Katie Boehnlein is a native Oregonian who spent her early years searching for fairy houses on the hidden stairways and urban wilderness areas of Southwest Portland. Undoubtedly, these experiences led her to a dual undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and English at Seattle University. It was during these four formative years in Seattle that she awoke to a passion for environmental education while working as an educator at the Washington Park Arboretum on the shores of Lake Washington. Upon graduation, she moved to San Francisco, where she spent a year climbing the city’s many hills and writing about her experiences. However, Oregon’s lush forests inevitably called her back, prompting a move back to Portland and a job at a progressive independent school there. She spent three years teaching fifth graders, designing garden curriculum, and founding an environmental leadership program at the school. Now a resident of the Rogue Valley, Katie is excited to immerse herself in the unmatched beauty of the area as well as continue exploring how schools can be places of environmental stewardship, activism, and community building for students and families. When not contemplating world peace and other trivial topics, Katie enjoys cycling, hiking, writing, singing, gardening, hosting dinner parties, and fumbling on her guitar and banjo.
Shannon Browne grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has always had a major affinity for mountains, rugged coastlines, and deep forest wilderness. Her undergraduate studies were completed at Oregon State University in Geography, which means she loves exploring the interrelationships of climate, geography, ecology, and human behavior. Over the last few years she has developed a diverse career background in interpretation, marketing, and activism. During college she worked summers as a Park Ranger at both the Oregon Caves National Monument and Crater Lake National Park. Most recently she hailed from the Sierra Club in San Francisco where she was working in advertising and marketing for the publication Sierra. She was called back to Oregon, and Ashland specifically, for the amazing bio-diversity and confluence of culture and science; as well as to enroll in the Masters of Environmental Education program at Southern Oregon University. She is excited to continue developing her passions of spreading environmental awareness and conservation and facilitating others to understand dynamic interrelationships of their own.
Emily Burke grew up in northern Michigan and spent her childhood exploring the forests, rivers, and lakes of the northwoods, which instilled in her a passion for nature and a desire to protect it. She headed south to Duke University for college, graduating with a B.A. in Evolutionary Anthropology (with a concentration in Behavior, Ecology, and Cognition) and a minor in Biology. Emily pursued wildlife research after college, working with critically endangered lemurs in Madagascar, coyotes and kit foxes in Utah, and bottlenose dolphins in Mississippi. She began a PhD program in the fall of 2014 to pursue her interest in wildlife research, only to quickly discover that the long and involved research process was not, in fact, the most straightforward way for her to make a conservation difference. So Emily applied to SOU’s Environmental Education program with the goal of directly inspiring others to become conservation-oriented, and thankfully got in! During the transition, she decided it would be a good idea to hike to school from the Mexican border via the Pacific Crest Trail, and she arrived the day before orientation. In addition to her masters, Emily is pursuing the nonprofit management certificate and, to build on her wildlife research background, is completing a thesis on the interspecific competition between invasive barred owls and native great gray owls in Southern Oregon. Her dream job is working at a national park, half in environmental education and half in monitoring research. In her spare time, Emily loves to cook, hike, explore new breweries and wineries with her cohort, and hang out with her cats! (We promise she’s not as weird as that makes her sound.)
Colleen Cavanaugh is originally from Peoria, Arizona. After moving to and finishing high school in Trumbull, Connecticut, she returned to Arizona to attend The University of Arizona receiving a degree in Natural Resources with an emphasis in Wildlife Conservation and Management. After completing her degree she worked with an NGO called Conservation CATalyst in Namibia, Africa, assisting in the research of African carnivores, focusing specifically on caracals. Although surveying African ungulates and collecting roadkill samples of carnivores across Namibia was an enriching and eye-opening experience, Colleen soon realized that her true passion was in environmental education and teaching about wildlife. She has worked as a conservation educator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom playing the role of a Wilderness Explorer Troop Leader (“Caw Caw Roar!”) and an educator at SeaWorld Orlando as well as an Outdoor Educator at South Mountain YMCA in Pennsylvania. She hopes that her experience at SOU will give her the necessary tools to instill the same love and passion she has for wildlife in students across the globe.
Emily Collins grew up on a small farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York. She attended Boston University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a specialization in Marine Science. Her favorite part of her undergraduate experience was her semester abroad in Ecuador where she studied Tropical Ecology. After graduating, Emily spent 4 years working as a Fisheries Observer collecting data aboard commercial fishing vessels both on the East Coast and in Alaska. Her most recent adventure was working on a NOAA research vessel in the Gulf of Alaska as the Lab Lead for the annual Walleye Pollock survey. Emily is very excited to be a part of the Environmental Education program and is hoping to learn how she can use her knowledge and passion for Marine Biology and Ecology to help inspire others to care as much as she does. Her favorite things to do in her free time include traveling, hiking, and snowboarding and she is always up for an adventure!
