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!!
Al Hicks has toiled for years and years on behalf of New York state wildlife as an endangered species biologist with the state’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation. In January, 2007, however, his life changed with the news of a mysterious disease that had been discovered near Albany that would soon be wiping out entire bat colonies. Since then, Al has led a national effort studying what has become known as white-nose syndrome from his Albany base of operations, doing extensive field and lab research and passing along news of the spread of the disease and potential checks to media outlets from Time magazine to network television.
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.
Matt Hays has been teaching high school science in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for twenty-eight years. He currently teaches AP Environmental Science, AP Biology, and AP Chemistry. In addition, he organizes hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing trips for his high school students and faculty. Matt is an avid hiker, backpacker, rock-climber, skier, and mountaineer. He has climbed all fifty-four fourteeners in Colorado numerous times, many in the winter. He has also climbed Mt. Whitney, CA and the Grand Teton in Wyoming via the Exum Ridge. He summited Mt. Rainier last summer for the second time; this time via the Emmons Glacier route. Also in the Cascades, Matt has summited Mt. Hood via the Hogback route. He would like to pursue more peaks in Mexico and South America. This Christmas he hopes to summit Pico de Orizaba, an 18,491 foot peak in Mexico. Long term, he hopes to have the opportunity to climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in the southern hemisphere (22,841 ft.) in Argentina. Denali is also on the radar.Matt Hays has taught high school science in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the past thirty years. Matt is retiring this May and is eager to begin another chapter in his life. Matt would like to pursue a career in wildlife/adventure photography. Not one to sit for long, Matt will continue to seek out peaks to scale, rocks to climb, ice to ascend, canyons to explore and long trails on which to walk for days. He is married to Peggy Hays who is one of the Junior Naturalist instructors with Family Nature Summits.
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].
John Green, an interpretive naturalist, has conducted songbird surveys for the US Forest Service during his tenure with the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station – the research arm of the US Forest Service located in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has done breeding bird surveys for the past 20 years for both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Town of Amherst. John has taught bird identification to new and seasoned birders for over 30 years and has led nature tours from Newfoundland to Florida. He is an expert in birding by ear.
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.
Tina Egan has been attending Summits with her family for over 24 years and has volunteered at every summit she ever attended. Tina has been assisting on hikes at Family Nature Summits for over 10 years and can’t wait to get out hiking with Summit participants enjoying the coast of Maine. When Tina is not at a Summit, she savors time with her husband, Dave, and three kids (ages 25, 23 and 17). She also enjoys yoga and running. Tina works as a vocational counselor for persons with disabilities.
Josh Burnette is a 2006 graduate of Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh. After a six month externship cooking at Disneyworld, he moved back to Washington, DC and has worked at several of D.C.’s finest restaurants including 2941, Le Paradou and Adour by Alain Ducasse. He is currently a chef de partie at The Oval Room which was just ranked the eighth best restaurant in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. He is part of the Young Adult group and this will be his 12th summit.