The Sawtooth Botanical Garden’s small but mighty staff is responsible for the functional operation of the region’s only botanical garden. Qualities of leadership, expertise, passion, teamwork, and fun allow SBG’s staff to operate at a high level while guiding visitors, volunteers, students, supporters, and lovers of plant cultivation in a mission-centric and constituency-minded manner.

Jen Smith

Executive Director

Jen’s love of plants and nature began at a young age when she grew up five miles from town in western Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Her parents instilled a solid work ethic and love of the outdoors shaped by working in their huge vegetable garden and living, for the most part, off the land.  Jen finished up her education at Oregon State University with a degree in recreation and natural resource management with emphasis on Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers management. Following a stint in the desert southwest of northern New Mexico she relocated to the Wood River Valley in 2001 after an initial ski trip to Sun Valley in 1987. Jen spent 17 years working for the city of Ketchum’s Parks & Recreation Department, most recently as the city’s director of parks and recreation, city arborist, and staff liaison to the Ketchum Arts Commission. She enjoys whitewater river rafting, fly fishing, camping, alpine skiing and adventuring in the inter-mountain west. Jen earned a Certificate of Nonprofit Management from Oregon State University in December 2018. SBG’s Executive Director also serves as an ex-officio (non-voting) Board of Directors member.

Kathy Noble

Gardens & Facilities Manager

Kathy is a landscape architect, gardener and 40 year resident of the Wood River Valley.  She lives on a farm in the Bellevue triangle with her dog Gabriella, cat Edith, 2 horses Timber and Hercules, 10 pigs and 200 – 800 chickens.  She has designed and maintained gardens from one end of the valley to the other – from native and xeric, to the lush, formal English and Italian inspired gardens.  She is passionate about building healthy soils, sustainable irrigation practices and planning the right plant for every space.

Sharon Heitur

Development and Administrative Coordinator

Sharon grew up near Eugene, Oregon where she graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in travel, tourism and recreation management. She is a long-time Wood River Valley resident and lover of local arts and events. When not at work for SBG or another nonprofit or event management company, Sharon spends her time outdoors hiking with her dogs Bogart and Jax. She loves working at the Garden where she is lobbying the gardens and facilities staff to build a fairy garden outside of her office window.

Nancy Vandiver

Visitor Services Assistant

Nancy greets visitors inside the Visitor Center through a program called Experience Works. Originally from New Jersey, Nancy also spent 20 years in California and enjoyed a long career as an interior designer. Nancy is SBG’s “go to” person when it comes to decorating the Visitor Center and gift shop. She loves talking to visitors from around the globe about the unique features at Sawtooth Botanical Garden. Nancy lives in Hailey near her son where she enjoys participating in her grandson’s activities.

Kim Chaplin

Education Program Coordinator

Kim was SBG’s AmeriCorps volunteer for the 2018-2019 season and was promoted to a staff position with SBG in October 2019. Descended from veg, tree, and houseplant farmers, Kim too is a plant person. She loves the forest and is an experienced landscaper, caregiver, and educator. Kim received her degree from Boston University. Most interesting and hope-giving to her is the connection of plants and people as practiced through horticultural therapy and permaculture.

Thank you to Adelaide Mason, Jenni Simpson, Danielle Emerick, and Gordon Williams for the photos. +