Shaver’s Creek Nature Names
What’s with the “nature names” below? At Shaver’s Creek, many of our staff members adopt a secondary “nature name.” These monikers are meant to be fun and are usually used during programs with kids, such as during Summer Camp and Outdoor School.
Penn State College Affiliation
Shaver’s Creek is part of Penn State Outreach, but we have teaching agreements with many colleges and departments across Penn State. Some staff members also serve as faculty for recreation, park, and tourism management in the College of Health and Human Development or the School of Forest Resources in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
Summer Staff 2020
Environmental Education Intern
Tommy graduated from Penn State in May 2019 with a degree in broadcast journalism. He grew up going to Shaver’s Creek summer camps, where his love of the outdoors was born. Once he was too old to be a camper, Tommy volunteered during the summer as a Leader-In-Training at Shaver’s Creek. While at Penn State, he spent four semesters volunteering at Outdoor School and is ecstatic that he is still donning his wood cookie. Tommy earned the Eagle Scout award with Troop 31 in State College and worked with Shaver’s Creek on his Eagle Scout project: rebuilding the bird feeding area. In addition to his love for summer camp and all things Shaver’s Creek, Tommy enjoys working as a public address announcer at Penn State, talking sports on the radio, playing music, hiking — and almost always has a Frisbee on him.
Nature Name: Equinox
Environmental Education Intern
Owen is a graduate of Clark University with a B.A. in English. After teaching in California he decided to combine his passion for education with his love of the outdoors. He hopes to find a career in the National Parks Service where he can put his knowledge of native wildlife to good use. When not working he can often be found writing, knitting or drawing.
Nature Name: Corvus
Falynn is a rising senior at Pennsylvania State University studying International Politics and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Spanish. Falynn is originally from Las Vegas, NV and she found her love for nature while growing up in the desert. When she isn’t in class or at work, you can always find her outside either reading, jogging, or playing catch. Falynn is so excited to return to camp and making another summer full of memories that will last a lifetime.
Nature Name: Ursa
Celia grew up going to Shaver’s Creek Summer Camp as a Camper, LIT and now as a Naturalist. She graduated high school in December 2019 to spend the spring in Colorado working at Keystone Resort as a youth ski instructor. In the fall, she plans to attend Penn State University, majoring in Immunology and Infectious Disease. She likes to spend her free time backpacking, throwing a Frisbee, and playing the accordion. Celia loves the outdoors and is particularly interested in insects.
Nature Name: Chestnut
Environmental Education Intern
Kelly Gray is a fall 2019 graduate of Penn State with a degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Kelly hopes to combine her experience and passion for education with her personal interest in the natural world. In her free time, Kelly enjoys spending time outside exploring, hiking, baking, crafting, and traveling to national parks. While a Penn State student, Kelly was an Outdoor School counselor and she is excited to return to ODS as a learning group leader this spring.
Nature Name: Beans
Environmental Education Intern
Meryl recently graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a self-designed degree in Culture, Identity, and Place. She considers herself a lifelong learner and especially loves to learn about plants, people, and building a more just world. Growing up, Meryl was lucky to have many positive experiences exploring the outdoors, including finding tadpoles in her elementary school pond, gardening with her mother, and traipsing through the woods in all seasons. Meryl is very excited to share their love for nature with campers and the public this summer at Shaver’s Creek, and to start their career in environmental education. When she is not out exploring, she enjoys baking, tending to her houseplants, and making art.
Nature Name: Woodruff
Eva is an Undergraduate Student at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA with a double major in Biology and Music. She plans to pursue an Applied Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a specialization in Speech-Language Pathology. Eva is a State College native and grew up spending lots of time hiking and exploring nature. She attended a variety of Shaver’s Creek programs and volunteered as a Leader-In-Training in high school. When she’s not at Shaver’s Creek in the summertime, Eva loves to discover new music, do yoga, climb trees, and care for her ever-growing house plant collection.
