Instructors

Alex Abate graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Computer Science. Ever since he bought his first Macintosh computer in 1984 he has been nuts about Apple products—he was one of those crazy people in line when the first iPhone came out. As a nature and landscape photographer, he loves using his iPhone camera to capture the beauty of the world around him, and his iPad to edit and share those photos. He is looking forward to sharing his knowledge of the iPhone and iOS devices to help everyone get the most out of their devices.

Ricardo Aberle, a native of El Salvador, followed in his father’s footsteps as a watercolor artist. He became seriously involved with the medium after moving to Florida as a young adult. As the Grounds Supervisor at Fairchild, he has endless opportunities to capture his subjects in photographs, and spends many hours in his home studio on weekends completing his masterpieces. He is a recipient of many awards and recently spent a month at Monet’s Garden in Giverny combining both his love of horticulture and his passion for painting.

Philip Bermingham, born in Great Britain and now living in Washington, D.C., has photographed numerous world leaders, as well as members of Britain’s royal family. He is particularly well known for his beautiful and relaxed portraits of children and families taken both at home and abroad. For more information visit his website at www.Philipbermingham.com

Dan Bondroff has a B.S. in Art/Visual Communication from Towson University. Working with pastels, he enjoys capturing those often overlooked and fleeting moments that occur in the natural world. He also looks forward to guiding his students as they make their own discoveries.

Bob Brennan is a fifty-plus year resident of Coconut Grove, where he and his wife, Eileen, have raised their three children while giving back to the community in many areas. As a Certified Arborist, Bob is happy to share his forty years of knowledge about proper tree care and proud to be the Arborist at Fairchild.

Christopher Bulgarin, a graduate of Johnson and Wales, is well-versed in the workings of the Florida cuisine community. Chef and owner of Delicious Catering, he has worked with many local chefs, taught classes and made guest appearances on television.

Helen Burgos has studied in England and the U.S. She holds an M.F.A. from FIU, where she is an adjunct professor who teaches drawing and painting. She has been teaching her popular drawing and oils classes at Fairchild for nine years.

Richard J. Campbell is the Director of Horticulture at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. A native of South Florida with deep experience in tropical fruits draws on his years of travel and experience collecting and researching tropical fruit in Asia and the Americas to provide the latest information, quality trees and tropical fruit tastes to an enthusiastic public. He has authored over a hundred scientific and popular articles on fruit culture in the last decade, as well as, three books, “Mangos: A Guide to Mangos in Florida (1992) and “Tropical Mangos: How to Grow the World’s Most Delicious Fruit (2002).

Shirley Drevich received a BFA from Tulane University. For almost the last few years, Shirley has devoted her time to iPhone Photography. She is an internationally recognized iPhoneographer and has exhibited her work in numerous exhibitions around the country and also in Naples, Italy.

Betty Eber has been cultivating and collecting orchids for many years and recently completed a UF Orchidology course. Past president of the Orchid Society of Coral Gables, she is a popular speaker and won 1st prize in the International Orchid Festival held at Fairchild earlier this year.

Everglades National Park Rangers in addition to working with Fairchild in conjunction with our Lifelong Learning classes, Everglades National Park Rangers carry out various tasks associated with forest fire control, gathering and dissemination of natural, historical, or scientific information, the demonstration of folk art and crafts, enforcement of laws and regulations, investigation of violations, search and rescue efforts and the management of historical, cultural, and natural resources. They are also responsible for the operation of campgrounds and providing information to visitors.

Elaine Farquharson, formerly a horticultural technician at the Broward County Extension Service, has been growing tomatoes for over ten years. An experienced teacher who has mastered the technique of growing tomatoes in South Florida, she is eager to share the secret of her success with others.

Martin Feather was born in England and trained as a horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He worked at the London Butterfly House in the mid 1980’s and has since travelled extensively designing and managing butterfly and other invertebrate exhibits from Scotland to Hawaii to Texas. Fairchild is thrilled to have him as the Butterfly Exhibit Manager of “Wings of the Tropics” exhibit in the Clinton Family Conservatory.

Thaddeus Foote’s passion is helping people learn to love the outdoors. A program coordinator for the Fairchild Challenge, he has taught outdoor education classes for 20 years, including many months’ worth of camping trips. He especially loves working with and inspiring children—since, not so long ago, he was one himself.

Dottie Greene is a signature member of both the Florida and National Watercolor Societies. Her love for the natural world began at an early age and is a central theme in her art. She has taught people of all ages and Fairchild is proud to have her as an instructor in our lifelong learning program.

Maida Yap Jimenez is an experienced flower artist with a B.A. in Advertising and Graphic Design. She brings all the colors and energy of her native country of Panama to her paintings.

Billo Jolly has been teaching Indian cuisine at Fairchild for over five years. She co-owned Taste of India and Punjab Palace restaurants. She has taught Indian cooking at Bobbie and Carole’s Cook Shop and at the MDC Kendall Campus.

Diane V. Jones, a lifetime crafter who has been beading for over ten years and has studied with some of the most famous bead artists in the United States. She started teaching in 2011 and is a very popular and incredibly patient instructor. Plus an obsessive bead collector!

Peter Kouchalakos is a past president of the Bromeliad Society of South Florida and the Pan American Orchid Society, a Certified Horticultural Professional with the Florida Nursery Growers Association, and a Coral Gables native. Peter has been growing bromeliads for over 15 years.

