Sunlight streaming through a tree in front of the Haupt Conservatory's dome, with a variety of bushes, shurbs, and cherry trees.

School of Professional Horticulture Alumni Corner

The hub for news, resources, and alumni events!

Connect with your School of Professional Horticulture (SoPH) network! Check this page for all things alumni-related: news, resources, and insights from past students. Plus, get updates on the launch of our new Alumni Association.

Are you an alumni? Want to connect? Reach out, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at

  1. The School of Professional Horticulture is pleased to announce the launch of the SoPH Alumni Association. Membership is open to all SoPH alumni at absolutely no cost or obligation. In the coming months, we’ll be developing programs to offer SoPH alumni benefits, networking opportunities, and more.

    The Association will nurture the already-existing network between faculty, students and alumni, transforming connections into relationships that will enable professional development, career opportunities, and ongoing support of the School’s mission. We will also be launching and maintaining a directory of SoPH’s extended alumni family.

    Alums should be on the lookout for invitations and more in the months to come. We can’t wait to reconnect and continue to grow with you all.

    If you’re interested in getting involved in the launch of the Alumni Association, please email

  2. New SoPH Advisory Board Member

    The SoPH Advisory Board serves to provide input and advice on current industry requirement and trends. The board offers a fresh perspective and outside expertise, as well as, guidance and support to help the School achieve its goals. Board members are appointed on voluntary basis and serve a 2–3-year term.

    Brian Trader, Ph.D. brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the School of Professional Horticulture Advisory Board. He currently serves as the President and CEO of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. His background includes leadership management at premier public gardens, horticultural expertise, and a commitment to the community. He also has served as the Director of Domestic and International Studies at Longwood Gardens, collaborating with public garden leaders through the world to facilitate research, students and staff exchange, and outreach. Brian has published extensively about the role of public gardens and horticulture, and has presented on those topics at educational forums internationally.

    We, at SoPH, express the utmost gratitude for Brian agreeing to join our Advisory Board. We are excited to have him as a member and value the fresh perspective and expertise he will bring to the table.

  3. Jobs and Career Opportunities

    Continuing Education Instructor at NYBG

Alumni Bios

  1. Elena Peabody is currently a gardener at NYBG’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, working in the exhibition houses. She loves the fast pace of the job and the challenge of creating vistas and vignettes to delight garden guests. Her work in the garden is a continuation of a career in public service. Prior to enrolling in SoPH, Elena worked in marketing for housing and food justice non-profits.

    Elena was recently appointed Chair of the NYBG SoPH Alumni Association Committee, and is looking forward to connecting with SoPH alums!

  2. Emmanuel was born in Nigeria, where he obtained his BA in Agricultural Science from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta. Emmanuel moved to the United States to pursue his studies in Ornamental Horticulture at the School of Professional Horticulture, New York Botanical Garden. Emmanuel’s passion for service and interest in the military led him to join the US Army National Guard where he works part-time as a Unit Supply Specialist. He currently is the Garden Supervisor at Rock Cobble Farm, a large private estate located in South Kent, Connecticut.

    Emmanuel is passionate about creating and maintaining beautiful gardens and landscapes that combine functionality with human enjoyment. In the future, he hopes to establish a botanical garden in Nigeria helping to support important conservation work and horticultural research.

  3. Originally from Gettysburg, PA and a 2010 graduate of the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, Peter Couchman has enjoyed a wide variety of experience in the horticulture industry, including landscape design, green roofs and estate management.

    In 2020, Peter became the third Executive Director of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, PA. In his first three years at the Preserve, Peter completed a strategic plan, exhibited at the Philadelphia Flower Show, forged new regional partnerships and increased annual revenue by over 25%.

  4. Shanti Nagel is the founder of Design Wild, a landscape design firm working at the intersection of climate, people, and collective well-being. She believes that the relationship between humans and the natural world is essential for individual health, the strength of communities, ecosystems, and our future here on earth.

    Shanti comes from a long line of social activism and approaches all her work through a lens of equity, justice, and well-being. For the last decade, she and Design Wild have been creating naturally ferocious, beautiful, and incredibly durable gardens in extreme public urban environments, through affordable houses, as well as private residences in New York City and the Hudson Valley.