Jen Brown grew up in Pennsylvania, where she received her B.S. in Environmental Interpretation from Penn State University. During and after college, she spent about nine years introducing the many wonders of nature to families and children at nature centers and outdoor education centers across the country. She then spent three and a half years working for a wilderness therapy company in Utah. Jen is thrilled to be working in Vermont again, where she enjoyed many summers as a child and where her love of the woods and the mountains became solidified one rainy day on top of Mount Mansfield. In addition to being a Four Winds Naturalist/Educator, Jen is editor of Environmental Literacy Vermont. She earned her M.Ed. in Elementary Education with a concentration in Science and Environmental Education from Antioch University New England.
Born in Windsor, VT, Michael Clough has spent his entire life enjoying and exploring the wild places of New England. He attended Long Island University’s Southampton College and in 1994 received a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in biology. Since then, Mike has worked with some of the Northeast’s premier Conservation and Environmental Education groups with live animal experience ranging from wolves, to birds of prey, to frogs and pythons.
In 2005 Mike and his wife Christina returned to VT to establish Rockhopper Outdoor Education. As a Four Winds Naturalist/Educator, Mike leads Nature Program workshops in many towns in southern Vermont. Mike also wears a variety of hats on staff at the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum.
Emily grew up with a love of nature and outdoor adventure, which led her to study biology and outdoor leadership in Western Colorado. While earning her degree, she led outdoor adventures and service learning trips for high school students in the Sierra and Rocky Mountains, the southwest canyons, the Kenai Peninsula, and the Great Barrier Reef. After graduating from college, Emily relocated to Southern Illinois where she worked as an Environmental Educator and Naturalist for Touch of Nature Environmental Center. For three years, she guided children and families on canoe expeditions, camping trips, naturalist hikes, pond explorations, and campfires. After earning her Masters degree, Emily joined the teaching and residential faculty at The Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont where she taught writing classes for nine years. She is excited to join Four Winds as an Educator/Naturalist and lead Nature Program workshops in Southern Vermont and New Hampshire. Emily earned a B.A in Environmental Biology and Ecology from the University of Western Colorado and a M.S. in Environmental Studies with Science Teaching Certification from Antioch University New England.
Deb Parrella has been teaching natural history to children and adults for more than 20 years. She leads Nature Program and Knee High Nature workshops throughout Vermont, adding activities, skits and games to the program from her deep bag of teaching ideas. Deb worked with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science for many years and was a lead author of the second edition of Hands-On Nature. As Director of School Programs for Shelburne Farms, she coordinated programs for K-6 students and their teachers. She is the author of the much beloved text, Project Seasons, a hands-on elementary science activity guide for teachers. Deb has been on the board of the New England Environmental Education Alliance and VT SWEEP. Deb received her Master’s degree from Michigan State University and a B.A. at the University of Vermont.
Lisa Purcell has been leading community-based environmental education programs with adults and children for more than 20 years. She believes people of all ages need a connection with the great outdoors, and she loves her work — watching individuals look at the world around them with wonder. Now Director of Four Winds, Lisa was Associate Director at Smokey House Center in Danby, VT and Program Director at Vermont Institute of Natural Science. She has served as president of the board of directors of both Vermont’s Statewide Environmental Education Programs (SWEEP) and the New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA). Over the years, Lisa has held a variety of education-related positions: coordinating adventure-based team building and staff professional development programs, developing a college service learning program, assisting in a preschool, working in public and school libraries. She is the editor of Hands-On Nature, 2nd edition (2000), a natural science curriculum guide. Lisa earned a Master’s degree in environmental administration from Antioch New England Graduate School and a B.A. in Geography from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.
Chris Runcie was an Environmental Studies major at Middlebury College where she did research on frequency-dependent selection in fruit flies. Later she attended graduate school and received an MA and PhD in Zoology for her research on chemical trail-laying in a termite species. Returning to Vermont, Chris spent many years as a full-time mother of three, but found the time to pursue her delight and interest in nature through the Forest & Field Club, the Lewis Creek Association, and as a volunteer with the Environmental Learning for the Future (ELF) program. She joined the education staff at VINS in 1997 and was a lead author of the second edition of Hands-On Nature. Chris leads Nature Program workshops in northern and central Vermont and New York. In 2008, she was a visiting faculty member of Middlebury College, leading a winter term course with 30 students entitled “Community-based Environmental Education.” Chris is keenly interested in birdsong, in insect behavior, in plant and animal relationships, and in engaging people of all ages in learning about nature.
Susan Sawyer is an artist-naturalist from South Woodbury. Susan has been a freelance artist and teacher for over thirty years, and since 1996 has been a member of the faculty of the Adult Degree Program of Vermont College, where she advises studies in art and natural science. She also worked for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science for thirteen years as an educator, naturalist, and illustrator. She was one of the lead authors of the second edition of Hands-On Nature. Her particular interests include plants, insects, and all kinds of wet places – vernal pools, fens, bogs, and beaver meadows – and making art that reflects her love of nature. She’s insatiably curious, loves a puzzle, thinks observation and imagination are the beginning of both science and art, and believes in having lots of fun while learning about the natural world. Susan earned a BA in graphics and natural history from New College, Sarasota, Florida and a Master of Fine Arts in visual art from Vermont College.