infrastructure Leader only a year later! His irrigation system management and plant care expertise are major elements in the garden’s good health and wise use of resources.  Here he is on the left in khaki shorts, at one of our springtime stewardship events.

Sarah Winkowski: Treasurer/Education Co-leader.  Sarah made her way to Seattle from Virginia, looking for new experiences and in pursuit of a degree in museum studies.  With a background in wildlife conservation, she feels deeply about the significance of providing others the opportunity to connect to and become curious about nature.  She says, “As a child, I spent countless hours in the woods. The leaves, the trees, the soil, and the creatures I found there were endlessly fascinating to me. As a young adult, being out in nature helped me to find a sense of calm and mindful focus.  As an undergraduate, I felt rootless until I found a program where I could continue to explore my captivation with the natural world, where entire classes were spent outdoors in the soft slopes of the Appalachian Mountains learning to listen to the birds and to read the twigs of the trees”. 

Upon arriving in Seattle, she was excited to find the Children’s Garden, became a committee member in fall 2017, and immediately began volunteering at events and nature walks.  She has also been using her wonderful graphics skills and creative energies to design new signage and educational activities for the garden. In 2019, Sarah took on the role of Treasurer, completed her Masters in Museology at the UW, and began work as Visitor Services Coordinator at The Burke Museum!  Then in 2021, she added Education Co-leader to her volunteering! Here she is exploring and enjoying the Olympic Peninsula rainforest.

Wanqin Su: Social Media Leader/Design Team member. Having lived in Xiamen, Shanghai, Louisiana, and the Bay Area, Su moved to Seattle in 2017 to become a landscape architect. She has since fallen in love with the beautiful environment around here. As a designer, she’s deeply fascinated with the interaction between humans and the environment we live in, especially how they influence each other over time. Her experience in Louisiana and Shanghai has made her more and more interested in environmental justice and creating public space for all.
She joined the Children’s Garden Committee in 2020 to participate in the effort to bring an edible garden called the Snack House, which was requested by our young visitors, into reality.  Now that it is complete, she is helping lead the Design Team in the re-design of the whole south end of the garden to make its pathways more accessible for visitors of all ages and abilities.  She also volunteered on the Mural Team to ensure that the new pathways and the new mural kiosk fit together well. The skills she brings to the team include 3D modeling, landscape design and graphic design.  She has also recently taken on on the Social Media Leader position.  Here she is enjoying a beautiful day in Gas Work Park!

Shannon Poll: Food Garden Co-Leader/Design Team member.  Shannon was born and raised in Western Washington, and spent her childhood tending to the land of her grandparent’s farm in Yelm, WA. This is where she developed a love for the garden, animals, and growing edibles. She thinks you can have a garden anywhere, and even grew vegetables in a small apartment at the University of Washington!  At her current Seattle home, Shannon took out the lawn grass and created a garden where she teaches her children and local preschoolers about gardening and worm composting

After a career in business and finance, she is pursuing a landscape design degree at Edmonds Community College, and started volunteering at the Children’s Garden in the spring of 2020 after completing the Master Gardener training.  She fell in love with the garden and has been busy incorporating more edibles into the landscape. She cannot wait to work with children and teach the public when our public programs are able to begin again!

Coming soon! Bios of other new members:

Carol Laurier: Food Garden Co-Leader/Design Team member

Bridget Sachse: Refreshments Leader/Design Team member

Rita Anderson: Irrigation assistant/Design Team member

Emeritus Members:

Cindy Hazard:  Cindy is a longtime Seattle-area landscape designer who got involved in the creation of Magnuson Community Garden in 1999, a short time after graduating from the King Co. Master Gardener program.   She then co-founded the Children’s Garden Committee in 2001, and led the initial community design charrettes with children and parents that resulted in many of the garden’s main features, such as the Lookout hill and Rolling Lawn, Tide Pool and Bog Gardens, and a selection of a wide variety of interesting-looking and wildlife-attracting plants.  In 2004, she and Emily led additional design charrettes with children that resulted in the addition of the mosaic Salmon Survival Path and the most iconic garden feature, the Grey Whale Garden.  Cindy chaired the Children’s Garden Committee for its first 10 years, and established many of our vital community partnerships.  Happily, she has remained involved to consult with us on the garden design and infrastructure, to help guide the garden into the future!  Here she is in turquoise shirt, at the end of one of the dozens of garden stewardship events she led during the garden’s first 15 years.

