Jonathan Marchal headshot

Jonathan Marchal

Youth Education Manager

Jonathan joined the Youth Education program at its inception in 2005. He holds a master’s degree in park, recreation and tourism management, a bachelor’s of arts in ecology and an associate of applied science in recreation and wildlife management. Previously, Jonathan worked for the National Park Service, North Carolina State Parks, Trout Unlimited and 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 President Elect, and received the organization’s Outstanding Newcomer award for his service.

One of my favorite summer moments is participants return year after year. 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.

Michelle Pearce headshot

Michelle Pearce

School and Public Programs Coordinator

Michelle brings a wealth of experience in outdoor and environmental education to the Arboretum’s Youth Education team. She has delivered nature and outdoor recreation programs for the past ten years, including work at Blue Jay Point County Park, Green River Preserve and YMCA Camp Thunderbird. Michelle earned a bachelor’s of science in biology, is a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator and is working on her Master’s degree in Science Education. She has served as President on the board of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina and is currently an ad hoc chair for their Equity and Inclusion work. Her enthusiasm for the outdoors and plants and animals is contagious, and she encourages everyone around her to be excited about the outdoors.

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!

Trudie Henninger headshot

Trudie Henninger

Citizen Science Coordinator

Trudie is an alumni and current supervisor of the Arboretum’s AmeriCorps Project Conserve program. She holds a bachelor’s of arts in environmental studies from UNC Chapel Hill and has spent the past seven years working with dogs, reptiles, raptors and of course, kids! During her previous work at education centers in Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina, she led puppet shows, tracked box turtles and shared wildlife with campers. Trudie 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. Trudie serves on the board for the North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers and as a Project Leader for the Box Turtle Connection.

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!

Fox Trowbridge headshot

Fox Trowbridge

Environmental Education Specialist

Fox moved to Western North Carolina to pursue a bachelor’s degree and licensure in elementary education while taking in the natural beauty, culture, and recreation of the area. In the years since, she has interned at and created a teacher workshop for the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest; lead campground programs at local sites; served as an Americorps member focused on bird and coastal ecology education in Western Washington State; and taught in classroom settings. She has also worked in, and taught about, agriculture and medicinal plants.

The times I feel most inspired are when I am helping children to connect to the natural sciences and history. Seeing that spark and determination is unlike anything else.

Jenna Kesgen headshot

Jenna Kesgen

Environmental Interpretation Specialist

A western North Carolina native, Jenna has a deep appreciation for nature, which inspires her to share her enthusiasm and knowledge of the outdoors with others. Jenna taught environmental education as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, urban ecology in New York City and academically in Upward Bound Math and Science at Western Carolina University, and environmental science at UNC Asheville. She received her undergraduate degree in environmental studies and her master’s of science degree in environmental education at Southern Oregon University. Previously, she was a middle school science teacher.

Having been a classroom teacher I really enjoy the opportunity to spend so much time teaching in an outdoor setting. It’s a great way to relay and reinforce concepts students learn in their standard course of study.

Libbie Dobbs headshot

Libbie Dobbs

Citizen Scientist Specialist

Libbie grew up visiting her local arboretum near Cleveland, Ohio where her mom worked as an environmental educator. Libbie began her career in the environmental field by working for a wildlife rehab center and education center in northern Wisconsin while completing her bachelor’s of arts in environmental studies. Libbie then completed AmeriCorps service in Mobile, Alabama where she did environmental work and public outreach. After AmeriCorps, Libbie moved to New Hampshire to pursue a master’s degree in environmental studies and her master’s capstone project consisted of designing a place-based environmental education programs in an after school program in Boston. Through this experience, Libbie became passionate about empowering urban youth to discover nature within their own neighborhoods. She recently joined the Arboretum’s Youth Education team.

I am passionate about connecting with nature, and it is so fulfilling to help children enjoy and appreciate the natural world. I love helping kids get dirty while exploring the forest, and when I see a child become excited about a tree, bird, or bug I know it’s a been a good day!

Ericka Hinke headshot

Ericka Hinke

AmeriCorps Citizen Scientist Specialist

Ericka is the 2016-2017 AmeriCorps Project Conserve member. She is a native of Western North Carolina, and has spent most of her life in this wonderful area.  She has always had a love for the outdoors, and earned a B.S. in Biology from Mars Hill University in 2014. Since graduating, Ericka has gone from the Cradle of Forestry to Haw River State Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, gaining experience in the Environmental Education field.  Ericka is excited to continue sharing her love of nature and the environment with others. She truly enjoys taking youth outside and sharing the joys of nature in hopes that they will be inspired to learn more and continue to enjoy nature themselves.

I enjoy working with youth at the Arboretum because it is an opportunity to work with many kids from a diverse range of backgrounds, yet offer each child the opportunity to learn and appreciate nature. My joy for the outdoors began in similar settings and I find it fulfilling to present similar opportunities to students today.

Karen D. Chapman headshot

Karen D. Chapman

Environmental Education Assistant

Karen has served on the Discovery Camp team for the past six summer seasons. During the academic year she works as an assistant teacher at W.D. Williams Elementary School and is working on her dance certification with 5Rythms Global Organization. Karen holds a masters degree in art therapy and a North Carolina teaching license. Her work has included experiences in Outward Bound and several public school systems. Apart from sharing the outdoors with young people, she enjoys hiking, listening to music and exploring the beauty of the mountains.

Everyday is different. Every group is different. The one thing they all have in common is that a kid gets to experience nature in a way they probably never have before. And I just love seeing the switch that happens when students go from feeling like nature’s not for them to wanting to tell everyone they know what they just learned about it!

Rich Preyer headshot

Rich Preyer

Conservation and Environmental Education Specialist

Rich hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he grew up fly fishing, backpacking, and playing outside. Through college and beyond, he has worked conservation jobs, led backpacking trips, and taught environmental education across the US. Most recently, he graduated with a Master’s in Environmental Studies from Antioch University, focusing on place-based learning and environmental education. He worked at the Arboretum in 2014 and could not be more excited to be back!

April Hausle headshot

April Hausle

AmeriCorps Community Engagement Educator

Growing up in North Carolina, April was always taught by her family and community to cherish nature and time spent outdoors. She believes that educational experiences in nature should be available for all people, and strives to make that possible through her position as the CTNC AmeriCorps Member at the NC Arboretum. April received her Bachelor’s degree from UNC Asheville, where she studied International Studies, Spanish and Ecology.

Monica Barrera headshot

Monica Barrera

Youth Education Assistant

New to North Carolina, Monica hails from the coastal plains of South Texas, ready for anything and everything that the world of environmental education has to offer! She has a passion for learning and teaching, which she has cultivated since childhood via exploration of Texas parks, wildlife refuges, and birding events. Her educator experience ranges from classroom STEM leadership to outdoor recreation at the foothills of Yosemite. She hopes to plant the seed that invites learners to help heal and preserve the natural world around them. She also loves to play and her current favorite bird is the indigo bunting! Habla español!

Chris Wise headshot

Chris Wise

Youth Education Assistant

Originally growing up in Florida, Chris has called North Carolina home for several years. He received his B.S. in Outdoor Leadership and Education In 2014. Since graduating, he has worked as an environmental educator in a variety of settings, including the Redwoods of California. Recently, he had the privilege of serving as an intern at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He is incredibly excited to be working and the North Carolina Arboretum and cannot wait to see what this season will bring.