Pedro Lastra realized his passion for photography in high school, and later served as Brown University’s yearbook photo editor. Having left a successful 12-year international corporate career, he is currently pursuing his deferred vocation as a photographer, digital photo printer and digital darkroom expert. A world traveler, his award-winning photographs have appeared on numerous magazine covers.

Leana Loh received her B.S. in Advertising/Marketing from FIU as well as her A.A. in Fashion Design from AI Miami International University of Art and Design. With over 10 years of experience, she has exceptional marketing and social media skills and a keen ability to pull generations together when teaching them these modern day marketing techniques.

Monica Lima-Mirones has worked for over ten years as a professional calligrapher and illustrator. Through her company, “A Bit of Ink”, she has created artwork and hand-lettered calligraphy for special events, original commissioned pieces and advertising. She has devoted years to closely studying the works of the master penmen of the past, and she travels the country to continue learning from modern day lettering masters. An active member of the South Florida Calligraphy Guild and I.A.M.P.E.T.H., she thoroughly enjoys sharing with others her knowledge of the fascinating art of calligraphy.

Thomas Mann has been an active part of the contemporary craft movement for over 42 years. As an artist, sculptor, gallery owner and lecturer, he is best known for his Techno.Romantic work—a design system that combines industrial aesthetics and materials with romantic themes and imagery. Tom lives and works in New Orleans where he oversees a jewelry design and production studio, a sculpture studio and a gallery.

Chris Migliaccio teaches natural science at Miami-Dade College and has taught palm and native plant classes at Fairchild for many years.

Martin Motes is the president of Motes Orchids, a hybridizer and the author of Vandas, Their Botany, History and Culture and his newest book, Florida Vanda Growing: Month by Month. He has observed wild orchids worldwide.

Pamela Palma is an accomplished textile designer and teacher. She holds a B.S. in Design and an M. S. in Nonprofit Management. She is an innately talented, a visual artist who has enjoyed designing in multiple mediums since early childhood. Her colorful hand dyed, hand woven and printed fabrics are inspired by nature and created in her studio on Miami Beach.

Diana Pena, Elementary Programs Assistant in the Education Department, works with The Fairchild Challenge for Elementary Schools and coordinates field studies programs for school groups in grades Pre-K through 5th grade. Diana loves plants, gardening, the outdoors and taking photographs of all that is around to see.

Linda Richman is a multi-talented artist living in South Florida. She enjoys many forms of handwork, including painting and doll making, Kumihimo, bead weaving and metalsmithing. She is president of the South Florida Jewelry Arts Guild and for 25 years has been teaching art, in many different forms, to children and adults,.

Carlos Somoza is passionate about the craft and design of elegant gardens. After practicing landscape architecture in Washington, D.C. for more than 12 years, he returned to his native Florida and opened a private design studio specializing in subtropical gardens. Carlos is an avid photographer and frequently visits private estates and specialty nurseries for design inspiration and photographic opportunities. He is currently a private consultant to numerous landscape contractors and architects in Miami, Florida.

Deedee Skigen is a college professor by day and consummate crafter by night. She enjoys teaching and is happy to share her crafting secrets with her students. She works in fiber and metal. Examples of her work can be seen at the Florida craftsmen Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Lanette Sobel is the co-founder of the Fertile Earth Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to environmental awareness and environmentally focused research. Her dream is to bring commercial composting to Miami-Dade.

Johnson Teh, executive chef of Lan Pan-Asian Café and Yuga Restaurant in Coral Gables, specializes in East Asian cuisine. Chef Teh has over 20 years of culinary experience, including cooking at the Mandarin in Beverly Hills.

Donna Torres has an M.F.A. from FIU and is an accomplished botanical illustrator. She draws on her extensive travels for inspiration. Mrs. Torres has been teaching botanical illustration courses at Fairchild for nine years.

Alison Walker, Fairchild Youth Education Manager, has a B.S. in Plant Sciences and an M.S. in Entomology. While studying at the University of Florida and while working at the US Department of Agriculture, she conducted extensive research on the biological control of exotic and invasive pests in Florida. Alison, an avid gardener, teaches workshops for local school and community garden groups.

Jeff Wasielewski has taught horticulture classes for over 17 years at Fairchild and Miami-Dade College. He is also a horticultural consultant with a master’s degree in education. Jeff has held positions at Fairchild as a horticulturist and as the Assistant Curator of Tropical Fruit. He currently works in the marketing department as an editor, writer and videographer.

Lynda Wellens graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in art and a master’s degree in education. She is a member of the Florida Watercolor Society and Grove House Gallery. Lynda is also a signature member of the Miami Watercolor Society and has won several awards in the society’s shows, including first place in the recent spring show. She has also won awards in other local shows. Lynda loves to teach and enjoys assisting students as they prepare for their exciting journeys into various forms of watercolor painting.

Lynn Yuhr was raised in Coconut Grove (living on a boat for 13 of those years). Now a retired geologist, she is embracing art jewelry and exploring the wide variety of mediums that can be used. She began playing in polymer clay several years ago and loves to incorporate it with more traditional mediums, such as bead weaving, wirework and metals.

Marcelle Zanetti has a B.S. in Painting and Art Education from Southern Connecticut State University and attended the University of Massachusetts. Represented by galleries nationwide during the past 25 years, her paintings are in permanent museum, corporate and private collections. See www.marcellezanetti.com for more information.