Arboretum Educators

Our staff of enthusiastic and highly qualified educators make it a priority to create safe and rewarding outdoor experiences for children. 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 Manager and Discovery Camp Director

With 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 has been 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 as Western Section Chair, and received the organization's Outstanding Newcommer award for his service. Jonathan is enrolled in the Park, Recreation and Tourism Management masters program at NC State University.

"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 with his wife and two children, 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 Youth Education team. She has delivered nature and outdoor recreation programs for the past seven years, including work at Blue Jay Point County Park, Green River Preserve and YMCA Camp Thunderbird. She holds a BS in Biology and is a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator. Michelle serves as President Elect on the board of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina.

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, winter tree identification, identiying fungus and animal scat, and hiking with her dogs Walter and Jet.


Trudie Henninger, Citizen Science Coordinator

Trudie recently completed a term as with AmeriCorps's Project Conserve, and served as the Arboretum's first AmeriCorps member. She 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. Trudie recently completed her Environmental Education Certification and partnered with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture to create an activity guide for their annual high country farm tour. 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!" Trudies serves on the Bird Friendly Communities Committe with Audubon North Carolina and as a Project Leader for the Box Turtle Connection.

When not at the Arboretum, Trudie is often camping and kayaking or lost in a field guide!

Luke Williamson, Environmental Education and Exhibits Specialist
Luke joined our education team in winter of 2013 after finishing an assignment at the Holden Arboretum where he instructed field trips, led summer day camps and contributed to designing exhibits and curriculum. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point with a B.S. in Environmental Education and Interpretation. He also served as an Environmental Education intern at Western Arctic National Parklands in Alaska. Additionally, Luke has worked as a teaching assistant and an exhibit fabricator for Split Rock Studios in Minnesota. Luke's skills as a naturalist serve him well in teaching students how they can contribute their own observations of plants and animals to scientists in our public and school programs. He is an Eagle Scout, and is currently pursuing his Environmental Education Certification.
In addition to nature study Luke enjoys mountian biking, painting, playing the ukelele and exploring western North Carolina with his dog, Gus.
 Catrina Dillard, Early Childhood Environmental Education Specialist
Catrina brings to the Arboretum a total of thirteen years of classroom teaching experience in visual arts, dance and language arts in the Atlanta school system. She has also previously worked as an AmeriCorps member with Muddy Sneakers and Green River Preserve and also as a seasonal naturalist at Mountain Air Country Club in Burnsville, NC. Catrina holds a B.A. in Art Education and an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University. She's a certified Master Naturalist and holds a certificate in Plant Identification from the University of Georgia, and is currently pursuing her Environmental Education Certification. She also serves on the board of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina as the Membership Chair.
Catrina enjoys hiking, spending time outdoors and plant and animal identification.
Erin Lineberger, Citizen Science Assistant
Erin currently serves as our Americorp Project Conserve volunteer. She holds a BS degree in Natural Resources: Ecosystem Assessment from NC State University and is in the process of a MS degree in Environmental Education at Montreat College. She is also a recently certified North Carolina Environmental Educator. She believes that environmental education is a vital field in today's society, "I love being a part of it. Seeing kids make connections with the world around them is inspiring and I am excited to experience that with the NC Arboretum's Youth Education team." Erin has worked with youth at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, West Virginia's The Mountain Institute, and the US National Whitewater Center. In her free time, Erin enjoys backpacking, paddling, and spending time with her family.