Brian Yinger has been involved in the summits for the past 23 years. His family has grown and now his two young daughters get excited in January for the Summit in July. He has run the Service Project in Missouri, Bar Harbor Maine, and Lake Junaluska, North Caroline. This year is no different. He and the service project volunteers will be helping the staff at Ghost Ranch with some trail building and other projects around the Ranch. When not working on projects for the Summit, Brian works as a musician, sound engineer, and knife sharpener in Columbus Ohio.
Erica Wheeler is a ‘sense of place’ artist and educator. She combines her career as an award-winning singer/songwriter with her background as an aspiring wildlife field biologist and her expertise working with educators, parks, museums and conservation organizations.
Erica brings two decades of experience as a performer, and over a decade of experience as a speaker and educator. She also brings her lifelong passion for place, nature, history, culture, and her expertise working with parks, museums, schools and conservation organizations. Erica’s work helps to foster the personal connections between people and place, helping people enjoy places more today, and take care of places for the future.
Her mission is to inspire the stewardship of our natural and cultural resources by helping people enrich and explore their own ‘sense of place.’
Jill Weber is a consulting biologist and ecologist who has worked in Maine for over twenty years. She received her Bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of Northern Colorado and her Master’s degree in botany from the University of Maine. Following a brief post-graduate stint as a tree physiology researcher, Jill turned her attention to consulting. Much of the early work consisted of inventories of public and private lands to locate rare plant populations. As new approaches to plant conservation biology evolved, Jill’s projects became more ecological in nature.
With associate Sally Rooney, Jill has assisted the Nature Conservancy, the Maine Department of Conservation, various land trusts, and Acadia National Park. Projects for Acadia include sampling for a vegetation map, development of rare plant management plans for the Park’s rare plant species, and a study of the abundance and distribution of invasive plant species at Acadia. In 2010 she and coauthors Glen Mittelhauser, Linda Gregory and Sally Rooney published The Plants of Acadia National Park, a guide to the vascular flora of the region. She recently assisted with the development of the New England Wild Flower Society’s Go Botany plant identification website and she is currently serving as a Dixon Schoodic Scholar.
Betty Trummel has just retired from a 35-year career in elementary teaching, and 10 years as an adjunct professor at the university level. She’s taught at over 40 Summits since 1983 and loves to reach out to learners of all ages to teach about the natural world. Three expeditions to Antarctica have focused on education outreach, working alongside scientists at the U.S. McMurdo Station. Betty is headed back to Antarctica in December, 2016, as part of the all-women’s expedition Homeward Bound. She has been chosen as one of 78 women in science from around the world who are part of Homeward Bound, a global collaboration and an inspiring leadership and strategic initiative teamed with a science education program on climate, biological and earth system research, set against the back drop of Antarctica.
For the past 12 years Betty has co-led a teacher exchange program with educators from the U.S. and northern Sweden, based on environmental education and sustainable development. She’s also on the Executive Committee for Polar Educators International (PEI) and on the Board of A to Z Literacy Movement, a non-profit dedicated to putting books in the hands of children and sharing literacy teaching skills/strategies with teachers in Zambia.
Betty’s off to Svalbard Island in the Arctic later in July, to work with her Italian colleague, Matteo, and help teach on a high school student expedition called “Research and Education Svalbard Experience” (RESEt). Teaching is her passion, rambles/hikes are her joy. Betty is a avid reader, hiker/backpacker, gardener, photographer; she loves to kayak, snowshoe, ski, go orienteering, and spend time in the mountains and at the beach. Her newest adventure: The Science Roadshow….a business she started to continue to promote lifelong learning in science and technology. Dedicated to doing science presentations/programs to learners around the world, this is a way that Betty can share her passion for education for years to come.
