Founder and CEO (aka Mama Bear)
Jody Marquis is a professional natural resources manager with a deep love for Northwest Michigan and the plant communities which grow near its lakes and streams. One of Jody’s very early memories is trudging up the dune climb in what is now the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and looking across Glen Lake. Little did little-girl Jody know that the culmination of her life’s work in conservation would be rescuing the shorelines of Glen Lake from degradation and re-establishing native plant communities that once had thrived there, most importantly the endangered Michigan Monkey Flower (Mimulus michiganensis).
In her long career, Jody has focused on her two professional loves: natural resources and writing, usually at the same time. She has worked for two state agencies (the Illinois Department of Conservation and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency or IEPA), a conservation non-profit organization, and newspapers, plus she has owned and operated a marketing communications firm in Chicago. She left Chicago to fulfill her lifelong dream of living in her beloved Northwest Michigan, where she had summered since babyhood at her family’s Crystal Lake cottage.
There, after a hiatus to rear a step-family, Jody returned to her passion for plants and started Mama Bear Restorations, Inc. She named her company after the mother bear of the Sleeping Bear legend.
After finding the rare Michigan Monkey Flower at one of the sites where her company was working on restoration, Jody became a specialist in recovery of the critically globally imperiled plant that is on both the state and federal Endangered Species Lists. Jody holds a permit to work with Michigan Monkey Flower from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Although Jody has academic credentials with a Master of Science in natural resources and water resources management from The Ohio State University School of Natural Resources and undergraduate degrees in English, geology, and biology from Knox College, she credits her parents with instilling both love for and knowledge of Nature. Now in her 70’s, Jody plans to spend her “retirement” years working to develop a love for and protective understanding of Nature in both kids and their parents. She firmly believes that developing a philosophy of stewardship for the planet is the best way to save the world.
Jody has written about her work in her book REFLECTIONS FROM GLEN SPRINGS: A GLEN LAKE COMMUNITY’S SUCCESSFUL EFFORT TO RESTORE AND PRESERVE A NATIVE NORTHWEST MICHIGAN SHORELAND. The book is available at book stores in Glen Arbor, Traverse City, and Leland.
Mama Bear Restorations’ Staff
Laurel Voran, Director of Restoration Services
Horticulturist and Garden Designer, Laurel Voran is delighted to join Mama Bear Restorations. She is involved in all realms of restoration from detailed weeding or pruning, to careful Michigan Monkey Flower transplanting, to wildly slinging mucky heaps of “invader” species—uncovering and “liberating the Monkey.” She also coordinates and manages special projects, such as the Coltsfoot Control Project on Glen Lake’s shoreline.
Her work with Mama Bear is an ideal fit, combining her extensive horticultural background with her unending love of wild spaces. She earned degrees in both Art and Natural Science from
Goshen College (Goshen, Indiana) and also has completed the two-year Professional Gardener Training Program at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. She then enjoyed 13 amazing years employed as a horticulturist at the renowned Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, Penn., developing the gardens of the Ruin and Gravel Garden in addition to the Minder Woods.
Laurel also enjoyed opportunities to travel extensively, working in and exploring gardens and natural areas around the world. After 15 years of East Coast suburbia, this Northern Indiana native felt it was time to relocate to a quieter region. She was first bitten by the “Northern Michigan Bug” as a child on family vacations and is pleased to finally call this unique area home.
Jan Matthews, Senior Restoration Specialist
Jan Matthews has been an environmentalist living in Northwest Michigan her entire life. Professionally, Jan has enjoyed a diverse and eclectic life. She received her formal education in Theater Arts from Central Michigan University. She co-directed Terrestrial Theater, a performing arts organization in Whitehall, Michigan, that offered large-scale environmental performance extravaganzas in the dunes and woods along Lake Michigan while also studying creative dance, performance art, puppetry, and mask making.
Jan’s background in creative movement included 10 years of training with the Aikido Yoshokai Association of North America. She has studied,
practiced, and taught Tai Chi/Qigong for more than 20 years. Along the way, there also were stints in graphics arts, social work, owning an antiques shop, and other fascinating endeavors.
Born and raised on the coast of Lake Michigan, Jan married her childhood sweetheart and grew a family, and together they moved through life spending as much time as possible in the woods, on the beach, or in the lake. One of their special pursuits was gardening.
Jan’s experience with gardening and wild nature led her to Mama Bear Restorations. Coming out of semi-retirement in 2004 to join the Mama Bear’s ecological restoration work on the shores of Glen Lake, Jan found the perfect fit. In particular, she loves working to save the rare Michigan Monkey Flower growing in the wetlands of the Glen Lake shoreland. Jan is a Michigan Certified Natural Shoreline Professional, trained in erosion control without using seawalls or riprapping, by the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership.
Although no longer performing in a formal way, Jan remains on Mother Nature’s stage where she is following her heart and instincts and making life choices based on a need to re-establish unity with our natural world. To that end Jan continues to walk softly on Mother Earth, to listen to her whispers, and to heal when and where it is possible.
Kathy Coffin-Sheard, Restoration Specialist
Kathy Coffin-Sheard joined the staff of Mama Bear Restorations in the spring of 2012. Being raised in Southwest Virginia on a large creek that fed into the James River, her love for nature, especially birding and gardening, was fostered at an early age.
Kathy, a former elementary art educator, feels very fortunate to be part of the Mama Bear Restorations team. She holds a BFA in painting and drawing and a BLA in Environmental Design from the University of Georgia in Athens. Her growing interest in native plant communities developed in Madison, Wisconsin, where she worked in prairie restoration at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.
Being immersed in the Glen Springs stream restoration projects allows Kathy to feel like she is making a true difference in the environment; one stream at a time. When looking over Glen Lake at various times of the day, catching the various hues of blue that are visible, the sounds of wildlife, as well as the graceful splash of waves and trickles of streams, a sense of calm is prevalent in this ever-changing world.
Kathy and her husband and son moved to Traverse City in the summer of 2010. They all feel fortunate to have landed here in Northwest Michigan.