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MAEOE's Board of Trustees & Advisory Council

The Board of Directors represents a wide range of environmental organizations and businesses, they promote outdoor education, natural resource issues, and sustainable Green Schools through a network of organizations and institutions from across the state.

Board of Directors: Officers

Chair: Dr. Kevin Maxwell
Vice Chair: Dr. Andrea Kane
Treasurer: Josh Schmidt
Gary Allen
Katrina Jones
Dr. Andrea Kane
Stephanie Leach
Dr. Melanie Parker
Martin Poretsky
Rob Summers
Melissa Boyle Acuti (Past President, Advisory Council)

Executive Director: Laura Johnson Collard

Kevin Maxwell

Dr. Maxwell began his career 40 years ago as a Prince George’s County high school teacher. He became an assistant principal, middle school and high school principal and returned before retiring as Superintendent there. He also led Anne Arundel County Public Schools for seven years. During his tenure in AACPS, he was named Maryland Superintendent of the Year and a finalist for National Superintendent of the Year. Prior to joining Anne Arundel County, he was an administrator for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Dr. Maxwell is a leading authority on arts integration, language immersion and environmental literacy. Under his leadership, PGCPS significantly increased student enrollment, expanded access to full-day prekindergarten, and enhanced dual enrollment programs and specialty offerings. Throughout his career, he focused on raising student achievement, increasing academic rigor and engaging school communities.

Dr. Maxwell’s children – three daughters and one son – are all graduates of Maryland public schools. His hobbies include reading and traveling. He and his wife Nancy live in Bowie.

Josh Schmidt

Josh Schmidt, a resident of Arnold, MD, retired recently after a career in education that he began as an English teacher when he graduated from college in 1968. As a teacher, coach, college counselor, English Department Chair, then later Head of School – all in independent schools and for over 20 years in Quaker Schools – his primary and resolute focus was on helping each student grow, learn, develop sensitivity to others and other cultures, and find ways to make the world a better place.

Most recently he was a fundraising consultant for nonprofits, including Sidwell Friends School, Partners in Care Maryland and The National Foundation for Cancer Research. He also serves on the Education Advisory Board of the Annapolis Maritime Museum, and is a former Board member for Friends Meeting School.

Gary Allen

President Maryland Forestry Foundation 2009 to present

Gary manages programs in private forest land restoration, natural resources careers, higher Education Fellowships, and Urban and Community Forestry. He offers expertise in public policy, outreach, management and advocacy in areas of environmental resources, land use and public policy and education for federal, state and local government with a history of successful management, fundraising, project development, and citizen engagement, as shown by:

  • Launching a regional nonprofit to assist local governments in their environmental resource and protection initiatives. Including passage of the Sustainable Forestry Act in Maryland in 2009 and the Forest Preservation Act in 2013. Mel Noland Fellowships in 2018
  • Serving as Mayor and Council Member of Bowie, Maryland, a rapidly a growing city in Maryland's Washington suburbs. (1990 to 1998)
  • Selection by local, regional and state colleagues, including five Governor to serve on and lead numerous groups to plan, promote and recommend public policy initiatives in land use, forestry, air quality planning, conservation, economic development, transportation, habitat preservation, education and the environment.

Gary is the author of two books, various policy papers, and numerous magazine and newspaper articles

Master's plus 30 in Public Policy and Administration, American University

Bachelor of Science, and Education at Indiana State University

Katrina Jones

Outreach Coordinator
Maryland Port Administration

Katrina Jones is the outreach coordinator for the Maryland Port Administration's dredging program where she works to build diverse stakeholder engagement and maintain partnerships for enhancing the public's knowledge and support of the State of Maryland's dredged material management program (DMMP), with the purpose identifying potential dredged material disposal options and getting project approval. She also co-chairs the Baltimore Port Alliance's Education and Outreach Committee, which is a collaboration of public and private agencies in the maritime industry, educators, and representatives from government and civic organizations.

Katrina coordinates directly with schools and organizations such Maryland Environmental Service, Living Classroom Foundation, Arlington Echo, and the National Aquarium in Baltimore to help facilitate meaningful field experiences at the Port facilities. She is a graduate of Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Communications.

