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.
With an MA in Educational Linguistics from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Ximena has nearly two decades of teaching under her belt. Melding this with her research in marine debris, she created an informative series of presentations which she took on the road for one year, educating thousands of people of all ages, on the east and west coasts, about the devastating effects that plastic pollution is having on the oceans and marine life. As former Chair of the Surfrider Foundation Monterey Chapter, Ximena began a marine debris outreach campaign that has since morphed into the Surfrider Foundation’s international RAP (Rise Above Plastics) campaign. Ximena currently teaches Marine Debris and ESL at California State University Monterey Bay.
Tim Thomas, fourth-generation native of the Monterey area, is a popular speaker and lively tour guide. For 16 years, he was historian and curator for the Monterey Maritime & History Museum and has worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California State Parks and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. He is author of the newly published “The Abalone King: “Pop” Ernest Doelter, and “The Japanese on the Monterey Peninsula” and he is co-author of “Monterey’s Waterfront.”
Steve Van Zandt is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara in Environmental Studies /Geography. He received a multiple subject teaching credential from San Francisco State and an Administrative Credential from San Jose State. Steve worked as a Naturalist at SMOE and at Exploring New Horizons. He also worked as a Naturalist at Youth Science Institute and as a Co-Director/Intern Coordinator at Hidden Villa. Steve was also a Co-Manager for the Pigeon Point Youth Hostel. He has been a classroom teacher for kindergarten, 3rd and 4th grade. Steve has also been a Life Lab and ESL teacher K-7. He is one of the founding and active members of the Banana Slug String Band. Steve has been the site director/principle with San Mateo Outdoor Education for 17 years. He has three children: Nathan 22, Colin 19, and Skyler 19. Steve enjoys music, writing, poetry, ping-pong, vegetarian/vegan cooking, surfing and swimming under waterfalls. Steve’s nature name is “Solar Steve.”
“ Marine” Mark Nolan is a graduate of UC Davis with a BS in Zoology and a Secondary Science Teaching Credential and Administrative Credential from San Jose State. Mark taught as a Naturalist for twelve years, founded and directed the Pigeon Point Environmental Education Program, and served as the Executive Director for Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools. Since 1996, he has served as Director of San Mateo Outdoor Education, which provides hands-on environmental education for fifth and sixth graders. The father of two children, Mark also likes gardening, cooking and reading books on natural history.
“Airy” Larry Graff, member, partner, manager of the Slugs for 26 years, graduated from Univ Of Michigan in 1981, with a focus on Environmental Advocacy. Journeyed west to California, where he worked in Environmental Education for 6 years in San Mateo County. In 1985 formed the Banana Slugs with Solar Steve, Marine Mark, and Doug Dirt…..11 CDs, a DVD, a Book..thousands of shows….audiences in the millions……the rest is history….
Doug “Dirt” Greenfield, born in Cincinnati, Ohio , graduated from Ohio University (summa cum laude) with an individualized, self-designed curriculum with a emphasis in environmental education, creative problem solving technologies and communications studies. After a very enriching and short lived three weeks at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Dirt reconsidered and then reorganized his life path to obtain a Multi-Subject Teaching Credential through Hayward State University. Doug served as program director for (in succession) Venture West School of Outdoor Living and Exploring New Horizons, and later created individualized week-long science camps, taking students from several northern California schools on visits to many of the state’s pristine habitats. As fate would have it, these days Doug enjoy life with his wife and two teenaged daughters and continues the 29-year adventure as co-founding artist and co-manager of the Banana Slug String Band.
Spring has been attending summits since age 5. She has volunteered in childcare and been on staff with the young adult group at multiple summits. In 2011, she retired from her office job as a computer systems analyst and now spends as much time as possible on adventures with her three-year-old daughter.
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.
The Story of Verm
In the mid-70s, fabled Finnish anthropologist Iso Effstop spied an unusual primate wandering the African savannah. The creature’s white skin was scarred and filthy and he wore nothing but a porcupine skin loincloth and a Nikkormat. Effstop set a trap baited with pretzels and hefeweizen and captured “The Rodent Boy.”
Back at Effstop’s camp, the cook Nigel was given the task to clean the specimen. “Boy, you’re covered in vermin,” declared Nigel.
“Me. Vermin,” said the boy, displaying a rudimentary command of English.
Effstop’s command of English was not much better, but he proceeded to interview the boy and the following story came out (originally published in Weakly Whirled News as “Verm the Rodent Boy saves Elvis from Alien Attack”).
Vermin was born to a privileged couple that invested their fortune pursuing careers as professional nature photographers. Soon they were nearly broke and completely forgotten. In a last ditch effort to gain recognition, they moved the family to Africa to shoot the noble beasts of the Dark Continent.
Things went poorly in Africa, with Verm’s dad losing his wife, the Nikkor 400mm, and half his shutter finger betting on high stakes mumbletypeg. Left with only a 135mm lens, Verm’s dad chose to bait animals in close enough to shoot. To do this he would cut Verm’s palm with a pocketknife, then stake the youngster down to the ground. This went on for quite some time and Verm became comfortable in close proximity to animals. Then one day, Verm’s father tied him to a tree to lure in gorillas. Tragically, Verm’s dad forgot he had a Baby Ruth in the pocket of his photo vest.
Weeks later Verm had lost so much weight he slipped out of the ropes holding him to the tree. He dug through the bones, recovered the Nikkormat and the pocketknife and trekked out into the wild. When not foraging for food, Verm would open the back of the Nikkormat, hold thin leaves against the focal plane and watch the images dance on the leaves. He took the knife and would etch the patterns in the leaves, which he then traded to the animals for favors. He learned to speak to the animals, and whether it was reptile, bird, mammal, fish or amphibian he could say, “The camera loves you Baby. Give me sexy!”
Fast forward four decades and the Verm has valiantly struggled to fit in to “civilization.” While his social skills are still unpolished, he took quickly to both film and digital image capture. And though Silverback is his adopted native language, he has worked hard on his English skills, scored in the 98th percentile on his GREs, then, rather than wasting those skills writing The Great American Novel, he has instead blessed the world with his blog. For obvious reasons, he chooses not to bait or call in his photo subjects.
Verm currently lives in a van with his girlfriend who is half monkey.
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.
Teri Schroeder has worked in the past as director of the child care program. Teri and her family began attending NWF Family Conservation Summits in 1985. Since that first summit, Teri has worked as a volunteer, as childcare staff and director and as a Junior Naturalist leader at many summits.
Joel Schroeder became involved with the NWF Family Conservation Summits starting in 1985 and has either served on the teen staff or directed the teen program many times since then. He was a secondary science teacher and technology coordinator for a school district in Iowa and taught classes in all areas of science.