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Our New Committee Chairs

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

Karen Rose and Dana Tyskie are now Co-Chairs of the Herb Garden. As experienced gardeners Karen and Dana are interested in expanding their knowledge beyond vegetables and when to plant them. VISTA's traditional herbs have many varieties they want to learn about, including how to care for them and in what season they grow best. Karen's and Dana's goals are to provide VISTA gardeners an abundance of herbs to use in their weekly cooking. Karen will continue in her role as Garden Steward, working one-on-one with gardeners who ask for her opinions on plants, bugs, soil, etc. Karen adds, "I really like to help new members understand how to grow successfully during our fall, winter and spring seasons." Karen took her Master Gardener classes and achieved certification in NY through Cornell's agriculture school but hasn't decided yet about Florida's master gardener training.

Dana loves that the garden provides dedicated space for communal herbs, which not only offers more space in everyone's individual gardens but also provides flavor enhancement for our veggies. With the herb garden Dana hopes to provide seasonal everyday kitchen herbs that can be harvested to accompany the fruits of your labor and elevate your food. The addition of the herb garden pergola with its shade will enable Karen and Dana to add some other herb varieties. Dana is especially looking forward to adding the tastes of her heritage such as Lovage and Salad Burnett. Any requests for your favorite herb are welcomed by Dana and Karen!

Vicki Kuse, who created and nurtured the Herb Garden to the bounty we see today, will now be devoting her energy to her primary interest, VISTA's native plants and monarch butterfly gardens. Vicki registered her first Monarch Waystation in June 2014 in Kansas City, MO. That was Waystation Number 8354. Since then, Vicki registered Waystation Number 16,787 in 2017 here in Tampa and helped get Waystation Number 27,671 registered at VISTA in 2020. Vicki is excited to see this program grow so quickly and appreciates all the efforts across the U.S. to help the Monarch butterflies thrive and survive.

A few years ago Vicki saw her first Florida native bee, which was a metallic green color that "looked so amazing on one of [her] nectar plants." Vicki is concerned about Florida's many native bees and other insects that are threatened with extinction. She wants to see VISTA's Native Landscapes continue to grow and support our native wildlife. Vicki reminds us that, "We have an opportunity to make the garden a habitat for many species of birds, butterflies, insects, bats and other wildlife." Be sure to ask Vicki your questions about butterflies and native plants at VISTA; she is a fount of knowledge. While Vicki tells us that she is not considered a Master Gardener in FL because she did not do the FL training or certification, she is a certified Master Gardener from her training in Kansas City, MO.

Your new Compost Committee Co-Chairs are Becca Petrilak and Rolfe Evenson. Their vision for the upcoming season is to continue to provide plenty of “black gold” to our VISTA members. Fulfilling that objective requires your help, our fellow VISTA members, to assist with weekly turning of the compost bins so that we have enough final product for all gardeners to amend (top dress and side dress) their raised beds. To volunteer, please contact Becca at or Rolfe at

As your new Volunteers Committee Chair, Mike Arnold's vision for the upcoming season is to provide a happy, safe and educational experience for those who volunteer while trying to make work (volunteering) fun as well. There is always work to be done at VISTA, so please feel free to contact Mike at for your projects and also to volunteer on one of the other projects. Mike and his team look forward to seeing you at the garden!

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