Meet the Shaver's Creek Staff

Shaver’s Creek Nature Names

What’s with the weird “nature” names below? At Shaver’s Creek, many of our staff members adopt a secondary “nature” name. These monikers are meant to be fun and are usually used during programs with kids, such as during Summer Camp and Outdoor School.

Penn State College Affiliation

Shaver’s Creek is part of Penn State Outreach, but we have teaching agreements with many colleges and departments across Penn State. Some staff members also serve as faculty for Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management in the College of Health and Human Development or the School of Forest Resources in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Faculty and Staff

Jen Bean

Jennifer Bean

Program Director

Jen administers the AURORA Outdoor Orientation Programs (ORION, URSA, and VEGA) for incoming first-year Penn State students: ORION (KINES 089) — a five/six-day wilderness program, URSA Urban Service Experience (RPTM 297C) — a five-day community service experience, and VEGA (KINES 089) — a five-day wilderness program in Olympic National Park, WA. She is also an instructor for Adventure-based Programming Leadership (RPTM 330), Adventure-based Programming and Administration (RPTM 440), and Backpacking Leadership (RPTM 498D). Jen was originally an intern at Shaver’s Creek in the summer of 2000 and an assistant program director for from 2003–2005. She returned to Shaver’s Creek in 2010 after living and working in New England for five years to what she sees as her dream job—helping develop leaders through wilderness education.

Jen earned her bachelor’s degree in recreation and park management from Penn State in 2001 and a master’s degree in environmental studies from Antioch University of New England in 2007. She enjoys spending time pursuing outdoor adventures with her family. She also likes to ski, rock-climb, and find new places to hike.
Nature name: Samara
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Kate Jordan

Kate Berardi

School Programs and Summer Camp Program Director

Kate oversees the onsite school programs and summer camp, as well as training Penn State students, interns, and volunteers to teach these programs. Kate graduated from Penn State in 2008 with a B.S. in Agriculture, and in 2009 with an M.S. in Agricultural and Extension Education. Her research interests included non-formal education and the interaction between parents and their children in non-formal education settings. Kate started out as a volunteer in the raptor center at Shaver’s Creek in 2006, and then continued as an Outdoor School counselor, camp counselor for multiple summers, and instructor for school programs. Kate recently moved back to Pennsylvania from Texas, and is thrilled to be a part of everything that is so special about summer camp and helping kids be excited to learn. Her interests include hiking, observing nature, crocheting, reading, and watching movies. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pets (two dogs, a cat, two birds, and a lizard).
Nature name: Ladybird
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Eric Burkhart

Eric Burkhart

Instructor and Plant Science Program Director

Eric provides landscape and forest management leadership at Shaver’s Creek and teaches courses for the School of Forest Resources on tree and shrub identification (FOR 203 Field Dendrology), nonnative invasive plants (FOR 497F Invasive Forest Plants), and herbaceous forest plants (FOR 497B Forest Herbaceous Plant Identification and Ecology). He also assists colleagues at the center with credit courses (RPTM 297G Interpreting Maple Sugaring to Families) offered in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. Working with partners such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Eric also conducts research on native plants of economic and conservation importance, such as American ginseng and goldenseal, and offers practical guidance in forest farming, through related workshops and publications. Eric holds degrees in economic botany (BA, Idaho State University), horticulture (MS, Penn State), and forest resources (PhD, Penn State). His expertise includes: (1) identification of Pennsylvania plants, shrubs, trees, and vines; (2) native plant horticulture and plant husbandry; (3) economic and folk uses of plants in Pennsylvania and the region; (4) plant conservation and management policy; (5) nonnative, invasive plant identification and management; (6) temperate agroforestry practices (riparian forest buffers, windbreaks, forest farming); (7) nontimber forest products (edible/medicinal fungi and plants).
Nature name: Panax
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Nikki Houck

Nikki Houck

Office Manager
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Jon Kauffman

Interim Program Director of the Raptor Center

Nature name: Timberdoodle
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Rod Lee

Rod Lee

Program Director and Instructor

Rod co-directs the Shaver’s Creek Team Development Center and Adventure Programs. He teaches RPTM 230 (Teambuilding Facilitation) and RPTM 498F (Rock Climbing Leadership). Rod is a certified climbing wall instructor and former top rope site manager through the American Mountain Guides Association. He is also a certified ski patroller through the National Ski Patrol and instructor of first aid and CPR through the American Red Cross. He came to Shaver’s Creek in 2003 with more than ten years’ experience in the outdoor education field. On his days off, Rod consults for large companies in the fields of leadership training, cultural intelligence, and team development. He enjoys spending the rest of his time off with his wife, Beth, and their two children, Griffin and Meredith. His interests include climbing, skiing, mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, hiking, and travel.
Nature name: Mudpuppy
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Drew Lehnerd

