DeLene Hoffner is currently teaching 4th grade at School in the Woods, a natural science immersion school. She has been an elementary teacher for over 28 years. DeLene earned her Masters degree in Integrated Natural Sciences from Colorado College. She has been recognized for her teaching with numerous honors; 1999 Presidential Award for Excellence, Teacher of the Year, Exceptional International Elementary Science Teacher, Space Foundation Advisory Teacher, to name a few. DeLene also is a regional director for Colorado Environmental Education Council, a teacher trainer for her school district, President for the Colorado Association of Science Teachers, executive board member/instructor for eleSTEMary and an adjunct professor for a local university. She is very involved in the National Science Teacher Association where she previously was the Preschool/Elementary Committee Director and now reviews articles for the Science & Children magazine and chairs the committee for the selection of the Outstanding Science Trade books award. She is an international teacher/presenter who shares her passions for learning with teachers ranging from her local state conferences to Australian teachers!! (She spent a year in Australia on a teaching exchange) DeLene marvels at the wonders of the world we live in and strives to share ways for all to enjoy, understand and care for our precious natural world!!
Tasha Hoffner joins us for her 4th Family Nature Summit. For the past two summits, she has enjoyed sharing her love of nature with our youngest naturalists in our childcare program. In Colorado Springs, CO, Tasha also works with children at a local elementary school. She coordinates projects, arts, crafts, cooking, yoga and other activities through Imagination in Education. Previously Tasha has trained horses and led trail rides in Estes, CO, danced in the UCWDC World Championships in Florida (receiving 3rd place), and ventured across Australia for a full year!! Obviously, Tasha has a diverse background. She loves to try new experiences and embraces adventure!! She seeks out opportunities to learn new things, explore new places and enjoy nature in everyway she can. Being in nature, Tasha feels connected, rejuvenated and inspired. She is looking forward to meeting her little naturalists and their families as well as working with many other aspects of this year’s summit!!
Chris Hoechstetter has been attending summits since he was two. Since then, his interest in the outdoors has done nothing but expand. Completion of a NOLS course in 2012 combined with working at Outdoor Source, a local outfitter in Columbus, OH, has provided Chris with the skills and equipment to work with groups around central Ohio.
Peggy Hays teaches elementary science in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She has been teaching for 32 years in all grade levels with the past thirteen years as a science specialist. She has also created and taught several outdoor education classes and science workshops for both students and teachers. She loves to ski, bike, hike, play tennis, and spend time with family and friends. She especially enjoys helping children to appreciate and take responsibility for the preservation of nature. She is very excited to be returning for her 12th summit as one of the Junior Naturalist teachers.
Marilyn Houser Hartness has spent a lifetime creating art work herself and teaching others to enjoy the natural beauty which is all around; using the process of art to make a lasting visual memory. Her first choice of art mediums is clay. From her outdoor interests: hiking, riding horseback, and swimming, the world of natural beauty coupled with imagination produces ceramic creations which are sculptural and functional. Her career as Associate Professor of Art at Wingate University in North Carolina has allowed her to share ceramics concepts to many people. She teaches Ceramics Fundamentals and Ceramic Art History. Marilyn has instructed courses with the Family Summit Staff for over 14 years She instills a challenge of discovery in her students (young and old) with the focus on shapes of natural objects and the emphasis on the art of seeing line, shapes, color, mass, and space. Creativity plus the location of the summit equals enjoyable learning with a focus on art.
Linda Hamilton is a veteran hiker and outdoor enthusiast, having enjoyed and benefited from many years at the Summits. She works as an Environmental Education Specialist at Lory State Park in Bellvue, CO. She also worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. She continues to be involved in outdoor education, life style wellness programs, and various learning pursuits.
Traveling to Lulea, Sweden in 2013 with Betty Trummel (another NWF/FNS staffer) and others to share environmental education interests and skills while meeting new friends was an experience she’ll always remember. In addition, she enjoys being a master naturalist volunteer for her home-town community, as well as a now “accomplished” volunteer for post wildfires and flood restoration projects implemented by multiple state and local agencies. The needs for recovery of back country areas, open spaces, and river boundaries along the Front Range continue.
