Our Staff
Our Board

Our Staff

Darcie Howard
Darcie HowardExecutive Director
Darcie Howard joined the Gardens in 2017 as its first Executive Director. Throughout her 25-year career, she has made it her mission to connect people to the natural world through transformative experiences. Her passion for conservation, sustainability, and environmental education, combined with her expertise in strategic planning, donor cultivation, and developing long-lasting community partnerships, has positioned her to take the Gardens to the next stage in its development. “The Gardens will elevate the brand of Wausau, making it a true community asset and Wausau’s Happy Place.”
Megan Johnson
Megan JohnsonVolunteer Coordinator/Administrative Assistant
Megan holds an M.S. in Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has several years of experience leading and supporting a variety of non-profit projects. Driven by her interest in sustainability, food systems, and healthy communities, Megan is excited to support community members’ engagement with the Gardens and help foster an appreciation for the environment. She loves to marvel at the plant varieties in the Kitchen Garden and think of ideas for her next cooking adventure.
Elise Schuler
Elise SchulerEducation & Events Manager
Elise has a degree in Wildlife Ecology from UW-Stevens Point and has worked in environmental education teaching and developing programming since 2015. The favorite part of her job is having her own passion for nature rekindled as she sees the excitement and wonder on students’ faces as they’re learning in the Gardens! Her favorite time in the Gardens is being the first to walk the trails on a quiet morning after one of the first snows in winter.
Marissa Ashbeck
Marissa AshbeckHorticulture & Grounds Manager
Marissa earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture with an emphasis in Landscape Design and Management from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. With her experience in the green industry, she has been able to bring ideas to life in the Gardens. Marissa’s favorite part of the job is sparking interest and connecting people with plants. My favorite time to be in the Gardens is late summer because it is time to harvest all of the unique varieties that we have grown in the Kitchen Garden and we get to see the result of all of our hard work.
Kaytie Ruesch
Kaytie RueschEnvironmental Educator
Kaytie started her journey with Monk Botanical Gardens as an environmental education intern in 2019. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a Professional Science Master’s Degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Her favorite part of her job is sparking curiosity about the natural world in the children she works with. She thinks the best time of day in the Gardens is first thing in the morning, when everything is peaceful and the day’s adventures lie ahead.
Krysta Post
Krysta PostLead Sprouts Garden Preschool Teacher
Krysta holds a B.A. in Anthropology (emphasis Archaeology) from St. Cloud State University and a post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Environmental Education from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. As the Sprouts Garden Preschool lead teacher, she shares her enthusiasm for outdoor exploration with the littlest learners—fostering a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world while embracing every teachable moment. Krysta loves to explore the Gardens in winter as Sprouts discover the magic of becoming ‘frost dragons’ and hone their observational skills looking for signs of subnivean creatures!
Sarah Loth
Sarah LothAssistant Sprouts Garden Preschool Teacher
Sarah has always enjoyed working with children and enjoying nature, and she brings these loves to her role as Assistant Teacher for Sprouts Preschool. She discovered the Tots in the Gardens program for her sons and loves the role that Monk Botanical Gardens plays in the Wausau community. Sarah holds a B.A. in Interpersonal Communication from Bowling Green State University and an M.A. in Public Administration from Ohio State University.
Tyrone Lane
Tyrone LaneGroundskeeper
Tyrone brings a plethora of knowledge to the Gardens with over 10 years of experience working in the landscape industry. He loves that he is able to work outside and enjoys the work that goes along with maintaining the grounds. Every day, there is something new to do. His favorite part of Monk Botanical Gardens is the Memory Plaza because of the meditative and relaxing atmosphere created by the birch and fern species.

