Meet the WAEE Team

2021 Board of Directors


 
Becca Franzen – Chair 

2019-2021

UW-Stevens Point

As an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Becca works to inspire undergraduate and graduate students in environmental education. She teaches courses in foundations of environmental education, environmental education methods, environmental issues and investigations and more.  Her research focuses on pre-service teacher education in environmental education and environmental literacy. 

Before, during, and after earning her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Becca worked in varied roles at environmental education centers and camps for people with disabilities. Seeing a need to better connect with local communities, Becca went back to school for a Master’s degree in Human and Community Resources. She then completed her doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Social Studies, Science, and Environmental Education Integration from Northern Illinois University.

 

Jason Dropik – Secretary

2019-2021

Indian Community School, Milwaukee

Jason P. Dropik is the Head of School at the Indian Community School near Milwaukee, WI. A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe he serves urban American Indians in the Milwaukee metro area. Jason graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Elementary Education. Jason received his Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership from Concordia University. While serving in education, Jason has been dedicated to providing opportunity and experience for youth from urban and suburban settings to engage in environmental education. He has had the chance to be on dozens of outdoor education experiences as a part of developing and connecting curriculum to authentic experiences. Whether it is connecting under-water robotics to wild rice on tribal reservations, traveling with students to Costa Rica to explore the rainforest, or exploring the grounds near his school Jason believes in fostering a sense of inquiry and action in students and the staff he serves. Jason’s connection to the environment is grounded in Native Traditional Teachings that the decisions we make should positively impact those to come seven generations from now. This grounded view works in collaboration with current technology and real-world applications to provide students with the opportunities to explore, understand, and creatively solve problems to protect the earth that we are borrowing from those yet to come. 
 
When Jason is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, camping, skiing, fishing, hiking, canoeing and playing sports. His wife Jamie is a second-grade teacher at the Indian Community School, and he has three children. 
 
 
Deanna Erickson – Chair Elect

2019-2021

Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Superior 

I am the education coordinator at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, a NOAA-led partnership with the University of Wisconsin Extension dedicated to research, education and stewardship of Lake Superior estuaries. In my work, I lead the Rivers2Lake education program, which mentors teachers in inquiry and place-based learning, and operate the Lake Superior Estuarium, an interpretive center that tells stories of the St. Louis River Estuary. I hold a Bachelors of Science from UW-Stevens Point in Environmental Education and a MEd from the University of Minnesota Duluth in Environmental Education. I have worked as an educator, field researcher and administrator since 1998. Professionally, I have written for Green Teacher, Childcare Exchange and the Journal of Environmental Education. Previously I served on the board of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association and was a founding board member of Northland Paddlers Alliance in Duluth, MN where I live.  If you can’t find me, I’m probably out in my kayak on the Lake.

 

Eve Smallwood

2020-2022

Kellogg PEAK Initiative

eve@waee.org

Eve is the Camp Director Kellogg PEAK Initiative in Milwaukee.  She is passionate about youth development and believes deeply in the power of the camp experience and the power of spending time in nature to change lives. Eve holds an M.S. in Natural Resources- Environmental Education and Interpretation from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and a B.S. in Forestry- Outdoor Recreation Resources Management from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Prior to working for Camp Helen Brachman, she was the Youth Program Manager and Summer Day Camp Director for Cincinnati Nature Center. On her journey for growth as an environmental educator and youth development professional, she has also worked as an Interpreter and Park Ranger at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, a Naturalist and Program Coordinator at Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center in Ohio, and a Fellow at Conserve School in northern Wisconsin. Eve has also volunteered and worked at a variety of summer camps since she was in 8th grade, including the position that cemented her love for environmental education as a profession –working at Lincoln Memorial Garden Ecology Camp in central Illinois. Eve loves spending times outdoors (especially canoeing kayaking, and camping!), traveling, knitting, cooking, making pottery, and being with her dog, Zephyr. One of her favorite things to do is build community and relationships with others. She is thrilled about the opportunity to serve as a WAEE Board Member and help further the mission.

