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.
Chris and Katie met as students at Oregon State University, and have been collecting dragonflies together ever since. They have explored the life history of the petaltail (Petaluridae) dragonflies in Northern California, Oregon, Ohio and Tennessee. They have also explored more exotic regions by studying damselflies in the Azores Islands, Fiji Islands, and in Canada, Peru, and Spain. Chris is a specialist in behavior, ecology, and evolution; he teaches courses on these topics at Santa Clara University. Katie specializes in toxicology and statistics, and works for a biotech company in Hayward, California. They have lived in California for 5 years, and spend their time hiking, and paddling in both Monterey Bay and the San Francisco Bay Area. This will be Katie’s 13th Summit; she attended several summits with her family in the 1980s and ‘90s. She is excited to bring Chris along to his first Summit in Monterey.
Jeff Harding is an enthusiastic amateur naturalist who grew up exploring California’s woods and wetlands. As a teenager, backpacking in the Sierras occupied most of his summers, but after earning a BS in Zoology from Oregon State University, He made his home in Oregon. He has been birding for 40 years, conducting breeding bird surveys, compiling and participating in Christmas Bird Counts, helping with breeding bird atlas programs and currently serving as an eBird reviewer, for two counties in Oregon and the country of Colombia. For several years he edited Oregon Birds, the quarterly journal of the Oregon Birding Association. Jeff is a veteran Summiteer, having been on the faculty of 15 NWF Summits in the 1990s, as well as three in this decade.
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.
When Jean Florman isn’t writing, she works with faculty members and teaching assistants as the Director of the University of Iowa Center for Teaching. In her former life as a full-time writer and public radio producer, she translated what she experienced in the world of nature into the world of words. She grew up at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and has lived in Tidewater Virginia, the Finger Lakes region, the Sonoran Desert, and the tallgrass prairie–what’s left of it, at least. Jean has published essays, feature stories, and two short histories of Iowa, and has written and produced a number of public radio series. She has taught nature and science writing, essay writing, and magazine writing at the University of Iowa and in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.
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.
Cyndi Dawson is an experienced ecologist with her work focusing on coastal ecology, protected areas and sustainable fisheries management. In her position as an Environmental Scientist with CA State Parks she is tasked with balancing the recreational needs of the citizens of California while striving to preserve Asilomar’s extraordinary natural resources. Her talk will describe the main habitat types, rare species and setting of the natural environment at Asilomar. Before joining State Parks in 2012m, Cyndi received her B.S. in Biology from Humboldt State University and her M.S. in Marine Science from San Francisco State at Moss Landing Marine Labs. She has worked as a Marine Biologist for CA Department of Fish and Wildlife and most recently was the Director of Science of Reef Check California, a citizen scientist organization that monitors over 80 nearshore subtidal sites throughout California to help marine managers make better informed decisions.
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
Michelle Dalrymple lives in Black Forest, Colorado with her husband and three active sons. She has a passion for inspiring kids to explore the outdoors and learn to take care of the environment. Currently, she is in her 6th year of teaching a class she has created called “Wetlands and Waterfowl”. Her students learn about the importance of wetland conservation and also learn how to paint waterfowl in their environment in preparation for the national Jr. Federal Duck Stamp Contest. Ever since she earned her degree in Outdoor Education from the University of Northern Colorado, she has worked extensively in the outdoors with children of all ages. She became inspired to teach in the outdoors through a wonderful Marine Biology teacher during her high school years, who taught her to learn through observing in the outdoors. Her most rewarding “job” was working for College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine as a Program Director. She has also worked as a Naturalist at the Nature Center in Windsor, Connecticut, a teacher at the Outdoor Education Center in Trinity, Texas, and has taught “indoors” in Bailey, Colorado and instructed Science in Colorado Springs. For the past four summers she organized and ran a boys “Art and Nature Camp” which turned into a “Sports and Nature Camp” (so much for art). She is looking forward to returning to the Family Nature Summit to inspire more children to explore the wonders of nature and develop lasting friendships with others.