Nature Camp Staff

Sarah Strew


Director Nature Camp & Adult Programs

Sarah has been the Director 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 camp and also as an Environmental Education Intern, providing educational programs at the 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. Sarah 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.



Afterschool & Nature Camp Coordinator

Cleo is joining VINS as the Afterschool, Nature Camp and Adult Education Coordinator in 2023. Having grown up in the Northeast herself, originally from Upstate New York, Cleo is excited to move back to the region and to bring her experience to the VINS team.

Cleo holds a BA in Anthropology and minors in both Art History and Recreation Studies from Ithaca College. With this degree path, she loves blending her experience working with people with her love of museums, nature, and art. 

For the past five years, Cleo lived in Salt Lake City, Utah.  There she worked at Utah’s Hogle Zoo, first as a School Outreach Instructor, teaching place-based environmental education in classrooms across the entire state, and more recently as the Community Programs Coordinator, working on expanding education offerings and making programs more accessible to Utah’s diverse communities. During Cleo’s time at the zoo, she enjoyed engaging the public, campers and teen volunteers on local and worldwide wildlife conservation and environmental education topics.

Prior to life in the desert, Cleo worked as a Museum Naturalist in the Adirondack region of New York at The Wild Center. In this role she served as a canoe guide, worked with animal ambassadors, ran public programs, and participated in the Youth Climate Summit. It was these experiences early in her career that made her fall in love with working in the environmental education field.

Connecting others to their local natural surroundings to build empathy for the environment is something Cleo values highly.  She is looking forward to working at VINS, an organizations whose mission so closely aligns with her values.  In addition to educating, Cleo enjoys making art, reading, canoeing, and spending time in the forest.



Lead Nature Camp Instructor

Asha grew up in Tiverton, Rhode Island. Growing up close to the ocean and surrounded by many conservation areas, her love for the outdoors grew.  Upon graduating high-school, Asha enrolled at Paul Smith's College in northern New York to study Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. 

Over the last few years, Asha has spent much of her free time exploring, hiking and fishing within the northern New York area.  She is excited to be graduating this spring from Paul Smith's College and is looking forward to getting to know others on the VINS team and being able to share her knowledge of the outdoors with campers this summer!
Madison pic


Lead Nature Camp Instructor
Raptor Specialist

Madison is a born and raised Vermonter who grew up playing in the woods and exploring nature.  As a child, she visited VINS on school field trips and has always loved the mission of VINS, connecting people with the importance and beauty of the natural world.  This will be her fourth year working at VINS Nature Camp.

She earned her B.S in Biology from Castleton University where she worked as a tutor and lab TA for several courses in the Castleton Natural Sciences Department.  She studied a wide variety of wildlife including insects, arachnids, salamanders, birds and mammals.  In her spare time, Madison explores and volunteers at Merck Forest in Rupert, Vermont.  Along with loving the outdoors, she spends her time photographing and documenting the wildlife she comes across.

During the rest of the year, Madison works as a science teacher at Fair Haven Union Middle School. She hopes to grow her career in education by inspiring others at nature centers like VINS and in middle school science classrooms.  This summer, she looks forward to sharing her passion and excitement for nature with campers and hopes to teach them something new while bolstering their love for nature and wildlife.



Lead Nature Camp Instructor

Katie grew up across the state line in Hanover, New Hampshire. She spent most of her childhood hiking and horseback riding and fell in love with the outdoors. As Katie grew up and graduated high school, she continued to be drawn to the outdoors and began studying environmental science. Katie now attends Scripps College in Claremont, California, where she specializes in marine studies within environmental science. 

In California, Katie spends most of her time camping and exploring, usually ending up at the ocean whenever she can. After spending most of the year on the West Coast, Katie could not be more excited to come back to the Northeast and spend the summer outdoors hiking with her dogs, exploring the Upper Valley, and working at VINS Nature Camp. She can’t wait to share her knowledge of the environment with VINS campers and to discover all the fascinating things that campers have to teach her as well.


