Current Staff


Full Time Staff


Trish Smrecak, Director


Carrie Byars, Assistant Director

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Beth Dille, Program Coordinator


Stacey Glenn, On-Site Registered Nurse


Kendra Burns, Animal Programs Manager and Outreach Coordinator

Environmental Educators


Nic was born and raised in Jasper, AL. He attended Auburn University graduating with a History degree with a focus in early America through the Civil War, and Native Americans and a minor in Military Science in 2011. While at Auburn, Nic volunteered at the famous Southeastern Raptor Center where he got the chance to train and fly Auburn’s bald and golden eagles, Sprite and Nova. From there he fell in love with the snowy white mountains and became a ski instructor in the winter with a dream of taking it abroad. From a young age Nic was taught about the great outdoors, as well as how to respect it and admire it. His affinity for being outside led him to, more often than not, wear most of it back in the house. In his spare time, Nic enjoys anything outside- hunting, fishing, hiking, playing a variety of sports or just hanging out on a body of water.


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.


Chelbie was born and raised in Utah where she grew to admire the outdoors with the unique array of outdoor opportunities that can be found across the state. After dabbling with the idea of Forensic Science for a few years, she found that she enjoyed the out-of-doors much more. She graduated from Utah Valley University with a B.S. in Exercise Science and Outdoor Recreation Management. She has spent multiple summers at different summer camps around the country, along with a season of outdoor education, which she feels the most enthusiasm for! In her free time, Chelbie loves to travel, read and write, and cuddle any cat or dog that will put up with her affection.


Arin is originally from Northern California, better known as the beautiful State of Jefferson. She graduated from Southern Oregon University with her B.A. in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and a minor in Psychology in 2016. Since then Arin has been traveling the U.S. working, exploring, and learning in some of the most beautiful parts of our country. She has taught at multiple environmental schools in California, Oregon, and New York and has a true passion for experiential education. When Arin isn’t teaching you will find her backpacking, rock climbing, and planning her next adventures. A few of her goals are to visit all 59 National Parks and travel to all 50 states!


Mary grew up in Lower Michigan and attended Northern Michigan University. She started working at Girl Scout Camp in 2010 and has been in the industry ever since. She enjoys photography, reading, wood burning, wood carving, and hammock camping, as well as collecting vintage Girl Scout items.


Kim grew up in small town Iowa where despite being surrounded by corn she fell in love with forests, creeks, flowers, and everything in between. She studied elementary education in college but decided that teaching outdoors was so much more fun! Kim worked for two years as a Naturalist in Minnesota where she earned her Masters Certificate in Environmental Education and perfected her Minnesotan accent (you betcha!). She spent last year teaching outdoor education in the Adirondack Mountains of New York taking kids hiking and rock climbing. Most recently Kim spent the summer in Utah as the Assistant Director of a Girl Scout Camp. In her free time, you'll find her outside somewhere rock climbing, hiking, wandering through wildflowers, or camping. She's excited to explore new places and meet new people in Alabama this year.


Katie grew up in Eau Claire, WI and recently graduated from UW-Stevens Point with a B.S. in wildlife ecology and management and a minor in biology. During her college years, she enjoyed getting as much experience working with wildlife as she could, especially with birds! Her experiences include volunteering to band saw-whet owls, taking surveys on focal bird species, and working at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center as a hospital and sanctuary intern. Now that Katie has graduated, she is looking to further her experiences, especially with environmental education! During her free time, Katie likes to explore the outdoors through biking, hiking, and kayaking. She also loves spending time with her family, friends, boyfriend and her pet pigeon, Stevie. Katie is very excited to travel to Alabama and be apart of the McDowell EC team!


Angel was born and raised in Jasper, Alabama, but spent most of her summers as a kid on the beautiful Lewis Smith Lake. Her love for the water led her to pursue a degree in Marine Biology at the University of North Alabama, where she got the opportunity to spend her summers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. While at the Sea Lab, she volunteered in an oyster research lab and for the Manatee Sighting Network. While in college, Angel was the president of the Society of Physics Students. The organization's major focus was on public outreach, primarily towards school-aged children. There, she taught the basics of physics and astronomy at numerous fairs and events. She also volunteered at the University pool as a swim instructor for K-6 graders. She loves to spend her free time traveling, spending time with her nieces and nephews, playing in the water, Native American dancing, hiking, and pretty much anything outdoors (rain or shine).


Jerika was raised in Oregon City, OR by her grandparents. She graduated in December 2016 with a B.S. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Science from Oregon State University. During the summers in college, she worked as a field tech in a different fisheries research project each year. After teaching elementary school students about tide pools on the Oregon coast, Jerika realized that environmental education was where she wanted to be. Alabama is the farthest East she’s ever been. She enjoys all styles of adventure and fun, from helping scientists band ducks to teaching boy scouts how to shoot.


Cassie comes from a small town in eastern Iowa where she attended the University of Dubuque and earned a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. She has been exploring the natural world from a young age, hiking with her dogs and catching frogs and snakes at the local marsh lands. Cassie has worked with a nature center and state park in Iowa, as well as an outdoor school near Philadelphia, PA. Her most recent adventure took her out West for 10 months on the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) where she served communities in need. While with AmeriCorps, she did habitat restoration, trail building, wildlife rehabilitation and natural disaster response. Some of Cassie's hobbies include photography, hiking, canoeing, and reading. She is very excited to work with the Environmental Education Team at Camp McDowell and will continue her goal of making learning fun for kids of all ages!