We are so excited to have a wonderful crew of environmental educators set for the spring season!
Becca is from New Riegel, Ohio and has a B.S. degree in Marine Biology from Bowling Green State University. She began her science education journey in North Carolina with a summer marine biology program for middle school students and has since traveled and taught marine biology in Mississippi, was a naturalist in Montana through the Big Sky Watershed Corps, and was a teacher naturalist in Maine with Nature’s Classroom. She’s taught people of all ages about watersheds, marine debris, water quality, terrestrial ecology, and marine biology. She enjoys hiking, reading, painting, and sharing the wonders of the natural world with others.
Bob is from the windy city of Chicago. Bob attended Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin 2008-2012. He pursued a degree in Geography and Earth Sciences, with minor studies in Geology and Environmental Studies. He also participated in a trip to southern Louisiana to help with the cleanup efforts of the BP Oil Spill. Bob found an environmental education position at Galena Creek Park in the Reno/ Lake Tahoe area. He instantly fell in love with the idea of education in an outdoor setting. He believes people of all ages can find out about life's greatest wonders with just a short adventure in the woods. He has worked for Americorps in Idaho managing stream and creek restoration projects, in Gig Harbor, Washington as a naturalist educator at YMCA Camp Seymore, and as an assistant camp director in Steamboat Springs Colorado. Bob hopes to make a career out of Outdoor Education either in a summer camp or even in a residential camp. Shooting photographs, camping, skiing, and fly fishing are all things Bob enjoys. He knows this spring in Alaska will be full of great connections, inspiring children about the outdoors, and having a whole lot of fun!
Katie is from Homer, Alaska and is a graduate of Bowdoin College. Her infatuations with coastal ecology began with a fourth grade field trip to China Poot Bay. After high school she worked as an intern at the Field Station and was immediately drawn in by the magic of the place. Although she has dabbled as a deckhand on a salmon tender boat and a wilderness trip leader, environmental education is her true passion. During seasons away from the Field Station, she has worked at an outdoor school in California and ecology school in Maine and created the Children of the Spills project to collect oral histories from children affected by oil spills and lead oil pollution prevention & preparedness education programs. When she isn't chasing marine worms through the intertidal zone, she loves berry picking, fishing, and hiking.
Kim is a lifelong naturalist, artist and adventurer residing in Homer. She received a bachelor of science from The Evergreen State College. As an environmental educator, she leads Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies school groups during the spring, and spends summers guiding with St. Augustine’s Kayak and Tours, always with an eye towards the bizarre and fascinating wonders of nature. With her partner Bjorn Olson, she has traversed thousands of miles of Alaskan wilderness, including kayak touring the Prince William Sound and Kenai Fjords, rafting the Kuskokwim River, and biking the snowy Iditarod Trail to the Arctic Circle. Nature journaling, relief printmaking and writing are her preferred methods for artistically interpreting and sharing her experiences. Kim also volunteers with the nonprofit organizations Ground Truth Trekking and the Homer Cycling Club.
Leah is originally from near Syracuse, NY and got her degree in Conservation Biology from SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry. She is currently doing AmeriCorps with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies focusing on STEM education and outreach. She is doing a lot of work this winter and spring with ROVs (remote operated vehicles) and is using them to monitor invasive species in the Homer Harbor. She loves to hike, read, crochet, and explore new places. She is loving Alaska and all the adventures it has to offer!
Leanna Spjut Ballard
Leanna has 25 years of experience working as a botanist, ecologist and environmental educator in the western U.S. Her botanical expertise has taken her all over the country. In fact she came to Homer in 2001 to map the plants at CACS’s Wynn Nature Center! She set up transects that help CACS and school groups monitor the forest succession as spruce trees killed by the spruce bark beetle created openings in the forest floor that other plants could move into. With lots of environmental education experience, she especially enjoyed teaching at the Expanding your Horizons network for girls 12-18 years of age with hands-on activities in math, science and engineering (STEM), as well as developing and directing the Outdoor Adventures in Discovering Nature Program for two school districts in Cache Valley, Utah. Leanna will be putting her botanical knowledge to use at CACS, leading ACE programs as well as updating our botanical curriculum and re-surveying the plants of Wynn. She is excited to return to the CACS and see which early successional plant species have moved into the forest openings and teach intertidal coastal ecology to Alaska school groups at Peterson Bay Field Station.
Rebecca hails from Massachusetts. She began working for CACS during the 2013 school season and immediately discovered her love for convincing 5th graders to sniff the armpits of leather stars. Her favorite intertidal animal is the clam worm. She loves gardening and her favorite vegetable is currently chard. She studied geology in college and loves smashing open rocks and teaching people about them. She is excited to come back for another spring in Kachemak Bay!
Seth is from Duluth, Minnesota. Since graduating college in central Minnesota, he has served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine, interned for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland and worked for the National Park Service across the country. He has a Masters of Education, and his background is connecting youth with the natural world around them. He is an avid birder, and loves poking around tide pools seeing what he can find! He can’t wait to help you see the wonders of the natural world in and around Kachemak Bay.
Chicken-of-the-woods/sulfur shelf fungus: an orange beacon concealed in the woods, an edible mushroom once thoroughly cooked
During the summer months there are always stunning wildflowers at the Wynn – lupine and chocolate lilies, yarrow and star gentians, pyrola and goldenrod, Indian paintbrush and fireweed, and many more that progress through their flowering cycles at different times as the summer continues. Flowers, of course, are the reproductive organs of a plant that will eventually produce seeds for dispersal. Amongst the wildflowers, all in their different summer stages, we’ve also started to notice an abundance of something relatively new to the forest: the reproductive organs of another type of organism. With all the recent rain, the fruiting bodies of fungi have emerged, aka mushrooms! The forest is full of their great variety of forms and colors, and as the summer moves into autumn, more and more will surface. Come out to the Wynn to see our great diversity of fungus: the puffball (lycoperdon), red-capped russula, deadly amanita, latex secreting lactarius, and endless shelf fungi, like our beautiful chicken-of-the-woods.
Alaskan women have a lot of amazing stories to share. As a descendant of Alaskan homesteaders myself, I can really appreciate the unique conditions and experiences that can be told by women who have spent a good amount of time in this great state, some even before it was a state. A book about their stories became the topic of a recent Fantastic Friday event at the Wynn Nature Center on Skyline Dr. Ladies from the Homer chapter of Alaska Community and Adult Education, a former Cooperative Extension program, brought their new book filled with Alaskan tales to share with the public at this free event. The storytelling women arrived in Alaska at various times between the 1950's and the 1970's and many had spent time living in the bush. They told their own histories as well as read excerpts from the book on topics ranging from preparing salmon to the 1964 earthquake. The stories were lively and well-told and through them the women exhibited why their newly published book was titled "Spirit of Alaska Women." A special appearance was also made by long-time local, and namesake of the cabin at the Wynn Nauture Center, Daisy Lee Bitter.
This is Lindsey Shelley from the Wynn Nature Center. A couple weeks ago I got the chance to take some program materials to the Children's Garden at the Saturday Farmer's Market. I had a great time making leaf necklaces with kids, sharing my enthusiasm for observing nature, and challenging visitors to reach inside my "Touch n Feel" boxes and guess what was inside. I had some very observant kids who really knew how to use their senses to figure out the mystery objects. Thank you to all those who came by to visit on that rainy day and participate in the activities! Below are a few photos from my station.