Meet the Staff

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 2018


Kayla Czekaj

LIT Coordinator

Kayla “Acorn” Czekaj can’t wait to be back at Shaver’s Creek this summer! Acorn is pursuing her degree in Early Childhood Education at Penn State with minors in Special Education, Human Development and Family Studies, and French. In addition to working with many awesome kids throughout the year, Acorn is very involved in THON at Penn State and loves exploring the natural world and spending time with her friends and family. Shaver’s Creek is her favorite place and her second home, and she feels so lucky to get to spend her summers witnessing, facilitating, and participating in discovery.

Nature name: Acorn


Lexi Arnold


Lexi Arnold is ecstatic to spend the summer teaching about the wonders of the outdoors following her SEED semester with Shaver’s Creek. She is currently a junior studying Recreation, Park, and Tourism management with a focus in Outdoor Recreation and a minor in Sustainability Leadership. Lexi loves exploring new places, hiking, cooking, hanging out with friends, and planning her next adventure. Her favorite place in the world is a cool, foggy morning on the rocky coastline lined with Redwoods in California. A quote she aims to live by is this: “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

Nature name: Pine


Larissa Bernecker

Environmental Education Intern

Larissa Bernecker is thrilled to be at Shaver’s Creek for the summer of 2018. While earning her bachelor’s degree in Watershed Management at Mansfield University, she also is active in the MU Geoscience Club, local watershed groups, and the Tiadaghton Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Larissa enjoys saving water, looking for rocks, and talking to her plants.

Nature name: River


Kyle Bettwy

Environmental Education Intern

Kyle Bettwy is so excited to be joining the Shaver’s Creek staff this summer! An upcoming junior at Penn State, Kyle is majoring in Microbiology and hopes to enter research in coral ecology. Kyle began his outdoor adventures with the Boy Scouts of America and achieved Eagle Scout in 2015. In his free time, Kyle enjoys running, swimming, and working on his scuba certification. Kyle hopes to someday master the perfect s’more!

Nature name: Bee


Mary Birrer

Environmental Education Intern

Mary is happy to be joining Shaver’s Creek after hearing about it from her friends, former interns Kristen “Fern” Balschunat and Joe “Scute” Seebode. She has a degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources from Rutgers University, which she earned last spring. Previously, Mary has worked as an environmental educator at Schiff Natural Lands Trust, The Wetlands Institute, Bald Head Island Conservancy, and The Ecology School. Mary enjoys hiking, daydreaming, and exploring new places, as well as singing “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” from Mulan. Her favorite place in the world is up in the maple tree outside her grandfather’s house in Maine.
Email Mary

Nature name: Sandpiper


Madison Botch

Environmental Education Intern

Madison is thrilled to be back at Shaver’s Creek after her SEED semester, Outdoor School, and Teambuilding experiences here. She’s graduating this spring with a degree in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management—Environmental Interpretation Option. Previously, Madison has been a Program Leader at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center and Extension Education Support at Pennsylvania State 4-H. Her favorite place is Maine, and in her free time, Madison likes to bird, read, cross-stitch, and explore species of the natural world.
Nature name: Kestrel
Email Madison


Rob Brant

Environmental Education Intern

Rob Brant grew up in the forests of central Pennsylvania and attended many of Shaver’s Creek’s camps as a kid. He is currently attending the University of Colorado Boulder, studying mechanical engineering with an emphasis in sustainability with a plan to one day find a way to use engineering to help wildlife. His favorite place is Texas and loves birding, rock climbing, horseback riding, and getting lost in the woods. If he could have one superpower it would be flight, “so I could be more like a bird.”

Nature name: Whip-poor-will


Taylor Ely

Environmental Education Intern

Taylor has been an intern at Shaver’s Creek since August 2017. She graduated from the University of Evansville in 2014 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Technical Theatre. Previously, she worked as the Floor Manager at Northlight Theatre and as a Properties Artisan at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. In her free time, Taylor enjoys reading, knitting, birding, and telling children to get off her lawn.
Nature name: Bluebonnet
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Ali Gustavson

Environmental Education Intern

Ali Gustavson is excited for a brand-new adventure in Pennsylvania and at Shaver’s Creek. In the Fall, Ali will be entering her fourth and final year at the University of Maine, where she is a Wildlife Ecology major and Education minor. Previously, she worked at the Chesterbrook School of Natural Learning as an assistant teacher. Ali enjoys hiking with her dogs, drinking tea, and finding salamanders.

