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Nature Camp Staff

Sarah Strew

SARAH STREW

Lead Nature Camp & Adult Programs
MEET SARAH

Sarah Strew has been the Lead for Nature Camp and Adult Programs at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science since 2014. Sarah feels deeply connected to VINS, and its camp program specifically, as she can recall being a VINS camper when the organization was at its original site in Woodstock, Vermont

During college, Sarah spent summers as a counselor and backpacking instructor at an overnight camp in Fairlee, returning eventually to manage the Camp-craft department. For four years, she moved between Big Sky, Montana, where she taught skiing, and Hartford, Vermont, where she held various positions with VINS as a Lead Counselor for VINS Nature Camp and also as an Environmental Education Intern, providing educational programs at the VINS Nature Center as well as handling and training the raptors.

Prior to stepping into her current position, Sarah was involved with various educational efforts in the Upper Valley. She earned her MS in Environmental Studies from Antioch University New England where she concentrated in Education. Sara loves living in the Upper Valley and the lifestyle it affords her. She is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, gardening in the summer, and hiking with her dogs all year round.

Julie Kozak

JULIE KOZAK

Nature Camp Assistant
MEET JULIE

Julie Kozak has her BS in Wildlife from Unity College in Maine and her M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Antioch University New England.

She has held a variety of jobs in the fields of wildlife and education ranging from working as a vulture nest biologist in the Golan Heights of Israel, to working in Ohio and Massachusetts as a field educator. She has worked as an environmental youth developer in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, as well as a classroom teacher in Maine and Vermont. Julie joined the VINS Nature Camp community in 2016 as a Lead Nature Camp Instructor.  Since 2017, Julie has been the VINS Nature Camp Assistant.

For the past three years, Julie has been working at Union Elementary School in the special education department.  She is excited to return to VINS as the Nature Camp Assistant to work not only with our campers and staff but also with the adolescents in VINS’ L-I-T program.  

Julie enjoys non-fiction books, cooking, birding, being in the outdoors, weaving baskets, and connecting with people of all ages and all walks of life.

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DARCY BEST

Lead Raptor Camp Instructor
MEET DARCY

I am from Morristown, New Jersey. I graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2016 with a B.S. in Conservation Biology and a minor in African Studies.  During school, I studied and worked with wildlife in Australia, Kenya, Ireland, and spent summers as a Camp Counselor and Naturalist at Camp Johnsonburg in NJ.  I held a position educating the public about the animals at the Liberty Science Center in NJ following graduation.  Most recently, I have been teaching science classes, handling raptors and leading team building experiences for school groups at the Alabama 4H Science School.

 

While I have always had endless love for wildlife and the natural world, my work at both Camp Johnsonburg and the Alabama 4H Science School solidified my love of working with and educating children.  I am super stoked to share my love of the environment, the camp experience, and raptors with campers this summer at VINS! 

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ERIN GLOCKE

Lead Nature Camp Instructor
MEET ERIN
Erin originally hails from State College, PA but has been a New Hampshire resident for the past several years. This is her first summer working at VINS, and she could not be more thrilled. She holds a B.S. from The Pennsylvania State University in Childhood and Early Adolescent Education and is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Antioch University New England in Environmental Education.
 
Erin has experience in a variety of positions at a variety of camps and nature centers, including being a learning group leader at Penn State’s Outdoor School program, interning at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, and as an overnight counselor at the W. Alton Jones Environmental Education Center. She also recently dipped her toes into the world of classroom education by teaching 4th grade at the Riverside School in Lyndonville, VT before deciding to pursue her passion of working with kids in the outdoors full-time. Erin loves loves salamanders, stories, rock climbing, getting her hands in the dirt.  She also loves exploring the mysteries of our natural world, and can’t wait to do so with this summer’s crew of wonderful campers!
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MELISSA MARQUEZ

Lead Wilderness Camp Instructor
MEET MELISSA

Melissa is from College Park, Maryland. She earned her BS in Evolution and Ecology from the University of Maryland.  From volunteering in Indonesia and Ghana educating children to serving as a teacher's aid at the Anacostia Watershed Society for the Saturday Environmental Academy, Melissa has had the privilege of working with children with different abilities, backgrounds and from around the world.  Melissa also educated visitors to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. on different conservation topics. 

 

Melissa is interested in ecology, entomology - she loves insects and even has her own collection of bugs. Her favorite insect is the green june beetle. In her free time, she loves to travel and be outside hiking and exploring.  Melissa is very excited to be a Wilderness Camp Instructor at VINS and hopes the campers will enjoy nature this summer as much as she does. 

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GWEN TIMMINS

Nature Camp Instructor
MEET GWEN

Gwendolyn is currently a senior at Plymouth State University working towards her BS in Biology.  Born in New Hampshire, Gwen moved to Vermont at the age of four and has been a Vermont resident for sixteen years now.  Gwen has experience working with a variety of animals and has always had an immense passion for animal welfare.  As a previous volunteer for a therapeutic horse-riding organization, she is interested in combining animals and human well-being.  Recently, Gwen has begun two studies focused on soil salinity caused by de-icing roadways and the effect it has on surrounding plant life.  Her days on campus are spent conducting experiments and processing data.

 

Gwen hopes to one day have a career combining field research and environmental policy to help aid in conservation efforts. This is her first summer as a Nature Camp Instructor at VINS and she is eager to combine her knowledge of the natural word and passion for environmental education.

