Steve Houser Jr has a master’s degree in Elementary Education as well as a graduate degree in counseling. Steve is certified in gifted education, social sciences, and geography, as well as being certified as an Environmental Educator by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. His work as an educator of young people for over 40 years has been recognized through numerous awards, including: The Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (the nation’s highest science teaching award sponsored by the White House and the National Science Foundation), the Governor’s Award for NC Environmental Educator of the Year, the American Geological Institute’s US Earth Science Teacher of the Year, the Mecklenburg County Arts and Science Council’s Outstanding Educator Award for his contributions to the Arts, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System’s Wachovia Ben Craig Teacher of the Year Award.
In addition, Steve is a professional storyteller with over 35 years experience in telling the old North Carolina tales and international stories that inspire and educate the listener. He worked over twenty summers as a National Wildlife Federation Family Summit faculty member at locations all over North America, and he currently serves as Director of the Family Nature Summits Junior Naturalist Program. Recognized as an “Educator of Excellence” with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, Steve has participated in educator institutes in Sweden, Belize, Yellowstone National Park, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest in Peru
Jan Houser has attended or volunteered at 24 Summits. After teaching for 33 years, she retired and has her own private tutoring business. She enjoys being able to schedule her time in such a way as to spend ample time outdoors walking her dogs and riding her horse. Family Nature Summits have been an important part of each summer for her family, and she has enjoyed seeing many beautiful places across the United States in conjunction with Summit adventures.
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!!
Hawk is a member of the Chaubunagungamaug band of Nipmuck, a people indigenous to what is now Southern New England. He has been composing original music and making Eastern Woodlands flutes using hand tools for more than 23 years.
He enjoys sharing his experiences and perspectives about Life in hopes of acknowledging and honoring the Sacredness in each person and all cultures. He creates a calming yet engaging and contemplative space while maintaining a note of humor. His music is a reflection of thinking that we each have the capacity to make a change in the world. Hawk is fascinated with musical instruments and traditions from around the world, so you may also hear the didgeridoo and the Mbira!
Hawk has had the honor of presenting at venues such as The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Harvard Medical School Graduation, and in the U.K. with the London Mozart Players. He also enjoys educational settings from kindergarten to university and small venues where he can engage the audience in dialogue.
Hawk’s reputation as a flute maker has grown and he now has flutes all over the world and in several museums. He has three original CD’s, First Flight, Keeping the Fire and Voices. He is also featured on the compilation CD Tribal Winds. His music has been used in a variety of films and documentaries some of which won or were nominated for Emmy awards.
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.
John Hartness grew up on wooden boats. He spent 7 summers at the North Carolina coast on wooden boats. He was sailing by the age of 5 and water skiing by age 8. He has a lifelong love of boating and the water and has owned 10 boats so far. He has been Red Cross certified as an instructor in sailing, rowing, canoeing, small motor craft safety and white water canoeing. (My certifications are not current.) He was director of a sailing program at a YMCA camp and taught sailing and water skiing for the physical education department at Davidson College when a student there. He states he loves wooden boats and has subscribed to Wooden Boat magazine for over 20 years.
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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Amy Hahn grew up just outside of Washington, D.C. In 1988 she moved to Colorado and in 1989 led her first hike as part of the faculty of Family Nature Summits (then National Wildlife Federation Conservation Summits). She worked in the outdoor industry for 22 years as a product tester, sales rep and consultant, before turning her attention to the world of conservation, where she still works. She is a confirmed altitude junkie, and spends as much time as possible in the mountains of CO and WY near her home. She enjoys turning people on to playing outside, environmental stewardship, green habits and activism to address environmental degradation.