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Discover the Grounds is Back for 2023

persimmons on a branch

Looking to learn more about insects in your garden? Wondering how to deal with invasive plants? Curious about how the Crystal Bridges Trails and Grounds team deal with deer in the landscape? No worries! We’ve got your questions answered with this year’s Discover the Grounds series.

The free, annual nature program you’ve come to know and love is back this year better than ever. Covering topics from foraging to insects we love (and hate), the story-telling power of plants and so much more.

This year’s series will be presented by the Trails and Grounds duo of Samantha Best, Landscape and Outdoor Experience Manager, and Joanna Mentzer, Manager of Horticulture Operations.

This dynamic team will make you laugh, inform and inspire you, and give you tools to become environmental stewards in your own life.

a yellow, black, and white-striped monarch caterpillar hangs upside down from a green leaf stem

Save the Date

Curious about what’s in store for you? On May 6, join us for our debut discussion of Plants as Cultural Icons.

What comes to mind when you think of Marilyn Monroe, Smokey the Bear, or apple pie? These American icons tell stories about our cultural history and evoke personal memories. Can plants do the same thing? You bet they can! Join Samantha as she discusses the folklore behind plants of the Ozarks and beyond.

Can’t make it in May? Then join us on June 17 for Good Bug, Bad Bug.  Presented by both Joanna and Samantha, come learn about why we love some bugs and loathe others. We’ll dive into the ecological function of these insects and discuss ways to support (or remove) them in landscapes.


Meet the Instructors


portrait of samantha best

Samantha Best

Samantha is a passionate advocate for connecting people to outdoor spaces. Using design, storytelling, and usually lots of hand-waving, she loves to welcome people into nature while showing them ways to become intimately connected to it. You can often find her on the trails eating flowers, wandering with her eyes toward the tree canopy, or intently analyzing a site. Occasionally she’s been known to pull aside someone on the trail to have them touch, smell, or taste a plant, so if you see her on the trails, beware!


Joanna Mentzer

Joanna Mentzer

Joanna, AKA Jo, spent her happiest times in the outdoors as a child flipping rocks, building forts and crick piddling. As an adult, she has found a way to satisfy her inner child and express her gratitude to the beauty of the Ozarks by pouring her efforts into the landscapes at Crystal Bridges. You may find her with the horticulture crew attacking invasive plants, planting new landscapes, or quietly stalking pollinators on flowers to capture the perfect picture. Wherever you find Joanna outside, you can be sure you have found her in her happy place doing all she can to preserve it.


Ready to dive in and learn more about the Natural State? Get tickets, learn more, and see upcoming nature events on our calendar.


Discover the Grounds and Nature Events