AURORA Assistant Program Director

Drew became a part of the AURORA program in 2012 as an ORION leader. Since then, he has taken a larger role as a Logistics Coordinator for the AURORA Outdoor Orientation Programs. Drew graduated from Penn State in 2012 with a degree in Human Geography. He is originally from Crownsville, MD, a little town on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. He loves all things outdoors, and interests include snowboarding, backpacking, biking, crocheting, campfires, skipping rocks, and meeting new people.
Nature name: Larkspur
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Shaver's Creek Assistant Program Director Matt Marsden

Matt Marsden

Assistant Program Director

Matt has been helping to direct Outdoor School, Discovery Camp, Kids Corner, and Farm Show. He graduated in 2006 from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in environmental interpretation and is currently pursuing his M.S. in Park and Resource Management in the Slippery Rock University online program. He spends a lot of time in the outdoors in as many venues as possible, learning the natural world wherever he goes. He enjoys finding ways to produce and preserve food. Playing music locally is enjoyable when time permits. He grew up in State College and still gets to see most of his family that lives in the area.
Nature name: Cardinal
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Laurie McLaughlin

Laurie McLaughlin

Instructor

Laurie teaches Team-Building Facilitation (RPTM 230), Interpreting Maple Sugaring to Families (RPTM 297G), and First Year Seminar (RPTM 397S) for ORION and USE students. She directs the Maple Harvest Festival and coordinates the Discovery Semester of classes taught each spring at Shaver’s Creek. Laurie has been affiliated with Shaver’s Creek since 1993, and served as a past director of the team building program. She received a bachelor’s degree in recreation and park management — environmental interpretation from Penn State in 1988 and a master’s degree in experiential education from the University of Colorado in 1992. Her interests include bird watching, traveling, canoeing, cooking, reading, and, most of all, spending time with her husband, Mark, and their two sons, Brian and Sean.
Nature name: Loon
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Mark McLaughlin

Mark McLaughlin

Director

Mark teaches First Aid and Safety courses and the Discovery Trip class and is a member of multiple Penn State Outreach committees. He is responsible for cultivating the resources necessary to make Shaver’s Creek successful. Mark received a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology, with a minor in forestry, from the University of Vermont in 1985 and a master’s degree in environmental education from Montclair State University in 1988. Mark likes birding, baseball, fishing, reading, and spending lots of time with his family — Laurie, Brian, and Sean.
Nature name: Goshawk
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Joshua Potter

Joshua Potter

Marketing Information Coordinator

Joshua works to promote and support the programs, courses, and operations of Shaver’s Creek through various online and print media, festivals, and events. He also manages our bookstore and membership program. Joshua received a bachelor’s degree in integrative arts from Penn State, focusing on multimedia and environmental education. After seven years in New England working as a naturalist and outreach coordinator for Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Conway, New Hampshire, Joshua returned to his native Pennsylvania to join Shaver’s Creek in 2010. He grew up just over the mountain in Pine Grove Mills and has a long association with Shaver’s Creek — as a summer camper from ages 5 to 18, as a volunteer in high school, as a student and teaching assistant while at Penn State, and now as staff! Joshua also enjoys birding, hiking, and spending time outdoors with his wife, Sarah, son Ellory, and daughter Lucy.
Nature name: Otus (Megascops)
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Tammi Richard

Tammi Richard

Office Manager
Nature name: Monarch
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Brian Sedgwick

Brian Sedgwick

Building Services Coordinator

Brian is responsible for maintaining the facilities and grounds at Shaver’s Creek and coordinating volunteer groups and work-study students. Brian also assists with a wide variety of programming — from school and youth programs to team building and bird of prey shows. Brian graduated from Penn State in December 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation and park management. For twenty-five years he has been involved in Scouting — becoming a Tiger Cub at age 5, working on staff at Camp Mountain Run, sitting on the Bucktail Council Camping Committee, and being an adviser of Venture Crew 509. His twelve years of summer camp experience includes archery range instructor, director of camp program, and director of the first-year-camper program, before being appointed camp director in 2005. Brian has an uncanny knack for pop culture and historical trivia and enjoys model rocketry, paintball, and hockey. Brian, his wife, Johanna, and son, Logan, enjoy cooking, camping, and hiking whenever possible.
Nature name: Draco
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Jennifer Steigerwalt

