Eric Powers, President firstname.lastname@example.org “Ranger Eric” Powers as students know him, is a biologist, teacher, photographer, outdoorsman, and overall nature-lover. He started leading nature hikes in 1987 as a Park Ranger in Colorado until he served two years in the US Peace Corps as an Environmental Education Officer. Since then, he has been running nature centers in Colorado, Alabama and New York. In 2005 he started his own company, “YOUR CONNECTION TO NATURE” (YC2N), dedicated to meaningful environmental education programs and eco-tourism, these programs connect classrooms to field studies, and give people a better understanding of their local environment. His on-going wildlife projects include “Save Our Box Turtles,” “Quail vs. Ticks,” “Frog Pond Monitoring” and “Owl Nesting Projects.” For more information please visit his website at www.YC2N.com, or LIKE us on Facebook- “Your Connection To Nature.”
Jessica Kratz, VP Communications & Technology email@example.com Jessica Kratz currently serves as a Coordinator for the Greenbelt Nature Center. She joined NYSOEA in 2004, when she attended her first conference in Montauk and fell in love with the confluence of land, sea, and lighthouses. She has been to nearly every annual conference since, presenting regularly and composing articles for NYSOEA’s quarterly publication, PATHWAYS, which she edited from 2009-2017. She previously served as VP Human Resources 2013-2016, as the Metro Region Representative from 2009-2013, and was the NAAEE Stapp Scholarship Auction chair in 2010.
Kate Phipps is the Education and Community Engagement Coordinator at Scenic Hudson where she has been working since 2013. She received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Binghamton University and has a Masters in the Art of Teaching in 7-12 Integrated Science from Lewis and Clark College. After teaching Biology and IB Environmental Science in Oregon, Kate moved back to New York and began her career at Scenic Hudson. She started as the NYSOEA Eastern Region Rep in 2014 and has been the Vice President of Human Resources since 2016. Since Kate joined NYSOEA, she has been planning annual Winter Weekends, co-chaired the 2015 conference and received the Service Award in 2016. Kate loves living and working in the beautiful Hudson Valley with her husband Aaron, son Barrett and dog Jozy. She spends any free time she can find exploring her interests in jewelry making, crafts, birds, moss and slimy things (eels, salamanders, frogs).
Megan Hoffman, VP Programs firstname.lastname@example.org Megan Hoffman, originally from the Adirondacks region, began her passion for all things “outdoors” at a young age hiking mountains and swimming in lakes with her family. She found her way to the Mid-Hudson Valley in 2012 when she began her career in the Outdoor Education field. After attending her first NYSOEA conference in 2012, she fell in love with the organization and the field of Environmental/Outdoor Education. She has worked teaching the public about native wildlife for the past 6 years and now teaches Garden Education for students in the Beacon City School District. After acting as a member of the Development Committee for 4 years, she was sworn in as VP or Programs for the Board of Directors in 2017. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from SUNY Oswego, with a minor in Biocultural Anthropology. Her commitment to creating stewards of the environment shows in her everyday interactions with children and adults alike! During her free time, she enjoys making soap, gardening, and traveling whenever possible.
Rebecca Houser, VP Human Resources email@example.com Rebecca Houser has been the Education and Outreach specialist with the NYS Department Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program since 2002, working with schools and communities to enhance understanding of the Hudson River. A graduate of SUNY ESF, and STEM certified through Teachers College, Columbia University, she takes pride in her work to connect students to the Hudson through place-based learning. Rebecca joined NYSOEA in 2002, and fell in love with the people and organization who inspires life-long learning about the outdoors. She has served on the board as Eastern Region Rep and VP of Programs, co-chaired the 2009, 2011, and 2015 conference and received the Outdoor Educator Award in 2013. Rebecca enjoys her free time outdoors exploring and hiking with her kids, kayaking, swimming and gardening.
