2017 Board of Directors

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Student Board Member Nomination

Jessica Jens, 2017 Chairman of the Board, Fundraising Committee Chair


Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville


It has been a privilege and joy to have studied and worked in the field of EE for the past 15 years. I discovered my love for the outdoors and education during my years at UW-Madison studying agricultural education. Later, I completed a Master of Arts degree in adventure education at the University of Northern Colorado. Professionally, I served as the EE Specialist at Upham Woods for two years, followed by seven years as the Sauk County 4-H Youth Development Agent and four years as the Director of Upham Woods/Environmental Education Specialist for the Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development Program. For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of transitioning to the private non-profit world as the Executive Director of Riveredge Nature Center.

Nathan LarsonNathan Larson, 2018 Board Chair-Elect


Community GroundWorks, Madison


I have worked in EE for the past 16 years. In 2001, I helped to establish Community GroundWorks and began working with many extraordinary colleagues and community partners to build a robust farm- and garden-based education program in the Madison area. Over the past two years, I have directed the statewide Wisconsin School Garden Initiative and served as co-leader on the WAEE Consortium. I have a Master’s degree in Geography from UW-Madison. I believe that all children should have regular access to hands-on, inquiry-based EE in urban and rural areas where they can learn about nature through first-hand experiences and develop an enduring respect for the land.


Michael Beeth, 2017 Fall Conference Co-Chair


UW Oshkosh


My interests in EE started when I joined the Boy Scouts and learned to live comfortably in the outdoors. Learning about the plants, animals and stars lead to a profound appreciation for the importance of the natural world for its’ own sake and as a place to find solitude. I taught others to deliver informal summer ecology programs for 10 years as Director of the Ecology Section at the National Camping School for the Boy Scouts. Ecology has always played a significant part in my years teaching high school science, and now I try to instill that same knowledge and appreciation in college students seeking to become K-12 teachers of science.

Bruce BessertBruce Bessert


Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship, Mequon


As an educator of over 35 years, I am equally excited and concerned about the current EE climate in Wisconsin, and the important role it plays in the development of our children and growth of sustainable communities in our state.  My degrees are in biology, chemistry, and environmental education, and I currently serve as Director of the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship (CCES), an environmental education and research initiative at Concordia University. My current work focuses on educational environmental/sustainability programs, freshwater and Great Lakes research, and EE projects in Japan and South America.  I am a lifelong advocate of experiential and expeditionary learning, and regularly lead environmental field trips with students of all ages, both domestic and international, so my philosophy on EE is to expand students’ appreciation of nature globally.

Brent Burton, Graduate Student Board Member


UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point


From as far back as I can remember, nature was always a huge part of my life. In my short career, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to have been able to work at summer camps, research labs, and four amazing nature centers. Currently, I am a graduate assistant at the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station, where I work to help train environmental education students as part of their practicum experience. In my (very limited) free time, I enjoy reading, running, and generally being active outdoors. As a Student Board Member of the WAEE, I hope to be able to help make the WAEE more accessible to our young professionals and help better connect them to professionals throughout Wisconsin.

Gharis, LaurieLaurie Gharis


Director WCEE, UWSP


Dr. Laurie Gharis is Director and Assistant Professor for the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  Before coming to the College of Natural Resources at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, she was an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas at Monticello in the School of Forestry and Natural Resources where she led the natural resource communication option.  Her experience includes teaching at the high school and college levels, coordinating state and regional natural resource partnerships, and overseeing programs and contracts for federal and state agencies.  She has published multiple articles on communicating and working with natural resource clients electronically.  Dr. Gharis received her undergraduate in Sociology from Texas A&M University, her Master of Public Administration from North Carolina State University, and her Doctorate in Forestry and Environmental Resources from North Carolina State University.

