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Concurrent Sessions 2
October 20, 2023 | 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Session 2.1 First Half  |  Session 2.1 Second Half  |  Session 2.2  |  Session 2.3

Session 2.1 First Half (11:15–11:45 AM) | The Use of Therapeutic Horticulture as an Emergency Tool in Crisis Intervention


Examining the use of therapeutic horticulture as an emergency tool in crisis intervention through a TH program for unaccompanied migrant youth residing in an Emergency Intake Shelter.

About the Speakers

Katie Ryzhikov

Katie Ryzhikov is the founder and therapeutic director of Blossom Therapeutic Services. With a background in occupational and horticultural therapies, Katie uses her clinical skills and green thumb to create functional and motivating opportunities to enhance physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional wellbeing for the clients that she serves. Katie achieved her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Sacred Heart University and completed her Horticultural Therapy certification from the Chicago Botanic Garden. Katie continues the work of promoting horticultural therapy as a creative and innovative therapeutic discipline, effective in a variety of settings, for people of all ages and abilities

Ella Hayslett

Information Coming Soon!.

Session 2.1 Second Half (11:45 AM – 12:15 PM) | Creating Therapeutic Interventions at a Land Grant HBCU


Central State, a HBCU (Historically Black) has begun using therapeutic horticulture in counseling services at the University center. Learning both grant writing for Therapeutic horticulture interventions for social work majors/graduates will be paramount for their success.

About the Speakers

Dr. Jonathan Trauth

Dr. Jonathan Trauth is a Professor in the Department of Social Work at Central State University. In the 1990s while working for the affordable housing coalition and serving special needs populations, Jonathan studied psychology and theology leading to a dual Degree from Xavier University. He then completed his MSW at the University of Kentucky. After working in the field, he finished his Doctorate in Counseling at the University of Cincinnati in 2016.

Dr. Karleah Harris

Dr. Harris has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Purdue University and a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Her research interests include inquiry-based science learning, grandparenting, gardening, horticulture therapy, and adolescence development.

Ms. Nikkita Jackson

Ms. Nikkita Jackson has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Wright State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Central State University. She is a licensed social worker in the state of Ohio with over 12 years of experience in many facets pertaining to social work.

Dr. Edison Perdomo

Dr. Edison Perdomo serves as the Chair for the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences at Central State University. As a biopsychologist, he examined the role of early behavior in the development of cardiovascular and thermoregulatory system. He is working in a cross-disciplinary, multistate project that aims to reduce the disparity in access to technical assistance and resources for minority-owned, underrepresented farmers using sustainable methods in response to climate change.

He participated in research to understand the psychological implementation in regulating air, water, and solid waste. While primarily an engineering issues, there is need to investigate the role psychology plays in the Environmental-Energy Health nexus. Communities of color are equally affected by energy related issues and environmental factors, but often lack the access, training, and ability to respond to the challenges of climate change.  Additionally, Dr. Perdomo has been working within the field social work to develop and enhance the field practicum training of students at HBCUs in the field of child welfare.

Session 2.2 | Amazing Fragrant Plants - Make Them Accessible


Fragrant plants can provide and support a wealth of therapeutic opportunities. Through either emission or tactile engagement, this amazing array of fragrance needs to be accessible as well.

About the Speakers

Mark Dwyer 

Mark has been the garden manager for the 3 acre healing garden that he designed at the Edgerton (WI) Hospital and Health Services. Prior to this, Mark was Director of Horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens (Janesville, WI) and has degrees in landscape architecture and urban forestry.

Session 2.3 | Taming the anxious brain with nature in mind: The power of nature informed mental health


There is a new frontier in mental health counseling: ecotherapy or nature informed therapy. Nature-informed (psycho)therapy explores nature-based methods of psychological healing, grounded in the belief that nature has profound mental health effects specifically for anxiety and stress related mental health challenges.

About the Speakers 

Renee Vanderstelt

Information coming soon!

Rachel Oppenheimer
Rachel Oppenheimer is a certified nature-informed therapist who strives to create a safe space to help clients achieve self-awareness and feel accepted. She believes that all people are capable of growth. Rachel earned her Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Villanova University. She has experience helping adolescents and adults with anxiety, emotion regulation, negative self-talk, and self-esteem. She assists adults (18+) with maintaining eating disorder recovery to challenge eating disorder thoughts and strengthen their True Self utilizing an Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT) approach. Rachel leads a nature informed hiking group through the Center for Nature Informed Therapy.