Sunny Corrao, Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org Sunny Corrao joined as a member in 2010, after learning about it through her graduate degree program at NYU. She saw a call to volunteer at an outreach event and was quickly recruited to join committees and serve on the board. Originally from Nevada, she grew up loving the heat and vast mountains of the western deserts. She moved East in search of adventure and a change of scenery – celebrating 10 years working in EE in the NYC area last fall. As long as she can remember, her personal goals and daily life have been centered around recycling, wildlife, and energy conservation. After moving to the NYC area she began work in the theater and movie industry as a costume technician and designer. Sunny quickly realized how much she missed working outside, immersed in the sciences. She accepted a summer job with the Urban Park Rangers Fellowship Program during the summer of 2006. At the end of the summer, she was accepted to the Parks Academy and has been working full time in NYC Parks ever since. Currently she is the Public Engagement Associate for the NYC Parks’ Wildlife Unit. What does that mean? It means she gets the opportunity to engage New Yorkers and engage them in conversations about coexisting with wildlife.
Elizabeth Van Acker, Treasurer email@example.com Elizabeth Van Acker currently serves as treasurer. She started working for The Olga Fleisher Ornithological Foundation over 15 years ago as the office manager. In 1999 she got the opportunity to participate in the building of Huckleberry Swamp which opened in the fall of 2001. Since then she has continued her position in the office along with running a few programs at Huckleberry Swamp. She also currently serves on the foundation board as secretary/treasurer. Lizza enjoys spending her spare time with her three daughters and husband. They enjoy kayaking, whitewater rafting, and a monthly movie night.
Jonathan Billig & Karen Alsen, Metro Region Co-directors firstname.lastname@example.org Metro Region Counties: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Nassau, New York (Manhattan), Putnam, Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Suffolk, Westchester
Jonathan Billig has been the Partnerships Coordinator and Educator at Wave Hill, Professional Development Specialist at The New York Botanical Garden, and most recently a Teva educator at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. He enjoys facilitating connections between people, plants, and other parts of the New York bioregion, and is excited to facilitate connections between professionals in the field as the NYSOEA Metro Region co-director.
Karen Alsen is currently the Assistant Director of Education at Solar One, a New York City-based sustainability and climate education nonprofit. After graduating from UMass-Amherst with a BA in Journalism and English, Karen worked in publishing, for publications such as Nature Journal and Scientific American. Realizing that a full-time desk job was not for her, she decided to teach for a year in a middle school in the Bronx. It was during this time that she discovered the power of environmental education during a kayaking trip with her students on the Bronx River. Karen obtained an MS in Environmental Education from Antioch University- New England and since 2010, has taught at various environmental organizations such as Brooklyn Botanic Garden, City Science, Bronx River Alliance, Sustainable Learning and Brooklyn Children’s Museum. In her free time she loves plant foraging and wildcrafting, playing music, traveling and spending time with her Amazonian jungle dog, Mancha.
Anna Harrod, Eastern Region Director email@example.com Eastern Region Counties: Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, Washington Anna Harrod is the education coordinator for Public and Youth Programs at the Mohonk Preserve. She was inspired at a young age to pursue the environmental sciences when she attended the DEC camps as a camper and then a volunteer. Earning her BS in Environmental Studies and Geology from St. Lawrence University (with a minor in theater!) she began her outdoor education career as an intern at the San Mateo Outdoor School in La Honda, CA. She returned to New York and worked season at several outdoor schools including the Ashokan Center and the Taconic Outdoor Education Center before moving into her role at the Mohonk Preserve. She now runs the Preserve’s summer camps, public programs, and the adventurous teen Junior Ranger program. When not teaching people how to use a compass or identify aquatic invertebrates, Anna can be found running, hiking, and biking throughout the Hudson Valley and Catskills.
Mary Ronan and Shannon Lyaski, Western Region Co-directors firstname.lastname@example.org Western Region Counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming Mary Ronan, Western Region co-director, is an Environmental Educator for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation at Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center in Depew, NY. After a blissful, barefoot childhood in the woods of Allegany County, she pursued a BA in Environmental Communication, Culture, and Writing from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She graduated with a passion for environmental education fueled by summers spent as a camp counselor for the NYSDEC summer camps program. She was mentored and encouraged to remain in the field during her two years as an educator at the Taconic Outdoor Education Center in the Hudson Valley. After a brief detour to Pennsylvania to works as a park naturalist, Mary returned to her roots in Western New York in 2016. That fall, she attended her first NYSOEA conference and was amazed at the energy and passion within the organization. Mary has a soft spot for aquatic insects and brook trout and feels most at home when she is knee-deep in the waters of Western New York.
