Meet the volunteers who serve AHTA

Derrick R. Stowell, PhD, CTRS, HTR
he / him / his

Derrick is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and a professionally registered horticultural therapist. He is the Education and Horticultural Therapy Program Administrator for the University of Tennessee Gardens. Derrick is responsible for creating the University of Tennessee Gardens horticultural therapy program. He holds a BA in environmental studies and outdoor recreation from Maryville College and an MS in therapeutic recreation from the University of Tennessee. Derrick received his Ph.D. in plant, soil, and environmental sciences from the University of Tennessee. 


President Elect

Lana Dreyfuss, LPC, LCADC, SEP, HTR
Lana is a licensed professional counselor, licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor, somatic experiencing practitioner, and horticultural therapist registered. She holds a MA from the University of Maryland in counseling. She currently works at United Indian Health Services in northern California serving Native American community members providing behavioral health services to include the modality of horticultural therapy. Lana has been serving on the AHTA Board of Directors and work teams since 2004.

Ciri Malamud, CRC, HTR

Ciri is a certified rehabilitation counselor and a registered horticultural therapist. She has experience conducting therapeutic garden programs in NYC Parks (Brooklyn) for young adults with disabilities who have aged out of the NYC education system. Ciri is a co-founding partner of TandC Associates, LLC, consulting with programs on psychosocial rehabilitation and horticultural therapy in the United States and overseas (Norway, Haiti, and Australia) to promote self-empowerment and progress through informed choices.

Gary L. Altman, CRC, HTR

Gary is a certified rehabilitation counselor and a professionally registered horticultural therapist. He is the Teaching Instructor and Director of the Horticultural Therapy Program at Rutgers University.  Gary earned his horticultural therapy certificate and MS in Rehabilitation Counseling-clinical mental health counseling at Rutgers, where he is currently pursuing a PhD in Psychiatric Rehabilitation-counselor education and supervision.  Gary’s horticultural therapy work focuses on individual and program evaluation, supported employment, and horticultural therapy supervisory models.

Immediate Past President
Erin Backus, CRC, HTR 
Erin is a certified rehabilitation counselor and a professionally registered horticultural therapist, receiving her certificate from the Horticultural Therapy Institute. She holds a BT in plant science from SUNY Cobleskill and an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from SUNY Buffalo. She serves as the AHTA Certificate Program Accreditation Review Board Chair, as well as the president of the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network. Erin is the lead horticultural therapist for Plant Happiness, LLC where she also serves as a distance supervisor. 

Linda Brown-Kuhn, HTR

Linda is a New Jersey-based registered horticultural therapist and a certified forest therapy guide. She received her certificate in horticultural therapy from Rutgers University. Linda is currently an independent contractor. She has worked with various populations of Veterans at two VA Medical Centers: those with substance abuse issues, Alzheimer’s disease, mental health issues, homeless veterans, those in hospice care, those with spinal cord injuries and female veterans who experienced sexual abuse in the military.  She also works with young women coping with substance use issues.

Debra Edwards, HTR
she / her / hers

Debra is a registered horticultural therapist. She received her horticultural therapy certificate from the Horticultural Therapy Institute and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Auburn University. Debra has 17 years of experience in landscape design and maintenance and 4 years of experience in horticultural therapy programming.  Debra currently works as the horticultural therapist at the Life Enrichment Center in Shelby, North Carolina. The population she serves includes adults with disabilities or dementia at two adult day care campuses.


Nicole Giron, CTRS,
she / her / hers

Nicole is a registered horticultural therapist, receiving her certificate from the Horticulture Therapy Institute, as well as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist. Nicole holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she works as the Director of the Recreation Therapy program at UNMC’s Munroe Meyer Institute. Nicole works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and incorporates horticultural therapy into her practice with the primary focus being on a farm to fork cultivation.    


Matthew Janson, CTRS

Matthew Janson is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist currently working at the Boston Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He received his BS from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, with a degree in parks and recreation management-therapeutic recreation and exercise science. At the Boston VA, Matt works with veterans in hospice, long term care, and physical rehabilitation on a range of therapeutic issues integrating both recreation therapy and therapeutic horticulture.


Sara Rodriguez, LMFT
Sara is a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in California. She has worked in the mental/behavioral health field for 17 years. Sara received the Excellence in Research Award from the University of La Verne. The research focused on resiliency as opposed to a pathology emphasis in treatment. Currently, Sara is the clinical therapist in a garden program at a community mental health center. Therapeutic horticulture has been the focus of her work for 5 years.


Laura Rumpf, HTR
she / her / hers

Laura is a registered horticultural therapist living in Southern Maine. She received her certificate in horticultural therapy from the Horticultural Therapy Institute. Laura is currently an independent contractor. Populations she has served include, among others, those with dementia, students with developmental disabilities, veterans, and those with brain injuries. Laura also collaborates with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department’s Dementia-Friendly program and the University of Washington Memory and Brain Wellness Center.


Richard Slayton, RLA, ASLA, EDAC
Richard is a licensed landscape architect. He integrates biophilic design in healthcare and senior living environments throughout the United States. One of his most rewarding accomplishments is designing a one-acre healing garden in collaboration with St. Mary’s Foundation at SSM-Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville, Wisconsin. Richard just began a year-long commitment with the Center for Community Land Trust Innovation and a Hmong group to program, design and develop a dementia care garden.


P.J. Snodgrass, PhD
P.J. is a horticultural therapy education assistant at the University of Tennessee Gardens. She holds a master’s degree in adult education and a Ph.D. in human ecology, both from the University of Tennessee. After retiring from the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service she completed nine hours of horticultural therapy coursework at the University of Tennessee. 


Binxia Xue, PhD, HTR
Binxia, Ph.D. in Engineering and Master in Architecture, serves as an associate professor and doctoral supervisor in the School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology at Harbin, China. He received his certificate in horticultural therapy from the Horticultural Therapy Institute. He is professionally engaged in the design and research of the restorative environment and healing space in urban planning with abundant accumulations both in the theory and practices of healthy living environment and horticultural therapy theory and project planning.


Lynn Zeltman, HTR
Lynn is a registered horticultural therapist.   She received her certificate in horticultural therapy from Delaware Valley University and completed her internship at MossRehab, a physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital, located in Pennsylvania.  Lynn is the current treasurer for the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network and is in training to be a New Hampshire Master Gardener.



AHTA Past Presidents

  • 2020-2021 Erin Backus, CRC, HTR 
  • 2015-2020 Leigh Anne Starling, LCPC, CRC, HTR
  • 2013-2015 MaryAnne McMillan, HTR
  • 2010-2013 Gabriela Harvey, HTR
  • 2007-2010 Lana Dreyfuss, HTR
  • 2002-2007 Nancy Easterling, HTR
  • 1999-2002 Karin Fleming, HTR
  • 1998-1999 Maria Gabaldo, HTR
  • 1996-1998 Martha Straus, HTM
  • 1994-1996 Rebecca Haller, HTM
  • 1992-1994 Gene Rothert, HTR
  • 1989-1992 Nancy Stevenson, HTR
  • 1987-1989 Douglas Airhart, PhD, HTM
  • 1986-1987 Judy Carrier, HTR
  • 1984-1985 T. Kent Titze, HTM
  • 1983-1984 Ken T. Stoutamire, HTM
  • 1980-1983 Merle M. Moore
  • 1979           William Townsley, PhD
  • 1975-1979 Paula Diane Relf, PhD, HTR
  • 1973-1975 Earl Copus