Environmental Education Alumni
Graduates of the Environmental Education program have gone on to diverse careers. Some have continued on to become classroom teachers. Others work for various government agencies as environmental educators and field biologists. The following is a sample of the positions currently held by graduates of our program.
Vicki Arthur – Graduated 2001. Conservation Education Specialist. U.S. Forest Service, Headquarters, Washington D.C.
Kiersa Benson - Kiersa has a bachelor's degree in biology and environmental studies from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. In addition to the EE Masters degree, she is working towards a teaching licensure for middle/high biology. She spent the last few years exploring canyon country in Moab, Utah and teaching field trips as a National Park Ranger. In her spare time she enjoys reading mystery novels and knitting silly critters.
Katie Bradley - Katie is a graduate assistant in the Biology department, teaching general biology labs. She received her Bachelor's of Science degree, cum laude, in Environmental Science from Messiah College in Pennsylvania. She came to southern Oregon from an environmental educator position at the Alice Ferguson Foundation, a non-profit providing environmental/agricultural education in the Washington, D.C area. Work experiences include the Alaskan Center forthe Environment and the Maryland Park Service in the field of outdoor education. She enjoys rock climbing and hiking, and hopes to inspire in others the same sense of wonder and appreciation she frequently experiences in nature.
Jessica Collins - Jessica is currently working on her masters in Environmental Education and a certificate of non-profit management. She has a bachelor’s degree in German from Carthage College. She spent several years working for an environmental education center in the Chicagoland area. She was involved in the book and school supply rescue efforts as well as community education. Most recently, she worked in marketing for an electrical contractor that spent the majority of its efforts building wind farms. In her free time, Jessica enjoys endurance running, traveling both domestically and internationally, yoga, cooking, and playing with her dog Max.
John Duwe - John graduated from the program in 2012 with his masters of science and Oregon teaching license. His fondest memory of the program takes place along the Smith River on an aquatic ecology field trip. He and his class threw rocks at a log suspended on a rope swing across the river, along with Dr. Parker. Eventually, two rocks hit the log at the same time and caused it to spin through the air. The whole class cheered and apparently shared a “very deep sense of accomplishment”. John now makes his home in Durango, Colorado where he is a program coordinator for Durango Nature Studies. This is a local non-profit serving the four-corners area with environmental education opportunities for all ages. It is a job that suits John well.
Sarah Finstad - Sarah was in cohort two, graduating from the program in 2011. She received her middle/high school teaching license in biology in addition to her masters of science. Sarah moved to Los Angeles after graduation, where she taught biology and AP environmental science at Environmental Charter High School. She spent two years there and, while she loved it, she didn’t feel like she was done being a scientist. Now, Sarah is attending CSU in Monterey Bay where she studies applied marine science. This is allowing her to put her environmental education skills to work, since she must negotiate the fine line between science and policy. Although Sarah is doing what she loves, she loved her time in the program and misses both Ashland and the friends she met here.
Stacey Gaylord Moore – Graduated 1995. Community Relations Programme Manager for Department of Conservation, New Zealand. She is currently Director, Ecological Education, Institute for Applied Ecology, Corvallis, Oregon.
Jesse Hersh - Jesse may be the only graduate of the program with “Stewart-ism” tattooed on her butt. “Make it So” is a phrase that Jesse has truly taken to heart. She has followed her dreams, and now teaches garden/nutrition education with the “Let’s Grow!” program at two public elementary schools in southern California. She also runs her own edible landscaping business when she is not tending her organic seed farm in Goleta, California. Jesse graduated in 2010, and has fond memories of building relationships within the cohort, reading botany journals in the library, and digging deep into her favorite subjects. The program filled in many gaps in her understanding of environmental science, and gave her the confidence to run her own educational programs from the ground up. Make it so.
Noelle Jordan – Graduated 2002. Environmental Education Coordinator at the Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Orange, Texas.
