March 26-28, 2021

Seminar Stage Headliners

Gina Ferwerda, Nom News

Gina Ferwerda, Nom News

In Meals from the Mitten: Celebrating the Seasons in Michigan, popular TV personality, travel/food blogger and business entrepreneur Gina Ferwerda shares her love of cooking, photography and adventurous lake life along the shores of Lake Michigan. From a summer charcuterie picnic with fresh vegetables overlooking Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes to Muffler Meatballs cooked on a snowmobile in a winter wonderland, Ferwerda inspires readers to get out of the kitchen and embrace the freshness of each season—which is exactly what Michigan food is all about. Ferwerda, a TODAY show food contributor who has also been featured by Good Morning America and ABC’s The Chew, showcases her passion for the Mitten state in every delicious bite of the 80-plus dishes featured in her debut cookbook, all perfectly designed for the home cook.
About the Author
Gina Ferwerda is a recipe developer, food blogger, resort business owner, and photographer. Her food blog, Nom News, has been featured by The Chew, The Rachel Ray Show, and The Today Show Food Club, and she has appeared on Good Morning America. She lives in Silver Lake, Michigan.

Tom Renkes, 1,000 Mile Kayaking Adventure

Tom Renkes, 1,000 Mile Kayaking Adventure

Tom Renkes (Stewert James) lives with his wife in Petoskey, Michigan spending his retirement writing, painting, traveling, enjoying grandchildren, volunteering, and caring for their 140-year-old home. He’s authored three regionally bestselling novels (SuperPAC trilogy), a collection of short stories (“Writing with Hemingway at City Park Grill”), a collection of poetry with professor colleague John Presley (“Two Lives Two Thousand Omens”), writes for HomeLife magazine, The Graphic, and private and public blogs. His freelance articles have appeared nationwide and in the James Beard Award winning publication, Grand Traverse Edibles magazine. His outdoor activities include kayaking, fly-fishing, backpacking, snowshoeing, and enjoying a good bottle of scotch.

Cara Middleton, Freshwater Vacation Rentals

Cara Middleton, Freshwater Vacation Rentals

Cara Middleton, owner of Freshwater Vacation Rentals, will speak to both guests and owners about the ever-changing vacation rental industry. For owners, Cara will reveal how to maximize your second home investment. She will explain how to do it yourself, when to ask for help, strategies and common pitfalls of the industry. With fourteen years of experience, you will gain knowledge of the legality surrounding vacation rentals, how to ease anxious neighbors, and how to jump over Michigan tax hurdles. In addition, Cara will give renters suggestions on how to pick the perfect vacation rental, what to look for, and how to avoid extra fees. With tips from her own personal practices, realistic examples, and the occasional funny story, you will be sure to enjoy exploring the vacation rental industry.

Julia Kirkwood, Michigan Department of Environment

Julia Kirkwood, Michigan Department of Environment

Julia has worked as a natural resource professional for over 25 years. For the past 18 years she has worked in the Nonpoint Source Pollution Program collaborating with community stakeholders to protect and restore rivers and lakes from land use impacts. She serves on multiple statewide inland lake partnerships and is the chair of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. She has enjoyed working on the development of the MI Shoreland Stewards Program and is currently working on creating more resources to facilitate more understanding on how to keep lakes healthy.

Gary Gage, Agathon Solar

Gary Gage, Agathon Solar

Gary Gage is a NABCEP certified Solar designer and installer specializing in off grid solar and battery backup systems. He has attended solar training from Solar Energy International and various Solar Energy companies including LG Chem, Schneider Electric, Solar Edge, Outback and Magnum energy. Gary has been working in the solar energy field for the past 5 years and was previously was a professor in the automotive department for Ferris state University for 16 years.