Debra Agnew was born and raised in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. Her connection to nature was cultivated on family camping trips to the mountains and deserts of southern California, and in the parks, gardens, and nature preserves near her home. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences at CSU, Monterey Bay, in an area famous for deep coastal waters full of kelp forests and playful otters. After graduation, Debra was hiking in a flower-filled meadow in the Cuyamaca Mountains and decided she wanted to become a park ranger, so that she could live and work in the great outdoors. Her pursuit began when she became a volunteer gallery interpreter at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where she facilitated meaningful connections between visitors and exhibits of urban wildlife, live insects, and fossilized dinosaurs. During Certified Interpretive Guide training at the museum, she felt the call toward stewardship and environmental education. After completing the Masters of Science in Environmental Education program, Debra looks forward to a lifetime of connecting people with nature.
Leia Althauser grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where life has adapted to less than five inches of rain a year. Craving more water, she traveled north and attended the University of Oregon where she graduated with a B.S. in journalism and a minor in environmental studies in 2013.Since undergraduate graduation, she has worked in litigation and public outreach for the Mexican gray wolves and has worked side-by-side with bald eagles, owls, falcons and hawks in Alaska. Leia is a Certified Professional Bird Trainer-Knowledge Assessed. She uses her knowledge of learning and behavior not only help train animals, but also to help teach adults about wildlife. She is interested in utilizing the various forms of policy, management, advocacy and education so that all forms of life may co-exist alongside humans. When not fighting for the wild ones, Leia can be found hiking, cycling, skiing or enjoying time on the Oregon Coast with her two cats Chum and Keta and her husband, Andrew.
Sara Buckley grew up in Florida, spending her time exploring the Indian river lagoon and the surrounding beaches. Growing up she always loved the water and exploring the various surrounding ecosystems. In high school she moved to North Carolina, and longed to be back near the water, leading her to pursue her dive certification. Diving was like nothing she had ever experienced, and she knew she wanted to pursue a career to help protect these ecosystems. She went on to receive a B.S. in Oceanography from University of North Carolina at Wilmington. During college she spent her summers with Broadreach Global Summer Educational Adventures sailing all over the Caribbean and teaching sailing and diving to youth. After college she was the program coordinator at Sea Turtle Camp in Wilmington, until she became an intern at a research station on the Caribbean island, Bonaire. She spent a year being a teaching assistant for the Advanced Scuba, Marine Ecology Field Research Methods, coral reef ecology, and Independent research courses. After a year she was hired on full-time as the Lab and office manager and created and implemented a high school marine ecology program that following summer. After the summer co-teaching her program to high school students she knew she this was her dream job, and decided she wanted to learn more about teaching. She applied to the Environmental Education program at Southern Oregon University and the rest is history! Sara looks forward to continuing to combine her love for the environment and teaching in a career as an environmental educator
Nicole Ferer moved to Eugene, Oregon from the concrete jungle of the Bay Area. A love for wildflowers and fascination with medicinal and edible plants was her gateway into loving and understanding the natural world. Nicole earned an Environmental Policy degree from the University of Oregon. It was here that she discovered environmental education was the ultimate blend of her two greatest passions: education and the natural environment. Nicole approaches teaching with love and logic, and fosters engaged, positive learning through her childlike energy. Nicole strives to cultivate a culture of community and interconnectedness in her career and life as an educator, with a dream of starting her own eco-school on a sustainable farm in the Pacific Northwest.
Kelsey Hansen grew up in the rural, rugged terrain of Idaho while hunting for frogs and salamanders (and anything else that moved). This love for animals continued, and she later graduated from Idaho State University in 2016 with her B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in integrative organismal biology. After graduation, she moved to Washington to work on boats as a marine naturalist and teach visitors about orcas and other amazing marine life in the San Juan Islands. She also worked as an environmental educator in Olympic National Park teaching children about nature, sustainability, and ecosystem health. In between it all, she coached basketball, travelled the globe, and continued to fall more in love with the Pacific Northwest by the day. She loves all animals, and she cannot wait to learn more about how to get others excited about the environment and its critters!
J.J. Janson was raised in the New Hampshire woodlands where sugar maples produce syrup and flash fuchsia, vermilion, golden and grapefruit foliage each fall. She spent summers hiking and camping, and winters skiing and snowshoeing in the White Mountains with her Dad. Animals of all species accompanied them on their adventures and J.J. grew to love them as dear friends. Though her first passion was writing, her relationship with the outdoors and wildlife led her to double major in English and Environmental Studies at Keene State College in Keene, NH. In 2013, she began to spread her wings and fly to new places. Her adventures have taken her to The Land of Midnight Sun where the Northern Lights dance in the sky to the Sonoran Desert where saguaro cacti remind us that even in the most unlikely places life can thrive. Each place and the people that have called them home have had an impact on her relationship with the environment; shaping both her writing and her identity. Now, armed with a pack full of knowledge, experience, and passion, J.J. has traded in the sugar maples for the sugar pines and set out to reconnect humans with the land they were once a part of. Through the M.S. Environmental Education Program at Southern Oregon University she hopes to harmonize humanity with the environment and bridge the gap between their misunderstandings of nature and themselves.