Joey Montaine head shot

Joey Montaine, Student Board Member


UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point


Since I was a kid, I have always been in love with the natural world around me.  As an adult, I have found a way to be able to share that love of the natural world and help a love and respect of nature reach future generations, and help bridge the disconnect between the youth and the environment around them through Environmental Education.  In the spirit of this, I am an Environmental Education and Interpretation major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and am currently a part of the Environmental Educators and Naturalists Association of UWSP.  In addition, I am also a volunteer at Riveredge Nature Center.

Betsy Parker, Past Chair, Advocacy & Networking Committee Chair


Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona


I am a long-term member of WAEE and past Board member (2004-09). I was awarded the WAEE Aldo Leopold Award for service to the organization in 2012 for advocating for Wisconsin Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights and piloting the Wisconsin “Master Naturalist” program. I was WAEE’s liaison to the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and functioned as the project coordinator for Wisconsin’s Plan for Environmentally Literate and Sustainable Communities. I am a non-formal educator at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center (since 2000) and am currently inspiring parents and teachers at my children’s school to earn the Green & Healthy School Certificate. My philosophy on EE is multi-fold: hands-on teaching and learning with children, encouraging policy that supports this, and uniting EE agencies to reach these common goals.


Chrystal Seeley-SchreckChrystal Seeley-Schreck, 2018 Winter Workshop Committee Chair, 2017 Fall Conference C0-Chair


Wisconsin Technical College System, Madison


Since teaching my first environmental education program as a volunteer in high school, I have spent nearly two decades working in multiple facets of the environmental field. From Maine to California and a few spots in between, I’ve worked in scientific research, advocacy, policy development, communications and education. With a B.A. in Human Ecology and a M.A. in Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Community, one of my goals is to help create a more just and sustainable world. Environmental education has helped me do this by inspiring and educating others, keeping EE as one of my strongest passions. I served for two years as Education Team Co-Lead at the WDNR’s MacKenzie Center in Poynette where I provided environmental education and outdoor skills programs for a diverse range of youth and adult audiences. I currently work for the Wisconsin Technical College System in Madison.

Cathy TechtmannCathy Techtmann


UW-Extension, Hurley


My goal is to position Wisconsin EE as a critical force and “partner” in ensuring the sustainability of Wisconsin’s natural resources as the foundation for economic development and strong communities. I propose building WAEE strategic partnerships that engage learners to investigate critical environmental issues and develop leadership skills to address them. Important to this is integrating economic, place-based and cultural perspectives such as traditional ecological knowledge and expanding the scope of EE for learners of all ages, especially non-teacher adult and non-traditional audiences. I believe EE in Wisconsin requires reorganization to be sustainable in the future and I would be willing to help with some new ideas. I am currently a member of the WI EE Consortium.

Amy WorkmanAmy Workman, Membership Committee Chair


Wisconsin DNR, Baraboo


I served on the WAEE Board from 2005-2008 and was re-elected in 2014 (one year fill-in) and 2015. I have over 15 years of experience in a variety of settings (county, state and federal agencies, public school, charter school, residential and day use outdoor/environmental learning centers). I have developed and taught EE programs to youth and adults all over the U.S. and in Costa Rica. I earned a B.A. in environmental science from Monmouth College and a M.Ed. in environmental education from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. My EE philosophy stems from the belief that children who have positive outdoor experiences are more likely to develop into adults who care for the natural world and are willing to be advocates for its protection and responsible use.


We would like to extend a tremendous thank you to outgoing Board members Stefan Anderson of Conserve School (2015 Board Chair and Membership Committee Chair), Licia Johnson of the North Lakeland Discovery Center (Winter Workshop Committee Chair and Treasurer), and outgoing student Board members Jenny Christopher and Kelly Rundell of UW-Stevens Point. Their outstanding dedication to strengthening environmental education for all in Wisconsin is greatly appreciated!

We would also like to thank our ongoing Awards Committee Chair Emily Brown, and current Awards Committee Chair Molly McKay. You can join a committee here.

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