Aliza Kawecki - Aliza went through the program during 2009 and 2010, and can’t seem to escape it. She is currently the Youth Coordinator at the Siskiyou Field Institute in Selma, Oregon and collaborates with our program each fall. As part of our Fall-in-the-Field program, students take part in overnight programs at the Deer Creek Center where Aliza works. To say that she is an integral part of making this happen each year would be an understatement. Although she still gets to interact with the program, she misses taking the classes. Aliza has fond memories of finding Pacific Giant Salamanders and tailed frogs as part of her “Natural History of the Klamath Knot” course that she took with Stewart Janes and Michael Parker. Aliza now lives in Takilma, Oregon right by the gorgeous Illinois River. Thank you, Aliza, for all that you do for us each year!
Ryan King - Ryan makes the transcontinental trek to the Pacific Northwest from his hometown of Glastonbury, Connecticut. A graduate from Oberlin College with a background in Biology and Environmental Studies, Ryan put his background in science to good use here at SOU. He completed a thesis project that established the first apiary on campus. Additionally, Ryan taught beekeeping classes to area youth over the summer. Ryan lives in Jacksonville, Oregon where he now divides his time between teaching 8th grade at Ruch Elementary School and coaching cross-country at Ashland High School.
Hannah Kolni - Hannah graduated in 2013, as part of Cohort 4. She now lives in Shady Cove, Oregon. Here, she teaches middle school natural resources, world history, and language arts at Prospect Charter School in Prospect, Oregon. She has several fond memories from her time in the program. Singing modified pop songs to stunned children during Fall-in-the-Field, making a fool of herself in skits, and helping kids find places to play games are memories she holds dear. Mostly, she relishes the opportunity she had to and bring the joys of discovery to kids around the Rogue Valley.
Lindsey Lyons – Graduated 2005. Currently on the faculty of Oregon State University working for the Extension Service and based in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Katie MacDiarmid - Katie received her BS in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology from the University of Oregon. After college, she taught outdoor science programs for 5th and 6th graders at Outdoor School and at Whiskeytown Environmental School. In the summers, she led backpacking, climbing, and rafting trips for teens with Adventure Treks. She also spent a year teaching middle school science for BECA, a bilingual school for low-income students in Honduras, before discovering the Environmental Education program at SOU. In addition to her EE Master’s, Katie is currently pursuing a secondary teaching licensure and working as a graduate assistant in the SEEC office. In her free time, Katie enjoys climbing, running, cooking, reading, and music.
Brennan McGinnis - Brennan spent his college years in a microscopic and molecular fairytale as he studied cell biology at Oregon State University. At the turn of his senior year he realized that, though he loved medicine and physiology, he actually thrived during the two short weeks in which he was guiding youth educational backpacking trips. Through college, and in the years since, he has worked as a contract wilderness outdoor educator and ecological restoration technician. In 2010, Brennan decided that the MS in Environmental Education offered at SOU would be the best way to gain the skills and qualifications necessary for offering wilderness education for young people. While fulfilling the EE requirements, Brennan will also complete coursework towards the Certificate in Non-Profit Management in hopes that he will be able to help restore the Wilderness CharterSchool curriculum at Ashland High School. In the cracks between family, class, and work, he also loves to backpack, hike, slack-line, snowboard, travel, and cook. Personal heroes: G.W. Hayduke and Utah Phillips.
Bethany Osborne-Koch - Bethany has a BS in General Science and Theater with a minor in Biology from the University of Oregon. For the last three years she spent her days falling in love with the rainy, lush forests of Northwestern Oregon as a Field Instructor for the MESD Outdoor School program. While working towards an Elementary/Middle licensure she hopes to strengthen her understanding of our ecosystem to better share her wonder for the outdoors with students. Bethany aspires to spend her time hiking, farming, cooking, and tidepooling - as well as the occasional frolick.
Shauna Oster - Shauna is currently a SEEC graduate assistant and is also working toward a secondary biology teaching licensure. She has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Portland State University. Some of her favorite work experiences include leading fisheries survey field trips as a member of the Americorps Watershed Stewards Project and her adventures on the road as a traveling science educator for OMSI. In between helping kids in the community with their science fair projects and guiding nature hikes, Shauna enjoys kayaking, painting, scuba diving, and roller-skating.