Nature name: Salamander


Madison McCormick


As a rising junior at Penn State, majoring in Recreation Park Tourism Management, Madison McCormick is so excited to be working as a naturalist this summer! She is also an AURORA backpacking guide and member of the Penn State women’s rugby team. In her free time she enjoys climbing things and talking to trees!

Nature name: Sol

Jourdan Mitchell


Jourdan Mitchell is going into her fourth year at Penn State as a Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management major. She has an interest in pursuing a career in environmental education and adventure-based programming. Exploring and discovering new things in nature is one of her favorite things to do and she enjoys sharing this passion with others.

Nature name: Tadpole

Devon Tighe


Devon Tighe grew up in State College attending Shaver’s Creek summer programs himself and is thrilled to return to the Creek this summer. He currently is studying Biology at Penn State with a focus in Ecology. Devon has always loved the outdoors and credits Shaver’s Creek for his passion for nature and his current academic track. He loves music and theatre as well, participating in the Penn State Glee Club currently.

Nature name: Red Fox

Graduate Assistants

 Alex Dutt

Carli Dinsmore

Carli is a graduate student in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Penn State and is working on her Master’s degree in Ecology in Dr. David Miller’s Applied Population Ecology Lab. Carli earned an associate’s degree in Wildlife Technology and a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State. As a work-study student in Shaver’s Creek’s Raptor Center, she assisted with animal care and led Traveling Naturalists Programs for public audiences. Carli’s research includes using statistical models to examine variation in growth rate with respect to life-history and environmental factors in populations of Western terrestrial garter snakes and studying the thermal ecology of wood turtles in the Stone Valley forests around Shaver’s Creek.
Nature Name: Catkin
Email Carli

Teal Jordan

Teal comes to the diverse forests of Pennsylvania (“Penn’s woods”) from the front range of Colorado where she worked in the herbal medicine world, manufacturing tinctures and growing herbs for skincare. She is a Georgia native who studied environmental science and organic agriculture at the University of Georgia. She learned medicinal and folk uses of southeastern plants at the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies in the north Georgia mountains where she became passionate about the wonders of botanizing in the forest and making plant-based medicine. Her research interests range from ethnobotanical uses and chemistry to the cultivation and sustainable management of medicinal forest plants. She is working towards a Master’s degree in Forest Resources at Penn State.
Email Teal

Tim Mateer

Tim is an M.S. candidate in the the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. 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 Pennsylvania State University, 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!
Email Tim

Maria Jose Ramirez C.

Maria Jose is a PhD candidate for the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management program at Penn State. She comes from Chile. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Psychology from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile and a Master’s degree in Consultation and Intervention in Sports, Physical Activity and Health, from the University of Ottawa in Canada.

Her research interests relate to what it means to be human and to lead a meaningful life, how time in the wilderness and experiential learning can help people become global citizens, and promote the United Nation’s sustainable development goals.

Maria Jose is passionate about traveling and CrossFit.
Email Maria Jose

Meg Teuber

Meg has loved animals and nature her entire life and is always excited to educate others on different animal species. From living in the Southeast and getting her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science at Clemson University, she has moved up the east coast to get her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State and is looking forward to learning how to survive her first real winter. Her research interests are focused on how multimedia changes the way students learn about endangered species. In her free time, Meg loves going on hikes to add to her ever-growing collection of nature photographs and she loves to travel and SCUBA dive. Being so passionate about endangered and threatened species, her favorite trip abroad has taken her to see One-horned Rhino and Bengal Tigers in their natural habitat.
Email Meg


Faculty and Staff

Pete Allison, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Pete works between Shavers Creek and the Department for Recreation, Park and Tourism Management (RPTM). Originally from the United Kingdom, Pete is committed to experiential learning and values education. He is keen on expeditions for the purposes of science and adventure. Pete is particularly interested in the value of wilderness experiences and the contributions they can make to authenticity, cross-cultural education and living a meaningful life (phronesis). Pete is a passionate skiier, canoeist, mountaineer and aspires to be a better runner.
Nature name: Buteo
Email Pete