Nature Name: Rabbit
Environmental Education Intern
Alison Kelly is a spring 2019 graduate of Penn State with degrees in agricultural science and philosophy. She first got her start with Shaver’s Creek as a volunteer through the Penn State environmental organization Eco Action. She has been a counselor and a learning group leader for Outdoor School as well as a SEED Semester student. In her free time, she enjoys adventuring, reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. She is excited to continue to foster her love for the outdoors and education during her time at Shaver’s Creek!
Nature Name: Clover
Environmental Education Intern
Growing up, Megan spent most of her time outside exploring the forest and creeks near her house. Through exploring nature as a child, she discovered her fascination and love for the natural world. Megan is a 2019 Penn State graduate with a B.S. in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. She got her start at Shaver’s Creek as a SEED student and has continued as a volunteer, summer camp naturalist, Outdoor School learning group leader, work-study student, and currently an intern. Megan is so happy to be able to contribute to Shaver’s Creek and looks forward to continuing to grow as an environmental educator. In her free time, Megan loves hiking, creating art, drinking tea, spending time with family, talking with her fish, and reading.
Nature Name: Catalpa
Sean is excited to return to Shaver’s Creek this summer as a Naturalist! He graduated from Huntingdon Area High school in June 2019, and now attends Northland College in Ashland Wisconsin studying Outdoor Education. Sean has participated in numerous Shaver’s Creek programs, including being a Camper, the LIT program, Maple Harvest Fest, Enchanted Halloween Trail and Birding Cup. Sean has previously worked at Plowshare Produce, an organic farm in McAlevy’s Fort, PA and Great Oak farm in Mason, Wisconsin. He loves to spend time outdoors, with favorite activities including trail running, biking, rock climbing, primitive survival skills, birding and hiking.
Nature Name: Fiddlehead
Outdoor School Program Assistant
Madisen spent her younger years exploring the outdoors of southern Pennsylvania. Some of her favorite things to do included climbing trees, marveling at salamanders in the creek behind her house, and going to Shaver’s Creek summer camp! Those formative years as a summer camper inspired her to go to Penn State, where she graduated with a B.S in recreation, park and tourism management. She found a passion for environmental education as an undergrad at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center where she was a student in the SEED Semester and participated in many weeks of Outdoor School. Her love for teaching led her to work as an environmental education intern at Shaver’s Creek in the lush forests of central PA, a naturalist in the snowy mountains of Colorado at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, and an educator at The Ecology School along the rocky coast of Maine before returning to Shaver’s Creek to join the Outdoor School leadership team!
Nature Name: Luna
Clara Plutzer is a junior Undergraduate Student at New York University studying Psychology and Cinema Studies with a minor in American Sign Language. She grew up in State College and attended Shaver’s Creek as a camper and then later participated in the LIT program during high school. In her free time, Clara enjoys playing soccer, traveling, bike riding, reading, and spending time with friends and family. Living in Manhattan, she has missed the nature environment of Central PA, so she is excited to be back at Shaver’s Creek and to learn more about leadership and wildlife.
Nature Name: Swallowtail
Jacob will be starting at Penn State in the Fall 2019 semester, planning to major in Environmental Resource Management. He is a past Shaver’s Creek Camper and LIT who is excited to now be a Naturalist! Through his time at Shaver’s Creek he found a love for nature and the outdoors. Jacob spent his junior year of High School studying abroad in Germany through AFS. He was lucky enough to not only experience a new culture, but also meet some amazing people from all over the globe. During his free time Jacob enjoys playing soccer, rock climbing, and going on hikes.
Nature Name: Ironweed
Katie is a junior at Penn State, majoring in Elementary and Early Childhood Education (Pk-4), with a minor in Special Education. Katie’s passion for education quickly merged with her lifelong love for the outdoors through her involvement in Shaver’s Creek Outdoor School (ODS). ODS, Shaver’s Creek, and the joys of environmental education came into her life her freshman year at Penn State. Since that time she has been an ODS counselor twice, and Learning Group Leader five times (every semester she has been at Penn State!). When she isn’t doing anything education related, Katie enjoys making art of any and all forms, traveling, listening to music, and laying in the grass. She is absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to spend her summer outside working with and learning from fellow staff, participants, and visitors at the Environmental Center.
