Board of Directors & Chairpersons

2021 MBS Board of Directors (Bios Below)
President: Cheryl Sykora
Vice President: Carol Novak, Programs
2nd Vice President: David Weiss
Treasurer: Eric Lampland
Secretary: Michael Bahr
Director: Dale Krueger, Fundamentals and Concepts Program
Director: Michael Knoll, Library
Director: Nick Ehlers, Outreach

Intro to Bonsai Workshops: David Weiss
Bonsai Basics: Van Jensen
Bonsai Concepts: Dale Krueger
Auctions: Cheryl Sykora
Fundamentals Program: Dale Krueger
Outreach Program: Nicholas Ehlers
Librarian: Michael Knoll
Mother’s Day: Open for 2021
2022 Winter Banquet: Open for 2021
Member Tour & Picnic: Open for 2021
Website: Celina Blandford

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*Please email if you are interested in volunteering for any position

2021 MBS Board of Directors Bios

President – Cheryl Sykora

Cheryl started the bonsai hobby in around 2000 after seeing a State Fair Exhibit probably in 1999. She enrolled in Boon’s intensive classes in 2004 and graduated in 2007. Still didn’t know much about bonsai and my trees were not all that good. She continued taking intensive trainings and workshops from Boon following graduation. She attended two years of Ryan Neil’s elongated species classes outside Portland, OR where the focus was on species like Spruce, hemlock, redwood, and fir. Her Boon intensive graduation Ponderosa Pine was accepted into the Artisan’s Cup show held at the Portland Art Museum in 2015. It had previously won “best of show” at an earlier State Fair exhibit and was exhibited in one of Boon’s BIB January bonsai shows and the National Exhibition in Rochester, NY.

Since the Artisan’s cup, she stopped taking intensive trainings and now participate in Araxi Hovhannessian’s study group in Mesa, AZ with Boon. It is an all-woman study group that meets three times a year to work on trees with Boon as our mentor. She has a collection in Phoenix, AZ consisting of pomegranate, California juniper, silverberry, olives, and a few other species that benefit from periodic work on them and can handle the summer heat of Phoenix. She also belong to the Phoenix Bonsai Society that meets multiple times a month at the Phoenix Garden Center.
Cheryl was the co-chair of two ABS conventions – the 2018 convention in St Louis, Missouri and the 2019 convention in Houston, TX. and has been an on going contributor to the ABS journal through the regional series articles. This next journal will be her last regional series article. After doing it for many years, someone else will continue on with possibly a fresh approach.

She continues her membership in Ryan Neil’s on-line “Mirai Live” which she views as the best, most cost effective, on-line training out there for all stages of bonsai experience.

Her philosophy on bonsai is that it is a continuous learning process, that a person should invest in good material, styling is the last thing you master but the first thing most people try to be competent at, and there may be a better way to do something but don’t try it out on all your trees all at once and don’t believe what a professional tells you until you see their trees and are satisfied they actually did them themselves.

Vice President – Carol Novak

Carol Novak took her first novice workshop about 30 years ago, but was not able to pursue her interest due to having a young family and running a business. In 2011, her husband asked for a bonsai for Christmas but it quickly became evident he just wanted a finished miniature tree as a houseplant. After another workshop together, Carol was the one who got hooked! They now have a garden of miniature trees.

She retired early, in part, because her job interfered with her working with the bonsai trees. During the long Minnesota dormancy period, she enjoys making ceramic containers for her trees.

She says, “As First Vice President, I am dedicated to nurturing new bonsai enthusiasts as well as enriching the general meetings for all. If you have any ideas that would meet that goal including programs at the meeting, please feel free to contact me.”

2nd Vice President – David Weiss, Workshops

Dave first became interested in bonsai in the late 1980’s. It was 1990 when he purchased his very first. Though it didn’t live long, Dave has plenty to care for now. Dave became an MBS member in November of 2016 and has been to almost every general meeting and Tuesday evening basic class since. During the day, Dave is a special education teacher at Henry Sibley HIgh School in Mendota Heights. If you have an ear, Dave will talk it off about his passion for bonsai. He will also take every bit of advice and mentorship he can acquire from those around him with any level of passion for the hobby. Since a little kid visiting the Como Park Conservatory, Dave has loved the beautiful gardens, fascinating Koi, that used to be in the sunken garden, and now the breathtaking bonsai display and Japanese garden.

Treasurer – Eric Lampland

Owner of Lookout Point Communications, Eric became a member of MBS in 2013. In Zen practice there is a mediation practice called “art practice.” Two of the areas that were of particular interest to him were bonsai and calligraphy. In the late 1990’s he facilitated a meditation practice class around bonsai. Although he had no knowledge of the art, much less the meditative practice, he came to find that he was taken with bonsai. After experiencing the initial frustration of ignorance, he found quiet and lately, he has seen beauty emerge from his experiences. He has many other interests which include technology, Japanese gardening, philosophy, physics and the behaviors of people in politics and life. He finds that the society is oriented around bonsai display, or the external aspects of bonsai. His focus is more internal. It is the connection with nature and the quiet, meditative state of mind that attends working with the trees. He’s not sure how MBS could bring that to others, but is sure that each of us has had that meditative experience.

Director – Dale Krueger, Chair Fundamentals and Concepts Class 

Interested in bonsai for many years, Dale took every opportunity he could to learn more. After becoming a MBS member is 2000 he has served on the board for many years as Mother’s Day Show, Fundamentals, Winter Banquet, Members’ Tour and Picnic Chairs and 1st Vice President for programs. He also served on the 30th Anniversary committee. He completed three years of pines study at Bonsai Mirai as well as four years and continuing with Peter Tea. He is excited to share what he’s learned. When he isn’t working on trees, Dale also enjoys home improvement projects, camping, kayaking, collecting trees and stones in South Dakota and Northern Minnesota, with his wife Sue, a good single malt scotch and is in the process of renewing his interest in ceramics.


Nicholas EhlersDirector – Nicholas Ehlers, Outreach

Nicholas first became interested in bonsai like a lot of kids, from The Karate Kid, and bought his first tree in 2006 at the State Fair. It died within the first year and finally after graduating college, got back into the hobby and has been slowly collecting trees ever since. He joined the club in 2018 and has been to almost every general meeting since.

During the day, Nicholas is an R&D engineer with Cambria Co. in Le Sueur. When not working on his trees, he loves to travel with his wife Kiersten, and snuggle with his two cats, Tank & Rocket.

In the future, he would like to help connect people interested in the hobby to join the club and keep them engaged and coming back.

Secretary – Michael Bahr

Although newer to Bonsai, Michael has been involved in nature and the healing it can bring both spiritually, physically, and mentally. Michael has been a Manual therapist, Massage therapist, Herbalist and Formulist for several years.

His first interest in bonsai 30 years ago was from a shopping mall Christmas Bonsai tree. With no instructions, it died within 3 months. The person wasn’t there to ask for help beyond the holidays. Without the internet or even knowing what the tree was called. His interest soon grew dim. The Gal at the Booth just said don’t use soft water. There went 25 dollars down the drain.

6 or 7 years ago at the Como Zoo was the next time he saw a Bonsai tree. He was in there for 30 minutes looking at the wonderful old trees. His wife almost had to pull him out. He will be growing, learning, and taking in all the information He can find right along with you. He hasn’t killed any Bonsai trees yet since he started anew.

Director – Michael Knoll, Librarian

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