Jennifer Steigerwalt

Jennifer Anderson

Program Director

Jennifer helps to manage animal care, traveling naturalist programs, interns, volunteers, work-study students, and the Honorary Animal Caretaker Program. She is an instructor for Environmental Education Methods and Materials (RPTM 430). 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. Jennifer is originally from Port Allegany, in north central Pennsylvania. She and her sons, Isaac and Henry, husband, Doug, and their dogs, Tioga, Penny, and Winston, now make their home in Pine Grove Mills. Her interests include exploring, crocheting, making jewelry, and spending time with friends and family.
Nature name: Prism
Email Jennifer Anderson

Jason Beale

Program Director of Live Animal Care

Jason oversees the care, training, and presentation of Shaver’s Creek live animal ambassadors, a menagerie of amphibians, reptiles, and non-releasable raptors. He and a team of staff, interns, and volunteers provide the daily care, training, educational interpretation, and conservation outreach programming with the animals. In addition to training animals, Jason is a certified professional bird trainer (CBPT-KA) and trains students and interns daily at the center and through Avian Education Outreach Techniques (WFS 497) and other university classes. Jason also serves on the Education Committee for the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators. A Penn State graduate, he began his career at Shaver’s Creek, first as a volunteer and later as an intern. Prior to returning to Shaver’s Creek in the fall of 2014, Jason worked for Delaware Nature Society, Aullwood Audubon Center & Farm, Audubon Pennsylvania, and Wildwood Park. A lifelong naturalist, he lives in a village at the base of Pine Grove mountain with his wife, Magritte, children Sasha and Cooper, and their feline family members, Catkin and Samara.
Nature name: Peregrine
Email Jason

Eric Burkhart

Eric Burkhart, Ph.D.

Instructor and Plant Science Program Director

Eric provides landscape and forest management leadership at Shaver’s Creek and teaches courses for the School of Forest Resources on tree and shrub identification (FOR 203 Field Dendrology), nonnative invasive plants (FOR 497F Invasive Forest Plants), and herbaceous forest plants (FOR 497B Forest Herbaceous Plant Identification and Ecology). He also assists colleagues at the center with credit courses (RPTM 297G Interpreting Maple Sugaring to Families) offered in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. Working with partners such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Eric also conducts research on native plants of economic and conservation importance, such as American ginseng and goldenseal, and offers practical guidance in forest farming, through related workshops and publications. Eric holds degrees in economic botany (BA, Idaho State University), horticulture (MS, Penn State), and forest resources (PhD, Penn State). His expertise includes: (1) identification of Pennsylvania plants, shrubs, trees, and vines; (2) native plant horticulture and plant husbandry; (3) economic and folk uses of plants in Pennsylvania and the region; (4) plant conservation and management policy; (5) nonnative, invasive plant identification and management; (6) temperate agroforestry practices (riparian forest buffers, windbreaks, forest farming); (7) nontimber forest products (edible/medicinal fungi and plants).
Nature name: Panax
Email Eric

Jen Emigh

Jennifer Emigh

Program Director

Jen directs the AURORA Outdoor Orientation Programs for incoming students to Penn State University. 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 University 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
Email Jennifer Emigh

Abby Flanders

Raptor Center Conservation Educator

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 & 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. A teacher at heart, Abby also instructs online English Second Language classes to children in Beijing. 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: Monarch
Email Abby Flanders

Siara Glenny

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’s 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
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Nikki Houck

Nikki Houck

Office Manager
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Jon Kauffman

Jon Kauffman

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 Fisheries Sciences 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, raptor center intern, and 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
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Drew Lehnerd

Drew Lehnerd

AURORA Assistant Program Director

Drew assists with all the AURORA Outdoor Orientation Programs and has been a part of the team since 2012. He works to develop leaders through outdoor recreation, and help those leaders work with incoming Penn State freshmen to ease their transition to college life. He has also worked with the Outdoor School program at Shaver’s Creek and has assisted with field components of the Adventure-Based Programming Leadership classes (RPTM 330). He graduated from Penn State in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Human Geography. He has a passion for teaching and all things outdoors, and hopes to continue to use outdoor recreation as a means of educating people and developing leaders. He has also worked as a guide with Penn State Adventure Recreation and as an Instructor at Tussey Mountain. His interests include snowboarding, biking, skiing, paddling, backpacking, climbing, crocheting, sailing, cooking, skipping rocks, soccer, and spending time with friends and family.
Nature name: Larkspur
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Matt Marsden

Matt Marsden

Assistant Program Director

Matt has been helping to direct Outdoor School, Discovery Camp, Kids Corner, and Farm Show. He graduated in 2006 from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in environmental interpretation and is currently pursuing his M.S. in Park and Resource Management in the Slippery Rock University online program. He spends a lot of time in the outdoors in as many venues as possible, learning the natural world wherever he goes. He enjoys finding ways to produce and preserve food. Playing music locally is enjoyable when time permits. He grew up in State College and still gets to see most of his family that lives in the area.
Nature name: Cardinal
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Lucy R. McClain, Ph.D.