Nature Name: Raven
Past SEED student, intern, and seasonal educator, Madison is no stranger to Shaver’s Creek! Having meandered her way through many different roles for the past few years, she landed in her current graduate assistant position in August 2019. Madison is a Ph.D. candidate in the curriculum and instruction program, with a focus in science education. She graduated from Penn State in 2018 with her bachelor’s degree in recreation, park, and tourism management under the environmental interpretation option. Outside of Shaver’s Creek, Madison has previously worked with some of Central Pennsylvania’s other environmental education entities, such as Millbrook Marsh Nature Center and The Arboretum at Penn State. Madison loves to continually learn and grow as an educator and is excited to begin this new graduate-school journey with a place that is near and dear to her heart. In whatever free time she is able to find, Madison enjoys drinking coffee, birding with great friends, and fostering her 4-year-old daughter’s love of the natural world.
Nature Name: Kestrel
Tim is an M.S. candidate in the recreation, park, and tourism management program. His research interests center around what it means to engage young people in meaningful educational experiences in the outdoors and examining what inspires individuals to become lifelong stewards of the natural world. Prior to attending Penn State, Tim earned a B.S. in biology from SUNY Geneseo in upstate New York. He worked as an ecological research technician at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University, post-graduation. During this time, he found himself contemplating what it means to inspire a universal land ethic in future generations and engage broader audiences in work like he was doing. This interest brought him to Conserve School, an environmental boarding school in northern Wisconsin, where he worked as a teaching fellow for two years. He will be building upon these experiences by putting his teaching and research energies towards Outdoor School at Shaver’s Creek under the guidance of Ellen Will.
In his free time, Tim is an avid runner, paddler, and backpacker. When not adventuring, drinking good coffee and reading are some favorite pastimes!
Nature Name: Aspen
Cat is a Pennsylvania native with a background in biology from Kutztown University. After graduation, she spent 6.5 months thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail where she was given her trail name (and now nature name), Sunshine. Before starting graduate school, Cat spent a year working at Shaver’s Creek as a native plant landscaper, research assistant, and maple harvest production coordinator. Her master’s research focuses on the economic and cultural importance of the native wild onion commonly known as ramps or wild leek (Allium tricoccum) in Pennsylvania under the guidance of Eric Burkhart in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Cat is a self-proclaimed “Jill-of-all-trades,” often creating more projects than she or her partner, Mike, have time for. Besides talking about plants, Cat enjoys keeping a garden, trying new recipes, crafting, reading in her hammock, and of course, hiking.
Nature Name: Sunshine
Cassie is from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. She previously attended James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia and graduated in 2018 with her B.S. in biology. At JMU, Cassie studied the American chestnut tree; specifically her research pertained to finding their modern ecological niche in the Southern Appalachian Cove. Following graduation she participated in multiple internship programs to fine-tune her interests before applying to graduate school. Throughout these internships she got to travel and live in different in parts of the country like Michigan, Oregon and yes, even Pennsylvania. Through this process she discovered her love for plants and confirmed her passion for ecology and decided her future career goal is to become a botanist.
Cassie is currently a graduate assistant working to get her Masters in Ecosystems Science and Management. She works with Dr. Eric Burkhart on habitat modeling of ramps (allium tricoccum). Apart from this, in her free time she enjoys hiking, playing tennis, rock climbing, and hanging out with her nephew.
Faculty and Staff
Jen coordinates the Public Workshops and OLLI programs at Shaver’s Creek. In addition, she teaches BiSci003, an environmental science class at Penn State. In 1996, she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental science from Westminster College and a master’s degree in environment and community from Antioch University Seattle in 2001. She is originally from Port Allegany, in north-central Pennsylvania. She and her sons (Isaac, Henry, and Luke) and dogs (Tioga and Penny) now make their home in Pine Grove Mills. Her interests include exploring, reading, bike riding, kayaking, making jewelry, and spending time with friends and family.