Stacey Perry - Stacey has a degree in Studio Art with a minor in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. She is pursuing an elementary/middle level teaching licensure and is passionate about creating empowering learning experiences for children both in the classroom and outdoors. For the past four years, Stacey taught soil science to sixth-graders through the Multnomah Education Service District’s Outdoor School program in Portland, OR. She enjoys spending time in and around Oregon’s beautiful rivers, lakes, and streams.
Melisa Pitkin – Graduated 2006. Education and Outreach Director, Point Reyes Bird Observatory in Santa Rosa, California.
Sara Poggi - Sara graduated from the program in 2010, following an exciting series of events. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marine and freshwater biology from the University of New Hampshire. After graduating, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria for three years where she worked in schools to educate students about the environment. She has worked as an environmental educator in a variety of other locations, including coastal New Hampshire, on whale-watching boats in the Gulf of Maine, and in nature centers in southern Oregon. She now makes her home in Singerland, New York and works as an environmental educator at the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center.
Chris Rennaker - If Chris were writing his biography, he would include his stint as a professional wrestler in Central America, his knack for understanding Spanish horses at a deeper level, and the dragons he and his cohort fought during their Fall-in-the-Field experience. But, since none of that is true, here is the real story. Chris graduated from the program in 2011, and now works as an environmental educator in Guatemala. He is an avid runner, and used to work at Rogue Valley Runners here in Ashland.
Kristi Reynolds - Kristi Reynolds' interests in the environment stem from a lifetime of exploring the outdoors, most recently with her two teenage sons. Kristi attended the SOU EE program with the 2010-2011 cohort where she wrote a master's thesis analyzing the emotional and intellectual impact of the public tour at Oregon Caves NM. Currently, Kristi is still living and working in the Rogue Valley. As the events coordinator and board member for Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou NM, she plans the outreach programs such as the Hike and Learn series. She also coordinates the August Institute, an environmental education workshop presented by SOREEL (Southern Oregon Regional Environmental Education Leaders). As an environmental education consultant she has taught Salmon Watch classes along the local streams and assisted the BLM with displays at the Cascade-Siskiyou NM information center.
Sarah Smith - Sarah Smith went through the program from 2010 to 2012. Her most memorable experience in the program took place at the Deer Creek Center, when a rattlesnake got into the girl’s yurt and chaos ensued. She now lives in San Jose, California where she is an integrated science and environmental science teacher at Downtown College Prep. This school serves Latino students in the Bay Area who are the first in their families to strive for college. She has also worked as an outdoor educator at YMCA Camp Campbell in Boulder Creek, California.
Libby VanWyhe - Libby VanWyhe is a recent graduate of the Master’s of Environmental Education program at SOU, graduating in December of 2012. The program, as Libby will be the first to admit, benefited her greatly. The process involved with planning Fall-in-the-Field with eleven other people built her confidence, her collaboration skills, and her comfort as a leader. As I anticipated, I enjoyed the practical components of our study, because I absorb local natural history far easier in the field. In fact, Libby’s skills developed so much that she ended up presenting the leadership principles she learned at the national NAAEE conference with a selection of fellow students. Today, Libby has put all of these skills into her dream job as the Nature Center Manager at North Mountain Park here in Ashland. She managers the budget, supervises a number of other people, and creates the environmental education programs that she ultimately delivers to community members of all ages. Talk about an alumni success story!
Elizabeth Waserman – Graduated 2002. Interpretive Specialist. Lake Clark National Park, Homer, Alaska. She is currently Deputy Manager of Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Teresa “Bird” Wicks - Bird currently works as a graduate assistant in the SEEC office, coordinating the educational kits. She has her B.S. from Oregon State University in Natural Resources and a minor in Wildlife Conservation. Bird volunteered at Wildlife Images Rehabilitation Center for six years, banded birds for the Institute for Bird Populations in Orange County, CA and served as Environmental Educator for at-risk youth through AmeriCorps and The Job Council. Bird has a habit of rescuing animals, currently enjoying time with a horse, Huka, and a dog, Freyja. She enjoys hiking, camping, birdwatching, sewing, research and teaching people about nature.
Sam Whitridge – Graduated 2009. Coordinator for the Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners (BCWEP) and also working for OSU Extension Jackson County as a Natural Resources Extension Agent.