Natalie Springuel has lived, played, and worked on the coast of Maine for nearly 25 years. After graduating from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Natalie became one of the first women to take her Maine guide’s exam specifically to acquire the certification needed to lead sea kayak tours, which she did with enthusiasm for the next decade, honing her skills not only in sea kayaking, but in navigation and the art of interpreting the natural world. She had first paddled a sea kayak at the ripe age of 18, in Alaska’s Inside Passage, where a field course on the ecology of Bald Eagles helped her discover that her life-long passion for the outdoors could turn into a life-long career choice devoted to the sea. Forever a believer that academics should match up with life pursuits, Natalie convinced her graduate committee that spending 2½ months paddling around the Canadian province of Nova Scotia was the best platform for studying coastal tourism and commercial fishing issues.
For the last 13 years, Natalie has worked as a marine extension agent with the University of Maine Sea Grant Program, based at College of the Atlantic. In 2002, following her grad school model, Natalie convinced her Sea Grant boss that paddling around the entire Gulf of Maine was the best platform for embarking on educational programming about this northwest Atlantic watershed. Her co-leader on this five-month expedition, Rich MacDonald, would soon become her husband and partner on most of her life’s great adventures since, including parenting; launching their nearly four-year old family business, The Natural History Center; and serving as lead naturalists for cruises chartered by National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. And now, Family Nature Summit!
Today, Natalie’s work at Maine Sea Grant is focused on outreach and applied research in Maine’s fisheries heritage, as well as the working waterfronts and coastal communities reliant on the sea. She is the coordinator of the Downeast Fisheries Trail, a thematic Maine experience celebrating fisheries heritage, then and now, to help communities and visitors discover and learn. She comes to this Family Nature Summit excited to share her passion for the Maine coast, its islands, and its people.
Early Discovery Program Director Sally Sherrard lives in Littleton, NH with her husband Jim. Sally and her son James have attended 19 summits. With a degree in Early Childhood Education Sally has taught preschool for 25 years. She is presently working as a Para Professional in a Kindergarten class. Her focus is on helping children learn to respect and understand the world in which they live. She believes children learn through playing in their natural environment. Sally enjoys hiking, kayaking, and snowshoeing in her beautiful northern New Hampshire playground; she is also a magician and will share her Nature Magic Show at the Family Summit.
Leslie Sherrard is an educator with 33 years of teaching experience in elementary, middle, and high schools. She currently teaches high school math in Savannah, Georgia. She has worked at Glacier National Park in Montana, and has served as a Director of Camp Invention (a national science camp for elementary students). She is an assistant PADI scuba diving instructor and a full time outdoor enthusiast. Leslie admits: “I hike and camp whenever I can!” She has two adult sons – the older one graduated from Clemson and her younger son graduated from Appalachian State. This is Leslie’s eighth Summit.
James Sherrard lives near Burlington, Vermont and has been part of the Summits since his first at Mt. Washington Hotel in New Hampshire. In past Summits James served on the board of directors for the newly created Family Nature Summits for two years as the Young Adult member, hiked with the Junior Naturalists, assisted Peggy with the Young Adults, co-led rock climbing and is now a teen Leader with Joel and Leigh Ann. When James is not at the Summits he is working in the field of stormwater management and exploring the New England forests.
My family’s relationship with NWF Family Summits started in North Carolina. We have attended every Family Summit since 2000. I attend the Summit annually with my wife Sabina and children Nika (19) and Ryan (17). My children always look forward to the next summit as much as we do. We all have made wonderful friends all over the country that we stay in touch with between the summits and always look forward seeing them every summer.
For the last 16 years I’ve resided in West Hartford, CT. I am a Founder and Owner of Shall Be, LLC – a national boutique technology consulting and Internet security firm.
One of Harvest Schroeder’ s earliest Summit memories is looking at starfish on the beach at the 1992 Monterey Bay California Summit. She always looks forward to the unique outdoor adventures, friendships, and learning opportunities provided during the Summit week. Harvest Schroeder has worked as a water resources engineer for the Iowa Flood Center for the past 3 years.