Hannah Kittler grew up in western Massachusetts where her love for science and the outdoors became evident in middle school. She went on to pursue a degree in Biology and minors in Environmental Studies and Chemistry at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. She decided to pursue an internship in Environmental Education her senior year and absolutely fell in love with teaching outdoors. She then got bit by the travel bug and worked seasonal jobs throughout the U.S. for a few years. This past year she decided that she wanted to pursue her master’s so she could have the skills to run a nature center in the future! You can find her safely removing unwanted spiders from homes in her spare time.
Emily Lind grew up in the land of beer, dairy, and cheese heads. She spent much of her Wisconsin childhood swimming at the lake in the summer and making snow angels in the winter. Her love for animals drove her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Birds became an integral part of Emily’s life when she volunteered at a bird banding station and held her first bird: a Black-and-white Warbler. Between undergraduate and graduate school her field jobs ranged from studying the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler and Greater Sage-Grouse, to banding birds in Ecuador. Her most recent position as the Citizen Science Technician at a nature center in Wisconsin is where her passion for education blossomed. The Environmental Education program at Southern Oregon University will allow Emily to pursue research while also obtaining the skills and resources to be an effective environmental educator. Emily wants people of all ages to feel comfortable in nature, be eager to learn about nature, and ultimately fall in love with and protect nature.
Elva Manquera is an Oregon native who grew up in Douglas County. She got her bachelor’s in Zoology from Oregon State University with a focus in herpetology and disease. Through her interest in amphibians, Elva has done research in Costa Rica and throughout the Cascades. Ever since she was young Elva loved playing in the creek and spending time with nature; she believes that everyone should have that opportunity. With her career, she hopes to be able to bridge her love for nature and research to bring environmental education tunderrepresented youth in Oregon.
Crystal Nichols had an innate fascination with wildlife at a very tender age and this interest has never waned. It mostly stems from never wanting to grow up or stop playing outside. She got her degree in aquatic biology and fisheries from Ball State University in Indiana. After accepting a temporary job in Oregon last year, she escaped the corn maze of the Midwest and has been a willing captive of the West ever since. A love of lifelong learning and a passion for educating brought Crystal to this unique program. Today, she enjoys hiking, climbing, taking photographs, and playing in the water.
Emily Olsen is an adventurous, friendly, outgoing native Pacific Northwesterner spending her childhood around the Puget Sound in Washington and her young adulthood in the suburbs of Portland. She graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in General Biology. During her senior year as an undergraduate she was a part of an Outdoor Education class and it really sparked a love for sharing the natural world with children (and adults) and she has been pursuing a career in the field ever since. Her passions are conservation, science education, and going on adventures outside in nature. Hiking and anything involving the water are her favorites. She loves to share her passions with others to help foster connections between the people and their communities especially while restoring local critical habitats. She hopes that the Environmental Education M.S. Program at Southern Oregon University will give her the tools to help better serve her community and the environment in the future.
Lauren Perkinson Science has always appealed to Lauren, and from a young age she sought to explore the natural world. Her love for the sciences carried her all the way to college, when she chose to study at Colorado State University. Initially, her passions led her to major in Sports Medicine, where she focused on studying Anatomy and Physiology. Her goal was to use this degree as stepping stone to PT school, however, she ended up choosing an entirely different career path about halfway through her college career. Lauren ended up graduating with a degree in Biological Sciences (Ecology concentration) and a minor in Anthropology. She got her first taste of teaching during her undergraduate studies, and quickly realized that science education was her calling! This realization ultimately led to her admission to the M.S. in Environmental Education and M.A. in Teaching programs here at SOU. Lauren looks forward to using the skills she will gain in these programs to ignite an interest in the sciences within diverse groups of young learners.
Mack Stamper was born and raised in the deciduous forests of central Ohio, and spent most of his childhood outdoors, either playing sports or hiking with his dad. Always an animal lover, he graduated from Otterbein University with a B.A. in Zoo and Conservation Science. A big fan of travel, Mack has traveled all across the United States, and has taken trips to Costa Rica, the Caribbean, and Europe. During an internship with the Houston Zoo, Mack learned about the Environmental Education M.S. program at SOU, and fell in love the program. During his time in the program, he hopes to learn more about and refine his skills in education, advocacy, and management, as well as provide a wonderful educational experience for children and adults alike around the Rogue Valley.
Courtney Stewart grew up in rural mid-Michigan with a love for nature and science. Courtney’s career trajectory in college was to be a scientist, but specifically a scientist that dealt with current environmental issues. She pursued a B.S. with a focus in Environmental Geoscience at Michigan State University. It is here she received her experience in applied research and realized her interest in science communication and civic engagement. Courtney discovered the Environmental Education M.S. Program and moved to Ashland to attend. Through this program Courtney will develop further as a scientist and researcher while growing as an educator, an individual and an active member in her community. She hopes to make education fun and exciting, encouraging motivation and passion to blossom in individuals; leading with her action and desire for knowledge