Visit for tour information.

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane has over 25 years of education experience, including ten years at the central office level. Dr. Kane has earned the characterization as a visionary leader. In collaboration with school district, business, and community partners, Dr. Kane has been effective in leading large suburban, urban, and small rural districts. Some of Dr. Kane’s most notable accomplishments have been in the area of leading school districts during times of change and challenges associated with academics, state mandates, and leadership. By employing strong communication skills, active listening skills, astute fiduciary competence, and political savvy, Dr. Kane has been successful in building trust, transparency, and stability during transitions and keeping the focus on that which benefits students.

Melanie Parker

Melanie combines her passion for the environment and love of teaching by serving as the Coordinator of Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education for Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland by developing and implementing environmental literacy curriculum and programming. The focus of these programs is to empower students of all ages through authentic hands-on outdoor experiences with the environmental knowledge, skills, and motivation to make and act upon responsible environmental decisions. She has been with Anne Arundel County over 20 years serving as an educator and teacher prior to becoming the administrator. Prior to AACPS she worked with nonprofits. She earned her Doctorate of Education at University of Maryland and she holds certificates in Administration and teaching.

A member with MAEOE since 1996, Melanie has been involved with MAEOE in various capacities. Volunteering with the conference for many years handling registration and expanding to conference chair as well as serving on the Board of Trustees since the early 2000s. Melanie has served as President Elect, President and Past President.

Martin Poretsky

Martin “Marty” Poretsky has been a third-generation builder in the Washington metro area and in 1970, co-founded Poretsky & Starr, Inc., which became Poretsky Building Group (PBG) in 1982. In 1999, Marty was appointed by Governor Parris Glendening to a four-year term as a member of the Board of Trustees, Chesapeake Bay Trust. He was elected Chairman of the Trust in May, 2000, and served in that position through May 2004. He has also served on the Board of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the D.C. Advisory Board of the Living Classrooms Foundation. Since 2017, Marty has resided in Longboat Key, Florida and is a member of the Rotary Club of Longboat Key as well as the Yale Club of the Suncoast, where he is seeking ways to continue to make a difference in his community.

Robert Summers

Baltimore City Public Schools

Rob Summers has been an educator in Baltimore City Public Schools for over 15 years. Currently an Assistant Principal at City Springs Elementary/ Middle School, Rob has a background teaching civics, maritime history, and environmental literacy and as well as developing curriculum in those areas. He is also an avid outdoor adventurer and sailor. He believes passionately that the key to environmental stewardship is robust outdoor and environmental education for all.

Rob has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Government from Georgetown University and a Master’s degree in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. Rob has also served as President of the Georgetown University Alumni Association Club of Baltimore and Treasurer of the Woodberry Community Association in Baltimore.

Advisory Council Officers

President: Lee Derby
Past President: Melissa Boyle Acuti
President Elect: Curtis Bennett

Current MAEOE Advisory Council Members

Melissa Boyle Acuti

Chief of Interpretation
Maryland Park Service
Department of Natural Resources

Melissa Acuti is currently the Maryland Park Service’s Statewide Interpretive Manager and works out of the Annapolis Headquaters Office. Melissa has been with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources- Maryland Park Service since 2010 and worked as a Park Ranger and Assistant Park Manager at Point Lookout State Park and as the Conservation Corps Program Coordinator before taking her current position. Melissa was also previously employed by Carroll County Recreation and Parks as the Park Manager of Hashawha Environmental Center and a Park Naturalist at Bear Branch Nature Center. Melissa also worked as a teacher at the Carroll County Outdoor School.

Melissa has her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and her Master’s Degree in Environmental Biology from Hood College.

Melissa currently lives in Edgewater and in her spare time enjoys bird-watching, gardening (with native plants), kayaking and sailing the Chesapeake with her husband. In addition, each fall Melissa tags migratory Monarch butterflies and helps run an owl banding station for migratory Northern Saw-whet Owls.

