Local Business – Fernwood Grows Team with New Hires

Fernwood Grows Team with New Hires

Submitted by Elaine Rowland, Fernwood Director of Marketing & Community Engagement
Niles, MI ~ April 12, 2023

Fernwood happily announces new hires to the garden’s horticulture team. Dave Halvax, Director of Horticulture, and Connor Wetzel-Brown, Horticulturist, joined the staff on Tuesday, April 4.

Halvax is from the western suburbs of Chicago and has an undergraduate degree in finance from North Central College, an associate’s degree in horticulture from the College of DuPage, and six years of experience at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, west of Chicago. After six years at the Arboretum, Halvax pursued a master’s degree in plant science at North Dakota State University.

Wetzel-Brown is a Michigan native from Kalamazoo who completed his undergraduate degree at Arizona State University in environmental biology and a master’s degree in business management at the University of Notre Dame. He worked last year at Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary in Wales, Massachusetts.

“Dave and Connor are sure to bring exceptional expertise and energy to their important roles at the garden. We welcome them to our Fernwood team and to our community,” said Carol Line, Fernwood Executive Director.

Steve Bornell, Director of Horticulture and Facilities at Fernwood, is retiring after 23 years of esteemed service to the organization.

In addition to Halvax and Wetzel-Brown, Dan Hook, Katharyn Hutson, and Sadie Holloway have recently joined the garden’s facilities team.

About Fernwood Botanical Garden: Established in 1964, Fernwood is a unique property in southwest Michigan with 105 acres of cultivated gardens and natural areas with woodlands, ravines, wetlands, and river frontage on the St. Joseph River. The property is minutes from Lake Michigan, a short distance north of the University of Notre Dame, and 90 minutes from Chicago. Fernwood follows its mission to enrich people’s lives by awakening and deepening their appreciation of nature. Fernwood is a member of the Alliance of Nature Center Administrators, the American Public Gardens Association, the American Alliance of Museums, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Chicago Wilderness, The Garden Conservancy, and The Nature Conservancy. The garden is open year-round Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and is located in Buchanan Township at 13988 Range Line Road, Niles, Michigan.


  • Garden Hours:
    • Tues-Sat 10a-5p
    • Sunday noon-5p
  • Cafe Hours:
    • Fri-Sun noon-3pm
  • Garden Admission:
    • Members – Free
    • Adults – $10
    • Seniors (65+) – $7
    • Student (with ID) – $7
    • Military & First Responders – $5
    • Children (ages 5–17) – $5
    • Children (4 and under) – Free
    • *An additional or separate fee may apply for some special events including LIGHTS.

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