Featured speakers at the Prickly Pear Celebration

Rose Ann Hamilton is a Cahuilla tribal member who resides on the Cahuilla Indian reservation.
Apapatkiktem Clan, Cahuilla Basketry Instructor.
She was taught 21 years ago by renowned Cahuilla Basket weaver Donna Largo at Idyllwild Arts.
Rose Ann has taught Cahuilla basket classes at Cahuilla, Santa Rosa, Ramona and Agua Caliente reservations. Rose Ann has participated at gatherings at Los Coyotes, Santa Ysabel, Soboba reservations, and also held classes at Riverside Metropolitan Museum, the Autry Museum and Agua Caliente Museum, Cahuilla basketry presentations at San Manuel conferences at CSUSB and Crafton Hills College.
Rose Ann is the granddaughter of Rosanda Apapas Hopkins Tortez Lugo and the Great granddaughter of Antonia Casero both from Cahuilla and Cahuilla master weave


Denise Squires began her fiber arts journey in 1984 on a flea market spinning wheel with only her imagination to guide her. Self-taught until the early 1990’s she made every mistake possible, until workshops, classes and a much-beloved mentor helped to smooth out the rough edges.  In the early 2000’s Denise developed an interest in mastering weaving techniques and bought a second hand 50” 8 harness Harrisville loom and began classes at Tri-Community Adult School in Covina.  As fiber arts took over more and more of her life, Denise discovered and developed a fascination for dyeing, with a special interest in natural dyes derived from leaves, seeds, bark, roots, and most recently, lichens and fungi.

Denise has won various awards for her spinning and weaving.  She teaches at her home studio and at other venues such as galleries and stores, as her schedule permits


Roy H. Wiersma, Ph.D.,  began his Opuntia research in earnest in August 2005.  As an Independent Researcher within 3 years he had found enough of the ‘lost’ Burbank spineless cactus hybrids to write a book.  While the search for Burbank cactus hybrids has tapered off, he continues to make cactus juice and wine every year, consumes nopalitos con huevos revueltos weekly in season, and enjoys the doves which now regularly nest in his cactuses.

He is a lifelong plant fanatic having assembled a world class plant and seed collection.  He has cloned via grafting or cuttings several trees of historic importance in California including the Arcadia Oak and California’s oldest Pepper tree.  Being a great fan of the work of Luther Burbank (1849-1926) he is now focused on finding and identifying his lost plums and plumcots.

Roy is a true believer in bringing back to life dead specimens of plants and extinct plant and animal species.  He wants to see trees like El Aliso and Abraham’s Oak live again.  To this end he is exploring time gates, cloning, the Philosopher’s Stone, and mass direct appeals to the Creator


Dr. Gordon Pratt did his undergraduate in Biology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and his Masters in Molecular Biology isolating mRNA from female blowflies at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, Canada.  He later did his Ph.D. on the systematics of the dotted blues (Euphilotes) at the University of California at Riverside.  These butterflies potentially evolved in sympatry through food plant shifts on to buckwheat species with different bloom times.  From there he went to the University of Delaware to do a postdoc on sympatric speciation through host plant shifts in Enchenopa binotata (treehoppers).

In the mid-1990s Dr. Pratt returned to the University of California at Riverside and continued his research on butterflies and their food plants.  During his time at the University of California Pratt taught an extension course on butterfly ecology, studied insect and plant diversities on military installations, and endangered butterflies of southern California.

In 2013 Pratt retired from the University of California but still works on butterflies and their food plants of southern California.


Annika Knoppel is the founder of the Prickly Pear Celebration.  As a former nursery owner she understands the advantages of growing a plant that requires virtually no maintenance i.e. no water, no fertilizer, no pruning and produces a bounty of edible products.  That is a plant worthy a celebration!

An Aguanga resident for almost a decade, Annika has been involved in the Anza/Aguanga community through numerous volunteer efforts.  She advocates nature, peace and cooperation.