Melissa has attended almost every MAEOE conference since 2000 and especially enjoys the networking opportunities and feeling of re-invigoration that follows each conference. Over the past two years, Melissa has assisted with the MAEOE Auction at the Conference. This past year, Melissa also attended the MAEOE Youth Summit at Sandy Point State Park. Melissa’s many connections with the state parks and park staff will benefit MAEOE as much as MAEOE will benefit Maryland’s State Parks.

Dr. Juliann Dupuis

Associate Professor and Associate Dean

Dr. Juliann Dupuis is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean in the School of Education at Notre Dame of Maryland University. In these roles she oversees the secondary science program and is the Director of the STEM leadership program. Her background is in wildlife and fisheries biology and science education. At her previous positon at the University of New Hampshire, Juliann was the Assistant Coordinator for the Masters in Environmental Education program, where she taught the practicum and oversaw student internships in non-formal environmental education sites. Within her current role, she teaches STEM courses, including a sustainability course for educators, an application of engineering design, and a STEM summer institute which includes the use of Projects WET, WILD, Learning Tree, Wonders of Wetlands, Invasive Species, Flying Wild, and NOAA Globe. Each of the courses that she teaches includes a component of environmental education, but these three courses in particular require students to conduct research and develop projects or solutions to problems focused on environmental issues. Students focus on designing and carrying out green school initiatives which can help them to apply for green school status or to keep them current. As a proponent of environmental education, educators in her courses are required to attend environmental, field-based trips in order to experience situations that they should be including their students in.

Juliann has been an active member of both NAAEE and MAEOE, presenting at both conferences and acting as a member of the conference planning committee for MAEOE. Juliann is served as the co-chair of the 2019 MAEOE conference committee. As part of this role, she helped to coordinate volunteers to present on a STEAM panel, present at a STEAM fair, construct displays for the student STEAM art exhibit, work with vendors for marketing materials and videography, among other items. She is extremely passionate about environmental education and is committed to advancing the mission of MAEOE.

Jim Stufft

SERT Program Facilitator

Jim Stufft has been dedicated to environmental education while employed by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) for over 42 years. Twenty-five of those years at the Lathrop E. Smith Environmental Education Center and most recently, 14+ years with the MCPS School Energy and Recycling Team (SERT) program. While at the Smith Center, Jim initiated and coordinated many permanent environmental education projects that have continuously supported the instructional program. Jim assisted with the Smith Center becoming the first MAEOE Green Center in MD. Jim was awarded the annual Montgomery County Outdoor Educator Award in 1994. In 2005, Jim left the Smith Center for the SERT program. Jim currently assists 70 schools with environmental sustainability and natural resource conservation. Jim assisted the SERT program in becoming a MAEOE Green Center and as such, has helped many MCPS schools become MD Green Schools. Jim has long believed in the MAEOE mission that every student should develop an appreciation for the natural environment and experience environmental education. To this end, Jim will do what ever he can to support MAEOE in it’s mission. To learn more about Jim visit his Twitter account @SERTGUY

Curtis Bennett

Director of Conservation Community Engagement
National Aquarium

As Director of Conservation Community Engagement, I work collaboratively with community residents and stakeholders to develop relatable environmental programs and projects which meet the needs of the community, and ultimately facilitating and implementing these efforts, directly where people are, within their communities. One of the programs that I coordinate is our Urban Conservation & Education Summer Internship Program, designed to provide opportunities for local Baltimore college students to experience environmental stewardship and to expose students to career options in the conservation sector. Additionally, through my involvement in the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program’s Diversity Workgroup as well as the State of Maryland’s Project Green Classrooms, we frequently discuss career pathways and pipelines within the environmental field, especially through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens, in order to ensure that students not only have opportunities for entry into the field but for matriculation as well. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Policy, Wildlife Ecology and Management concentration, from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Master of Science degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Delaware. I have over 10 years of experiences in environmental education and community engagement, through naturalist positions with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) and Delaware Nature Society respectively.

Lee Derby

Cedar Grove Elementary School
Montgomery County Public School

Lee is a lifelong resident of Maryland and lover of all the natural beauty found in this America in Miniature. This love of the outdoors and dedication to preserving it has infused his work as a counselor, teacher, and administrator in Montgomery County for over 25 years.

