Presenters

Keynote

Stan McDonald

My name is Stanley McDonald.  My wife of 33 years and I live near Asheville, NC.I was born and raised in the piedmont of North Carolina. My father’s family is listed as farmers/farm laborers in every census as far back as 1880. I am the 8th of 10 children, the son of a tobacco sharecropper/ preacher and a mother who made it through grade 8.  My father died of pneumonia and complications from diabetes in 1966.I attended segregated schools until age 10.  In 1972, I was bussed to integrate schools in Cary, NC and graduated Cary high school in 1979.  I earned BS degrees in Botany and Science education from NC State University and a Masters in Educational Administration from Ashland University.   I retired after 29 years with Delaware City Schools where I served as a middle school science teacher (7 yrs.), educational technologist (7 yrs.), and CTO/Director of Technology (15 yrs).

Session Leaders

Jenna Balazs

Jenna is the Watershed Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Hocking Soil and Water Conservation District. This is her fourth year with the District after serving three one-year terms as an Environmental Educator AmeriCorps Member with the Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps. Jenna is a Project Safe partner with the Logan-Hocking School District, where she does after school Watershed programming with K-4 students 2-3 times a week. 

Martha Bishop

Martha Bishop has lived in the Athens, Ohio area, and has observed our local natural areas for over 40 years.  She teaches courses on Biology of Fungi and Medicinal Plants of Ohio at Ohio University where she is employed also as Lab Coordinator in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology.  Martha serves on the boards of directors for Friends of Strouds Run State Park and for the Ohio Mushroom Society.  She organizes and hosts bioblitzes and mushroom forays in order to further knowledge and appreciation of fungi in Ohio.

Darcy Higgins

Darcy Higgins is the Environmental Education Program Manager at Rural Action. She coordinates lessons and field trips for teachers and community groups, and manages AmeriCorps members. She caught the bug for environmental education — and fell in love with Southeast Ohio — as an AmeriCorps at Rural Action. After her service, she co-founded Wild Folk, a year-round forest school for children in Missouri. She has also spent stints as an educator and park ranger among Alaska’s brown bears and volcanoes. She has experience in inquiry- and place-based learning, emergent curriculum, Montessori, STEAM, and coyote mentoring. She received her MAT in Biological Sciences from Miami University in 2020.

Emily Imhoff, Ph.D.

Dr. Emily Imhoff has been interested in crayfish since her childhood, which was spent with a healthy stream running through the backyard.  She has studied crayfish throughout the Midwest USA and in the British Isles.  Emily is currently the Manager of Zoology Collections at Cincinnati Museum Center. She has taught biology courses at several universities and given many crayfish demonstrations for children and adults alike. She received undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and obtained her PhD from University of Leeds.

Todd Hutchinson Ph.D.

Dr. Todd Hutchinson is a Research Ecologist with the Northern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service. His research focuses on the effects of fire and other management tools on forest structure, tree regeneration, and understory vegetation. Todd serves as the Principal Investigator of CAFMS (The Consortium of Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists) and chairs the Research Advisory Committee for the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest.  

Sam Romeo

Sam graduated from Ohio University in 2013 with a B.S. in Environmental Geography and a minor in Environmental Sciences with a focus on spatial analysis and anthropomorphic induced changes to the environment. After graduation he found Environmental Education through an AmeriCorps program. That same year he discovered the community science project eBird which turned him into an avid birder and community science advocate.

Today, he is living his dream of sharing experiences and discoveries as an Environmental Educator at Aullwood Audubon’s Nature Sanctuary in Dayton, OH. He works with people of all ages by engaging in classroom visits, field trips, adult programming, guided hikes and summer camps where a single bird, flower, bug or rock could change the way a person views the natural world and spark a passion to share it later in life.

Ed. Week Organizers

Susan Condy

Susan is excited to be a part of this stellar team of organizers.  You will find her in Miami County where she has put down roots as School Education Coordinator for the past 17 years.  The Miami County Park District has given her the opportunity to manage a large staff of naturalists while facilitating an award winning education program that touches every elementary school in the county.  Recently though, she has shifted gears and developed a virtual field trip platform that has been a success during the ’20-’21 school year.  Nature LIVE! has seen over 2000 student participant contacts from their classrooms or homes, has reached 15 school buildings and 3 online districts.

Stan McDonald

My name is Stanley McDonald.  My wife of 33 years and I live near Asheville, NC.I was born and raised in the piedmont of North Carolina. My father’s family is listed as farmers/farm laborers in every census as far back as 1880. I am the 8th of 10 children, the son of a tobacco sharecropper/ preacher and a mother who made it through grade 8.  My father died of pneumonia and complications from diabetes in 1966.I attended segregated schools until age 10.  In 1972, I was bussed to integrate schools in Cary, NC and graduated Cary high school in 1979.  I earned BS degrees in Botany and Science education from NC State University and a Masters in Educational Administration from Ashland University.   I retired after 29 years with Delaware City Schools where I served as a middle school science teacher (7 yrs.), educational technologist (7 yrs.), and CTO/Director of Technology (15 yrs).

Mike Nicolai

Mike has been an educator since 1993. He attended Hocking College in the early 90’s. Mike has worked as a Naturalist for Great Parks of Hamilton County and Columbus Metro Parks. From 2007 to 2020 he was an Educator at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Mike likes to go hiking, camping and birding with his wife Amy.

Joanne Rebbeck, Ph.D.

Prior to her retirement in 2019, Joanne Rebbeck was a research scientist with the Forest Service Northern Research Station. Her research focused on oak regeneration and the control of non-native invasive plants in Ohio forests. During those 31+ years, she also organized and led programs that connected young people from diverse backgrounds with natural resource science. She is a veteran presenter and enthusiastic participant at Educators Week. She received a BS in Plant Science and a MS in Plant Pathology, both at Rutgers University. She then ventured to NC to pursue a PhD. in Botany and Ecology at NC State University. She thrives on the energy of children, their natural curiosity and eagerness to learn.

Robyn Wright-Strauss

Robyn has been the Chief Naturalist at the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System since 2014. She runs the preserve’s environmental education program, conducts Educator Workshops, and leads summer programming for the youth of Adams County, Ohio. She also provides digital outreach through Cincinnati Museum Center’s social media accounts and the preserve’s blog, Life on the Edge.