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Horticulture and Natural Resources

Faculty Spotlight

Jeffrey Skibins, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Park Management and Conservation

SkibinsDr. Skibins was born and raised in Chicago. Growing up he visited the many zoos, museums, and nature centers around the city, which helped to cultivate a life-long love of wildlife. After completing his master's degree in conservation biology, he returned to the Chicagoland area and spent fifteen years working as a natural resource manager, interpreter, adjunct faculty, and consultant for several conservation agencies, museums, zoos, and universities.

Dr. Skibins returned to academia to complete his Ph.D. in Park and Conservation Area Management at Clemson University in South Carolina. His research focuses on the relationship between ecotourism and wildlife conservation. Much of his work has a strong international focus and has taken him to Africa, Australia, Europe, and South America. He joined the faculty at K State in 2014.

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Catherine Lavis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor & Extension Specialist: Landscape Management

LavisDr. Lavis states, "Students are my focus and I've discovered they learn best when hands-on instruction supports classroom theory." Lavis is keen on incorporating new teaching strategies into her courses that focus on student development of critical thinking skills. Her teaching skills have been acknowledged with several national teaching awards as well as two university awards. She is also a recognized speaker on topics concerning irrigation, the care of trees and landscape plants. Through her efforts, K-State was the first university to work hand-in-hand with the Irrigation Association to develop an irrigation system design course that leads to certification through this professional association. K-State became a Tree Campus USA in 2013 as a result of her leadership and enthusiasm of arboriculture students promoting the care of campus trees.

In addition, Dr. Lavis is an award-winning adviser who co-advises Horticulture Club and the Landscape Contracting Team for the National Colligiage Landscape Competition held each spring at a different hosting school. She also coordinates opportunities for horticulture students to participate in international travel during their college years. Recently, she has accompanied students on trips to Costa Rica, Italy, England/Wales, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands and Northern France.

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