Current Staff

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Full Time Staff

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Trish Smrecak, Director

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Carrie Byars, Assistant Director

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Beth Dille, Program Coordinator

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Stacey Glenn, On-Site Registered Nurse

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Kendra Burns, Animal Programs Manager and Outreach Coordinator

Environmental Educators

Kim, Operations Manager

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.

Seth

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 who shaped him and are his favorite activities in his free time.

Erin

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!

Cassie

Cassie is a second season instructor at Camp McDowell. She comes from a small town in eastern Iowa where she attended the University of Dubuque and earned a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science. From a young age Cassie has been exploring the natural world from hiking with her dogs to catching frogs and snakes at the local marsh lands. She has worked with a nature center and state park in Iowa as well as an Outdoor School near Philadelphia, PA. Before joining the McDowell family last fall her adventures took her out west where she served for 10 months on an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) where she served communities in need. While with AmeriCorps she did everything from habitat restoration and trail building to wildlife rehabilitation to responding to natural disasters. 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!

Julie

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 had the opportunity to work with sea turtles again this past summer as a sea turtle naturalist and nesting surveryor near Charleston, South Carolina. She discovered her love for environmental education while working at the Cahaba Environmental Center in Alabama, but found a home doing it here at Mcdowell! She loves to spend her free time swimming, hiking, crafting, and obsessing over her cat. Julie is so excited to return to the Mcdowell Environmental Center for her third season!!

Nick

Nick is from the small town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. He Graduated from Westfield State University in 2014 with a Bachelors in History and a minor in Wilderness Leadership. He has been all around the United States teaching science at various outdoor centers and is excited to return back to Camp McDowell. During the summer Nick teaches rock climbing to children in northern Minnesota at a summer camp. He loves outer space and learning about and sharing his knowledge of the cosmos. He also loves searching for creepy crawlies under rocks and logs anytime outdoors!

Marika

Marika was raised in Hastings, NE where at a young age my passion for the diversity and everlasting beauty of the natural world was born. The passion I have for the outdoors were from the countless memories hiking and being around animals on my grandparents’ farm. It has been a childhood dream of mine to work among the wonderful creatures our planet offers. I was an intern at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE during the summer of 2015, where I got to work with a wide variety of animals. Throughout my undergraduate career I have conducted research on Baltimore Orioles on their Creatine Kinase levels during migration. I spent this past summer, of 2017, in Namibia, Africa as a member of a wildlife conservation class through the University of Nebraska Lincoln. From this class I became an intern at the NamibRand Nature Reserve in the Namib desert, where I learned the duties and responsibilities of running a private reserve. In Africa, I also had the opportunity to teach at the preschool located on the reserve, which instilled in me a passion for young minds and teaching them about the importance of the world around them. I recently graduated from the University of Nebraska Kearney with a BS in Wildlife Biology. Some of my hobbies include traveling, hiking, running, photography, yoga, and going on spontaneous adventures (rain or shine) with anyone who is up for the adventure. I can’t wait to travel to Alabama and to spark an interest in kids about the importance of our environment and the natural world.

Fox

Fox was born in North Carolina but spent his childhood overseas in Germany before moving to Virginia, and eventually Huntsville, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a B.A. in English and a minor in Communications. From a young age he has been a member of the scouting movement, and began working at Comer Scout Reservation over the summer in 2008. Fox has served as the Project C.O.P.E. (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) Director at Comer Scout Reservation for the past 5 years and is looking forward to bringing the same enthusiasm that has helped him succeed in the scouting community to Camp Mcdowell. Scouting helped Fox to realize a love of the great outdoors, and working with summer camp helped him to realize a passion for education. A life long lover of adventure, in his free time you are just as likely to find Fox out exploring the natural world through hiking, climbing, and camping, as you are to find him curled up in a cozy chair with a good book or sharing a story of past adventures!

Morgan

Morgan is born and raised in North Alabama where they developed a love for the outdoors through spending time hiking, backpacking, and canoeing in the Bankhead National Forest with family. They recently graduated from the University of Montevallo with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a Spanish minor. During Morgan’s time at Montevallo they were active in student organizing, and they are passionate about grassroots community organizing specifically in the South and Appalachia. They have work and internship experience with Alabama Rivers Alliance, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Wild South, and the University of Montevallo Environmental Studies program. They currently serve on Alabama Environmental Council’s Junior Board, Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Executive Committee, and Friends of Dynamite-Hill’s Committee. In their free time you can find Morgan practicing the banjo, dancing, listening to music, swimming in creeks (in the summer), or playing with animals. Morgan is excited to join the McDowell team and share their passion for the environment and their favorite place in Alabama with McDowell students!

Melia

Melia is originally from a rural town located in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She graduated from Whitworth University with a B.A. in Sociology, specifically in Community Action and Social Service. Melia nurtured love for ecology from a young age whilst wandering around the Willamette National forest with her grandpa and cousins searching for the “Old Pioneer Road,” an offshoot of the Oregon Trail. She has served at several overnight camps around Oregon leading hikes around the biodiverse terrain and life guarding on the Pacific Ocean. Recently, Melia traveled to Costa Rica and Panama to study sustainable development and was able to observe the ways the two nations manage their carbon footprint. In her spare time, she enjoys playing various sports included but not limited to volleyball, basketball, and frisbee.

Angel

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).

Brooke

Brooke is from West Grove, PA. She graduated from Penn State University in 2017 with a degree in middle level education. She has always loved playing sports and spending time outside. During her time at Penn State she played on the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team. She spent her summers working as a camp counselor which made her realize her passion for working with children. Brooke’s hobbies include going on road trips, reading, and watching reality T.V shows. Brooke loves adventures and she’s so excited to continue her journey at The McDowell Environmental Center.

Bonnie

Bonnie was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her B.S. in Ecology and Biodiversity from Sewanee: The University of the South in 2016. Since then, Bonnie has lived all over the country: from California where she worked for the Episcopal church, to Florida where she worked in Manatee rescue, rehabilitation and release, and in Michigan where she worked as an outdoor education instructor. During college, Bonnie actually worked at Camp McDowell as a summer camp counselor, and has found her way back to continue her young career in environmental and outdoor education. When not teaching, you can find her hiking, kayaking, searching for salamanders, or working on her newest interest, climbing. Bonnie is passionate about providing opportunities for children to grow and learn through outdoor pursuits and experiential education, and is excited to share her enthusiasm and curiosity with students at the MEC.