Meet Our Science Educators

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HANNAH GELROTH, M.Ed.

Senior Director, Education

Hannah grew up in nearby Orford, New Hampshire, and spent her childhood exploring the woods, fields, and wetlands of her home. Since then, she has explored the tide pools and sandy beaches of Maine, watched the moon rise over the canyons in New Mexico, hiked sections of the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota, and kayaked the San Juan River in Utah. Hannah continues to explore the world around her, whether she’s teaching students about local habitats, collaborating with inspiring classroom teachers, or going for a walk with her husband and two children in the many natural areas around their home in Fairlee.

Hannah has experience teaching a wide range of programs to audiences of all ages and brings her enthusiasm and love of the outdoors to her work. Hannah received a Master of Education through Antioch University New England, a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Education from the University of Minnesota – Duluth, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Earlham College. Hannah is a Highly Qualified Teacher and is a certified teacher in both New Hampshire and Vermont. She has been part of the VINS team since 2007. Prior to that, she was an Environmental Educator at both Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Minnesota and Ferry Beach Ecology School in Maine.

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ELEANOR HITCHINGS, M. Ed.

Lead, VINS School Programs

Eleanor Hitchings grew up in the forests and rolling hills of southern Indiana, surrounded by family and friends who developed in her a deep love of nature and a fierceness in protecting it. She went on her first backpacking trip at the age of four, proudly toting a daypack stuffed to bursting with freeze-dried food and nervously encountering her first wild bear. Since that time, she has backpacked, camped, cabined, canoed, and hiked in well over half the States, and several countries including New Zealand, India, Morocco, Turkey, Costa Rica, and much of western Europe. 

Eleanor got her Masters in Education as well as her BA in Anthropology and Folklore/Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. She has experience working with children of all ages and diverse backgrounds and focuses on building global perspectives, local action, and multidisciplinary, student-driven lessons. Her previous job was at Childs Elementary School in Bloomington, Indiana where she initiated weekly Nature Walks to hunt for geodes, build shelters, pick up trash, or simply sit quietly and observe the day. Eleanor now lives in Cornish, New Hampshire where she enjoys walking her dog, fiddling, and taking long rides on her new and very exciting e-bike.

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LAURIE GOLDSMITH, M. Ed.

Educator

Laurie has always held a great passion for nature and spent much of her childhood years exploring the forests and streams in her hometown of Sherborn, MA.  Her professional life has also reflected this love of the outdoors, serving children and families and incorporating the outdoor classroom into her work whenever possible. She received her BA in Psychology and her MSW in Clinical Social Work from Boston College, and later received her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College.  

Prior to moving to Vermont full time, Laurie taught for 27 years in a prek classroom on a working farm at The Apple Orchard School in Brookline, MA. She developed and implemented her own science curriculum during this time and her classroom themes often centered around the changing seasons on the farm, incorporating natural resources into activities and inspiring curiosity and wonder in her young learners. During this time she also fulfilled her lifelong dream and bought a home in Bethel, Vermont where she now resides full time.  She worked for a year as the Program Director at The Rainbow Playschool in Woodstock, Vermont, adding administration to her educational repertoire before coming to VINS. 

 In her free time, Laurie works as a professional musician and puppeteer, records songs for children and adults at her home studio, goes on hikes with her dog, and works in her garden.

“My father was a scientist, a naturalist and a college professor.  I come from a family of academia and nature enthusiasts.  VINS was the next logical step for me in my career since moving up to Vermont full time.  I am excited to come aboard!”

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CODIE DOTON, B.Ed.

Educator

Codie grew up locally in Hartland, Vermont.  Her love for animals and all things wildlife was fostered at a young age on a small family farm.  She spent summers enjoying the great outdoors on her pony and loved exploring the local land.  She discovered her love of working with and teaching young minds early in life and was inspired to become a teacher while at Woodstock Union High School.

Codie studied Elementary Education in the Northeast Kingdom at Lyndon State College where she focused on intertwining the great outdoors and education as much as possible.  Upon graduation she moved to Barnard, Vermont working first as a student support aid  and then as a PreKindergarten teacher.  She fostered a love of the outdoors and wildlife by utilizing the outdoor spaces at her school for play based learning activities and instruction and by organizing nature based experiences for both learners and their families.

She now lives with her husband and two children in Barnard on his family’s dairy farm and is supported by her extended family that are locally based.  She enjoys sharing her love for animals and nature and has her own small farm menagerie.  In the future, she plans to earn a masters degree in curriculum development with a nature based focus to support her work at VINS and in the community.