Partnering with local, state, and national organizations he and his staff have built on the state’s environmental literacy standards to provide their students and staff with expanded opportunities to learn in and about the outdoors and take actions as they develop their environmental stewardship. These efforts have resulted in Cedar Grove’s recognition as a Maryland Green School and National Green Ribbon School.

Lee and his wife Shelley live in a recently empty nest in Damascus with their two dogs and enjoy travelling to beaches near and far.

Dr. Sarah Haines

Professor, Biological Sciences
Towson University
Department of Biological Sciences

Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bucknell University, an M.S. and PhD in Zoology from the University of Georgia, and an M.A. in Education from Salisbury University. She taught middle school science at Pocomoke Middle School before moving across the bay to take a position at Towson University, where she has been been teaching for 18 years. Sarah’s interests lie in the areas of science education and environmental education. Her courses for preservice teachers all include outdoor components, and many include service learning. Sarah has built relationships with many local nonformal educational institutions, and she often teaches her classes off campus at these local organizations- she has had her students learning and leading programming at the Maryland Zoo, Irvine Nature Center, Oregon Ridge Nature Center, and the National Aquarium. Sarah’s involvement in science education initiatives and environmental education initiatives has led her to hold several positions of leadership at the national level, most notably with the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Education Advisory Council (NEEAC), to which she was recently appointed for a three-year term. She is also involved in the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). For many years, Sarah has served on NSTA’s Recommends Review panel, which critically reviews science trade books for K-12 students. Sarah has served on the advisory boards of two NSTA journals and is currently serving as a manuscript reviewer for two NSTA journals as well. She also has experience serving on the NSTA Pre-Service Teacher Preparation Committee and the College Science Teaching Committee. For the past 8 years, Sarah has served as the vice-chair of the NAAEE Accreditation Review Board. This board is responsible for reviewing EE Certification program applications from states wishing to become accredited. Each year, the review board also plans several EE Certification-themed sessions at the NAAEE conference, and she has presented at these sessions numerous times. Sarah was a founding member of MAEOE’s EE Certification Committee.

Scott Hartman

Pre-K – 8th Nature Explorations and 6-th-8th Grade Science Teacher, Hamilton Elementary/Middle School – Baltimore, MD

Scott is a 15-year veteran teacher with the Baltimore City Public School System and has spent the last 11 of those years at Hamilton Elementary/Middle School. After starting his career teaching elementary science, Scott launched a sustainability-focused class that is centered around the urban gardens and outdoor classrooms he created on his school grounds. Through developing these outdoor learning spaces, Scott has provided students in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade with hands-on, place-based learning opportunities about the environment, sustainability, food systems, and nutrition. The outdoor education program is entering its 9th year and now includes two outdoor classrooms, multiple food-growing spaces, large pollinator gardens, and a chicken coop! In addition to working to ensure a safe and beautiful space for students at his school, Scott often shares his experience through district and state professional development sessions, panel discussions, and one-on-one tours of the outdoor learning spaces at Hamilton E/M School. When Scott isn’t busy in the school gardens, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two children.

Serenella Linares

Principal Park Naturalist
Mount Rainier Nature Center
M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County

Serenella Linares is dedicated to sparking curiosity about nature and inspiring nature stewardship through environmental education. Serenella is known for being an expert in two things: making learning fun (for children and adults) and mycology (mushroom knowledge).

Prior to joining PG Parks, Ms. Linares worked as Virtual Programs Manager at Nature Forward, formerly Audubon Naturalist Society. She developed a series of virtual programs that included bilingual videos that could be used as educational tools for both English and Spanish speakers simultaneously. Serenella also managed the Naturalist Hour talks series. Prior to this Ms. Linares was an assistant park naturalist with the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation from 2011-2016 at an urban nature center serving predominantly African-American and Hispanic communities. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Universidad Metropolitana de Puerto Rico, a Master’s degree in atmospheric science from Howard University, and graduate training in mycology from University of Maryland. When Ms. Linares is not teaching, she explores urban natural areas, photographs plants, insects, and fungi, and participates in citizen science projects.

