Guy Sternberg is a certified arborist and a retired landscape architect. He was a Pi Alpha Xi honors graduate of Purdue University and served on the staff of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for thirty-two years and currently is the co-owner and oversees Starhill Forest Arboretum, which holds one of the most extensive oak genus (Quercus) living reference collections in North America.
Guy worked with the National Famous and Historic Tree Program to promote awareness and appreciation of special historic trees, and was the tree consult and propagator for a special tree nursery serving Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield Illinois, the setting of President Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb. He is the principal author of the reference books Landscaping with Native Trees and Native Trees for North American Landscapes.
Guy has also provided articles and photographs for numerous periodicals including American Nurseryman, Arborist News, American Gardener, Landscape Architecture, Fine Gardening, Country Woman, and Old House Journal. He has been a contributor for several volumes in Houghton-Mifflin’s Taylor’s Garden Encyclopedia series, including Taylor’s Master Guide to Gardening, and for Taunton Press, Ortho, Timber Press, Reader’s Digest, Meredith, Better Homes & Gardens, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden horticulture books.
Guy is a tree consultant, writer, lecturer, and photographer. He and Edie have propagated and grown thousands of species of trees, both native and non-native, at Starhill Forest. He was the first president of the International Oak Society and is a life member of the International Dendrology Society, International Society of Arboriculture, and American Forests.
Edie Sternberg is the engine, brakes, and throttle behind the scenes. She manages our accounts, oversees the Arboretum Friends organization, handles exotic species control, and works with the herbs, dunes gardens, and other herbaceous plant areas. Edie has a degree in zoology and is our resident wildlife consultant. She also coordinates our involvement with the many charitable organizations we assist, and has served on the boards of several of them as well as with local agencies such as the County Board of Health, Tourism Commission, Planning Commission, and Menard Trails and Greenways.
For almost 30 years, Edie lived in a parallel universe where she served as chief of health promotion and chronic diseases for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Her business travels took her throughout Illinois and the nation, and she never left home without a “hit list” of seed or photo requests being thrust into her hand. Some of the young trees and other photos you see on this web site resulted from her success in meeting those challenges.
Alana McKean has been on staff at Starhill Forest since 2010, taking on the role of curator in 2016. As the title indicates, Alana maintains the documentation of the woody plant collection, but as one of only two full-time staff members, you’re just as likely to find her outside with a shovel or a chainsaw in hand as at the computer working on plant records!
Alana pursues her interest in native plants as a member of the Illinois Native Plant Society, serving as the Central Chapter newsletter editor. She is also an active member of the International Oak Society. Prior to taking on her role at Starhill Forest, Alana worked in her native Iowa as a Conservation Planner with the Nature Conservancy and a county conservation naturalist. Alana is an ISA certified arborist and a 2008 graduate of Illinois College graduate with degrees in Biology and Environmental Science.
Aaron Baker came on board as full time grounds manager in 2023. Aaron was a part of the summer intern crew in 2021, graduating from Illinois College in 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness and a History minor. Knowing his strong work ethic and diversity of skills, Aaron is an valuable asset to the Starhill team!