 

Angélica Sanchez Mora

2020-2022

Urban Ecology Center

angelica@waee.org

Angélica is the Menomonee Valley Branch Manager at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee where she gets to create a variety of environmental education and outdoor recreation programs for people of all ages, fostering curiosity and excitement for the outdoors. Her work focuses on the surrounding needs of the neighborhood and community partners, particularly promoting Equity, Dignity, and Justice practices across programming.  Angélica’s love for nature and environmental justice started in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she would get to enjoy the city while catching frogs and climbing trees during her summers in green spaces nearby. Angelica’s passion for conservation was reaffirmed when she got her B.A in Conservation and Environmental Science from UW-Milwaukee where she got the opportunity to study abroad in Chile and lead soil-productivity research in Eastern Kenya. Wanting to continue her education in the field, Angélica completed her M.S. Environmental Conservation from the Nelson Institute at UW-Madison where she got to work on various conservation projects, including the International Crane Foundation and Conservation International. Soon after, Angélica joined the Urban Ecology Center as a Bilingual Environmental Educator and later on became the Community Programs Manager.
 

Heidi Vasel

2020-2022

House in the Wood

heidi@waee.org

I have the privilege to share nature with children as the Outdoor Education Director at House In The Wood part of the Northwestern University Settlement in Chicago. South-side students come for a two-night three-day science experience guided by educators. This is many of these student’s first time out of Chicago and in the woods.  

After completing my B.S. double majoring in Biology and Zoo Science, I started out as a Naturalist in New York. Then I spent three years as an Environment Volunteer in Peace Corps, Africa. Upon my return I earned my Master’s degree in Science Education at the University of Washington while working at Islandwood, an outdoor school serving the Seattle area. Throughout my career I have taught or coordinated at Nature Centers, a YMCA, a University and various non-profits.  

 

Skylar Primm – Treasurer

2018-2023

High Marq Environmental Charter School, Montello

skylar.primm@waee.org

Once, I was a geologist. As an environmental educator, I now get to indulge my love of science and nature while preparing the next generation of leaders. Born and raised in New Orleans, I earned my BS in Geology there before moving to Madison, where I received my MS in Geology from the University of Wisconsin, followed by teacher certification from Edgewood College. The first time I set foot in a classroom as a student teacher, I knew that I had found my calling. Since that time, I have taught exclusively in project based learning schools, beginning at TAGOS Leadership Academy in Janesville before joining High Marq Environmental Charter School in 2011. In 2017, I was honored with a Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Fellowship in recognition of my teaching, leadership, and service. I have a passion for writing, which is nourished by my ongoing involvement with the Greater Madison Writing Project. As a board member and part of our NAAEE ee360 team, I am excited to help further WAEE’s development as a diverse, resilient organization.

 

Tanzeem Ali

2021-2023

University of Wisconsin – Superior

tanzeem@waee.org

Dr. Tanzeem Ali preferred pronouns (She, Her, Hers) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education with the undergraduate Elementary Education programs. She teaches Science Education courses for Elementary, Middle School and Broad Field Science, Teacher Education courses and Senior Project course for Interdisciplinary Studies. She serves as the Liaison between Natural Science Department and Department of Education. Her service involvement with department, program and university committees and Councils include: Educator Preparation Program (EPP), Student Teaching Appeals Committee, and serving as chair to Teacher Education Scholarship Committee. She is also a council member and Secretary of the Academic Program Review Council APRC, for the period of 2019-2022. She serves as advisor to the Sustainability Club at UW-Superior for the year 2020-2021. 

