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, Project OWL 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 twelve 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 has recently completed 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 getting them excited about a bug or mushroom or animal scat. My belief is, if you’re not getting dirty, then you’re not having FUN!

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!

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.

Trudie Henninger headshot

Trudie Henninger

Project EXPLORE 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!

Lianna Koberoski headshot

Lianna Koberoski

Environmental Education Specialist

Lianna was a 2018-2019 AmeriCorps Project Conserve member at The N.C. Arboretum and is now a seasonal staff member.  She grew up in Mankato, Minnesota and first experienced Western North Carolina as a student at Warren Wilson College.  She has always valued time spent outside and studied Environmental Education in the hopes of inspiring others to appreciate nature.  Since graduating in 2016, she has hiked a large section of the Appalachian Trail and worked as a Naturalist in northern Minnesota and Colorado.  Lianna is excited to return to Asheville and help establish some young scientists by teaching citizen science programs to groups of students.

Teaching citizen science is rather rewarding, as kids learn at a young age that anyone can be a scientist and contribute to learning more about our natural world.  It establishes a positive relationship with nature, which is something I have always valued in my life.

Libbie Dobbs-Alexander headshot

Libbie Dobbs-Alexander

ecoEXPLORE Coordinator

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!

April Hausle headshot

April Hausle

Community Engagement Specialist

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.

Nothing brings me more joy than being outside learning about the natural world, and nothing is more rewarding than seeing a child find that joy. Kids overcoming their fear of spiders, getting excited about soil samples and learning bird calls are all things I get to witness on a daily basis- how cool is that!? To provide opportunities for kids to connect with nature is so special, and I feel very lucky to do this for a living.

Joshua Perkins headshot

Joshua Perkins

Environmental Education Specialist

Joshua is an advocate in educating others about the characteristics and benefits of the environment and how people should cherish the environment in which they live in. Joshua attained a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Education from Warren Wilson College located in Swannanoa, Asheville. Besides serving as a CTNC AmeriCorps member for the NC Arboretum, Joshua has also served in AmeriCorps as an assistant teacher and counselor engaging and ensuring well-being of youth members through core and artistic classes. He has also served in CitiSquare AmeriCorps: Food on the Move as a Community Server where he traveled around East Dallas and provided free nutritious meals along with engaging with youth of diverse cultures and backgrounds in summer activities. These activities focused in taking advantage of the outdoor environments while gaining an appreciation of the outdoor environments with which the children thrive in.

I am constantly seeking knowledge and skills that will enable me to become a more positive and influential environmental educator within the community. I believe individuals must gain an understanding the environment in which they live in. Doing so will allow one to develop a respect of an environment that deserves respect.

Briannah "Bri" Holloway

AmeriCorps Environmental Educator

Bri is an Asheville native, growing up in the mountains opened her eyes to the natural beauty as well as the importance of our planet. She is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She graduated with a B.S in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Ecology and Field Biology. Through college she has worked several youth education programs leading various outdoor activities and environmental education programs. She has a strong passion for wildlife and did her senior internship with Appalachian Wildlife refuge, learning about rehabilitating wild animals and getting them back out into the wild where they belong. On top of her passion for wildlife, Bri realizes the importance of education and strives to educate her community on the beauty of our natural world. She believes strongly that saving and conserving our planet starts with environmental education and looks forward to putting her skills and passions into action here at the NC Arboretum. Bri is one of two AmeriCorps, Project Conserve members serving with us this year!

Karen D. Chapman headshot

Karen D. Chapman

Environmental Education Assistant - Summer

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!

Fox Trowbridge headshot

Fox Trowbridge

Environmental Education Specialist - Summer

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.