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Current Graduate Students

To speak with current graduate students, contact the Siskiyou Environmental Education Center (SEEC) office at (541) 552-6876 or


2014-2015 Cohort

Alex.jpgAlexandra 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.jpgAmanda 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.jpgBri Foster is an Oregon native who studied 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.jpgBrooke 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.

CarolineCaroline 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.

ChaneyChaney 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.

ElenaElena 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.

JeremyJeremy 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

JoeJoe Habecker started with Cohort #7 in the Fall term of 2014 after returning from a season of wildland firefighting with the USFS. He earned his BA in Geography in 2008 from Millersville University in his home state of Pennsylvania. Shortly after, he deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army. Upon his return, Joe was discharged and moved to Chico, California with his wife and worked as a Crew Leader in the California Conservation Corps. He then worked for the National Park Service as a Biological Science Technician on the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina. When the wind brought his wife and Joe back to the west coast, he knew it was time to pursue his revisited dream of becoming an educator.

NicoleNicole 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.

PaulPaul 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.

SarahSarah 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).

StephanieStephanie 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.

2013- 2014 Cohort

Cohort 6 Emily

Emily Patrick hails from the Moosehead Lake region of Maine. She graduated from the University of Maine with her B.A. in Wildlife Ecology in 2013. She has a lovely 18-month-old daughter named Jaclyn. She loves many things including, but not limited to, the outdoors, hiking, exploring, traveling, plants, elephants, thrift/resale stores and coffee (and tea occasionally). She hopes to one-day work for an environmental nonprofit and work toward her goal of building a homestead with her daughter and fiancé, John. Her dream is to eventually become self-sustaining, living off of the land, preferably in Alaska! 

Cohort 6 JasonJason Wilson earned his B.A. in Philosophy in 2011 from the University of Mississippi. After graduating, he pursued his interests in mycology, permaculture and systems theory. He spent time working in IT, taking Biology electives, and volunteering for the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs, MS. While volunteering, he reconnected kids and adults with their environment through nature hikes, educational events, ecology camps and the annual Hummingbird Migration Festival. Inspired by his experiences there, he became a certified Audubon naturalist and now hopes he can foster a career outdoors through a future in environmental education. Jason now spends his free time hunting fungi and managing his educational website: He hopes to one day build a cob home with his wife, learn to live simply, and start his own outdoor educational center while pursuing mycological and ecological research. He is currently studying how arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi affect competition dynamics between native and nonnative grasses. Jason’s peers would describe him as being friendly, easy to talk to, down-to-earth and having a good sense of humor. These are traits that will certainly make him a great environmental educator in the future!

Kathy Cohort 6Kathy Nguyen received a bachelor of science in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution with a minor in Conservation Biology from UCLA.  Kathy has studied hermit crabs and marine algae in Belize and researched yellow-bellied marmots in the Rocky Mountains.  Kathy has used her immense knowledge of science and the environment to teach kindergarteners and first graders in afterschool programs and was a counselor, organizing backpacking trips, for summer urban youth programs in Los Angeles.  In her down time Kathy likes to go rock climbing, skiing and scuba diving or play with her dog Bagel.  Kathy loves desserts, deserts, cacti and crisp mountain air.  She is an expert pumpkin carver and plays the guitar, ukulele and piano.  Kathy is pursuing a teaching license for middle and high school biology along with her masters in Environmental Education.

Cohort 6 Ellen

 Ellen Messerly was born and raised in Maryland before going to Virginia Tech to double major in Wildlife Science and Animal and Poultry Sciences. After graduation, she spent a year in Kasane, Botswana (that’s in Africa!) volunteering as an environmental educator with the non-profit CARACAL. While in Africa she kayaked in hippo and crocodile infested waters, was charged by an elephant, and ate termites and mopane worms. Needless to say, it was a memorable experience. When she’s not in class or running from elephants, Ellen enjoys playing the piano, horseback riding, running, hiking, biking, swimming, watching the sunrise, stargazing, and hanging around campfires. She is also an awesome baker and can usually be bribed with dark chocolate.

Kim Cohort 6

 Kimberly Schubert hails from the beautiful state of Merry-land, where she attended the school-color-twin of SOU, the University of Maryland. She majored in Environmental Science and Policy, furthering her studies by traveling the world to plant trees and monitor seal populations in New Zealand, and study grey whales and marine biology in Mexico. After such amazing experiences she decided enough was enough! Little did she know the excitement that awaited her at Echo Hill Outdoor School, where she got to play in the mud, catch bugs, sleep in tents, and send children flying on a zipline! Kimberly, however, bid the East Coast farewell to join us in Southern Oregon and looks forward to excelling as one of the graduate assistants in the SEEC office. When Kimberly is not working, she enjoys plants, watching terrible movies, hiking, writing, and of course, eating baked goods with friends!!

Erin Cohort 6Erin Krenzer grew up in the small town of Edwardsville, Illinois.  She went to college at the University of Missouri- St. Louis, where she received her bachelors in biology.  She then earned her Masters in biomedical sciences at the University of Colorado- Denver, where she conducted research on the pediatric cancer, Ewing Sarcoma.  During her experience at UC Denver, Erin decided that she would rather pursue a future in environmental education.  While in Colorado, Erin reunited with her high school crush, Kyle.  They married and now have a two year old, Lillian.  Erin and her family moved to Oregon in December 2012.  Since moving here, Erin has become completely at home.  She enjoys all that Southern Oregon has to offer, including the ocean, the Redwoods, Crater Lake, Lake of the Woods, Hyatt Lake, and much more.  Although she loves Ashland, Erin also really enjoys escaping to San Francisco for the big city experience! When Erin is not reading, hiking, studying, or relaxing with her family, she enjoys seeing music with friends!

