Our Story

In February of 2014, the Westport Garden Club hosted Doug Ladd as a guest speaker at their monthly meeting. At the time, Ladd was the Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy in Missouri. Doug spoke of the state of the tallgrass prairie as the most threatened, yet least conserved of the world’s ecosystems. He impressed upon the group the importance of saving this precious resource, and the species that rely on it in the process.  The members were so inspired by Doug’s program that a club task force was organized to ‘be pollinators’ for native plants in Kansas City.

Partnering with Powell Gardens, the Westport Garden Club learned more about native species and experimented with them in their own gardens. They organized presentations by Doug Tallamy and Roy Diblik to inform and inspire the public. They hosted municipalities, architects, landscapers, elected officials, conservation agencies, nonprofits, and local businesses to discuss the importance of mobilizing Kansas City to appreciate and preserve its prairie roots. Out of that first presentation, a series of conversations eventually gave birth to a new organization called the KC Native Plant Initiative.

The Garden Club’s enthusiasm and persistence grew into a collective impact organization, one united behind a shared vision of beautiful, native landscapes connecting heartland communities where nature and people thrive together. Deep Roots is a collective impact organization of multi-sector Partners. Together with our Partners, we work to increase native plant landscapes. Our mission is to encourage the appreciation, conservation, and use of native plants in the heartland through educating, collaborating, and facilitating the planting of regenerative native landscapes that are essential for a healthy planet.

Today, under our new name, Deep Roots KC is teaching people that What You Plant Matters!

Deep Roots Core Group

G. David Gale, Chair

Jason Jensen, Vice-Chair

Tom Jacobs, Treasurer

Margo Farnsworth, Secretary

Bob Berkebile

Kathy Gates, Founder

Gina Miller

Marion Pierson, MD

Kristin Riott

Eric Tschanz

Stephen Van Rhein

Our Staff


Stacia B. Stelk, Executive Director

Stacia became the first Director of Deep Roots in November 2017. Stacia’s responsibilities include overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization but also capturing the energy and imagination of Deep Roots volunteers to increase native plant landscapes.

Stacia has a B.S. in Systematics and Ecology from the University of Kansas and an MPA in Non-Profit Management from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Among Stacia’s career accomplishments is launching Ripple Glass which increased Kansas City area glass recycling rate from less than 4% to more than 20%. Stacia enjoys nature, reading, exercising, and spending time with her husband and two daughters.

When Stacia needs inspiration, she looks out her office window to watch all of the action in her native plant garden. It’s a pollinator party out there!

Jahaira Aguilar, Project Manager

Jahaira Aguilar is a native Texan, transplanted to Kansas City, MO. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting and a Social Practice Certificate from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2016. She joins the staff team as a Project Manager handling administrative tasks, assisting with fundraising efforts, volunteer coordinating, managing our social media, and liaising between Committees and the Executive Director. Jahaira is also editor and publisher of the Pollinator, a monthly newsletter focused on sharing native plant resources, important news updates, and opportunities to engage with other native plant enthusiasts and professionals in the Kansas City region.

Jahaira has an exciting past working with non-profit organizations such as The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Continuing Education at The Kansas City Art Institute, and the Art in the Loop Foundation. While she is a native plant novice, she has always had a deep connection to nature and welcomes the opportunity to learn from the ancient plants that surround her. Jahaira loves reading, dancing, and spending quality time with her family and friends.

Tammy Thompson, Outreach and Conference Manager

Tammy joined Deep Roots in 2021. Much of her work is done behind the scenes, organizing Deep Roots’ events, webinars, and other educational efforts. She is the coordinator for our annual Plan It Native Landscapes Conference.

Tammy comes to Deep Roots following a career with the Federal Government and nursery sales with a local garden center. In 2016, she began an organic vegetable farm business and continues sharing the harvest and bounty from it. Tammy holds a B.S. in Gerontology and a B.A. in Health Care Administration from Wichita State University. Her passion for natives led Tammy and her husband to convert 3 1/2 acres of their property to native grasses and pollinators; learning and growing as their plots continue to mature. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and pretty much any activity that gets her outside.

Tammy lives outside Platte City, MO with her husband, son, two cats, and dog…as well as a rogue vegetable-eating groundhog named Cyrus.

Our Projects

Plan It Native Landscapes Conference
Ongoing Education for Professionals and Homeowners

Deep Roots’ committees present workshops for homeowners, gardeners, and large and small scale landscape professionals. Register for upcoming programs on our Events page, or receive new events in your email by subscribing to The Pollinator.

Case Studies – Coming Soon!

Loose Park Monarch Demonstration Garden and Jean Mary Love Blackman Native Shade Gardens

Homeowner Roberta Vogel-Leutung

Shawnee Mission Park Native Prairies

Shawnee Mission School District Center for Academic Achievement

Gale Communities

Prairie Birthday Farm

Our Partners

Deep Roots KC (formerly the KC Native Plant Initiative)  is a collective impact organization comprised of multi-sector Partners working to increase native plant landscapes on both small and large scales.

Deep Roots’ Partners consist of small and large businesses, municipalities, state government agencies, parks departments, not-for-profit organizations and individuals. Partners collaborate to share resources, opportunities, and create synergy to plant more native species and provide education that results in more native landscapes.

This section is under construction, check back soon to meet our Partners!