Gail might say she is simply a retired educator with just a bit more than 25 years of experience in the education field, but that would hardly suffice. An active community volunteer, she is the co-founder of the Durango Early Learning Center as well as a member of the Durango Choral Society and Heartwood Co-Housing Community. Gail is a current DNS Volunteer Naturalist and certified Project WILD facilitator. In January 2006, Gail retired from the DNS Board of Directors after serving more than six years. Her roles and responsibilities spanned the breadth of the organization including Board President. She continues to lend her expertise to DNS as as an educator and volunteer.
Ginny is a Maryland native and earned a B.S. in Wildlife Management from Frostburg University. Ginny worked with the Wild Bird Sanctuary near St. Louis, MO and The Wildlife Center of VA with injured and imprinted wildlife she trained for education programs. Mainly handling raptors, she worked at 7 zoos, Shenandoah NP and numerous Eastern US schools promoting wildlife awareness and managing volunteers for several organizations. Ginny served on the Board of Directors for the James Madison Univ. Arboretum and as a volunteer educator. The mother of 3 boys, she and her husband moved to Durango in August 2014. Ginny loves sea kayaking, SUP, Nordic skiing, wildlife photography & rarely misses seeing a hawk flying above. She was named Volunteer of the Year for DNS in 2014.
Bio to come
John came out West to attend law school in Eugene, OR. After practicing law for 17 yrs in the Portland area, John made a major career transition in 1997 and moved to the SW, beginning in Santa Fe, NM. He wanted to pursue a career more closely aligned with his passion for the natural world and the night sky, and to share that with others. He owned three very different and successful businesses in educational services and tourism and recreation over the next 13 yrs in NM, AZ and CO and has been working as a “professional volunteer” since 2010. John has been presenting night sky astronomy programs at state and national parks and monuments, and numerous other dark sky venues throughout much of the West for almost 30 yrs now, including those he does for DNS. He was named Volunteer for the Year for DNS in 2013. John passed away suddenly in July 2017, but he will forever remain part of the DNS family.
In her role with DNS, Karen combines two of her favorite ways to spend her time – teaching children and being outdoors. She started as a DNS volunteer naturalist in 1995 with her youngest in a backpack. Karen’s love of nature and teaching comes from her time exploring the woods along Lake Michigan as a child. Those experiences have served Karen well and she is passionate that every child has an opportunity to connect with nature. “I feel privileged to share a special part of the Four Corners with our students,” said Karen. “The best part about what I do is spending the whole day in wonder.” She holds a Colorado teaching certificate and a Masters in Education.
Linda has had a great love of the outdoors since childhood spending summers exploring the shore and woodlands near the family home in New Jersey for days on end. In 1983 she spent 10 days in the wilderness near Marble, Colorado in an all-women’s Outward Bound course. Thinking the Outward Bound experience could never be surpassed, she embarked on a 65-day cross-country bicycle ride in 1984 with her husband starting in Pennsylvania, decided to winter in Durango and have never left. She became involved with DNS as a docent when the Nature Center opened and then trained as a DNS naturalist. “I have always wanted to be a teacher, but life took me on a different course. DNS is a great opportunity for me to “teach” and hopefully implant an enthusiasm for the outdoors that my parents taught me.” She was named the DNS Volunteer of the Year for 2015.
Luanne has always been an avid outdoors enthusiast. In her past life, she was a Doctor of Dental Surgery. She has been a potter and the coordinator for an environmental research/education program on the Caribbean island of Saba. Currently she is an interprete at Mesa Verde National Monument. According to Luanne, “I have so much enjoyed both the kids and the staff at DNS; they have all helped me grow by helping them grow!”
Ashley moved to Durango last summer and began volunteering with Durango Nature Studies as a way to connect and contribute to her new community. She can trace her passion for the outdoors to playing in the woods as a child, and she hopes to pass on her wonder of nature in all her lessons with students. After graduating from Southern Illinois University, Ashley moved from her home state to Montana in order to pursue work in conservation. She has since been stationed throughout the West, serving with Americorps, the National Park Service, and, most recently, as a Wilderness Ranger with the US Forest Service. When not hiking, camping, or backpacking, Ashley enjoys traveling abroad and sampling all the street food that the world has to offer.