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!!
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.
Lonnie Hansen is a resource scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation working mostly on elk and deer. He is an Illinois native and received a B.S. in zoology from Western Illinois University in 1971 and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Illinois in 1978. Before moving to Missouri, he was a research biologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey (1978-1987) working on squirrels and deer. He has been with the Missouri Department of Conservation for 24 years. Lonnie is primarily responsible for deer and elk research, assessing deer population status, public attitudes toward deer and deer hunting, proposing hunting regulations for deer seasons, and more recently elk.
Brete Griffin has been looking for “birds” for more than thirty years and started out by chasing down the songs of birds he did not recognize while traversing the hills and hollers of his native West Virginia. Before going back to Toronto to get his teaching degree, Brete worked near Fort Sill, Oklahoma to help collect data for a longterm study on the threatened Black-capped Vireo. Brete has also worked to help raise awareness and support for bird conservation projects and research conducted by Bird Studies Canada in his community in the Toronto area by promoting IMBD activities and by conducting a Baillie Birdathon each spring for the last twenty+ years. He broke in with the Family Nature Summit program when they were in the Canaan Valley Resort in WV, now our 500th National Wildlife Refuge, and found breeding birds for the summiteers on his old stomping grounds back in 2001.
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.
Carl Brown was born in Newfoundland, and currently lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. His first summit was in 2004 at Estes Park, Colorado. His wife is Gloria Brown, his daughter is Carla Brown (Green Lifestyles program in 2009 and 2010, Green Tours program in 2012 and 2013 ) and he is grandfather to Nora and Russell. Carl worked 34 years with Imperial Oil, an affiliate of ExxonMobil as a Planning /Real Estate Manager. He retired in 2003 and has continued to do contract work with Imperial Oil since retirement. Carl has a business degree from Memorial University, Newfoundland. He says he enjoys dealing with people and has plenty of energy to coordinate, organize and manage. He says that must be why the Transportation Coordinator role fits his personality. He used to be a Venturer/Boy Scout leader dealing with ages 14 – 17. They experienced many outdoor activities including winter and summer camping, hiking and canoeing. He has also been an Advisor for the Duke of Edinburgh Program, a soccer and T ball coach. The Maine Summit will be his eighth.
Matt Blank was 7 when he attended his first summit in New Hampshire. He has been attending them ever since and is excited to have added a rock climbing class to the program. He has been instructing and guiding rock climbing for the last 5-1/2 years. Matt enjoys many thrill-seeking activities and always stresses safety first so he can keep enjoying them.
When not acting as President of Family Nature Summits Chris Blank is a private practice attorney based in Newport Beach, California. His firm’s focus is business litigation, business law, and bankruptcy. In addition to his law practice he sits on the board of a local educational non-profit organization and founded a political action committee to support local candidates. He has been coming to the Nature Summits since 1994. This is the highlight of the year for he and his sons. He has been a committed environmentalist since the 1970s and is excited about continuing the Summit mission
Kathy Blank graduated from Northwestern University in 1952 and is the Mom of Chris Blank and Grandmother of Alan and Matt. This will be her fifth Family Summit.Kathy Blank is a graduate of Northwestern University and was a junior high school teacher until her first child arrived. She has three children, one of whom is the Summit’s own Chris Blank. In 1978 she again entered the classroom as a junior high school math and English teacher. When her youngest came to her school she took accounting classes and became a bookkeeper/accountant. She served as Controller of Plaza Communications and publisher of “Registered Representative” for nine years, then opened her own bookkeeping business which still serves clients today. Retirement? Not Now!!! Her hobbies include Scrabble and this year, she will be the facilitator for the Summit Book Club which will be reading My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir and The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown