2019 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Community Impact (Individual)
Dr. Kris Haskins holds her PhD in Biological Sciences from Northern Arizona University (NAU), and has published her work in internationally recognized scientific journals, working alongside NAU faculty and researchers. Her work at The Arboretum at Flagstaff focuses on recovery of damaged habitats, conservation of rare and endangered plants of the Colorado Plateau and greater southwest, and producing and leading education programs about plants and environmental stewardship for the Flagstaff community. Kris started with The Arboretum in 2006 after a three-year post-doc at (NAU) where she helped manage a laboratory and trained students.
In 2012, Kris completed co-editing a technical book on plant reintroduction entitled, Plant Reintroduction in a Changing Climate: Promises and Perils, with her colleague Dr. Joyce Maschinski. One of her most recent projects involved educating local landowners affected by the Schultz Fire and floods about weed management and restoration using native plants. This work continues today with similar projects in collaboration with the City of Flagstaff near FoxGlenn Park.
In 2018, Kris spearheaded the development of a mushroom garden at the Arboretum at Flagstaff. From one nomination: “The mushroom garden is a wonderful and timely achievement for Kris. There is growing interest in mushrooms as edibles and medicinals, but great care needs to be taken with identification to prevent poisoning. I am thrilled that the Arboretum now has a place for Arizonans to learn about mushrooms – both how important they are to humans and ecosystems, but also how careful one must be to harvest them from the forests safely. I expect the mushroom garden at the Arboretum to thrive under Kris’ direction and to delight visitors as the displays mature and change.”
Also, in her role at the Arboretum, Kris manages collaborative efforts to bring together educational organizations to address climate change. She developed and piloted new Climate Change Curricula to FUSD middle school students, including outreach programs, a project funded by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. She participated in the City of Flagstaff Youth Climate Summit, and secured two grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop and build an Interactive Climate Change Center at The Arboretum. She chairs the Arboretum’s Sustainability Committee, ensuring that the staff and campus demonstrate environmentally sustainable practices.
She served as the Assistant Project Director for an NSF grant-funded project (a collaboration among The Arboretum, NAU, and other institutions), called the Southwestern Experimental Garden Array (SEGA), that provides an instrument for the study of plant genetics and climate change using a set of common gardens sites along an elevation gradient.
She joined the Board of Directors for the Flagstaff Festival of Science (FFOS) in Flagstaff in 2011, and serves as Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. Kris is the 2020 FFOS Board President-elect. Additionally, she is on the FFOS Education Committee and works with teachers and scientists on the In-School Speaker Program. She herself presented a program entitled “Extremely Cool Plant Adaptations” to 325+ K-5 students during the 2013 Festival of Science. She has served as a mentor for NAU’s REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program for multiple years. She has a passion for sharing her science and conservation studies and efforts with both students and adults. She says, in Flagstaff, we must work on “educating landowners, managers and particularly youth about the use of native plants to combat invasive weed species and preserve the landscape.”
She has been a mentor for the FUSD “Scientists in the Classroom” Program since 2011, working one-on-one with science students in Grades 6 through 8. She has also involved Arboretum staff in FUSD’s “Scientists in the Classroom Business Model”; various staff teach one science class per month, bringing their STEM specialty to 6th grade students. She is a newly elected Board member of the Southwest Vegetation Management Association, and is currently Interim Coordinator of the San Francisco Peaks Weed Management Area, which seeks to educate homeowners about native plants and invasive weeds.
After growing up in New Hampshire, Kris moved to Lexington, KY where she completed her B.S. and M.S. in Biology at The University of Kentucky. She then attended NAU for her dissertation work in piñon-juniper ecosystems. Dr. Haskins lives happily with her husband, two boys, two horses, four dogs, and twelve chickens. In her rare spare moments, she enjoys horseback riding, reading juicy fiction novels, and playing with her kids.