Alexandra Harding grew up in Salem, Oregon. She attended Western Oregon University where she was active in student leadership and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology. During her time at Western, Alex participated in several exciting research opportunities, including helping to produce a street tree inventory of both Monmouth and Independence, Oregon. She also worked as an intern at the local Soil and Water Conservation District learning to write Wildlife Habitat Conservation and Management Plans for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. She enjoyed the opportunity to teach people how to conserve and protect local wildlife and their environment, and was inspired to pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Education as a result. Alex is happy to be here at SOU working toward her certificate in non-profit management in addition to the MS in Environmental Education as well as interning with BeeGirl (a local nonprofit focused on honeybee conservation and beekeeping education) and representing SOU as a student board member for the Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. In her free time, Alex enjoys volunteering with other local groups, hiking, swimming, going to the farmers market and spending time with her husband somewhere in the outdoors.
Amanda Cordes is an Oregon local who grew up in Portland and got her BS in biology at Linfield College. During her undergrad, she researched the genetics of Whitebark pine, ran cross country, and made lots of time to explore plant communities throughout the state. After finishing school, she decided to leave her Oregon roots and make new homes throughout the west. While traveling she lived in Nevada and did plant restoration for the Great Basin Institute. This position got her involved in community education and furthered her passion to teach people in the outdoors. She also worked as a gardener in Southeast Alaska, where she learned a ton about growing her own food. Amanda likes to spend her free time hiking, skiing, and going to concerts. She is always on board when there is an opportunity to explore new lakes or rivers. She is getting her secondary teaching licensure while pursuing her degree at SOU and hopes to take whatever opportunities she can to get kids curious and excited in the outdoors.
Bri Foster is an Oregon native who studies Spanish and political science at the University of Portland before commissioning into the US Air Force. She always enjoyed the learning about the environment, outdoor activities like backpacking or kayaking, and working with kids. After leaving active duty, teaching was where she felt led to go next and, given her interests, Environmental Education was extremely appealing. She knew she wanted to get her teaching license from Oregon and SOU was the only University in the state that offered an Environmental Education Masters program. Thankfully, she got in and is now pursuing the EE masters along with an upper elementary/middle school teaching license and a non-profit business certification. She hopes to either run the education programs at a state or national park or to someday open an upper elementary or middle school that is in an outdoor environment year-round.
Brooke Mueller was born and raised in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Growing up she spent her days outdoors playing in the woods behind her house and camping with her family. She received a comprehensive major in Ecology and Environmental Biology from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. She took that degree and headed out to the Cape Cod National Sea Shore where she held an internship to conduct plant surveys. From there she went to Western Massachusetts to teach environmental education to elementary school children and do trail work across the state. She then spent the next year living and teaching at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minnesota. With her degree, she hopes to work with motivated young people who are interested in being environmental educators. When not on campus, Brooke can be found baking, biking, hiking, reading, skiing, or crafting.
Caroline Burdick originally hails from Texas and graduated from the University of Colorado- Boulder in 2009 with a BA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Women and Gender Studies. After graduating, she pursued her interest in wildlife research and worked on research projects with spotted owls (Strix occidentalis) in N. California, small mammals and herpetofauna in Tennessee, and gastropods (slugs and snails) in N. Idaho. She also enjoyed teaching environmental education in N. Carolina and the mountains of Southern California. After a year and a half working in wilderness therapy in Utah and 5 years out of college, Caroline decided she was ready to return to get her Master’s. SOU’s MS in Environmental Education program drew her to Oregon because of its dual intensive focus on biology and education, and the amazing scenery of southern Oregon. She is very excited to work towards attaining her high school Biology endorsement and teaching license. In her spare time, Caroline loves traveling, rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, movie and game nights with friends, and photographing every adventure.
Chaney Swiney was born in Nashville, Tennessee, where he grew up in between summer vacations with his parents that took him to a long list of National Parks that instilled in him a love and a need for nature. In the summer of 2012, he spent two weeks volunteering at Wild Mountains Trust, an environmental education center in Australia’s Border Ranges, and that showed him that environmental education was the best way to share that love with the rest of the world. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2013 with a degree in Geography because he really likes maps, and then pursued a restless path to Ashland: an internship with National Geographic, a semester of the wrong grad school, a walk across Spain on el Camino de Santiago, and an internship at Great Smoky Mountains NP. Now that he’s in Southern Oregon, he’s ready to explore the abundant natural and scenic wonders of his new home and make the most of his time in the west (he’s already driven between Ashland and Nashville three times, each with a new route). He hopes SOU will prepare him for his dream job: a National Park ranger who leads interpretive hikes and programs, makes maps and interpretive signs, and has time to travel the world as a nature photographer. If that doesn’t work out, he’ll settle for something similar and slightly more reasonable.
