Alena is a dedicated educator who is focused on providing meaningful outdoor experiences to underserved youth. Alena first began working with the Ventana Wilderness Society in 2004 as an instructor for the Natural Science Discovery Camp, and then as Education Coordinator, coming to the program with seven years of experience in outdoor science education. A native of the East Coast, Alena received a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Outdoor Education, with a focus on natural interpretation, from SUNY (State University of New York) Cortland. She has teaching experience working with all ages from infant to adult, including individuals with special needs and behavioral challenges. With over 15 years experience in program development and management, Alena also has an extensive background in natural sciences, is trained in basic first aid, wilderness first aid and CPR, and holds a class B commercial driver’s license. She is currently the Education Coordinator for VWS.
Juliet has worked as a naturalist and informal educator for over 20 years since she graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Over the last 15 years she has worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Her most recent position as the Manager of Aquarium Adventures allows her to inspire people not only to protect the ocean, but get up close and personal while participating in tours, sleepovers or diving. Inspiring families to explore nature together is not only a carreer, but a passion. “Through my entire career I have seen the power of nature to inspire children, to not only connect natural world around them, but to expand their vision for who and what they want to be as they grow up.”
Hello there! My name is KC Moran. This is my second year with Family Nature Summits. I had such an amazing and exciting time last year in Bar Harbor that I’m back for more. I am currently working as a Water Resources Engineer at GZA GeoEnvironmental in Norwood, MA. I can’t wait to see all my returning Early Discoverers and hopefully I will meet some new ones!
Kent Meyer will welcome our Summiteers to the 2012 Family Nature Summit and give us a feel for the history of YMCA of the Rockies and areas of Colorado we will be exploring. Kent began his YMCA career in high school as a camp counselor for Camp Carson in Indiana. He also served as Director of Camp Hope, Director of Camp Chief Ouray, Center Director of Snow Mountain Ranch, and became President/CEO of the Association in 2001. Kent has his B.A. in Secondary Education, his M.A. in history, and is a Retired Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Ami been attending Family Nature Summits for 10+ years and every time is a wild and new experience. She is currently employed at a private preschool/kindergarten which she thoroughly enjoys. Currently, one of her main goals is to use some of the tools she have learned through Family Nature Summit work to transform her workplace in to a more eco-friendly place for all. She looks forward to meeting you all as well as the little ones who may be accompanying you at the upcoming summit!!
Richard MacDonald has a diverse background rooted in science, natural history, and adventure, with a curriculum vitae that reads a bit like an action novel.
Taking a year off from university to earn money for his continued studies became an eight-year hiatus that saw Rich working atop Whiteface Mountain, located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, studying the effects of acid rain on high elevation forests. These studies, which led to broader studies of climate change, saw him tromping the massive Whiteface massif to remote field sites during all hours of the day and night, driving snow-cats to the summit during the winter research program, climbing 24-meter (80-foot) spruce trees to sample foliage.
During this time, Rich simultaneously pursued his passion for everything bird. Initially, he worked part-time for the Audubon Society, studying the colonial waterbirds of Lake Champlain. Eventually, he joined the science staff of The Nature Conservancy where his studies focused on both waterbirds and the boreal birds of northern forests.
To supplement his ardent passion for the natural world, early on Rich added guiding and instructing to his repertoire, leading bird tours, teaching paddling skills, and touring the Adirondack Mountains on telemark skis. In 1997, he founded the Lake Champlain Sea Kayak Institute. And in 2002, Rich left his position with The Nature Conservancy to co-lead a five-month educational sea kayak expedition, the Gulf of Maine Expedition, along with Natalie Springuel, who afterwards became his wife.
Today, Rich lives in Bar Harbor, Maine, with Natalie and their five-year-old daughter, Anouk. He is the director of The Natural History Center, leading nature and adventure tours, and studying the birds of coastal Maine. Among his many projects, he is writing a bird book for this region.
Since 2005, Rich and his wife have co-directed the education team on special cruise-ship charters for the National Public Radio program, A Prairie Home Companion. And in January of this year, he was a naturalist on a small ship that went to Antarctica. Rich regularly writes about nature and outdoor adventure for a variety of publications. He is a graduate of the State University of New York where he studied field biology.
Al Lookofsky graduated from Tennessee Technological University in 1971 with a B.S. Degree in Wildlife Management. After working for the Corps of Engineers as a Park Ranger from 1974 at Old Hickory Lake and Cordell Hull Lakes in Tennessee, he transferred to Lake Shelbyville in central Illinois were he retired in 2005 as the lead Ranger for the Interpretive Services section. Previous lead Ranger assignments include the Visitor Assistance and Recreation/Management sections. He also has taught courses across our country in Operation and Maintenance Contracting, Campground Design, and Primitive Technologies.
Al started his association with NWF while still in college at the first three summers of the NWF youth camps and has also worked with either the youth program or adult programs at ten summits. He is a past president, secretary, and board member for the Illinois Association for Advancement of Archaeology. Recipient of Legends Award presented annually by the Recreation Coalition to an outstanding employee in each of the federal lands management agencies. Received first Hiram M. Chittenden Award for interpretive excellence presented to an employee in the St. Louis District Corps of Engineers.
Hobbies include knife collecting, Native American (Stone Age) technologies, hunting, and gardening. Al is married to Betsy and they have two children, Walt and Alice. Betsy is a high school biology teacher and enjoys reading and walking. Walt is a practicing defense attorney. Alice is soon to be a Special Agent for Diplomatic Security.
Mary Jane Leyner-Foley has taught field classes in botany and plant ecology in the Central Rockies for the past forty years. Her students have ranged from children to senior citizens. She has taught classes for the University of Colorado, Metro State College (Denver), and Antioch University’s Denver Center.
She taught for and directed a summer field-science program for children for Thorne Ecological Institute, for several years and for 15 years operated her own school (Colorado Outdoor School) offering field classes for children and adults in the natural sciences.
A great believer in the Summit program, she has taught for 40 of them since 1970, and is delighted to see the Summits return to Colorado.
She feels that classes held in the out-of-doors should be relaxed, letting participants explore their new surroundings in ways that suit their individual interests. The class is not being “taken” on a field trip, rather participants and instructor are going out to explore together.
Clare Walker Leslie is a nationally recognized author, artist, naturalist and educator. She has taught for National Wildlife Summits since 1995. She is working on her 11th book – Connecting Parents and Teachers to Nature. She will have an assortment of her other books with her to buy. Clare comes to us from over the lake, in Vermont.
Leigh Ann Lenz has been a lifelong Summiteer, attending her first one in Colorado at age 8. Ghost Ranch will be her 18th summit and fourth as a faculty member. She is very excited to be working with the teens again this year and is looking forward to sharing her love of Summits and enthusiasm for the outdoors with young minds. Leigh Ann has a growing gardening business that she runs out of the suburbs of Chicago, has been involved with the fine-dining industry for over 11 years, worked as a lifeguard for 6 and volunteered at a wildlife shelter for 3. She has also traveled extensively across the U.S. and Europe, bringing her love of nature everywhere she goes.