Board of Directors

Troyce Fisher, President 

Troyce has been the president of the Central Gardens Board of Directors for three years now and is grateful for the patience of other board members and volunteers who teach her how to properly weed and dead head! Retired from a 43-year career in educational leadership, besides volunteering at CGNI she also relishes being a grandma, is a member of the newly created State of Iowa Children's Mental Health System board, and enjoys reading, walking, doing random acts of kindness, and savoring a glass of fine red wine.

Connie Plagge, Vice President

Connie Plagge of Clear Lake joined the Central Gardens Board of Directors in 2013, and became board vice-president in 2016. She began volunteering at the Gardens shortly after retiring from her nursing career, and moving to Clear Lake from the family farm north of Latimer. It was an opportunity for her and her husband, Jody, to meet people, and to work outdoors which they both really enjoy doing. It takes may different skill sets, talents, and volunteer hours to successfully run the Gardens. Connie appreciates that she serves on a board that is dedicated to providing these services, so that the many people who pass through the gates of the Gardens have a wonderful experience there.

Jim W. Kuhlman, Treasurer

Jim W. Kuhlman of Mason City joined the Board of Directors in 2002 and has served as treasurer of the Board since 2005. He retired from the Iowa State University Extension Service after 35 years as a County Extension Education Director, specializing in Horticulture and Forestry. His parents had a large garden and his mother loved flowers, so he grew up with a love of gardens. Having been interested from the beginning in the Central Gardens idea, Jim considers it a great honor to see "the garden" go from a hole in the ground to the beautiful garden it is now. His major role is to make sure there is money to operate and to make new additions to Central Gardens of North Iowa without going into debt. The Board has been so fortunate for the many, many wonderful contributors who made the Gardens possible.

Donna Dull, Secretary

Donna Dull of Clear Lake, retired after teaching kindergarten for 41 years and then decided to take part in some community activities that she had been unable to join before because of her daily teaching schedule. Vegetable and flower gardening was done on both the maternal and paternal side of her family, so when the idea of a public garden was talked about, she decided to join the project. She has been a member of the group developing our Central Gardens since the very beginning. Her first board position was as historian and then board secretary responsibilities were added. She continues to hold both positions. Peonies from her maternal grandfather's yard and a rosebush from her paternal great-great-great grandmother are important in her own yard. The rosebush is said to have come down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi River by flat boat to Iowa before the Civil War.

Roy Markwardt

I grew up as a third generation avid gardener. Being a farmer was a natural extension for pursuing my love of the land and an appreciation of what it can produce. I am pleased to be able to volunteer and be a part of this valuable asset of North Iowa. After leaving our gardens on the farm and 40 years of accumulation and labor of love, I and my wife Patty wanted to be a part of Central Gardens of North Iowa. I am looking forward to serving on the board and making the gardens a beautiful place for all of North Iowa.

Aaron Koppes

Aaron joined the board in 2018. He has a passion for plants and landscapes- more of an obsession. Originally from Eastern Iowa, he majored in Horticulture from Iowa State University, and moved to North Central Iowa in 2012. He was looking to do more for the community and Central Gardens was an awesome fit. He is excited to see how the organization and gardens will sustain and move forward. Outside of work, Aaron enjoys being with his wife, Deidra, and working on their “fixer-upper” house in Mason City.

Ann Grochala

Ann is a master gardener who spent most of her career in finance in the Washington DC area and returned to Iowa in retirement. With parents and grandparents who had large vegetable gardens, she developed her love of gardening at a young age. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with young gardeners as a volunteer in the Kids BEE Happy Garden. She also maintains the Plant of the Year garden. Ann became a board member in 2018. Ann lives in Clear Lake.

Andy Johnston

Andy lives in Mason City and joined the Board in 2017. He is excited to be a part of an organization tasked with adding beauty and recreational opportunities to North Iowa. Any is a lawyer with the law firm of Heiny, McManigal, Duffy, Stambaugh and Anderson. When not in the office, he enjoys getting his hands dirty. He lives with this wife, Tasha, two dogs, Ollie and Doby , and cat, Gilly.

Becke Dorenbush

Becke has enjoyed bringing friends and family to Central Gardens since its inception. Becke remains active in the Iowa Dental Hygienists’ Association for which she serves as the Corporate Relations Chair. Practicing dental hygiene for 43 years working in Blue Earth, MN, Ames, IA and Jewell, IA, she recently completed a mission trip to Haiti with Zion Lutheran Church, providing oral health care to those in need. She has enjoyed helping with the Gardens’ Plant Sale and Gardening Fair, planting and weeding.

Barb Nicholas

Barb Nicholas, Clear Lake, is the Gardens “plants manager” and one of the charter board members of Central Gardens. She retired from nursing to devote more than full-time to taking care of the plants in the Gardens. Her eye for aesthetics and knowledge of which plants will prosper where is a big reason the Gardens bloom in such magnificent ways. Chances are you’ll find Barb at the Gardens no matter when you drop in. She scouts for the best buys for purchase of our annuals, oversees where to place them for maximum effect, serves on the design committee, and even unofficially mentors a young gardener from the Gardens neighborhood who “helps” Barb do some of her many tasks.

Bob Rennebohm

Bob Rennebohm is a summer resident of Clear Lake. He joined the Central Gardens Board in 2014. Bob is a Registered Landscape Architect with over 45 years of experience in the design and construction of public spaces, arboreta, recreational facilities, playgrounds, and public and private gardens. Several of his projects have received national awards. As Chairperson of the Central Gardens Design Committee, Bob's goal is to shepherd the continual evolution of the Gardens as one of the premiere public gardens in Iowa.

Linette Heydt

Linette Heydt of Ventura connected with Central Gardens soon after her family moved to the area, because their daughter wanted her wedding in a garden. That was in 2008 before there were any buildings on the sight. (Central Gardens has grown more and more beautiful every year since that day!) She became a board member in 2009, and is a volunteer at heart. She especially enjoys helping with the fundraising events at the Gardens. With her schedule she’s not able to do a lot of the hands-on work in the gardens but is so appreciative and amazed at the many devoted volunteers who help make the gardens so beautiful.

Leigh Trembath

Leigh’s passion for nature, children and volunteering came from her roots, with both parents being educators and involved community members.  An active volunteer for Central Gardens since 2006, she rejoins the board in 2019. She also serves on the Clear Lake Farmers Market board and Clear Lake Local Foods Team. Leigh’s involvement at Central Gardens has focused on education, developing Fresh on Fridays and building the kids Bee Happy Garden. She is grateful for the support received to create an area where  kids can connect to plants, pollinators and the food we eat.  When not gardening, Eva & Oscar (Bernedoodles) escort her to the dog park regularly. Leigh also enjoys  photography, traveling and most of all spending time with family!