Our Board

Nancy Cedar
Nancy CedarPresident, Retired Wausau School District
The Gardens provides a sanctuary and serves to nurture and replenish the soul. The lessons provided by nature are intergenerational and timeless. The caretaking and development of this space, as a Board member, connects me to this community and all I hold dear.
Susan Lang
Susan Lang Vice-President, COO Labyrinth Group
It is a privilege to be part of a place that significantly enhances the quality of life and health of our community. The Gardens is also a retention and attraction asset for our area’s employers and quite simply it makes me happy to go there to walk, to learn, to plant and to enjoy the Gardens’ events. I am proud to be a part of Wausau’s Happy Place.
Jon Plisch
Jon PlischTreasurer, Senior Business Unit Analyst, Greenheck Fan Corp
After a tour of the Gardens, I was so impressed by the landscaping and could immediately see the potential for it to be a staple in Wausau, like the 400 Block. I also believe that Sprouts Preschool’s philosophy of getting students to learn through exploration is unique and effective.
Paul Whitaker
Paul WhitakerSecretary, Professor, UWSP
As a graduate student in Madison, I was fortunate to live just a short walk away from Olbrich Gardens. I learned that botanical gardens bring so much to their community, including education, unique events, a tranquil and beautiful refuge, and economic development from out-of-town visitors. When the idea of Monk Botanical Gardens arose here in Wausau in the early 2000s, I jumped at the opportunity to help make it happen and have been serving on the board ever since.
Sheila Rossmiller
Sheila Rossmiller Board Member, Director of Annual Giving + Scholarships, NTC Foundation
One of my favorite Mary Oliver quotes is “pay attention, be astonished, tell about it.” And that sums up why I was inspired to join the Monk Botanical Gardens Board. Each visit to the Gardens fills me with a sense of wonderment as I slow down and take in the beauty of nature. Serving on the Board allows me the opportunity to tell about it and encourage others to become part of Wausau’s Happy Place.
Ann Lucas
Ann LucasBoard Member, Retired Sentry Insurance Foundation
My service on the Monk Botanical Gardens Board of Directors is one way that I can contribute to the continual evolution of this incredible community resource. The Gardens provides respite, wonder, education and the opportunity to introduce the arts of conservation, environment, discovery and beauty to all who visit and those who will.
Paul David
Paul DavidBoard Member, Assistant General Council, Aspirus
Monk Botanical Gardens represents a unique community asset that affords users and guests a serene, invigorating and educational experience of a type lacking in so many other aspects of daily life. It is a meaningful and beneficial endeavor to further develop and promote the Gardens for the use and enjoyment of persons across Wisconsin and beyond. My involvement with the Board of Directors affords me the opportunity and honor to contribute to these worthy goals.
Vickie Richmond Hawkins
Vickie Richmond HawkinsBoard Member, Retired UWSP-Wausau
When a community need and one’s personal passions align it makes sense to be engaged in meeting that community need. As a proponent of lifelong education, I view the Gardens as a place to connect people of all ages to the land. The survival of a habitable planet earth depends on it.
Holly Koepel
Holly KoepelBoard Member, VP Southern Region, CoVantage Credit Union
I serve on the board because I love that the Gardens provides a healthy way for people to enjoy life. The ability to be in the Gardens and have a peaceful experience is second to none. It’s a family-friendly environment that is needed for our growing community which allows parents to feel comfortable while their children run around.
Mark Munson
Mark MunsonBoard Member, Attorney, Ruder Ware
The Monk Botanical Gardens is a special asset that enhances and enriches Wausau and surrounding communities with natural assets. It’s exciting to be part of something that provides economic benefits to our communities by dedicating a space that celebrates why we choose to live and work in this place we call home.
Tammy Stezenski
Tammy StezenskiBoard Member, Director of Marketing, Grand Theater/Performing Arts Foundation
Some places seem to define a community, that reflect its spirit and character. I saw that potential in Monk Botanical Gardens in its early years and have been an advocate ever since. Wausau has many amenities found in larger, prestigious cities… with the exception, until recently, of a destination-worthy botanical garden. Monk Botanical Gardens can check that box! Joining the board allows me to serve as a more official ambassador and steward of the Gardens’ respectfully curated nature, living art, and charismatic spaces. It’s an honor to help continue the growth of this fresh, exciting attraction in central Wisconsin. “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
Jody Maier
Jody MaierBoard Member, President, TD Fischer
As a lifelong member of the greater Wausau community I am honored to serve the Monk Gardens. Belief in its Vision and Mission and How it can apply to our community is more important than ever. The Gardens has a unique opportunity to lead the conversations and the actions necessary for us to hold a richer relationship to Nature. The People of Wausau deserve the Wisdom and Knowledge offered here.