Mike Callahan

Environmental Educator, Najemoy Outdoor Education Center, Charles County Public Schools

Mike Callahan lives in Charles County and is a native Marylander. He and grew up in Prince George’s County on the eastern border of Washington, D.C. There he spent many days roaming the fields, streams, forests and swamps along the shore of the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River. It was his third grade teacher who helped feed the spark of interest in nature and outdoors and lead him to his choice of career in the environmental education field. Mike has been employed full time with Charles County Public Schools in Maryland at Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center and an environmental educator since 1997.

In addition to working with students, he also works with non-releasable raptors. He also works part time as a Park Interpreter at Caledon State Park in King George. Mike is a past member and past co-chair of the MAEOE 30th Anniversary Conference Committee. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Management with an area of concentration of Environmental Education and Park Management from the University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP).

It was while attending UMCP that he truly became a birdwatcher. His involvement in environmental education is not only a career choice, but a hobby as well. He currently serves as Raptor Conservation Committee Chairman of the Southern Maryland Audubon Society, Conservation Chairman of the Crossroads of Hughesville Garden Club, Member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Chapman State Park and The Friends of Maxwell Hall. He is the co-chair of the Cobb Island Monarch Mania Butterfly Festival and the Colonial Beach Osprey Festival. He also serves as the Coordinator of the Port Tobacco Christmas Bird Count. In addition to his interest in nature, he is also a volunteer living history and 1st person interpreter.

Rhonda B. Scott, ED.D

Environmental Literacy Outreach Educator. William Schmidt Center, Prince George's County Public Schools

After serving honorably in the United States Air Force, Rhonda began her career as a middle-school math and science teacher. Rhonda is currently an Environmental Literacy Outreach Educator at the William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center which is part of Prince George’s County Public Schools.

A strong advocate of hands-on, inquiry-based learning, Rhonda coordinates middle school environmental education programs within the county that allow students to experience their environment in fun and innovative ways. She has led countless students in planting wild rice in the classroom and restoration efforts within the Potomac Watershed. She works with novice and veteran teachers to facilitate professional development for both curricular units and green school activities within PGCPS.

She is passionate about protecting the environment and believes that only through education can we come to understand the importance of promoting a healthy coexistence with our surroundings. As a true lifelong learner Rhonda holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Oceanography from the United States Naval Academy, a Master’s Degree in Meteorology, a Master’s Degree in Education, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and college aged children in the woods of Piscataway Park.

Carly Miller

Carroll County Outdoor School
Adjunct Faculty & Hiking Instructor, Carroll Community College

Growing up with a Father who is a Wildlife Biologist, Carly Miller was introduced to caring for our environment and spending every minute outside at a very early age! She has worked in the field of outdoor and environmental education for over 15 years.

Currently, Carly is a Teacher at the Carroll County Outdoor School at Hashawha Environmental Center in Westminster, MD. Each week, she instructs sixth graders from the district’s middle schools. She teaches students to investigate and act upon relevant local environmental issues, with the goal of positively impacting the environment. In addition, Carly is a Resource Teacher for Carroll County elementary schools, helping to facilitate their process to become a Maryland Green School and leads outreach projects on their school grounds. Carly’s prior experience as an Outward Bound Instructor for the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School allows her to lead professional development and team building exercises for the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and Carroll County Public Schools staff throughout the year. Finally, Carly is an Adjunct Faculty at Carroll Community College and takes adults outside to learn about the environment as a Hiking Instructor.

Carly Miller has a M.A. from West Virginia University in Secondary Education and a M.S. in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources Management from WVU as well. She was able to fuse her two passions and found her dream job at the Carroll County Outdoor School teaching outdoor and environmental education. Carly is originally from Wells, Maine but now calls Gettysburg, Pennsylvania her home. You can find her outside with her family and dogs, adventuring and enjoying anything outside!