Jennifer (Brackbill) Steigerwalt

Program Director

Jennifer helps to manage animal care, traveling naturalist programs, interns, volunteers, work-study students, and the Honorary Animal Caretaker Program. She is an instructor for Environmental Education Methods and Materials (RPTM 430). In 1996 she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental science from Westminster College and a master’s degree in environment and community from Antioch University Seattle in 2001. Jennifer is originally from Port Allegany, in north central Pennsylvania. She and her sons, Isaac and Henry, husband, Doug, and their dogs, Tioga, Penny, and Winston, now make their home in Pine Grove Mills. Her interests include exploring, crocheting, making jewelry, and spending time with friends and family.
Nature name: Prism
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Marie Taylor

Marie Taylor

Staff Assistant and Assistant Bookstore Manager

Marie supports the management of the Shaver’s Creek bookstore/gift shop operation, our membership program, and the promotion of our many events and programs throughout the year. A State College native, Marie recently returned to the area after living in Pittsburgh, and is delightfully reconnecting with nature in the Shaver’s Creek woods. She enjoys hiking, swimming, and spending time with her family.
Nature name: Citrine
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George Vahoviak

George Vahoviak

Program Director and Affiliate Assistant Professor in RPTM

George is responsible for preservice and in-service teacher education, undergraduate and graduate teaching, interdisciplinary research, and graduate student committees, and assists with festival coordination. He instructs Cultural History Interpretation (RPTM 327), Independent Studies (RPTM 496/596), National Curricula Workshops (RPTM 497F), Natural History for Teachers (RPTM 498E), and Worldview, Sustainability, and Environmental Education (RPTM 597D). As an affiliate assistant professor of recreation, tourism, and park management, he serves as graduate faculty and sits on three thesis committees. He has previously worked with a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Environmental Education grant designed to address youth, schools, and the environment in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. He is also former project director of a DEP Growing Greener Grant and a Watershed Education project, and is assisting with other external funding grant writing with faculty from the Penn State College of Education. George received a bachelor’s degree in forest science in 1978 and agricultural education in 1980, a master’s degree in agricultural education in 1987, and a doctoral degree in agricultural education/science, technology, and society in 1993, all from Penn State. George also serves as an EMT, EMT instructor, firefighter, and ambulance lieutenant, and enjoys kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, and woodworking.
Nature name: Hemlock
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Doug Wentzel

Doug Wentzel

Naturalist and Program Director

Doug coordinates the environmental education internship and birding programs and serves as instructor of Principles of Environmental Interpretation (RPTM 325), Interpreting Halloween to Children (a cleverly disguised biodiversity festival, RPTM 297B) and Natural History Interpretation (RPTM 326).

Doug received his bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology from Penn State in 1989 and has served four years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He is sanctioned by The National Association for Interpretation as a trainer of Certified Interpretive Guides, and since 2005, Doug has co-led Audubon’s Coastal Maine Bird Studies for Teens week on Hog Island, Maine. He is married to Susan, and they have two sons, Dylan and Duncan. His ongoing interest is fostering the awareness of the diversity of life in our own backyards.
Nature name: Merlin
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Ellen Will

Ellen Will

Program Director

Ellen manages the residential Outdoor School program, teaches its companion courses and assists with the internship program. She believes that camp can change lives and enjoys seeing the interrelationships between the Penn State student leaders and the elementary-aged participants at Outdoor School. Ellen earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies — environmental education from Appalachian State University in 1995, and her master’s degree in environmental education at Slippery Rock University. Her thesis topic was a study of the long-term impact of the Shaver’s Creek internship program (which, by the way, 97% of former interns report was a positive experience and would recommend to a friend). Ellen is a member of the American Camp Association and serves on the PSU Youth Programs Council. Ellen lives in State College with her husband, Thad, and their two sons, Jacob and Nate.
Nature name: Xylem
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Will Wise

Will Wise

Program Director and Instructor

Will co-directs the Shaver’s Creek Team Development Center and Rock n’ River Adventure Camps. Will is also the facilitation trainer for The World in Conversations Project at Penn State’s University Park Campus, where he teaches people how to talk about taboo subjects such as race, gender, and long-term conflicts. With more than two decades of experience facilitating team development and group dynamics, Will has earned a reputation as a first-rate instructor. Working with groups ranging from corporate entities to adjudicated youth, school students to senior programs, Will has helped thousands of people to foster positive communication and self-actualization. He especially loves empowering participants with social skills that can be applied both to within the group training and to everyday life. He is certified by the American Canoe Association to teach canoeing and kayaking, and he loves using the outdoors to encourage people to know themselves. He has a degree in forest management from Michigan Technological University, a master’s degree in Workforce Education from Penn State, and spent five years as the director of Nature’s Classroom, a nontraditional school in New England.
Nature name: Whip-poor-will
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Affiliate Instructors

Jason Erdman

Affiliate Instructor
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Graduate Assistants