Andy Cullison calls Hawaii home, specifically the island of Oahu, where the beauty of the landscape has had a profound impact on his life. He has followed his interests in science, health, and human interactions with nature to study biology. This eventually lead him to SOU’s Environmental Education program, although he originally studied Business Administration at the University of San Diego and worked as a nonprofit manager. Maintaining a deep personal connection with music and composition, he hopes to never stop learning and help people see the beauty in experiences, follow their own unique pursuits, and learn about themselves in the process.
Caitlin Hosken grew up along the coast of Maine, amongst the woods and the rocky tide pools of the Atlantic. She relocated to the west coast for a change of pace, and received her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Washington in 2008. After dabbling as a project technician with a marine research non-profit, she caught the environmental education bug when she started volunteering with the Seattle Aquarium as a beach naturalist. Seeing kids of all ages get super jazzed about the intertidal zone made her realize she wanted to be a part of those types of moments forever. She was most recently an assistant teacher at a nature center in Seattle, where she helped to inspire a love of the outdoors in 4 and 5 year olds – little did she know she would end up learning all the words to the Frozen soundtrack. She has moved to Ashland with her husband Kerry and is excited to explore a new area and grow further towards her goal of becoming an environmental educator! Caitlin loves traveling, hiking, dancing, puppies, cheese, yoga, photography, and adventures of all kinds. Bill Watterson says it best: It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…let’s go exploring!
Katie Leuthauser grew up in Upstate New York in a small town called Hannawa Falls. Her interest in the natural world was sparked at a young age by her parents, who dragged her up the Adirondack Mountains, through fields of wildflowers, along the St. Lawrence River to dig for rocks and minerals, and everything in between. She attended Potsdam Central Schools from Kindergarten to 12th grade. After high school Katie attended SUNY Cortland where she majored in Adolescence Education specializing in Earth Science and minored in Biology. Time not spent on studies was spent splashing around in the pool as a member of the swim team, rocking out with Geology Club, and maintaining a decent social life. After graduation Katie made the move to the west coast after accepting a teaching position in Bickleton, Washington. She spent 4 years teaching 7th-12th grade science in the very rural 90 person town. In her spare time Katie enjoys hiking, backpacking, traveling, swimming, running, waterskiing, snow skiing, wandering in nature, preferably doing all those things with her dogs Porter and Indigo.
Colleen MacGilvray originally hails from the picturesque rolling plains of central Illinois. She traveled long and far from eastern North Carolina to the beautiful Rogue Valley to begin her journey studying Environmental Education. She has been intrigued by the outside world since a young age. Her enthusiastic parents allowed her and her two older siblings to explore everywhere from the woods behind her childhood home to the national parks of the United States. Colleen graduated from Wake Forest University in May 2015 with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Environmental Science. During her undergraduate academic career, Colleen could be found in the lab analyzing plant roots for mycorrhizal fungal associations. Although exploring the rhizosphere allowed her to see beauty in the microscopic world, she developed a great desire to share with others the wonders of the world – from the smallest fungi to the tallest mountains. Colleen worked as an Environmental Education intern at the Bald Head Island Conservancy on the barrier island of Bald Head Island, North Carolina. There she helped guests of all ages understand the importance of the island’s ecology and marvel at the animals that claim the shores of Bald Head as their home. The alligators, Great Blue Herons, sea turtles, and marveling kids and parents who visited the conservancy helped her realize that the best way to pursue her passion was through education. Colleen hopes to develop curriculum for education outreach programs. She believes every child should have the privilege to understand the natural beauty that they are inevitably connected to and inspire them to become better stewards for the land. When she has a break from academic obligations, she can be found frolicking on hiking trails, thumbing through guide books, and identifying birds and fungi.
Chris Sharpe is originally from Southern Maryland where he grew up playing outside in the woods every day and camping with his family on weekends. He studied History in Western Maryland at Frostburg State University. There his ethnobotanist roommate opened up a whole new way of looking at the woods. After college and a short stint with Americorps he took a job as an environmental educator for a local non-profit. It was there that he began to love learning and teaching students about our environment. After moving to Bend, Oregon, to work for Portland’s legendary Outdoor School program he decided to further his education at SOU. In his spare time he enjoys camping, hiking, snowboarding, mountain biking, and seeing live music. Since moving to Ashland has began rock climbing and exploring the wilds of Southern Oregon.
Karelia Ver Eecke grew up in Cortez, Colorado, in the heart of the Southwest. At an early age she developed her sense of wonder and admiration for the beauty and ruggedness of the San Juan Mountains and high deserts of home. Feeling rather antsy after high school, Karelia explored Bellingham, Washington; taught snowboarding at Telluride Ski Resort; eloped to Vancouver, British Columbia; and finally landed in Gunnison, Colorado, where she earned her degree in Environmental Biology and Ecology. Karelia has worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife as an aquatic conservation technician and Prineville District’s Bureau of Land Management as a plant and habitat technician. Hailing most recently from Bend, Oregon, Karelia, her husband, Matt, and dog, Revel, love exploring all that the west has to offer. Upon completion of the Environmental Education program, Karelia will work with local agencies and the public to bring science, conservation, and public understanding to the same table. When not studying, Karelia, along with Matt and Revel, can be found sailing, skiing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, and generally having an excellent adventure.