Nature Name: Prism
Animal Care Program Director
Jason directs Shaver’s Creek’s wildlife zoo, which features native Pennsylvanian amphibians, reptiles, and raptors. He and a team of staff, interns, and volunteers work with the animals to provide daily care, training, and conservation education. In addition to training animals, Jason is a certified professional bird trainer (CBPT-KA) and oversees the center’s training program for university students and interns pursuing careers in aquarium and zoo science field. Jason also teaches academic classes, such as Avian Education Techniques (WFS 497) and sessions for other Penn State departments. Jason serves on Penn State’s Avian Education Committee, as the chairperson on the Education Committee for the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, and on Hawk Mountain Sanctuary’s Raptor Care Advisory Committee. A Penn State graduate, he began his career at Shaver’s Creek in 1998. Prior to returning to Shaver’s Creek in the fall of 2014, Jason spent eight years managing Abbott’s Mill Nature Center and the Milford Millponds Nature Center for Delaware Nature Society, following five years with the National Audubon Society. A lifelong naturalist, he lives in a village at the base of Pine Grove Mountain with his wife Magritte, children, Sasha and Cooper, their feline family members, Catkin and Samara, and guinea pig, Peanut.
Nature Name: Peregrine
Eric Burkhart, Ph.D.
Associate Teaching Professor
Appalachian Botany and Ethnobotany Program Director
Dr. Eric Burkhart is a botanist who specializes in ethnobotany, non-timber forest products and plant conservation in his teaching, research and educational outreach endeavors. He holds degrees in Ethnobotany (B.A, Idaho State University), Horticulture (M.S., Penn State University), and Forest Resources (Ph.D., Penn State University) and is currently Appalachian Botany and Ethnobotany program director for Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center and faculty instructor for the Penn State Ecosystem Science and Management Department. His research program in Pennsylvania is focused on developing sustainable wild stewardship and agroforestry production systems for specialty forest products including American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and ramps (Allium tricoccum).
Nature Name: Panax
Ellie has worked at Penn State for 19 years. Her first five years were with Cooperative Extension, where she worked in grant and contract accounting. She then moved to the Paul Robeson Cultural Center in the role of office manager. Before working at Penn State, she worked for Easter Seals of Central Pennsylvania. Ellie has four children, three of whom are Penn State graduates! In her free time, she enjoys gardening and all crafts and loves to re-upholster furniture.
Nature Name: Sunflower
Kayla is one of the assistant directors for Summer Camp and coordinates our summer camp high school volunteer Leader-In-Training program. Acorn, as she is better known at Shaver’s Creek, is pursuing her degree in early childhood education at Penn State with minors in special education, human development and family studies, and French. Acorn loves exploring the natural world, and her favorite part about camp is seeing kids of all ages connecting with the earth and becoming compassionate leaders and stewards of the environment. In the rare moments when she’s not at camp, planning for camp, or talking to someone about her favorite camp memories, you can probably find Acorn reading a book, practicing her photography skills, or spending time with her family and friends. Shaver’s Creek is her favorite place and her second home, and she feels lucky to witness so much discovery here!
Nature Name: Acorn
Animal Care Shift Leader
Shannan is a shift supervisor for the animal care team, working with staff, volunteers, and interns to care for our animal ambassadors. She is from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in wildlife conservation at Juniata College. Shannan developed her animal training skills as a volunteer at Shaver’s Creek and was hired as a seasonal employee in May 2018. She rejoined the staff in March 2019 after participating in a 3-month primate husbandry internship, where she cared for 50 lemurs on a reserve in Florida.
In the future, Shannan plans to continue pursing a career in animal care and training, with a focus on birds. Throughout her time at Shaver’s Creek, Shannan has become extremely passionate about vultures! She loves to work with the vultures at Shaver’s Creek and is passionate about spreading conservation awareness for these fascinating birds.
Outside of animal care, Shannan enjoys herping, hiking, and running. In her down time, she also enjoys playing board games with friends and family with a good cup of coffee!
Nature Name: Firefly
Grounds and Facilities Technician
Chris came to Shaver’s Creek in 2018 after working for Penn State for over ten years. He assists with all things grounds and facilities related. When he’s not working, you might find Chris riding motorcycles and enjoying the outdoors!