Jessica Kiefer

Lead Nature Camp Instructor
Wilderness Specialist

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jessica has been teaching elementary and middle school students for over 17 years.  She earned her undergraduate and her teaching degree from the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh.  

Jessica has taken a variety of workshops and classes over the years, including winter camping, foraging, survival skills, tree identification, archery, and photography.  She has organized environmental clubs for schools and has designed nature-based curriculum and crafts for students with the goal of helping others to explore their world while becoming earth ambassadors along the way.

Summers have been spent camping, hiking, foraging and searching for the ultimate swimming holes, which of course she discovered right here in the Green Mountains!  She and her husband moved to Vermont in 2019 in order to connect more deeply with the natural world and to seek out opportunities to inspire the future generations who will soon inherit the earth. 

Brookes photo


Nature Camp Instructor
Brookes is a soon-to-be senior at Hartford Highschool and is looking forward to going to college for Wildlife ecology and Conservation Law. This year they join us as a Nature Camp Instructor and hope to continue a career with VINS in the future.
Brookes has always had a love for nature from the first time they saw Steve Irwin doing his crocodile shows on National Geographic. Raised in a huge family, Brookes shares this love for nature with their mother.  Brookes' family has taken in many dogs and cats over the years and fostered a dog for adoption as well.
One of Brookes passions is reptile education and reducing the fear and stigma surrounding them. They hope to introduce this to the campers this summer, and look forward to the opportunity to educate people about often misunderstood animals.


Nature Camp Instructor

Tucker is from Wellesley, Massachusetts, and has summered in Quechee, his entire childhood.  He has always enjoyed studying science and frequently visited VINS prior to joining VINS Nature Camp first as a Leader-In-Training and then as an Instructor in 2022.

Back home in his free time, Tucker plays club lacrosse and he likes to ski and golf.  Tucker will be sophomore at Stonehill College this fall, where he is majoring in environmental studies and education studies.  

Tucker is looking forward to returning to VINS to welcome everyone back from last summer and meet all the new campers.



Nature Camp Instructor

Alethea (Thea) graduated high school this spring and will be attending college in the fall.  She lives in a big house with her rambunctious family of nine, spending her time drawing, birdwatching, kayaking, and researching sea turtles.  Her favorite places to enjoy nature are Grafton Pond in NH, the Pogue on Mt. Tom in Woodstock, and Dewey's Pond, right across the Ottauquechee River from VINS. 

Thea has always loved the outdoors and the plants and animals that live and thrive in it.  She has volunteered with VINS’ Baby Bird Feeding Program since she was twelve and hopes to continue working and volunteering at VINS as long as she can.

VINS Nature Camp has been an amazing experience for her for the past three years, and she is excited to share her love of nature with new and returning campers this summer!



Nature Camp Instructor

Mac was born in New Jersey but has spent the majority of his life in Vermont.  He is graduating high school and will be attending the University of Vermont this fall, majoring in computer science.

Mac has always loved being outdoors.  He likes to hike, kayak, backpack, and camp. 

When he was young, Mac attended many VINS camps and fell in love with the birds and campus.  After aging out of camp, he became a part of the Leaders-in-Training (L-I-T) program at VINS Nature Camp.

Mac is excited to continue his journey with VINS Nature Camp as an instructor.  He can't wait to meet new campers and welcome back returning ones and is looking forward to summer!

IMG_3575 3

Julia Riesman

Lead Nature Camp Instructor

Julia is originally from Massachusetts.  This spring, she is graduating from the University of Vermont with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Agroecology, a degree that involved classes in a wide range of subjects from wildlife to permaculture.

Julia spent the last two summers as a member of Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, first on a Parks Restoration Crew and then on the Farm Crew.  In her free time, she likes hiking, spending time with animals - especially sheep, arts & crafts projects, running with friends, and exploring natural areas.  Julia is excited to share knowledge this summer at VINS with a community of fellow nature lovers!



