2021 Conference Presenters

Our Elder Teachers & Wisdom Keepers

Phyllis D. Light, MA,

Registered Herbalist & Founder of Appalachian Center for Natural Health (Arab, AL)

Lisa Bedner, Registered Herbalist, Registered Nurse & Owner of Pipsissewa Herbs

(Bloomington Springs, TN)

Earcine Evans, Herbalist & Owner of Francis Flowers and Herbs Farm

(Pickens, MS)

Joan Cowden, Clinical Herbalist, Owner of Bright Circle Herbcraft and Prairie Star Herbalist Connection

(Oklahoma City, OK)

Leslie Williams, M.Ed., Registered Herbalist, Owner of Ordinary Herbalist 

(Pine Lake, GA)

Guest Presenters and Herbalists

Joanna Mann, Massage Therapist, Yoga Instructor and Herbalist, Owner of Walden Farmacy

(Bessemer, AL)

Mandi Sanders,

Community Herbalist, Ceremonialist, and Owner of

Sons & Moon

(Starkville, MS)

Ali Pinion, Farmer, Bee Guardian, Owner of Dreaming the Bee

(Starkville, MS)

Leah Larabell, Community Herbalist, Owner of High Garden Tea (Nashville, TN)

Michelle Rigling, Founder and Director of Midsouth Women's Herbal Conference

Presenter Biographies (Alphabetical by Last Name)

*Information subject to updates and changes*


Lisa Bedner, RN, Registered Herbalist, Owner of Pipsissewa Herbs (Tennessee)

Lisa is certified as a Professional Medical Herbalist by the American Herbalist Guild. She is traditionally trained, by her family, as a Native American herbal practitioner, following the teachings of Tihanama, Cherokee, Lenape, and other Nations. As a Medicine Woman and healer of the Tihanama, she practices many of the traditional ceremonies, including sweat lodges and the Healing Drum. Lisa has also studied Western Herbalism, and has more than 30 years of experience as a Registered Nurse, understanding both the allopathic and alternative modes of healing. Pipsissewa Herbs grows more than 100 species of medicinal herbs, manufactures traditional herbal medicines, and the farm is certified as an endangered Medicinal Herb Sanctuary by United Plant Savers. Lisa lectures, teaches and speaks publicly at Herb festivals and garden clubs in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Indiana. Visit her website at http://www.pipsissherbs.biz/


Joan Cowden, Clinical Herbalist (Wise Woman Tradition), HeartMath Ambassador, Owner of Bright Circle Herbcraft and Prairie Star Herbalist Connection (Oklahoma)

Joan has been in love with the natural world since childhood and found herself following paths of healing at a young age. She is an herbalist, earth steward and teacher in Oklahoma City, and an ambassador for the HeartMath Global Coherence Initiative. In a journey that also includes paramedic work, wilderness skills, sacred dance and mythic studies, Joan spent nearly three decades honing her herbcraft in the Wise Woman Tradition before taking her clinical training at the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism. She holds a vision of the earth as sentient and sacred, and weaves intuitive practices with the science of herbalism. Her vision of healing with herbs is both personal and planetary:  A way to intimately reconnect with our wild inner nature and to the magical life-web of the planet, in a dance of reciprocity that can heal both. Her website is www.brightcircleherbcraft.com


Earcine Evans, Herbalist, Owner of Francis Flowers and Herbs Farm (Mississippi)

Earcine Evans is a lifelong practitioner of agricultural growing of herbs, vegetables and flowers. As an astute business woman she owned and operated two Hair salons for more than ten years. Her wisdom and expertise were brought together as she spent years researching ingredients used in cosmetology for hair products and the contents of lotions and soaps used on the body. More specifically, Mrs. Evans has and continues to do focused research with herbs and other natural ingredients that can promote health without the use of toxic chemicals and has worked with noted scientists in this field. She has created a one-of-a-kind, hand-made, scientifically validated, line of health giving products for the hair and body of creams, soaps and oils. The unique gardening and farming techniques used to grow the picture perfect herbs and flowers used in her products display the gifted healing work of her hands upon the land and in the products she creates. There are many other value-added products she devises such as immune boosting tea mixtures. Articles she has written about her work and studies have been featured in both Cosmetology and Agricultural/Farm publications. Visit her website at www.ILovePureCine.com

Leah Larabell, Community Herbalist, Owner of High Garden Tea (Tennessee)

Leah is a nature loving, wild spirited, mother and daughter who finds a great deal of purpose and satisfaction in sharing her love for the land.  As a clinical level herbalist, she has dedicated almost two decades of her life to rigorously studying and diligently practicing the craft of herbalism and has been taught by renowned herbal elders as well as Mother Nature herself.  She comes from a long line of Celtic Cunning Folk and is honored to share from her lineage.  Many experiences over the years have humbled her to removing ego from her practice realizing it is the plants who offer the healing.  Leah and her husband Joel own High Garden Tea and High Garden School of RootWisdom,  both geared toward helping others return to the wild one step at a time with respect and purpose. The non profit sector of the business purchases at-risk land and preserves it as a safe haven for the wild.  She is a forever student of the land and inspired to share with anyone interesting in relationship with nature and carrying this ancient wisdom forward.  With each person returning to nature is another protector of our shared home; plant, animal, land and person. Visit her website at www.highgardentea.com.