Nature Name: Mephitus
Jen directs the AURORA Outdoor Orientation Programs for incoming students to Penn State. These for-credit programs are multi-day backpacking expeditions in central Pennsylvania, Washington, New Hampshire, and Vermont, or a community service trip to inner-city Philadelphia. All expeditions are geared toward aiding incoming students to Penn State with their transition from high school to college. Students learn about college life, set goals for their first semester, and make lasting friendships.
She is also an instructor for Penn State courses such as Adventure-based Programming Leadership, Leadership Development Techniques and Training Tactics for Outdoor Leaders, and Backpacking Leadership.
Jen was originally an intern at Shaver’s Creek in the summer of 2000 and an assistant program director for Outdoor School from 2003–2005. She returned to Shaver’s Creek in 2010 (after living and working in New England for five years) to what she sees as her dream job — helping develop leaders through wilderness education.
Jen earned her bachelor’s degree in recreation and park management from Penn State in 2001 and a master’s degree in environmental studies from Antioch University of New England in 2007. She enjoys spending time pursuing outdoor adventures with her son. She also likes to ski, rock-climb, and find new places to hike.
Nature Name: Samara
Raptor Program Coordinator
Abby assists with the supervision and training of a team of Penn State students, interns, and community volunteers that work to care for, train, and educate diverse audiences with Shaver’s Creek’s animal ambassadors. She provides conservation and educational programs and development of education resources. Abby grew up in the flatlands of eastern South Dakota, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology and secondary education at South Dakota State University, with a minor in psychology. Before settling into the mountains and forests of central Pennsylvania, Abby developed her raptor training and education skills at the American Bald Eagle Foundation in southeastern Alaska, led summer camps at SeaWorld in Texas, and studied the New College of Florida’s coastal marine lab. After spending each day with her feathered, scaly, and bipedal coworkers, she enjoys coming home to her feathered family member (a parakeet named Bee), oil painting, reading, hiking, ice skating, and jigsaw puzzling.
Nature Name: Copperhead
Visitor Services Steward
Siara grew up in Petersburg, PA, and is currently residing there. Even though she lives so close to Shaver’s Creek, she is fairly new, taking her position here in spring 2018. She is excited to be here and learn more about what Shaver’s Creek does. Siara graduated from Penn College in 2017 with an associate degree in business management. Her duties at Shaver’s Creek include bookstore operations and visitor center services. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, going to the dog park, kayaking, making stuff out of paracord, and playing fetch with her “foster-failure” kitten.
Nature Name: Dogwood
Assistant Program Director
Jon promotes conservation through citizen projects such as Project Nestwatch, Monarch Watch, Winter Raptor Surveys, and seasonal hawk watches. In the spring, Jon partners with the State College Bird Club to help coordinate the Tussey Mountain Hawk Watch, a major flyway for Golden Eagles. While majoring in wildlife and fisheries science at Penn State, he became aware of the great volunteer opportunities Shaver’s Creek has to offer. Since then, he has been a work-study student and raptor center intern, and has assisted with public programs at Shaver’s Creek. He has served as a hawkwatcher for nearby Tussey Mountain and has also traveled and worked with other organizations such as Cape May Bird Observatory and Intermountain Bird Observatory in Idaho. Jon has a passion for canoeing the Juniata River, native plants, exploring new habitats, and connecting people to the avian world.
Nature Name: Timberdoodle
AURORA Assistant Program Director
Drew works to ensure that AURORA’s operations and staff development run smoothly. He believes strongly in the power of outdoor recreation as a community building and leadership development tool and makes that belief a reality each day with AURORA. Drew also instructs wilderness medicine and CPR courses in the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management Department. He earned a B.S. in Human Geography from Penn State in 2012. Drew is a Leave No Trace Master Educator, SOLO Wilderness First Responder, and an AASI certified snowboard instructor. He also enjoys riding bicycles, reading, and learning new things.
Nature Name: Larkspur
Outdoor School and Discovery Camp Assistant Director
Matt has been helping to direct Outdoor School, Discovery Camp, and Kids Corner. He graduated in 2006 from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in environmental interpretation and in 2016 from Slippery Rock University with an M.S. in park and resource management. He likes all things outdoors and enjoys living in Alexandria, PA.