James Roberson

Instructional Specialist for Environmental Literacy

James Roberson works for Prince George’s County Public Schools located in the Washington, DC metro area, as an Instructional Specialist for Environmental Literacy. James works at the William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center (Schmidt Center) in Brandywine, MD. He leads an Environmental Literacy team in creating, implementing, and monitoring programs and initiatives developed to support environmental education and Maryland’s Environmental Literacy Standards. He also provides educational leadership to staff, schools, and community partners through curriculum development, teacher professional development, on site program implementation, and fostering partnerships that support the mission of the Schmidt Center.

James holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Horticulture from Oklahoma State University, a Master's of Science degree in Environmental Studies & Policy from Johns Hopkins University, and a certificate in School Administration from Johns Hopkins University.

Lisa Jones

Lisa Jones has spent her career in the environmental education field. First as a Program Director for a large experiential, environmental education program and more currently as the Senior Outreach and Communications Manager for a state agency. Lisa isn't a stranger to MAEOE, she is returning to the Advisory Council after taking some time off after a 10+ year term on the original MAEOE Board. When not working hard to teach children and adults about the environment she enjoys traveling, rock climbing, dog training and finding any excuse to be outside, although enjoying a good book on the sofa is also a favorite past time. Lisa has a BS in Human Development and M. Ed. in Elementary Education. She lives in Baltimore with her dog and cat.

Liz Wist

Education Coordinator, Maryland Coastal Bays Program

Liz Wist is the Education Coordinator at the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP), a National Estuary Program and non-profit located in Berlin, Maryland. As the Education Coordinator, Liz provides vision and leadership for MCBP’s education and public involvement initiatives. Liz is responsible for the development, creation, and evaluation of environmental education programs. In addition to these programs, she designs curriculum, leads interpretive programs and summer camps, mentors seasonal staff, and provides professional development for educators. Liz is also responsible for organizing and facilitating MCBP community engagement opportunities such as Discover Your Watershed, Bay Day, and Living Local agricultural initiative with local and state partners.

Liz joined the Maryland Coastal Bay Programs in January of 2017. A Berlin native, Liz left her hometown to obtain her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Eckerd College, and her M.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in environmental education and interpretation from UNC-Wilmington. Liz previously worked as a naturalist at an outdoor school in Texas, as an ocean educator for MarineQuest, and as a crew chief for the Ocean City Beach Patrol.

Liz has served actively on the MAEOE Conference Committee since fall 2017.

Board Emeriti

The MAEOE Board of Trustees Emeritus position is a designation of honor that represents the lifetime achievement and dedicated service provided to the organization. An individual should meet at least two of the following qualifications:

  1. Served three terms on the MAEOE Board of Trustees
  2. Served two terms on the MAEOE Executive Staff
  3. Served as a MAEOE Officer

Melanie Parker

Designated 2018
Coordinator of Environmental Literacy and Outdoor
Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center

Melanie combines her passion for the environment and love of teaching by serving as the Coordinator of Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education for Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland by developing and implementing environmental literacy curriculum and programming. The focus of these programs is to empower students of all ages through authentic hands-on outdoor experiences with the environmental knowledge, skills, and motivation to make and act upon responsible environmental decisions. She has been with Anne Arundel County over 20 years serving as an educator and teacher prior to becoming the administrator. Prior to AACPS she worked with nonprofits. She earned her Doctorate of Education at University of Maryland and she holds certificates in Administration and teaching.

A member with MAEOE since 1996, Melanie has been involved with MAEOE in various capacities. Volunteering with the conference for many years handling registration and expanding to conference chair as well as serving on the Board of Trustees since the early 2000s. Melanie has served as President Elect, President and Past President.

Dave Honchalk

Designated 2016

Dave Honchalk retired from Montgomery County Public Schools in 2007 and has been involved with outdoor and environmental education for more than 35 years. He holds a BS in elementary science from California University (PA), a master’s in outdoor education from Northern Illinois University, and certification in Administration and Supervision.

While a graduate assistant at Northern, Dave had a unique opportunity to interact with many of the pioneers in the field of outdoor education. In fact, half of Dave’s professional career was spent as an outdoor education teacher at the Lathrop E. Smith Environmental Education Center in Montgomery County, MD.

