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Meet the Instructors


Within each area of adult education classes, the Desert Botanical Garden has assembled a team of experts to teach the exciting programs we offer.

Use the links with the letters below to search for a specific instructor by last name and to learn more about their experience and interests.

a | b | d | e | f | h | k | m

To sign-up for a class, visit the Classes & Trip page.

Rachel Albert

  • Teaches: Cooking and Wellness

Rachel Albert, has led over a thousand cooking and nutrition classes in eight states. A natural foods chef, cooking instructor, and freelance food and health writer for more than 25 years, Rachel has published widely in national and regional periodicals. Her publications include The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten-Free Cookies, Compotes & Sauces and The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet & Cookbook. She leads group and private cooking classes and cooking parties. Some of her great recipes and other resources can be found on her blog. She enjoys connecting with Desert Botanical Garden students as she shares their appreciation for herbs, gardening, ecology, and cooking and eating home cooked, fresh, local and artisan foods.

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Kristen Battafarano

  • Teaches: Landscape and Gardening

In 1996, Kristen Battafarano was invited to help a new found friend at his three acre organic farm—she was hooked. Since then, Kristen has managed five organic school gardens throughout the Phoenix area and co-organized two local food festivals to promote sustainable agriculture. Kristen’s 17 years of horticultural experience includes landscape supervisor, landscape designer, florist, and plant biologist for the National Park Service. Kristen brings her expertise to the Desert Botanical Garden as an instructor specializing in organic, edible landscaping. Her own yard is an urban farm, designed to teach and inspire sustainable garden living.

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Martha Burgess

  • Teaches: Cooking and Wellness and Explorations in Natural Sciences

Ethnobotanist and artist Martha Ames Burgess began her career in the sciences, studying desert ecology, geology, archaeology and tree-ring dating at University of Arizona. Martha was “adopted” by a Tohono O’odham elder who fostered her learning of the traditional uses of our Sonoran Desert plants, their names in the Native tongue, proper collection and preparation for food and medicine, as well as how to grow indigenous crops. Martha has founded the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s field study program and has worked with the conservation organization Native Seeds/SEARCH since its inception. She uses watercolors as well as words to express appreciation for the desert’s flora and habitats.

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Pierre Deviche

  • Teaches: Explorations in Natural Sciences

Pierre Deviche is a professor of environmental physiology in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Liege, Belgium. Pierre has studied odonates (dragonflies) in Arizona since 2005 and traveled widely throughout the Arizona to find, identify, and photograph them. Pierre is the author of the website on Arizona odonates. He has extensive experience teaching various audiences and leading field trips. Pierre’s interests also include birding and wildlife photography.

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John Eisenhower

  • Teaches: Landscape and Gardening

John Eisenhower is the owner of Integrity Tree Service in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is an ISA Certified Arborist®, Master Gardener and Certified Tree Care Safety Professional. He is a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, Past President of the Arizona Community Tree Council and holds a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. John enjoys working with trees and teaching others how to care for them. Facilitating adult classes at the Desert Botanical Garden is a special pleasure, because of the high level of student interest and commitment to proper tree care and sustainable landscape practices.

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Ken Furtado

  • Teaches: Cooking and Wellness / Explorations in Natural Sciences / Education through Travel and Adventure

With a formal background in chemistry, computer science, wildlife biology, and geology, Ken Furtado is a versatile instructor who is passionate about lifelong learning. He has taught grades 7-12, community college, as well as college students. Upon moving to the Southwest, Ken found himself profoundly influenced by his love of its flora, fauna, and landforms. This is reflected in everything in his life, from his cooking and recreational choices to his garden and home décor. At the Desert Botanical Garden, Ken teaches variety of subjects, inviting his students to learn more about the local environment. Ken’s love of cooking began early in life and his style and experience is heavily influenced by his Portuguese and Italian heritage and his many years living in the Valley.

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Elaine Hultgren

  • Teaches: Photography and Art

Elaine Hultgren graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art, four-year program, with a major in painting and a minor in printmaking. Elaine’s interest in scientific illustration and art led her to complete the program in Botanical Art and Illustration at the Desert Botanical Garden. Illustrating and painting plants make the perfect marriage of right and left brain activity for Elaine. It allows her to combine her extensive drawing and painting skills with her lifelong curiosity about all things botanical. She lives her dream illustrating plants at the herbarium at the Garden and also teaching botanical drawing, painting, nature sketching and journaling with a special emphasis on Sonoran lizards and beetles.

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  • Teaches: Photography and Art

Arizona native Christine Keith brings an appreciation of art and photojournalism to her classes at the Desert Botanical Garden. Her love of being in the wilderness shaped her early work. Using a 4 x 5 camera, she published pictures in Arizona Highways and Sierra Club calendars. Nature has remained one of her favorite subjects along with photographing people and stories. Her formal credentials include a Masters degree from Ohio University in Visual Communication and a three-month teacher’s fellowship at the National Geographic magazine. Her field experience includes 20 years as a working photojournalist for the Arizona Republic newspaper. She received an adjunct teacher’s award while teaching at the Cronkite School at Arizona State University. For her, the best part of teaching anywhere is the students.

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Shari Keith

  • Teaches: Photography and Art

Shari Keith is a collector of junk extraordinaire. She creates jewelry and art from found and discarded objects, and her work has been featured in galleries throughout the U.S. Her unique way of using discarded items to decorate her home has been featured in several newspaper articles, and almost all of the clothing she wears is recycled. Shari Keith holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a M.A. degree in Education. She works as a teaching artist and shares her passion for the environmental and artistic benefits of creating with scrap with students of all ages. Her students know her as The Junk Lady.

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Scott McMahon

  • Teaches: Landscape and Gardening

An ISA Certified Arborist®, Scott McMahon currently serves as manager of the Desert Botanical Garden’s world-class cactus collection. He holds a Bachelor of Science and M.S. degrees in Plant Protection from the College of Agriculture, University of Arizona. Scott’s professional experience includes more than 25 years of experience in landscaping and maintenance in the Phoenix area. A native Arizonan, Scott has been collecting cacti and succulents for over 30 years. Scott is a past president of the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society where he still serves as an active contributor.

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