Nature Name: Cardinal
Assistant Teaching Professor
Science and Education Program Director
At Shaver’s Creek, Lucy oversees the K–12 curriculum-based school outreach programming and coordinates the graduate assistant program. She is an instructor for RPTM 430 (Environmental Education Methods & Materials), SCIED 455 (Field Natural History for Teachers), and SUST 200 (Foundations of Sustainability & Leadership). Lucy is also involved with several grant-funded research projects with Penn State’s College of Education; her research interests include family science learning processes in the outdoors and mobile-based learning designs for outdoor spaces.
She enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her two sons, Conary and Eamon, her husband, Casey, and their dog, Scout. Lucy is also an avid sports fan and jumps at the chance to knock around a soccer ball.
Nature Name: Malachite
Certified Interpretive Guide — National Association for Interpretation
Member — North American Association for Environmental Education
Member — National Association for Research in Science Teaching
Member — Visitor Studies Association
At Shaver’s Creek, Laurie is an instructor in the RPTM department, teaching Teambuilding Facilitation (RPTM 230), Interpreting Maple Sugaring to Families (RPTM 297), and the First Year Seminar (RPTM 297) for AURORA students.
In addition to teaching, Laurie coordinates the SEED Semester (a 17-credit block of outdoor and environmental education courses taught at Shaver’s Creek each spring) and directs our Maple Harvest Festival.
Laurie has been affiliated with Shaver’s Creek since 1993, and served as a past director of the team building program. She received a bachelor’s degree in recreation and park management — environmental interpretation from Penn State in 1988 and a master’s degree in experiential education from the University of Colorado in 1992.
Laurie and her husband Mark have two boys, Brian and Sean, with whom they love spending time in the outdoors. Her interests include hiking, birdwatching, paddling her canoe on local lakes, reading, baking pies, and traveling to cool places. Laurie is also an avid sports fan, with much of her energy going toward supporting the Chicago Cubs.
Nature Name: Loon
Mark teaches First Aid and Safety courses and the Discovery Trip class and is a member of multiple Penn State Outreach committees. He is responsible for cultivating the resources necessary to make Shaver’s Creek successful. Mark received a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology, with a minor in forestry, from the University of Vermont in 1985 and a master’s degree in environmental education from Montclair State University in 1988. Mark likes birding, baseball, fishing, reading, and spending lots of time with his family — Laurie, Brian, and Sean.
Nature Name: Goshawk
Communications Program Director
John works to share the story of Shaver’s Creek and all of its programs with the public. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Penn State and is happy to return to his alma mater. He also earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where he studied under the New York Times bestselling author David Gessner — in a fun bit of interconnectedness, Gessner came to Shaver’s Creek in 2012 to serve the Long-term Ecological Reflections Project (LTERP). John has worked for a literary publisher and has been the lead designer for a couple award-winning literary magazines. He likes to read.
Nature Name: Caldera
Summer Camp Program Director
Tesha is the program director for all things Summer Camp related. She also coordinates the Fall Harvest Festival, featuring the Children’s Halloween Trail.
Tesha earned her bachelor’s degree in recreation, park, and tourism management from Penn State in 2005. She was a part of the Shaver’s Creek community from 2001–2005 in a variety of ways, including work study student, intern, Outdoor School counselor then Learning Group leader, Birding Cup participant, and Summer Camp counselor. After leaving Shaver’s Creek upon graduation, Tesha taught seasonally in 7 different states from the coastal barrier islands in Georgia to the canyons of Alabama and up into the forests of Connecticut. She then served two years as a district executive for the Boy Scouts of America in the Philadelphia area.
When Tesha is not preparing for Summer Camp or the Fall Harvest Festival, she enjoys sewing by hand, learning more about all aspects of medicinal plants, and exploring new places with her trail buddy, TacoCat. She is excited to be back at Shaver’s Creek and is looking forward to once again being immersed in the world of outdoor education!