Shannon Lyaski earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 1998. After graduation she worked as a GIS intern for the Monroe County Planning department, and as a drafter for BBL, an environmental consulting firm. She started her work as an environmental educator with a DEC Naturalist internship at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar, NY during the winter of 2004. From 2004-2005 she volunteered as a tidepool monitor and steward for Crystal Cove State Park; as an educator, hostess and habitat restoration assistant for Bolsa Chica Conservancy; and an education docent and aquarist for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. From 2005-2012 she worked as the full-time Staff Naturalist for Helmer Nature Center in West Irondequoit, where she developed and taught curriculum-based school field trip programs, outreach programs, Girl Scout programs and educational events. She attended her first NYSOEA conference in the fall of 2005, and her horizons were expanded. She attended the conference every year until 2012. In the fall of 2012 she moved to Fairfax County VA, where she worked as a Roving Naturalist for several county parks and implemented new standards-based school programs and Girl Scout programming. She also worked as an educator for Cub Run RECenter, Frying Pan Farm Park, and Hidden Pond Nature Center. On the farm she witnessed the birth of a calf and got to name it (Larissa), milked cows, bottle-fed tiny Nubian goat kids, and taught preschool programs about peachicks (baby peacocks) and third grade science programs about simple machines. With Hidden Pond Nature Center she taught summer and winter camps, school programs, and public programs on pond and wetland life and nature. Shannon also served as Assistant Coach for the Hidden Pond Envirothon Team, who took 15th place at the North American competition in 2013 and 9th place in 2015. Her work with the Fairfax County Park Authority was recognized with a Director’s Leadership Award, Outstanding Interpretive Project and Program awards, and the “Rookie of the Year” Interpretive Excellence Award. She earned her CIG with NAI in 2015. Shannon started her work as the Conservation Education Program Coordinator for the Genesee County Parks in January of 2015. She is very excited to be back home in New York State, and to be an active member of NYSOEA once again.
Josh Teeter, Central Region Director email@example.com Central Region Counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Seneca, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins, Yates Josh Teeter currently works for New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as the environmental educator for the Finger Lakes Region. He received his undergraduate degree from Binghamton University 1999 and earned his masters degree in recreation management at SUNY Cortland in 2009. The ten years between those degrees were spent inadvertently preparing him for his current position. In 2003, during a year long primitive and survival skills course at Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall Washington, he realized that he want to share things that might help connect people to their surrounding and feel comfortable being outside (while being outside himself). After returning to the east he completed an environmental education internship with the DEC at the Roger’s Environmental Center in Sherburne, then worked as the program director at the Waterman Conservation and Education Center in Apalachin for a couple of years, followed by a few years teaching classes for the Outdoor Pursuits Department at Binghamton University. During these years he worked at many different jobs (at least 12) to make ends meet in order to be able to find one the he has now. He also continues to attend conferences, trainings, lectures, webinars and has to fight the urge to constantly look things up. Very few days pass in his daily life without lots of laughter and hike or trail run.
Tracy Thomas & Mollie Dean, Northern Region Co-directors firstname.lastname@example.org Northern Region Counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Warren
Tracy Thomas is the Executive Director of The Nicandri Nature Center in Massena, NY. Prior to that, she was the Manager of Visitor Experience at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, where she spent ten years managing visitor services and enjoying fantastic experiences. Tracy is a Certified Volunteer Administrator and working with volunteers remains one of her favorite parts of running a nature center. When not teaching outdoor education, managing all the things, or working with volunteers, Tracy enjoys hiking, kayaking, adventure activities, and time with her dog, the incredibly goofy Cader.
Mollie Dean made the move to New York from the Midwest in 2016 when she accepted the role of Director for the Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center. She has a background in team building facilitation and adventure recreation, including 3 fun years spent as a zip line guide. She attended her first NYSOEA conference with a previous Northern Regional Chair and was immediately impressed by the organization and its network of passionate educators. In her free time, Mollie enjoys hiking, paddling, and xc skiing in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains she now calls home.