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NATHAN GROVE

Wilderness Camp Instructor
MEET NATHAN

Nathan currently lives in Western New York where he was born and raised.  In the fall, he will be attending Amherst College in Massachusetts to pursue a degree in Anthropology.  While this is his first year as a Nature Camp Instructor, Nathan has attended VINS camps from a very young age.  Every year he had fun and learned a ton, so every year he wanted to return. Eventually, he grew too old for camp, and joined VINS’ Leader-In-Training program where he worked for three years alongside campers and instructors.  Nathan graduated the L-I-T program last year and has once again returned to VINS and become a full Nature Camp Instructor.

Nathan is an avid hiker and nature photographer and hopes to bring his own joy of learning about the outdoors to camp.  He also hopes to help maintain the same VINS atmosphere of fun and curiosity that fostered some of his fondest childhood memories.

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REBECCA PERRUCI

Lead Nature Camp Instructor
MEET REBECCA

Rebecca is from Marietta, OH and holds a B.A. in Zoo and Wildlife Biology from Malone University. Rebecca’s love for animals and the outdoors has led her on many adventures around the country, from being an avian zookeeper in Oregon and Florida, to working as a naturalist for New Jersey Audubon in Cape May, NJ. These jobs have solidified Rebecca’s passion for environmental education and bringing people closer to the natural world through hands-on experiences. One of her favorite memories from New Jersey Audubon was working as a summer camp counselor at the Nature Center of Cape May. There’s nothing quite like seeing a child’s eyes light up when they discover something new about the world around them.

When not outdoors for work, Rebecca can often still be found somewhere outside. She is an avid birder and loves trail running, but also appreciates relaxing with a cup of tea and a good book. Rebecca is excited to join the VINS team for the first time this summer and explore the great outdoors with her campers!

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SAWYER CONNOLLY

Wilderness Camp Instructor
MEET SAWYER

Sawyer, having grown up in New Hampshire is no stranger to being outside.  He knew he wanted to make a career of being outdoors after he completed the 273 mile Long Trail that runs the length of Vermont in the summer of 2015.  Since then, he has actively sought outdoor experiences.  Sawyer attended a semester abroad in New Zealand with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).  During those three months, he lived in a tent and cooked his meals solely on a camping stove.  That experience embodied Sawyer’s idea of a good time.

Sawyer spent a couple years working seasonally as a snow-maker and zip-line guide before enrolling at Plymouth State University with a major in Adventure Education, a degree track dedicated to the human-nature relationship, adventure, the environment and education.  He recently finished his junior year.  Sawyer loves hiking in the White Mountains and is learning new games in preparation for the immense amount of fun he’ll be having this summer at VINS Nature Camp.  He is excited to be putting everything he has learned over the last four years in school into action and is especially stoked about teaching archery this summer!

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KARA POLITO

Nature Camp Instructor
MEET KARA

My name is Kara, I am 22 years old and live in Randolph, Vermont and am a Hartford High School graduate.  Following my graduation in 2014, I worked part time while taking courses at the Community College of Vermont.  I continued my education at Vermont Technical College, where I graduated in 2017 with an associate’s degree of applied science in veterinary technology.  I have worked and interned in several Vermont veterinary hospitals and clinics and have experience with a wide range of species from pocket pets, such as guinea pigs, to large animals, including buffalo and elk. Most recently I have been working in a veterinary hospital during the week, and with cows on the weekends.

My first interaction with VINS was during my small animal internship at Kedron Valley Veterinary Clinic (KVVC) in Woodstock: VINS’ wildlife keepers would consult with KVVC vets on treating injured birds.  I am looking forward to being a part of VINS, an organization dedicated to environmental science with a focus on nature and wildlife conservation – things I am passionate about.  

I am looking forward to spending my time outside this summer with VINS Nature Camp.  I believe that this summer will be a fantastic opportunity for me to share my excitement for science and my love of animals and the natural world with campers.

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JAKE ACITO

Lead Nature Camp Instructor
MEET JAKE

Originally from Southeastern NY, Jake is new to New Hampshire and to VINS.  Jake earned his B.A. in Environmental Studies from Stony Brook University on Long Island, with a concentration in environmental law and public policy.  During his studies, he participated in exchanges to the University of Calgary and the University of Utah before returning to the northeast.  While in Salt Lake City, he volunteered with Salt Lake County Open Space to lead interpretive hikes through Utah’s Wasatch Foothills. His most recent work with Christodora Inc. allowed Jake to develop his skills as an Environmental Educator, both outside in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Hills and in various classrooms across NYC’s five boroughs.

Jake has strong interests in geography, ecology, and snow science.  In the winter, most of his free time is spent backcountry skiing and studying avalanche safety. When the snow melts, he is an avid rock climber, backpacker, and kayaker.  Jake credits his life as a nature enthusiast with instilling in him a passion for the natural world that he is excited to share with our campers!

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EAMON WORDEN

Nature Camp Instructor
MEET EAMON

Eamon was born in Berkeley, California but raised in New Hampshire since the age of two. He will be attending Grinnell College in Iowa starting this fall, and majoring in a to be determined STEM field (likely computer science, math, physics or biology).  When not in school, Eamon spends his time playing ultimate frisbee, participating in math competitions, making smores and taking 6 hour naps.  He loves camping and long walks while listening to bird calls.

 

Eamon’s favorite bird is the Harris’s hawk, favorite movie is either Shrek or The Princess Bride and favorite rainy day activity is playing far too much chess.  First attending VINS camp as a camper around 12 years ago and volunteering as a Leader-In-Training for the past four, Eamon has seen VINS camp from almost every angle.  Eamon is looking forward to his new role as a Nature Camp Instructor and using his many years with VINS Nature Camp to help create great camp experiences for children this summer.