Lucy McClain

Lucy (Richardson) McClain

Lucy is a doctoral candidate in the Learning and Performance Systems Department at Penn State and a graduate assistant/researcher at Shaver’s Creek. Lucy holds a MEd in science education and a BS in archaeological science, both from Penn State. Her research interests include how youth best learn about their natural world in out-of-doors settings, how family members support each other to explore and learn in these settings, and how informal learning institutions, like Shaver’s Creek, can extend their relationship with local schools in order to engage young learners with their local environment.
National affiliations: Certified Interpretive Guide — National Association for Interpretation Student Member — National Association for Research in Science Teaching Student Member — Visitor Studies Association Student Member — American Educational Research Association Student Member — North American Association for Environmental Education Student Member — Association of Science-Technology Centers
Nature name:
Malachite
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Jessie Nendza

Nature name: Buttercup
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Chad Littlefield

Chad is passionate about people and how they connect. These passions have inspired him to pursue a graduate degree in Learning, Design, and Technology with a focus in collaborative learning and team development. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Penn State. Chad’s mission is to challenge himself and others to take positive social risks. When Chad is not practicing this mission as a facilitator and graduate assistant in Shaver Creek’s Team Development Center or as a facilitator coach for the World in Conversation, you might be likely to find him in a cave, on a mountain bike, or underwater with a SCUBA tank on his back.
Nature Name: Dogfish
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Sam Scavo

Forrest Schwartz

Jerod Skebo

Jerod graduated in fall 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences and an associate’s degree in Wildlife Technology. He came to Shaver’s Creek in spring of 2011 as a work study student doing reptile and amphibian inventories in Stone Valley. Currently working on mapping and inventorying all of the amphibian breeding habitats within Stone Valley with Dr. Jim Julian from Penn State Altoona, he also works with both captive and wild herp populations at the Center and in the forest.
Nature name: Crotalus
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Additional Staff

Brock Benson

Originally from Altoona, Brock graduated from Penn State with a degree in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management. He was a student in the Discovery Semester and a work-study student before becoming a Raptor Center assistant. Brock also worked as a Fisheries Biologist Aide with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and as a Fish Culturist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Nature name: Brookie
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Kevin Ber

Kevin assists with the Outdoor School program at Shaver’s Creek. Kevin graduated from Penn State in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies. In the Fall of 2012 he joined the Outdoor School team. He hails from the foothills of southwestern Pennsylvania, but has lived in State College since he started school in 2008. He enjoys sports of every kind, listening to all genres of music, the fall leaves, the beach, and watching a warm summer’s sunset.
Nature name: Thunder
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Justin Raymond

Marketing Projects Assistant

Justin came to Shaver’s Creek in 2010 as a Discovery Block student, and returned as an Environmental Education intern the following summer. Since graduating with a degree in Recreation, Parks & Tourism Management, Justin’s been working on a variety of marketing projects for Shaver’s Creek across different mediums, including video production, print media, design, web, social media, and photography—but still occasionally takes on the role of educator for Outdoor School or summer camp. He manages our Photo-a-Day feature, and is always looking for more photos! Justin enjoys hiking, geocaching, homebrewing, tossing pizzas, and board games.
Nature name: Rutabaga
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Travis Smith

Bookstore Assistant

Nature name: Fungi
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2014 Summer Staff

2014 Summer Staff (L to R):

Front row:

Allison Kinsey (ark5230@psu.edu)
Rock ‘n River Staff
Nature Name: Mariposa

Erin Glocke (eeg5095@psu.edu)
Environmental Education Intern
Nature Name: Aspen

Chad Littlefield
Rock ‘n River Staff, Graduate Student

Kelly Walters (ksw14@psu.edu)
Environmental Education Intern
Nature Name:  Kestrel

Alexa Sarussi (ajs54@psu.edu)
Environmental Education Intern
Nature Name: Vireo

Back row:

Jon Riley (jmr5686@psu.edu)
Marketing Intern

Sam Arner (sla5165@psu.edu)
Raptor Center Intern

Hannah Inglesby (hli1@psu.edu)
Environmental Education Intern
Nature Name: Flicker

Zoey Greenberg (ztg2@psu.edu)
Environmental Education Intern
Nature Name: Newt

Ben Simons (bgs15@psu.edu)
Environmental Education Intern
Nature Name:  Thistle

Thomas Foley (tpf10@psu.edu)
Environmental Education Intern
Nature Name:  Sundew

Staff Not Pictured:

Tara Glenny (teg13@psu.edu)
Office Assistant

Dustin Houck (dmh53@psu.edu)
Building Services Assistant

Jacy Marshall-McKelvey (jum217@psu.edu)
Marketing Intern

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