Current Staff

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Jen Kopnicky, Program & Ropes Course Director

Jen is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Go Steelers!!), where she graduated from Slippery Rock University with a B.S. in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Education.  After graduating, she taught at The Outdoor School in Texas, worked at multiple summer camps across the United States, and managed Venture Outdoors’ rock climbing non-profit.  Jen has been a permanent staff member at McDowell Environmental Center since 2009, with a short time away working for Trailside Discovery Camp in Anchorage, Alaska. She adores her McDowell home and community so much that being across the continent was just too far! Jen and her husband, Brandon, have two canines, Izzy Belle and Banjo, who love hiking around camp just as much they do! She also enjoys backpacking, making people laugh, snowboarding, gardening, reading, cooking, rock climbing and mountain biking.

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Carrie Evans, Assistant Director

Carrie was born and raised in a suburb of Philadelphia called Chester Springs. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Dickinson College in 2012. While in college, she worked on an organic farm where she was in charge of all educational programs. After college, she dabbled in the sales and financial industries. But she soon realized that she was meant to be in environmental education. Carrie moved to Alabama to become an instructor in 2014. She has since fallen in love with Alabama and McDowell. She lives here with her dog, Winnie, and her cat, Prim. In her free time, she loves to explore new places, go hiking, cuddle with her pets, cook and read.

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Stacey Glenn, On-Site Registered Nurse

Stacey graduated from Wallace State with her registered nursing degree in 2006. She has previous nursing experience in the hospital, nursing home, and home health areas. In May of this year she took the awesome opportunity to work with children here at Camp McDowell. Stacey has lived in the Double Springs area her whole life. She has a wonderful husband Brian and daughter Alexzandra who is 19. Stacey is an animal lover, has 3 dogs Tucker, Lizzie and Jessie and a cat, Haze. Stacey's favorite pastime is fishing with her husband, crossfit, hiking, canoeing and anything outdoors. She loves spending time with her sister and other family, especially her niece and two nephews.

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Kendra Burns, Animal Program Manager & Outreach Coordinator

Kendra is from Florence, Kentucky and discovered her love for raptors and snakes when she started teaching at McDowell in 2011. After catching the spark for lifelong learning, she traveled on in 2013 to further her experience in environmental education and animal care at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, Alabama 4-H Science School, and an apprenticeship with the US Forest Service at the Woodlands Nature Station in Land Between the Lakes. When she's not busy with the raptors and reptiles at McDowell, you can find Kendra reading, gardening, hiking, birding, eating, watching movies, and hanging out with her rambunctious kitten.

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David Hollaway, Senior Naturalist

Big Dave, as we call him, has worked for Camp McDowell for 12 years. He grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and has spent many years in the environmental education and interpretive field where he has led classes and workshops, supervised the care of wildlife through rehabilitation, developed programs, and provided leadership to area schools and the public. He has worked at Ruffner Mountain Nature Center and the Chattanooga Nature Center. Dave brings his energy and enthusiasm to McDowell so that he can continue to share his knowledge and love for the natural world. When he isn’t sharing this passion with others, you can find him birding, camping, and hiking!

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Maggie Wade Johnston, Education Director for McDowell Programs

Maggie oversees the educational programs of Camp McDowell- McDowell Environmental Center, McDowell Farm School, Magnolia Nature Preschool and Cahaba Environmental Center. She taught science and environmental education at Alabama School for the Deaf for 21 years before starting her long career at McDowell. She is married to Mark Johnston and has one daughter, three sons and three grandchildren, Carter, Mary Charles and Elizabeth. They have four-legged family members too; Buddy, Winston and Morti. Maggie enjoys running, canoeing, hiking, fishing, gardening, creating pottery, traveling, reading and living in the country.

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Carter Scott, Program Assistant

Carter is from the Atlanta area, where he was born and raised. After graduating from the University of Georgia in May 2010, he spent four years teaching English to elementary and junior high school students on the rural Japanese island of Tsushima. He has also previously worked as a swim coach for his neighborhood team and as a youth sports referee for his church. Carter enjoys sports of all kinds and loves to swim in the summer and hike the mountains.

