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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Trish Smrecak, Education & Curriculum Manager

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.

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Carrie Morton, Operations Manager

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!

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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.

Environmental Educators


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.


My name is Erin, and I was raised in Marietta, GA, a city right outside Atlanta. I received a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management at Auburn University in May 2016. While at Auburn, I spent most of my time with the Auburn University Marching Band in the trombone section and with Kappa Kappa Psi, a national honorary music fraternity. Since 2014, I have been volunteering with the Alabama Wildlife Center by helping out in the bird clinic and in their education department. Our Eurasian Eagle Owl is in my picture, but don’t tell him that our Eastern Screech Owl (lovingly called Creampuff) is my favorite! ;) I spent the summer of 2015 interning with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center as their Sanctuary/Hospital intern, where I got to learn about a whole different ecosystem. During my free time, I love to spend time with my guinea pigs and my quaker parrot (who I rescued from the Keys with his bad wing and is still a little wary of being an Alabama bird). I am so excited to become a part of the McDowell Environmental Center team and share my love of wildlife and the outdoors!


Born and raised in Alabama, Julie grew up inspired by the beauty and diversity of the nature around her, and went to Camp Mcdowell herself as a 5th grader! In 2014, she graduated from the University of Montevallo with a BS in Biology. After graduation, she worked as a sea turtle rehabilitation specialist at two different sea turtle hospitals in Sarasota, FL and Marathon, FL. She spent this past fall exploring and learning with students at the Cahaba Environmental Center in Alabama. She loves to spend her free time swimming, hiking, crafting, and obsessing over her cat. Julie is eager to share and connect with students at the McDowell Environmental Center!


Seth was born and raised in Wisconsin, where he frequently explored the north woods instilling in him a passion for the natural world. He attended the University of Wisconsin graduating with a degree in Political Science. He was an intern for his congressman in Washington D.C., but quickly realized working in an office was not for him. After graduating, Seth worked for City Year San Antonio tutoring and mentoring students in math and classroom behavior. He is excited to combine his love of the outdoors with his passion for working with students. His love of backpacking, reading, sports, and getting to know people shaped him and are his favorite activities in his free time.