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 getting a toddler’s perspective of their backyard with her son, Conary, and husband, Casey. With a dog, Scout, and two cats, Koko and Neko, it is a busy house! Lucy is also an avid sports fan and jumps at the chance to knock around a soccer ball.

National affiliations:
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

Nature name: Malachite
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Laurie McLaughlin

Laurie McLaughlin


Laurie teaches Team-Building Facilitation (RPTM 230), Interpreting Maple Sugaring to Families (RPTM 297G), and First Year Seminar (RPTM 397S) for ORION and USE students. She directs the Maple Harvest Festival and coordinates the SEED Semester of classes taught each spring at Shaver’s Creek. 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. Her interests include bird watching, traveling, canoeing, cooking, reading, and, most of all, spending time with her husband, Mark, and their two sons, Brian and Sean.
Nature name: Loon
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Mark McLaughlin

Mark McLaughlin


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
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John McShea

AURORA Marketing and Program Coordinator

John assists with the AURORA Outdoor Orientation Programs in a multitude of ways, including the coordination of AURORA’s marketing and communications. 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). During his time in North Carolina, John interned with Lookout Books, an independent literary publisher, and served as lead designer for Ecotone, an award-winning, environmentally concerned literary magazine. John’s greatest passion is to read, specifically works that engage nature. He also likes to hike, be near water, and seek out solitude.

Nature name: Caldera
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Chris Ortiz

Tesha Omeis

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 University 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 fellow 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
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Chris Ortiz

Chris Ortiz

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 last 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 Practitioners 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
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Ruth Parson

Ruth Parson

Administrative Assistant

Ruth joined the Shaver’s Creek administrative staff in January 2016, where she provides academic and director support. She has worked at Penn State for over nine years. Ruth lives in Mifflin County with her husband Dan and their two dogs. They have three grown children, Jason, Kayley and Samantha. Ruth enjoys gardening for birds and butterflies in her backyard, and hopes to learn more about gardening using native plants.
Nature name: Hummingbird
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Joshua Potter

Joshua Potter

Educational Operations Manager

Joshua works to keep Shaver’s Creek a vibrant educational facility that directly supports the Center’s wide range of credit, non-credit, outreach, and research programming. Joshua is responsible for managing strategic communications to support Shaver’s Creek programs and for developing interpretive materials throughout the facility to support the Center’s educational mission. 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)
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Justin Raymond

Assistant Marketing Coordinator

Justin came to Shaver’s Creek in 2010 as a SEED Semester student, returned as an Environmental Education intern the following summer, and started his current role in January 2015. His degree is in Recreation, Parks & Tourism Management. He is interested in how technology can help connect people to the outdoors (and each other). Justin works on a variety of interpretive and marketing materials for Shaver’s Creek, including videos, newsletters, digital graphics, signage, podcasts, photography, and Shaver’s Creek’s presence on the web and social media, like the Photo-a-Day feature. He gets to make stuff every day that encourages people to explore their own backyards! Justin enjoys hiking, Geocaching, homebrewing, tossing pizzas, video games, and board games.
Nature name: Rutabaga
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Alexa Sarussi

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
Email Alexa

Brian Sedgwick

Brian Sedgwick

Facility Services 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
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Marie Taylor

Marie Taylor

Staff Assistant and Assistant Bookstore Manager

Marie supports the management of the Shaver’s Creek bookstore/gift shop operation, our membership program, and the promotion of our many events and programs throughout the year. A State College native, Marie recently 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
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Doug Wentzel

Doug Wentzel

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
Email Doug

Ellen Will

Ellen Will

Program Director

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
Email Ellen

Will Wise

Will Wise

Program Director and Instructor

Will co-directs the Shaver’s Creek Team Development Center and Rock n’ River Adventure Camps. 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
Email Will


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