Phyllis D. Light, Registered Herbalist, Founder of Appalachian Center for Natural Health (Alabama)

A fourth generation Herbalist and Healer, Phyllis D. Light has studied and worked with herbs, foods and other healing techniques for over 30 years. Her studies in Traditional Southern Appalachian Folk Medicine began in the deep woods of North Alabama with lessons from her grandmother, whose herbal and healing knowledge had its roots in her Creek/Cherokee heritage. Phyllis’ studies continued as an apprentice with the late Tommie Bass, a nationally renowned folk herbalist from Sand Rock, Alabama, as well as other herbal Elders throughout the Appalachians and the Deep South. She has experience in both clinical and private settings including working in an integrative medical clinic.  In addition to Traditional Folk studies, Phyllis has studied Traditional Western Herbalism, Nutrition, Exercise Science, Body Work and Energy Medicine. She continues to maintain an active herbal practice. Phyllis has a Master’s Degree from the University of Alabama in Health Studies and has taught CEU classes for allied healthcare workers including nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, occupational therapists and social workers. She is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and is on the board of directors of the American Naturopathic Certification Board. Website: http://www.phyllisdlight.com

Joanna Mann, Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master, Community Herbalist (Alabama)

Joanna is a kundalini yogi, herbalist, energy healer, massage therapist, farmer, and mother. Her path into healing began when she decided to abandon a more traditional life to pursue her happiness and reclaim her health. The stress of several years had built up- leaving her not feeling well physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. On the yoga mat is where she began to find her authentic self and it quickly became clear to her that she wanted to share this gift with others. So in 2006 she dropped out of law school and transitioned into teaching yoga. Her exploration of the healing arts continued with massage education in 2007.  In her last month of massage school, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and thus was pushed deeper into her personal hero's journey.  Frustrated that the medicines used to control the arthritis made her sicker than the arthritis itself, she turned to diet and herbs.  Joanna has now been arthritis free for over ten years.  Her personal success started her on her unique path of working to connect people with themselves and with nature in order to turn them on to their own self-healing abilities. When not teaching, having fun at markets, or working one on one with clients Joanna finds joy homesteading and farming with her husband and two children on their permaculture homestead and herb farm in Bessemer, Alabama.


Ali Pinion, Farmer, Bee Guardian, Women's Health Educator (Mississippi)

Ali is a bee guardian & priestess who works with plants & stones along with bees to serve her community as ceremonial guide and ritualist. She is a bee guardian, women’s health educator, Red Tent facilitator, and pastured livestock farmher from Starkville, MS. After a health crisis in her early twenties, she began to study herbal medicine and the impact of diet and stress on health. In 2013, she completed her graduate degree at Mississippi State University in Health Promotion with an emphasis in designing community health programs. After working on several ecological farms across the country, she and her husband started a pastured livestock farm in 2010. With lots of meats and vegetables to spare, she began her obsession of all things fermented. Ali has taught many workshops on fermentation in her hometown and at local conferences. Her love of bees and the alchemy they practice led to her fascination of wild-fermented herbal meads. She loves to forage for seasonal herbs, mushrooms, and flowers to add to her meads and using pollen as a source of wild yeast. Mead making has helped lead her to cultivating a deeply spiritual connection with bees and fostering a connection to her ancestors by utilizing the ancient ways of fermentation. You can visit her workshops and Red Tents at Soulflower Healing Arts Studio in Starkville, MS and connect on instagram @sheela_na_wolf and her business page @dreaming_the_bee.


Michelle Rigling, MBA, Ceremonialist, Founder of Chattanooga Red Tent and The Midsouth Women's Herbal Conference 

Michelle is a women's coach, ceremonialist, and wellness event planner. She has led over 125 women's retreats, gatherings and conferences in the past five years including Red Tent gatherings, multiple Wise Woman retreats, and The Midsouth Women's Herbal Conference. She has a Master's Degree in Business and is a Transpersonal Counseling doctorial student with an anticipated graduation date in early 2021. Michelle believes it is part of her life path and purpose to help women reclaim their voice, reconnect with ancient wisdom, and learn to live more intuitively and authentically. Her own granny, Vernell, and her granny's recipes, remedies and stories are part of what inspires her to keep the folk and healing traditions of the Midsouth alive through our conference.


Mandi Sanders, Bioregional Herbalist, Ceremonialist (Mississippi)

Mandi Sanders is a community herbalist & earth medicine practitioner with a focus on family care, women’s health, bioregional herbalism, functional nutrition, and ancestral healing. As both an herbalist and ceremonialist, she works with plant & stone medicine as a healer, guide, and priestess. Her formal educational background includes a degree in Psychology with a focus on Nutritional Therapy. Additionally, she has studied plant medicines and other earth based healing modalities from a variety of perspectives & teachers over the last 13 years. In her community, Mandi teaches classes on conscious family living, herbalism, and earth medicine as well as serving as a post partum doula and La Leche League leader. She facilitates various totes of passage ceremonies, a monthly red tent, and leads plant medicine based ceremonies. Mandi currently owns an herbal apothecary focused on seasonal, bioregional herbal preparations as well as an herbal CSA. Visit her website at www.sonsandmoon.com

Leslie Williams, M.Ed, Registered Herbalist (Georgia)

Leslie, also known as Leslita, has been training as an herbalist all her life. She tells us, “Field and forest, trail and city sidewalk - all are part of the world of medicinal herbs and trees. The key is learning to recognize them in all these places.” Her family taught her of the woods and plants in the mountains of western North Carolina as well as in the home swamps and prairies of northern and coastal Florida.  She has trained in Western herbal traditions, Ayurveda and traditional Chinese herbal lore.  She's been a working herbalist for 30+ years. Shamanic work, scientific research and folk traditions all matter. Currently Leslie is focused on teaching and mentoring others to be herbalists. Visit her website at www.ordinaryherbalist.com

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All content is subject to updates and changes.