Lesley Cohort 6Lesley Mobley is a cookie-dough lover from Georgia.  She attended Berry College and studied environmental science, with a concentration in biology.  Lesley has a secret passion for European history, which explains her minor degree: history.  At school, she researched Berry’s Eastern Bluebird population and the effects of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park.  Before arriving in Oregon, Lesley made a pit stop in Wisconsin where she worked as an Environmental Education and Captive Wildlife Management intern.  Reading, trivia, knitting, stretching, dancing, epidemiology, hiking, playing with dogs, eating cookie dough…these things combined make a Lesley.  She misses her three dogs desperately and they miss her too.

Peter Cohort 6Peter Kleinhenz was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where his love of animals began due to two supportive parents and one of the nation’s finest zoos. His mom instilled him with a love for animals as sentient beings while his dad spent his summers off from teaching to take him all over the state to look for animals. He attended Columbus Zoo School in high school, majored in zoology and mass communication at Miami University, studied abroad at the University of Tasmania, and worked as an upland chorus frog researcher through Florida State University as his first “real” job out of college. He plans to pursue a thesis at SOU that fuses conservation education with media production by filming a video about the Endangered Species Act.  Upon graduation, Peter hopes to fund a traveling expedition through journalism about his encounters.  Eventually, he hopes to continue his involvement with conservation media by hosting a nature TV program.  He spends his free time searching under rocks and fallen trees for whatever amphibian or reptiles can be uncovered.  He also enjoys nature photography, caving, going to concerts, and writing.

Kristin Cohort 6Kristin Todd grew up on the exotic island of Long Island, New York and graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Studies at Binghamton University. She traveled to Belize with a tropical marine biology class to snorkel and study amazing wildlife. She also spent time in college during winter break as a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) volunteer. After graduating, Kristin moved to Savannah, Georgia for a year. Kristin has had an eclectic job background, including soccer referee, gymnastics coach, nursing home lunch lady, receptionist, sales person, babysitter, and finally as camp counselor at an environmental camp in Pennsylvania, which lead to her decision to pursue this program in environmental education. Kristin is very directional savvy and loves maps. Some of her other hobbies includes collecting cool rocks, watching endless amounts of Netflix, and finding new hobbies. She is currently training for a triathlon next Fall. She can be found running the trails of Ashland eating/managing the wild blackberry population.

Vanessa Cohort 6Vanessa Carey grew up in Auburn, Alabama.  Her parents are biologists, so Vanessa was surrounded with a love of nature throughout her childhood. She followed this fondness of nature to Shorter University in Georgia where she obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Ecology and Field Biology.  While attending Shorter University she researched cave invertebrates with a special interest in arachnids. She has three published articles in various journals! Vanessa made the move out west two years ago to the lovely state of Oregon. She has made the transition back to school at SOU.  When not study for class, Vanessa spends some of her time volunteering as a teacher at North Mountain Park. She also loves spending time with her 10-year-old son and her four-legged kids Ashley the dog, Rudy the cat, Juliette the Chinese Water Dragon, and Sand dollar the bearded dragon!  Her favorite outdoor activities include caving, kayaking, and just being out in the wilderness.  If you are ever in a survival situation (or just feeling hungry) Vanessa is the person to hang with because she always has food with her. Just don’t expect her to share the chocolate!!

Phylicia Cohort 6Phylicia Schwartz comes to us from the lovely state of Iowa. Her formative years were spent in New Vienna, Iowa where she followed around her park ranger father and spent as much time as possible outdoors. For college, Phylicia studied at the University of Dubuque and majored in biology and environmental science. Phylicia has used her degrees in a number of interesting ways, reflecting her passion for travel, wildlife, and educating others about the importance of experiencing nature. Perhaps her most interesting job was working as an Alaskan ground fisheries observer. This required her to count fish, on a boat in rough Bering Sea waters, in the middle of winter. Other jobs Phylicia has held include black-footed ferret observer, volunteer researcher in Paraguay, and naturalist at the Delaware Nature Society for the past four years. She has traveled all over the world, but her most recent trip was to Oregon in July to start graduate school. In her free time, Phylicia enjoys hiking, fishing, geocaching, and hanging out with her two cats, Apollo and Hermes.

2012-2013 Cohort

Mandy Noel - Mandy earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Columbia College in her home state of Missouri. Pursuing the path to becoming a park ranger, Mandy has rambled through the wetlands of the Big Muddy and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuges. After spending one summer living in a little bunkhouse on the prairie, Mandy left the Midwest for an internship at the Patuxent Research Refuge National Wildlife Visitor Center in Maryland. Once the joyful cries of visiting children fell silent and the leaves of gold beech trees and red maples faded, Mandy returned to Missouri for the winter. Shortly after, the travel bug bit her again, and she wound up working as an environmental educator for the Bureau of Land Management in Medford, Oregon. There she guides hikes on the Table Rocks by spring, builds and maintains trails by summer, and leads nature programs at McGregor Park by fall.

Calvin Lin - Calvin is a New Jersey native who graduated from Rutgers University with a BS in Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources. (That’s all one major!)  He did a year-long stint with AmeriCorps in their New Jersey Watershed Ambassador Program, contributing to the local schools and community with projects and education outreach.  This naturally influenced him to want to teach students about the wonders of nature and led him to the Environmental Education program.  Also, he has an incredible weakness towards fluffy, fuzzy things.