Environmental Educators

Bridget

Bridget grew up in Pell City, Alabama, where she had the opportunity to fall in love with nature on Lake Logan Martin. She is a recent graduate of the University of Montevallo, where she earned a degree in biology with a minor in environmental studies. While at Montevallo, she developed a passion for conservation and served as president of the university's environmental club for three years. She has interned with Coosa Riverkeeper, and this summer, she spent two months in the mountains of Costa Rica as a tour guide at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens. She loves hiking, yoga, swing sets, listening to music, making puns, finding bugs (and convincing people to like them!), and spending time with friends and family.

Zach

Zach was born and raised in Southern Indiana. Growing up in the country he developed a love for the great outdoors at an early age. He attended the University of Louisville and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. After graduation he worked as a social worker, helping families and their children that were placed in the foster care system. Although he enjoyed working with these families in need, his passion for the outdoors is what lead him to be a part of the McDowell team. Zach enjoys hiking, kayaking, spelunking, listening to music, playing guitar, drums, and spending time with friends and family.

Carrie

Carrie is from East Tennessee. When she is not outside, she is daydreaming about what she will do the next time she can step foot in the outdoors. She enjoys sports including basketball, soccer, tennis, and rugby. Carrie graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Studies. While in college, she facilitated outdoor activities, such as hiking and canoeing, for people with special needs and children attending inner city schools. She has also worked with the Chattanooga Zoo and Therapeutic Recreation Center where people with special needs enjoy activities around the zoo and learn about the animals and their habitats. She is excited for the opportunity Camp McDowell provides to meet plants and animals in their natural habitat!

Anna

Anna graduated from the University of Alabama with a double major in Geography and Religious Studies. She has worked as an intern at the Oakmulgee Ranger District of the Talladega National Forest, and as a lab assistant at the University of Alabama Cartography Lab. During her time at the University, Anna marched in the Million Dollar Band Drumline, and was the cymbal section leader her senior year. She developed her love for nature at her childhood home on the outskirts of Prattville, Alabama. She is interested in forest dynamics and river hydrology, which means Camp McDowell’s streams and expansive forests are the perfect place for her! Her hobbies include backpacking, reading, golfing, and being outdoors in general.

Kaya

Kaya was born in Jacksonville, FL and raised in Tallahassee.. She received her bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Public Relations from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 2016. While in college she was apart of organizations that advocated teaching the youth the importance of going green, renewable energy, and sustainable development. During college she was able to take a break to work in Alaska where she got to experience beautiful mountains and glaciers. In her free time she enjoys traveling, cooking, reading, hiking, gardening, yoga, and collecting stones and wildflowers.

Willow

Willow grew up near Ann Arbor Michigan, where from a young age, loved anything that let her be outdoors. She discovered her career path and passion at a young age when she joined the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council. With her team, she persuaded the state of Michigan to ban phosphorus in dishwasher and laundry detergents. This opportunity opened her eyes to the power that passionate individuals can have on the environment and she decided to dedicate herself to protecting the earth. She attended Siena Heights University where she was the president of the environmental science club; she graduated with a B.S. in environmental science and a minor of biology. Her work experience includes the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Alaska Center for the Environment. Her career dreams are to better human rights though environmental policy and to end environmental racism. She is so excited for the opportunity to teach, where she strives to encourage children to love and protect the environment as much as she does.

Abby

Abby was born and raised in Davenport, IA. She graduated from Dordt College with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. She then continued her education at the University of South Dakota and recently received in M.S. in Biology where her research was focused on the tallgrass prairie ecosystem developing her passion for plants. While in grad school, she had the wonderful opportunity of teaching introduction to biology labs to Biology majors and non-majors. Abby was instilled with a love of nature and the environment from a young age from the numerous camping, biking, and hiking trips that she took with her family. Whether it is hiking, biking, camping, or bird watching, there is always something to learn in the great outdoors and enjoy the aesthetic beauty of creation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, biking, camping, gardening, reading, crocheting, sewing, baking, and playing tennis.

Trish

Trish is originally from a small farming town in Michigan, but has lived in a lot of places across the northeast. She has a B.S. in geology from St. Lawrence University, an M.S. from University of Cincinnati, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State. She is a 2014 thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail and is finishing up a 100 mile challenge on the North Country Trail. She loves fossils, teaching, and being outside. Trish spent time as an informal educator in a natural history museum and nature center in central New York. When she’s not at McDowell, she’s listening to NPR, playing with her golden doodle in the water or on hiking trails, or cuddling with her cat, Jazzie.