Meet Our Officers

Linda Gary, President

I am a lifelong lover of wild places and have worked/volunteered in the natural resources field for many years, starting with the U.S Forest Service in 1980. After we moved to Grand Rapids and I was working at Ada Township Parks, I took the Master Naturalist class and started going to Wild Ones meetings. I loved their motto of “healing the earth, one yard at a time”. Sometimes the problems of climate change and invasive species and the reduction of biodiversity seem so big and impossible to solve, but it seemed that Wild Ones had a plan to make a difference. I am retired now and have been on the Wild Ones Board for a few years, starting as a member-at-large. On the Board, I found a group of knowledgeable, friendly people who were so excited about spreading the word and helping others learn about native plants. Wild Ones River City is a great place to learn, find people with the same passions, and have a great time!

Elise Lillmars Roe, Vice President

My love of the environment predates my time at Alma College as a biology major. A plant taxonomy class forever seared into my mind a love for native plants. While I pursued physical therapy after I left Alma, I continued to be involved in environmental issues. Moving to Grand Rapids in 1980, I worked as a volunteer at WMEAC doing stream monitoring and clean ups. In 1998, I became part of a land preservation task force in Ada Township which eventually led to the adoption of the Ada Open Space Preservation Plan and a dedicated millage for this purpose. This led to a board position on the Open Space Preservation Advisory Board and the Parks Rec and Land Preservation Board in Ada Township.  I served on the board of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan in the early 2000s and became a Master Naturalist in 2009. In 2016, my husband and I planted two, 35 ft. x 5 ft. parking lot islands with native plants at Central Reformed Church. We have also planted a large native prairie on our property and put in native plants in the landscaping around our house. One of my passions is working to eliminate invasive plants on our property and in Seidman Park, which is right outside our back door.  I have been a member of Wild Ones River City for a number of years, but have just recently decided to become more involved. I hope to contribute to the organization as VP and also increase my own knowledge of native plants.

I am married to Tom Roe and we have 3 grown children and 7 grandkids. I am a retired physical therapist who spent the last 24 years of my career working with physically challenged children. I love the state’s natural areas and spend time hiking, biking, paddling a kayak and always looking for invasives to eradicate.

Linda Shuster, Secretary

I have been gardening since I was a doctoral student, growing vegetables in a little plot behind my apartment building. I was certified as a Master Gardener when I was living in West Virginia. We were fortunate to have wonderful instructors from the West Virginia University College of Agriculture for our Master Gardener classes. I became interested in growing native plants in 1997, when we purchased a home in West Virginia on 2+ acres where the previous family had grown native plants. We also inherited a variety of fruit producing plants, including blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. We had a large garden where we grew (organically) many different vegetables and herbs, including eggplants, kale and lettuces, asparagus, squash, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Our property was a haven for birds, and that was where I first became interested in improving my ability to identify birds.

I am a Certified Master Rain Gardener. I completed the Washtenaw County Master Rain Gardener class online and a requirement for certification was to create a rain garden. We created a rain garden that filters runoff from our driveway, and we have learned about the challenges associated with rain gardens. They do need to be watered when we have a very dry summer!

I am a speech-language pathologist who spent most of my life in academia, first at West Virginia University, then at Grand Valley State University and finally at Western Michigan University. My teaching, research, and clinical practice focus is mainly in the area of adult acquired neurogenic communication disorders. These are speech and language disorders caused by problems such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease. For many years I have been interested in supporting native plants and animals, and Wild Ones has provided a great opportunity for doing so.

Angela Violet, Treasurer

I come from a long line of farmers and gardeners, and my love of plants and nature started early. I grew up in the countryside surrounded by fields, and my summer vacations were spent camping in the woods and visiting family in the Upper Peninsula. My parents taught me how to plant, weed, and harvest our large vegetable garden. When I was in high school, I grew herbs in my bedroom, collected dandelions to make homemade tea, and got my family started with recycling. The oregano that I planted in my parent’s yard as a teenager is still growing strong today!

I learned about invasive species while volunteering at Eco-Steward Workdays at Blandford Nature Center. After that, I identified several invasives in my yard and started clearing them out and adding more natives plus a no-till vegetable garden and perennial herb garden.I heard about Wild Ones at one of the local plant sales and joined in 2021. I attended a tour of Michigan Wildflower Farm and got hooked on seed collecting. I gathered wildflower seeds and sowed them in a recently cleared spot in my yard, and was thrilled to see native plants filling the area the next season. While I’m really just at the beginning of the transformation of my yard, witnessing the improving habitat has been extremely gratifying.

I have a professional background in human resources, accounting, and operations. I currently work part-time in a mix of bookkeeping, consulting, and HR roles, and am fortunate to see my love of plants expressed indirectly through my work with H.O.P.E. Gardens and Moondrop Herbals. I am a weekly land stewardship volunteer at Blandford and am an active member of WMEAC’s Environmental Book Club and KDL’s Ethics Book Club. I received my Naturalist certification from MSU in 2023. As a lifelong learner, I enjoy the opportunity to deepen my understanding of the world and am glad to be part of the Wild Ones community devoted to sharing knowledge and caring for the earth.