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Jim Halfpenny is an author, scientist, educator whose interest in COLD (altitudinal, latitudinal, and seasonal) has taken him to all seven continents and Greenland. Jim’s specialties include environmental ecology, animal tracking, and carnivores; his greatest academic love, bears, led to 22 years studying black, grizzly and polar bears. He also works with wolverine, lynx, cougar and wolves. Jim has written over 30 books and videos including his latest, Yellowstone Bears in the Wild and Track Plates for Mammals. He led the American East Greenland expeditions in 1975 and 1976 and is a Fellow of the Explorer’s Club and received the Antarctic Service medal. Jim is past Chairman of the Board of Directors, senior instructor, and past administrative liaison officer of the National Outdoor Leadership School. Currently Jim is President of A Naturalist’s World, an ecological education company. A past Research Fellow of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Jim was Director of the Mountain Research Station and the Long-Term Ecological Research program in the Alpine. He is listed in Who’s Who in the World 1989-1993, Who’s Who in Emerging Leaders 1989-1996, Who’s Who in Western America 1987-1997 and Who’s Who In Science.
A Vietnam veteran, Jim received the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat “V” and Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm. Jim received his Ph.D. in 1980 in Biology, Ecology, & Mammalogy from the University of Colorado. He received his B.S. in 1969 and M.S. in 1970 both in Botany & Ecology from 2010 Family Summits Classes – Lake Tahoe, California the University of Wyoming. At the University of Wyoming, Jim was on the President’s Academic Honor Roll, University of Wyoming and a four-year letterman in diving, swimming and water polo.
Lee Hadden has been a vacationer in the Adirondacks all of his life, beginning with his parents taking him and his sisters as children [actually before he can remember going as a baby], and that vacation tradition continues as he and his own children [and his mother and family friends] still gather at Indian Lake every August. He is Professor of Biology at Wingate University in Wingate, NC. He received the BS in Biology from Muhlenberg College and the MA and Ph. D. in Biology from Wake Forest University. Lee has taught college students for over 40 years and is beginning his 34th year at Wingate University.
He is the father of three children, one of whom, Christi, is in her 7th year as a Summit faculty member. He is also a colleague at Wingate University of Marilyn Hartness, another veteran Summiteer. Lee has taught a wide selection of college biology courses including Environmental Biology and Microbiology, and currently teaches Plant Biology, Human Biology, and Scanning Electron Microscopy. His favorite classroom is the out-of-doors and his favorite style is a “walk and talk” format.
He enjoys nature, camping, kayaking, canoeing and sailing, gardening, and woodworking and coppersmithing. As a woodworker, he appreciates trees beyond their biology, and enjoys using “nature’s art” in his work as well as photographing plants typifying “nature’s sculpture” in general. He is thrilled to be a “Summiteer” for the second time [his first time was at the Summit in 2002 at Big Sky].
Julia Goren is an active environmental educator and interpreter with experience from the Catskills to Western Mass., but especially in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Summit Steward Coordinator since February, she worked with the ADK in ’05 doing guided walks, campfire presentations, and interpretation at her post atop Mt. Jo and at the Nature Museum. With ADK in ’06 and ’07 she did extensive alpine endangered species field research for ADK’s Summit Steward program and served as the Summit Botany Steward.
From ’07 to early ’09 she headed a summer NYC teacher program for the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development to continue her work to “develop a sense of place in several different ecosystems.” She has also done interpretation work at Wupatki National Monument in Arizona, been a farm hand and trail crew member, and trained park personnel in the Altai region of Siberia. She holds an MS in Environmental Studies from Antioch Univ. and is a National Assoc. for Interpretation Certified Guide and Trainer.
Matt Ferguson returns to the Family Nature Summit after a few years away. He is currently a second grade teacher in New Hampshire, but has taught everything from preschool to middle school science. When not in the classroom taking his students mountain climbing or snowshoeing, he is home with his family. Having three young children keeps him very busy. When not changing diapers or wiping noses, Matt enjoys practicing yoga, exploring the outdoors and reading a good book. After many years of working at past Summits, he is excited to share the magic of a Summit with his family for the first time.