For eight years, Dave served as the supervisor of the outdoor education program, one of the largest in the state. Dave served on the Board of the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education for nine years, where he served as executive Board member, president and conference chair. He firmly believes that creating environmentally literate students is one of the most important goals in education and will only increase in importance in the next decade.

Elena S. Takaki

Designated 2013
Director, Project WILD, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

Elena Takaki focuses on getting youth outdoors and connected with the environment in which they live. From encouraging youth to recognize the ecosystem values of urban environments to providing wilderness experiences, Elena believes it is important for young people to go beyond just understanding the world around them; they should have the opportunity to experience it through exploration, curiosity, and wonder.

Elena currently serves as a Director for Project WILD at the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), where she can combine her passion for the environment and her calling to education. She enjoys working with dedicated formal and non-formal educators across the country to make wildlife education an engaging endeavor, while also being scientifically accurate, and encouraging learning in the outdoors.

Before coming to AFWA, Elena worked at the North American Association for Environmental Education, focusing on developing online modules for professionals. During her time at National Geographic Society, she managed the Chesapeake Bay initiative, funded by a NOAA grant, that involved uploading student water quality data to an online platform and creating curriculum and professional development opportunities to incorporate its use in social studies and science classrooms.

While at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Elena was the lead staff for the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature and coordinated education and outreach efforts for the state agency. Throughout her career, she has developed numerous curricula and lessons that involve student data collection and using that data to make informed resource management decisions. Elena worked with the Friends of the Smithsonian Zoo to co-develop a migratory bird tracking curriculum called, “Follow That Bird!”

Additionally, Elena has served as President of the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, where she is currently Emeritus and Chair of their Maryland Environmental Education Certification program. Elena has served as Adjunct Faculty for Towson University where she supervised Master’s Education Students during their internships in middle and high schools, and she has led several study abroad courses in Costa Rica for pre-service educators.

Elena is a graduate of University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources (BS), University of Michigan’s School of Education (MA) and Johns Hopkins University (MS). She is currently pursuing a certificate in E-Learning and Instructional Design through Oregon State University.

Elena lives along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, with her husband Ryan, where they enjoy kayaking and spoiling their dog.

Steve Heacock

Designated 2012
Carroll County Outdoor School

Background: 26 years with Carroll Co. Outdoor School (22 as a very happy teacher 4 as administrator). BS Towson State College; MS Northern Ill. – Outdoor Ed/Environmental studies; MS Western Maryland College – Ed. Administration. Certified wilderness education. Associate Director Maryland summer centers for gifted students. Environmental Studies. Federal and state licensed raptor rehabilitator. Married Patti, 2 sons, Forrest 15, Taylor 18. Hobbies hunting reading, Passion fly fishing. Educational Philosophy: "Education is not about life, Education is living"...John Dewey.

Carol Thompson

Designated 2008

Former MAEOE Executive Director. Carol received a BS in biology from Tulane University and a Master's of Arts in Teaching (Biology) from Tulane. She taught biology and general science in the New Orleans city schools. Later, Carol volunteered for the Marine Docent program at the University of New Hampshire where she fell in love with marshes, bays and anything estuarine.

While developing the Java History Trail at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, she learned about the impacts of land use on water quality. Carol has worked for the Department of Natural Resources since 1994. She served as the Director of Conservation Education and is currently the manager of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland where she gets to combine her love of science with her interest in education.

Willy Agee

Designated 2007

Gary Heath

Designated 2006
Maryland State Department of Education

Bernie Samm

Designated 2006
Montgomery County Public Schools

Bernie Samm hails from Baltimore and has lived in the Washington suburbs since graduating from the University of Maryland with a BS in Science Education in 1967. He holds a BS in Science Education for the U of M and an MA in Special Education from Trinity College.

In 2000 he retired from his job as Supervisor of Outdoor Education for Montgomery County Public Schools. He continues to work part time for the school system. Maryland is his home and its environment is his passion. He helped found both the Montgomery County Outdoor Education Association in 1974 and MAEOE in 1985.

He was MAEOE's first president and has served on its Board ever since. Bernie spends most of his free time at a little waterfront shack on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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