Nature Name: Skye
Program Director, Team Development Center
Chris is the program director for the Team Development Center at Shaver’s Creek and teaches Team-building Facilitation (RPTM 230). He started his career in the early 90s at Shaver’s Creek as a Penn State undergraduate student earning a degree in recreation and park management. After almost 20 years exploring the Northeast, Chris is excited to be back where it all started.
For the past 10 years, while working for High 5 Adventure in Brattleboro, Vermont, Chris has delivered challenge course trainings and team development programs for schools, university groups, corporations, and professional sports teams that strengthen relationships, motivate growth, and develop leaders. Chris co-authored the Second Edition of The High 5 Guide: Challenge Course Operating Procedures for the Thinking Practitioner as well as the Ubuntu Activity Guide. He holds leadership roles in both the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) and the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT).
Chris and his wife Kristin have two wonderful daughters, Julia and Indy, and a dog, Pelé. When Chris isn’t enjoying time at home with his family, you will likely find him exploring the local mountain bike trails, playing disc golf, or knocking a puck around the hockey rink. Oh, and he loves chocolate.
Nature Name: Mongoose
Educational Operations Manager
Joshua works to keep Shaver’s Creek a vibrant educational facility to support the Center’s wide range of credit, noncredit, outreach, and research programming. Joshua is responsible for managing strategic communications to support Shaver’s Creek programs, for developing interpretive materials throughout the facility to support the Center’s educational mission, and for overseeing management of facility and grounds. He also manages our bookstore and membership program. Joshua received a bachelor’s degree in integrative arts from Penn State, focusing on multimedia and environmental education. After seven years working as a naturalist and outreach coordinator for Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Conway, New Hampshire, Joshua returned to his native Pennsylvania to join Shaver’s Creek in 2010. He grew up just over the mountain in Pine Grove Mills and has a long association with Shaver’s Creek — as a summer camper from ages 5 to 18, as a volunteer in high school, as a student and teaching assistant while at Penn State, and now as staff! Joshua also enjoys birding, hiking, and spending time outdoors with his wife Sarah, son, Ellory, and daughter, Lucy.
Nature Name: Otus (Megascops)
School Programs Coordinator
Alexa develops and coordinates the programs that enhance and engage school children’s learning at Shaver’s Creek. She grew up in Arizona and earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at Pomona College in Southern California, before moving east and discovering the forest. She has returned to Shaver’s Creek several times since 2014, working as an intern and with summer camp programming. Between her stints at Shaver’s Creek, Alexa led adventure trips for youth in New Hampshire, worked for a study abroad organization in Panama, and taught environmental science at Conserve School in Wisconsin. Alexa loves exploring Central Pennsylvania and beyond, birding, watercoloring, being active outdoors, and learning new skills, like playing the guitar!
Nature Name: Vireo
Grounds and Facilities Coordinator
Brian is responsible for maintaining the facilities and grounds at Shaver’s Creek and coordinating volunteer groups and work-study students. Brian also assists with a wide variety of programming — from school and youth programs to team building and bird of prey shows. Brian graduated from Penn State in December 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation and park management. For twenty-five years he has been involved in Scouting — becoming a Tiger Cub at age 5, working on staff at Camp Mountain Run, sitting on the Bucktail Council Camping Committee, and being an adviser of Venture Crew 509. His twelve years of summer camp experience includes archery range instructor, director of camp program, and director of the first-year-camper program, before being appointed camp director in 2005. Brian has an uncanny knack for pop culture and historical trivia and enjoys model rocketry, paintball, and hockey. Brian, his wife Johanna, and son, Logan, enjoy cooking, camping, and hiking whenever possible.
Nature Name: Draco
Environmental Educator and Team Building Facilitator
Olivia teaches and helps organize our school programs and facilitates for the Team Development Program. She gained her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at Penn State. Throughout her undergraduate career, she was involved with Shaver’s Creek in a number of capacities. From volunteering at festivals, to being a counselor and learning group leader for Outdoor School, she couldn’t get enough! Upon graduation, Olivia accepted an environmental education internship position at Shaver’s Creek. In addition to the many other roles asked of our interns, she created the Human Nature Series, a public workshop series dedicated to connecting our health to the outdoors. In her new role, Olivia plans to further her career in the outdoor education field and continue to teach the importance of spending time in the natural world.
