My career began during my undergraduate years at Southern Illinois University (SIU) working summers as a recreational leader for the Chicago Park District’s urban camp program and volunteering semester weekends delivering public guided interpretive hikes on national historic trails for the US Forest Service within the Shawnee National Forest. In 1999, I received my Bachelor of Science in outdoor recreation resources management and forestry from SIU and spent the years that followed serving non-profit organizations and governmental agencies dedicated to environmental education.
I have held positions on the board of directors of several non-profit organizations. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Forest Assocation, 2022-2023. I served as Vice-Chair of the Getting Kids Outdoors Northern Michigan Coalition (2010-2018), Scholarships and Grants Committee Chair (2012-2013) and Treasurer (2014-2015) for the National Association for Interpretation, and the Vice President (2015-2016) and President (2016-2017) of the Michigan Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Authoring, developing, implementing, and evaluating environmental educational curriculum has played a pivotal role in my career. I authored the Activities Section for the first Michigan’s first Salmon in the Classroom Curriculum (2008) and was recruited by the agency to continue my partnership with the Michigan DNR by authoring the first Michigan School Forest Guide (2019), the first hemlock woolly adelgid curriculum (2020) and with Michigan State University Extension to illustrate and coauthor a Tree Identification Guide for children, Bulletin E-2332 (2021).
For over two decades, I have sought opportunities to expand my interpretive training to support this industry and grow better at my craft. I am a Certified Heritage Interpreter with the National Association for Interpretation, a Certified Professional with the National Recreation and Park Association and a Certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. Additionally, I hold facilitator certifications with national and state environmental education projects including, Project W.I.L.D. (Wildlife in Learning Development), Project Learning Tree, Project W.E.T. (Water Education for Teachers), Flying Wild, and all seven units of the Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum Support (MEECS). I am also a Certified Environmental Educator with the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) and was the first individual in the State of Michigan to achieve this certification on October 16, 2016.