Born and raised on the Central Coast of California, Chelsea Behymer found an early connection to her surroundings through surfing, kayaking, hiking, and horseback riding. After a field biology class on Santa Cruz Island exposed her to the world of conservation, she never looked back. Chelsea received her Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology from Hawaii Pacific University, where she dove (literally) into coral reef research, which continued to fuel her fascination with the interconnectedness of living things. Taking her knowledge from the field, Chelsea has spent the past (almost) two years working as a Naturalist around the world, educating passengers onboard cruise ships about marine science and natural history. From this work, she has come to realize that it is only through understanding the world around us that others will come to love it and want to preserve it too. Discovering this sense of purpose, Chelsea is thrilled to now be a part of the SOU EE Masters program, where she hopes to develop the skills necessary to create the experiential learning opportunities that foster the conservation-minded actions of current and future generations.
Elena Bianchi grew up in western Michigan. She has always been passionate about protecting and conserving our natural resources. In 2008 she received her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University. After college she worked in the field of fisheries biology before deciding the best path towards conservation is through education. She is excited and grateful to be pursuing a master’s degree in environmental education as well as a teaching licensure and certificate in non-profit business management. In her free time she enjoys traveling, rock climbing and any kind of outdoor adventure.
Jeremy Clothier grew up in the fair city of Knoxville, Tennessee. He attended college at Tennessee Tech University and graduated in 2012 with a degree in Environmental Biology. Since then he has traveled up and down the east coast working a variety of different educational, interpretive, and naturalist positions. Jeremy has lead nature kayaking tours in South Carolina, had fourth grade students on tours through a National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, interpreted the wonders of migrating raptors in New Jersey, and handled live raptors while conducting educational shows in Pennsylvania. Now his long and dusty road has finally brought him to the west coast where he hopes to further his understanding of Environmental Education. When not in class you can usually find Jeremy with a pair of binoculars glued to his face looking for birds. He also enjoys kayaking, hiking, playing the trombone, or just taking some time to sit back and watch the world turn
Nicole Carbone was born and raised in the Bay Area, but her visits with her grandparents on the Oregon Coast inspired her keen interest in the natural world. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity, she became a teacher at Walker Creek Ranch, the same outdoor school she’d attended herself 11 years earlier. The experience gave her a sense of passion and purpose, as well as endless inspiration from the students, fellow naturalists, and forest around her. After two years of exploring the Santa Cruz mountains, working as a naturalist, and guiding kayak tours, she moved 340 miles north to Ashland to start the next chapter of her E.E. journey. The move to Oregon has reminded her of the things she loves: exploring with friends, time with family, hiking, camping, the ocean, and the wonders of the forest. After she finishes at SOU, Nicole hopes to share her passion and knowledge through an outdoor program, maybe even creating a residential one of her own! She hopes that her education will guide her as a teacher so she can open children’s eyes to life changing moments in nature that will inspire them to make a difference in the world around them.
Paul Kelley is a low stress, high energy lad who enjoys nothing more than spending time with his friends and family outdoors. He was born and raised in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and successfully spent 23 years in New England without ever skiing or snowboarding once. However, he is a mean sledder. He received his bachelors in Environmental Science from UMaine Orono and it took a couple of research positions in a few different countries to find his passion for education. Outside of class you can find him playing board games, running, reading science fiction, and partaking in any outside activity that requires a few friends sharing some laughs to do. He is super excited to be in Oregon learning how to fuse his love for the outdoors with his interest in education, and is so happy to have a fantastic cohort to share the journey with.
Sarah Heath is from Durango CO, where she’s about the only person in the entire city who does not ski or snowboard. She went to school at the University of Wyoming (don’t even talk to her about wolves or greater sage grouse) where she earned a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and Management (yes that is all one major) and a minor in Philosophy. The summer before her last semester she tripped and fell into environmental education when she took a job handling raptors in Cody, WY. Her experience there with the birds and the public set her on the path she walks now. Since then, she’s spent time in Churchill, Manitoba collecting data on the local polar bears and even more time on Sanibel Island in Florida watching birds and teaching both students and adults about the local habitats. Sarah is excited to come to Oregon and explore another entirely different ecosystem. In her spare time she enjoys playing video games, writing, walking in the woods, or just hanging out at home on the couch napping. Napping may be her favorite activity (she might have been a black bear in a past life).
Stephanie Danyi has been an environmental educator since the ripe old age of 7, when she was asked by a naturalist to help with a presentation about snakes at the local state park. Ever since then, Stephanie has enjoyed sharing her love of the natural world with others, helping to also deepen their understanding of ecology. Stephanie earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Earlham College in 2003. Since then, in order to become a more effective environmental educator, Stephanie has worked in a variety of natural resource management jobs deepening her own understanding of ecology. After working in habitat restoration, invasive species management, performing vegetation surveys, and raptor monitoring, Stephanie is ready to return full time to sharing her knowledge and passion of the natural world with others. Stephanie also teaches Hatha Yoga and enjoys hiking. You are likely to find her out on a trail with her dog Zeus.