Our staff of enthusiastic and highly qualified educators make it a priority to create safe and rewarding outdoor experiences for children. Far from a typical summer camp staff, our programs are led and assisted by college graduates with diverse professional backgrounds and a range of experiences working with children. All of our staff is certified in first aid and CPR.
Jonathan Marchal, Youth Education Coordinator and Discovery Camp Director
With nearly fifteen years of summer camp experience, Jonathan has been with the Discovery Camp program at the Arboretum since it's inaugural year in 2006. He holds a BA in Ecology and an AAS in Recreation and Wildlife Management, and has worked for the National Park Service, NC State Parks, Trout Unlimited as well as several Boy Scout summer camps. A certified Environmental Educator and Eagle Scout, Jonathan was recently recognized by the North Carolina Science Teachers Association for his exceptional service to science education. He also serves on the board of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina.
"One of my favorite summer moments is seeing campers return year after year," says Jonathan about his experience with the Discovery Camp program. "We're now working with high school volunteers who began coming to the Arboretum for programs as second graders. I'm very proud we're able to offer experiences that families look forward to year after year."
Apart from his duties at the Arboretum, Jonathan enjoys hiking, woodworking, camping and learning about the plants and animals of our diverse region.
Michelle Pearce, Youth Education Coordinator
Michelle brings a wealth of experience in outdoor and environmental education to the Discovery Camp program for this, her second year. She has delivered nature and outdoor recreation programs for the past six years, including work at Blue Jay Point County Park, Green River Preserve and Camp Thunderbird. She holds a BS in Biology and is a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator.
When asked what part of her job she enjoys most, Michelle comments, "I LOVE getting kids outside and seeing them get excited about a bird or a collection of acorns. My belief is, if you're not getting dirty, then you're not having FUN!" Her enthusiasm for the outdoors and our plants and animals is contagious, and encourages everyone around her to get equally excited.
Apart from leading and educating youth, Michelle loves birding, identiying fungus and animal scat, and hiking with her dog Walter.
Trudie Henninger, Citizen Science Specialist
After serving as an Environmental Education Intern at the Arboretum during the past fall and spring, Trudie is thrilled to be joining the staff for her fist year of Discovery Camp! She recently graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a BA in Environmental Studies and has spent her time since graduation working with dogs, reptiles, raptors, and of course kids! During her previous work at education centers in Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina, she lead puppet shows, tracked box turtles and shared wildlife with campers. She is currently working on her Environmental Education certification. A natural educator, Trudie genuinely enjoys sharing the joys of the outdoors with students, "there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child's eyes light up with excitement after discovering a bug and that they actually like it!"
When not at the Arboretum, Trudie is often camping and kayaking or lost in a field guide!