Christina Pfeiffer: Chris is a longtime Seattle-area horticulturist consulting arborist, and instructor, and was a founding member of the Children’s Garden Committee in 2001. She co-led the original community design charrettes with Cindy Hazard (see above) and dozens of stewardship events that planted the majority of its trees and shrubs.  Besides serving on the CG Committee for over a decade, Chris served as president of the Magnuson Community Garden board for several years. She is currently volunteering on the Plant Amnesty Education Committee, and under her guidance has begun hosting pruning education classes for professional landscapers in the Children’s Garden. Throughout the past 10 years, she has remained involved in the Children’s Garden to consult with the committee on the garden design, proper pruning methods, tree health, and much more. She has also “adopted” the Willow House as a special project. We are so lucky to have her sage advice and help in guiding the Children’s Garden into the future! 

Joy Naganuma: In 2012, Joy began volunteering in the Children’s Garden and as a docent with Magnuson Nature Programs, and says, “Many years ago, I became a King Co. Master Gardener because I love learning and sharing ways to grow plants with other people.  More and more, this has focused on growing edible plants with kids and their families.  It’s fun, exciting, and delicious to eat what we grow together too!  Also, fresh food from plants is healthy and nutritious!”  Here she is with some very dedicated kids at a 2017 stewardship event.

Carol Furry: Retiring after 20 years as a middle school science teacher in the Seattle Public Schools, Carol was able to continue her interest in teaching children when she discovered Magnuson Nature Programs.  She was one of the first group of Nature Docents in January 2011, and volunteered for the following 7 years at camps, classes, field trips, nature walks, and more.  She is an expert on aquatic insects and other invertebrates, and made significant contributions to the nature programs curricula throughout that time.  Carol joined the Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee in 2017 to continue bringing the word about the environment to children, and dedicated dozens of volunteer hours as a member of the Mural Team throughout 2021, assisting artist Sandy Bricel Miller and 85 local youth in the creation of the 2 wonderful new murals.  She is also a volunteer educator with Seattle Audubon and a tutor with Literacy Source, likes to read, and says, ” I like to travel, especially when the goal is bird-watching!”. Here she is with kids at the 2016 Magnuson Nature Programs winter break camp.

Becky Gawin:   Becky holds degrees in Secondary Education and Management from Arizona State University.After careers in secondary education, human resources and airport management, Becky longed to leave the arid Southwest for a greener environment.   In 2015, that desire became a reality.  After moving to Mukilteo, WA, Becky joined the Magnuson Nature Programs as a volunteer docent. In addition to working with student groups, Becky developed fact-sheets on wildlife and other nature topics for use by the program.  She has now found her way to Whidbey Island, where she has been working hard to improve the soil condition of the glacial till upon which her home sits.  Becky is happiest when her hands are working the soil, but admittedly has lots to learn in her new environment. 

When she’s not working the dirt, Becky has a camera in her hand.  When she joined the Children’s Garden Committee in 2020, she took on the assignment of Photo Documentarian, which gives her an outlet for her lifelong photography passion. In 2021 she also took on the role of Social Media Leader, and though she has now “passed that baton” on to Su, her wonderful photos are still featured trhoughout our Facebook page. Here she is enjoying a field of Lupine flowers overlooking the waters of Puget Sound!

Other past members we’d like to acknowledge for their wonderful contributions to the committee: Sarah Heater, Tanya White, Kelly Angell, Sandra Solack, and Heather Lecrone.

Thanks to all members of the Children’s Garden Committee between 2001 and today! Each has given so much of their time, energy, and creativity and made very special contributions to the garden itself as well as to our events!