Nature Camp Instructor
Born in Arizona, Ashley moved to New Hampshire at a young age and grew up here.  She is a rising sophomore at the University of Maine at Machias where she is majoring in Fine and Studio Art.  Ashley hopes to specialize in wildlife illustration or art gallery management.
Ashley has always had a passion for being outside and observing nature, whether she was looking for bugs under logs or observing birds in the sky.  She loves walking and hiking the trails of New England.  Over the years, Ashley has had experience working with all sorts of animals ranging from birds to rodents to amphibians and even insects.  However, she is particularly fond of reptiles and currently has a bearded dragon.
This year, Ashley picked up photography and has begun to learn how to take photos of wildlife and all the beautiful scenery she is surrounded by in New England. 


Nature Camp Instructor

Maya was born and raised in Vermont.  She currently lives in Sharon and will be heading to the University of Vermont this fall after graduating from The Sharon Academy.  Maya will be entering college with an undeclared major and is looking forward to exploring studio, art, creative writing, French, and economics as potential future paths.  In her free time, Maya can be found drawing, painting, gardening, or experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.

This will be Maya’s third summer working as a VINS Camp Instructor.  VINS has
become a very special place to her over the past few years.  Whether she’s helping run a camp, volunteering with the after-school program, or visiting as a guest, she always enjoys the time she spends there.  She is excited to be part of the VINS team again this summer.



Lead Nature Camp Instructor

Emily grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire on the banks of the Sugar River, surrounded by wildlife and nature.  That instilled in her a love of the outdoors and for spending her time exploring natural settings.  Emily and her family had a tradition when she was young of volunteering for VINS' Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation and she adored going to VINS and learning all about birds and protecting the environment.

In her spare time, Emily loves taking her dog on hikes and being outdoors as much as possible.  Emily is graduating from Franklin Pierce University this spring with a degree in Environmental Science. She is so excited to get the opportunity to share my love of the natural world with everyone she meets at VINS Nature Camp.



Nature Camp Instructor

Teegan is a three-sport athlete having played golf, hockey, and softball throughout high school.  She will be graduating from Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire this spring and is committed to playing women's golf at Middlebury College starting in the fall.  In addition to sports, Teegan enjoys reading, hiking, and kayaking.  

Since the age of twelve, Teegan has been babysitting and loves being a role model for younger kids.  She wants to apply the leadership skills she learned throughout high school to her work with kids and will use her time at VINS Nature Camp to help her grow as a leader and teacher.  Most importantly, Teegan is looking forward to teaching campers about nature and the environment this summer and hopes to make a positive impact on their lives.



Lead Nature Camp Instructor

Brigid is a rising senior at Middlebury College studying anthropology, linguistics, and Arabic. She just finished a semester abroad in a four month Arabic language immersion program in Amman, Jordan.

In high school, Brigid volunteered as a baby bird feeder at VINS' Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation during the summers and developed a deep love for the VINS Nature Center and the education and conservation work that is done there.  Education (specifically language education) is one of several potential career paths Brigid is considering.  In her free time, she enjoys reading, modern dance, and cooking with her family.  This is Brigid's second year working at VINS Nature Camp and she can't wait for another summer filled with fun and adventure.four-month



Nature Camp Instructor
Libby is originally from Boston, Massachusets but grew up ski racing at S6 and now resides in Vermont. She graduated from Milton Academy in 2022 and is now a junior at Colorado College studying geology and environmental science. 
Libby grew up fascinated by the environment, especially wildlife, and the ocean, and is passionate about sharing her interest in nature with others.  She has backpacked the entire length of the Long Trail, which gave her a deep understanding and appreciation of the natural environment of Vermont.
In her free time, Libby enjoys skiing, playing hockey, drawing and painting, spending time with her pets, and creating projects for herself.  Last summer, she worked on an organic farm in Normandy, France, and learned about the process of growing, harvesting, and bringing produce to market.  Libby used to go to VINS with her mom as a child and is very excited to return to a favorite childhood place to work this summer!