Nature Name: Willow
Membership and Program Registration Coordinator
Marie supports the management of the Shaver’s Creek bookstore/gift shop operation, our membership program, and the registration of our many events and programs throughout the year. A State College native, Marie returned to the area after living in Pittsburgh and is delightfully reconnecting with nature in the Shaver’s Creek woods. She enjoys hiking, swimming, and spending time with her family.
Nature Name: Citrine
AURORA Program Coordinator
Trevor coordinates logistics for the AURORA Outdoor Orientation Programs at Shaver’s Creek. Originally from New England, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Southern New Hampshire University. Trevor is passionate about mentoring young people through immersive outdoor adventures to help them develop essential skills and make a positive difference in their lives. Before coming to Shaver’s Creek, he had many rewarding experiences educating students, campers, and athletes as an Outdoor Leadership teacher, camp director, and lacrosse coach. When he is not at work, Trevor loves camping, snowboarding, listening to live music, exploring new places, cooking good foods, and hanging out with family and friends.
Nature Name: Terrapin
Naturalist and Program Director
Doug coordinates the environmental education internship and birding programs and serves as instructor of Principles of Environmental Interpretation (RPTM 325), Interpreting Halloween to Children (a cleverly disguised biodiversity festival, RPTM 297B) and Natural History Interpretation (RPTM 326). Doug received his bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology from Penn State in 1989 and has served four years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He is sanctioned by The National Association for Interpretation as a trainer of Certified Interpretive Guides, and since 2005, Doug has co-led Audubon’s Coastal Maine Bird Studies for Teens week on Hog Island, Maine. He is married to Susan and they have two sons, Dylan and Duncan. His ongoing interest is fostering the awareness of the diversity of life in our own backyards.
Nature Name: Merlin
Amphibian and Reptile (Herp) Program Coordinator
A Penn State graduate and former Shaver’s Creek animal care volunteer, Joe spent 11 months as an educator with Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium before returning to Shaver’s Creek as the amphibian and reptile coordinator. While Joe’s primary focus is on caring for and educating about the center’s resident amphibians and reptiles, he is also the primary or assistant trainer for many of the Center’s resident raptors. Most recently, Joe has begun training our resident turtles and snakes to help enrich their lives while showing another side of these animals to our visitors.
Nature Name: Goshawk
Ellen manages the residential Outdoor School program, teaches its companion courses, and assists with the internship program. She believes that camp can change lives and enjoys seeing the interrelationships between the Penn State student leaders and the elementary-aged participants at Outdoor School. Ellen earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies — environmental education from Appalachian State University in 1995, and her master’s degree in environmental education at Slippery Rock University. Her thesis topic was a study of the long-term impact of the Shaver’s Creek internship program (which, by the way, 97% of former interns report was a positive experience and would recommend to a friend). Ellen is a member of the American Camp Association and serves on the PSU Youth Programs Council. Ellen lives in State College with her husband Thad, and their two sons, Jacob and Nate.
Nature Name: Xylem
Program Director and Instructor
Will co-directs the Shaver’s Creek Team Development Center. Will is also the director of facilitator development for World in Conversation at Penn State’s University Park campus, where he teaches people how to talk about taboo subjects such as race, gender, and long-term conflicts. With more than two decades of experience facilitating team development and group dynamics, Will has earned a reputation as a first-rate instructor. Working with groups ranging from corporate entities to adjudicated youth, school students to senior programs, Will has helped thousands of people to foster positive communication and self-actualization. He especially loves empowering participants with social skills that can be applied both to within-the-group training and to everyday life. He is certified by the American Canoe Association to teach canoeing and kayaking, and he loves using the outdoors to encourage people to know themselves. He has a degree in forest management from Michigan Technological University, a master’s degree in workforce education from Penn State, and spent five years as the director of Nature’s Classroom, a nontraditional school in New England.
Nature Name: Whip-poor-will