Jennifer Burns-Robinson

Courses Taught

Growing Food (Online)
Organic Horticulture Specialist (Online)
Organic Master Gardener (Online)
Organic Master Gardener (Stony Plain)

Gaia College - Online Instructor
Stony Plain


2015 Organic Master Gardener Certificate in Stony Plain (Gaia partnership)
2008 Received Certified Arborist status with ISA (International Society of Arboriculture)
2007 Completed the Landscape Architectural Technology program at NAIT (Edmonton)
2006 Became a Master Composter/Recycler with the City of Edmonton (volunteer program)
2002 Completed the Prairie Horticulture Certificate program through Assiniboine College (Manitoba)


Jennifer Burns-Robinson studied Landscape Architectural Technology and taught in the same program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton for two years after graduation. She worked at Stantec Edmonton for 3 years as an LAT before taking some time to start a family. Prior to that, she had her own residential landscape design business for two years and worked in retail garden centres for a total of 7 years. That experience was invaluable to becoming an instructor in the Stony Plain Organic Master Gardener program in 2014, and then becoming the administrator in 2016. Now retired from the administrative position, she has plans to write a book and is working on developing her 3.5 acres in Alberta into a productive sustainable food paradise.

Jennifer is also the Lead Instructor at Gaia College. In this role she provide faculty support, maintains school policies and facilitates student communication issues should they arise. As well, Jennifer is currently reviewing and updating the Gaia College library of resources, and revising curriculum as necessary. 

Laurie Smith

Courses Taught

Laurie Smith business photoBusiness Skills for Land Care Professionals
Ecological Plant Knowledge 1 - Natives


Organic Land Care Diploma – Gaia College
Basic Botany – Oregon State University
BSc, BA, MA – University of Toronto


Laurie Smith is a graduate of Gaia College’s Organic Land Care Diploma program.  Prior to embarking on her journey of learning about and embracing the practices of organic land care, she worked in the field of kinesiology and injury rehabilitation where she ran her own business for sixteen years. She currently works in management at a health club and after hours tends to local gardens, gently pointing out the benefits of organic and sustainable practises to homeowners.

Her parents grew their own fruits and vegetables, composted, and instilled in her a deep appreciation of Nature and creatures of all sizes. She remembers being given a detention in Grade 1 for slapping a classmate who wilfully killed a large earthworm in the schoolyard! 

Plants are her “happy place”, and Laurie believes that humans can learn much from their chlorophyll-endowed fellow inhabitants of this planet.

Annette Vierling

Landscape Designer, Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Educator

annette 3 crop 4 5x7Courses

Ecological Plant Knowledge - Ornamentals – online
Organic Master Gardener – online

Active Memberships

Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD)
Alberta Association of Landscape Architects (AALA) and Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA)
Botanical Society of America 
American Society of Plant Taxonomists 
North American Native Plant Society 
Alberta Invasive Species Council 
Canadian Association for Rainwater Management 
Society for Organic Urban Land Care 


Diploma in Organic Land Care, Gaia College
Associate Member of the Alberta Association of Landscape Architects
Fellow and Certified Member, Association of Professional Landscape Designers
Diploma in CAD, Alberta School of Drafting
Diploma in Horticulture, Landscape Design Major, Olds College


Although Annette has been practicing landscape design and horticulture professionally since 1989 when she first founded Specialty Gardens, she had always known what her career path would be. There was a hunger to learn more about the science of plants, and at seventeen, she began her Diploma of Horticulture with a major in Landscape Design at Olds College. 

From there, her interests in design and drawing led her to complete a Diploma in AutoCAD Drafting, and she honed this craft while contracting for PCL and the Alberta School of Drafting. Afterward she pursued the L.A.R.E. at UBC while under apprenticeship training with Landscape Architects in the Lower Mainland. 

Family brought Annette back to Alberta where she became a Certified Member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers in 2003 and was awarded a Fellow Membership in 2016.  In 2005, Annette began working at the Medicine Hat College as an Educational Assistant for the Horticultural Technician Program in the Science Department. She prepared, offered, and tutored eighteen courses for this program.

In 2008, Annette became a part time Faculty Instructor in the Environmental Reclamation Technician and University Transfer Programs at the Medicine Hat College. Classes included Plant Taxonomy, Introduction to Botany, Plant Physiology, Weeds and Weed Control, Integrated Vegetation Management, Introduction to CAD and Surveying, and the Pesticide Applicator Tutorial. Annette was nominated for the ‘Instructor of the Year’ award at the Medicine Hat College 2011, 2013 and 2015. 

Annette completed the Diploma in Organic Land Care from Gaia College in 2020. This gave Specialty Gardens more tools and knowledge to use when designing and added another layer of expertise to the team portfolio. She is excited to be teaching at Gaia College beginning in the Spring of 2022 and is looking forward to another chapter of educating while continuing to design, consult and grow.