She serves as technical reviewer for Ignite applied research grant of the WiSys for the University of Wisconsin System. She was a planning committee member for the Wisconsin Society for Science Teachers Annual Conference on March 19-21, 2020.  She was involved with the Elementary Education Science Committee for WSST 2019 onwards and a member of the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education Virtual Annual Conference Planning Subcommittee on November 5-7, 2020 

In her spare time Tanzeem likes gardening, meditating and spending time with friends and family. She is mother to two very creative boys, a blessed wife, sister, daughter and aunt. Her goal is to help future generations to bond with Nature and cultivate deeper understanding in Environmental Literacy and Sustainability.  She is super thrilled and honored to be elected as a WAEE board member and serve the WAEE and its mission. She has been a member of the WAEE and TENFEE since her early years in Higher education and regularly participates/presents at the winter workshops and annual conferences.

Her community involvement activities include her service to the  Diversity Leadership Team at the Northern Lights Elementary School 2013-2018 and as a parent volunteer for field trips 2018 onwards. She is a parent volunteer and team manager for Destination Imagination at Marshall School, Duluth for after school programs. She led the Destination Imagination (DI) Elementary Team to becoming Regional Champions in Spring 2020 in their team’s first year with DI.

 

 

Peter Dargatz

2021-2023

Woodside Elementary

peter@waee.org

While his claim to fame might be as a retired racing sausage for the Milwaukee Brewers, Peter Dargatz is prouder for being a father of three nature-loving children, a national board certified teacher, and the coordinator of a well-respected, public school nature kindergarten program at Woodside Elementary in Sussex, Wisconsin. Peter is also coordinator for an all-school collaboration with the Retzer Nature Center and a district-wide family nature club. He is also the volunteer coordinator for the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Tyke Hike program, aimed at getting families of young children out in nature using Wisconsin’s Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Additionally, he is a founding member of the Wisconsin Nature-Based Early Childhood Association (WINBECA). He is a contributing author to Natural Start Alliance’s Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practice Guidebook and a regular columnist for Play & Playground magazine. His first book, Teaching Off Trail, will be released in October.

 

 

Emily Foster Hill

2021 – 2023

emilyfosterhill@waee.org

As a member of WAEE for 15 years, Emily Foster Hill (she/her/hers) is grateful for this opportunity to serve on the WAEE Board of Directors. Currently, Emily co-moderates the WAEE Early Childhood Listserv, and Chairs WAEE’s JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) Committee and Recognitions (Awards) Committee. Please feel welcome to reach out to your WAEE Board with ideas, stories, questions, and to learn more about what volunteer opportunities in advocacy, networking, and recognition are available to you within our organization! As a student, Emily attended Conferences, Winter Workshops, and presented her graduate research during the 2007 Midwest Environmental Education Conference hosted by WAEE. In 2017-2018, Emily co- coordinated and co-led WAEE’s DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Strand, including WAEE’s first “LGBTQ Perspectives in Environmental Education” panel, fostering inclusion and sensory-based inclusion workshops, and a DEI Short Course. As a member of the Winter Workshop Committee, Emily has experienced screening scholarship applications, acted as a mentor during speed networking sessions, and co-led a closing activity. As a member of the virtual Fall Conference Committee 2020, Emily co-led the Awards Program 2020. We are all looking forward to the return of Winter Workshop in 2022!

As a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Emily volunteered with the Adult Role Models in Science program, became involved in research including peoples’ perceptions of environmental issues, and earned a B.A. in Psychology and Environmental Studies. She then worked as a Field Educator Intern with the Teton Junior Science Schools, and a Naturalist Intern with the International Crane Foundation. These experiences led Emily to pursue a M.S. in Natural Resources (Environmental Education and Interpretation) at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She balanced graduate teaching while developing outdoor family-based programs and funding a position as the Leave No Family Inside Project Consultant at the Boston School Forest with the Stevens Point Area Public School District. As a graduate student, Emily applied for and received a scholarship to a WAEE Winter Workshop. Upon earning her M.S., Emily was nominated for and received the 2008 WAEE Student Award. Following, she worked as a Per Diem Guide for the Aldo Leopold Foundation, pursued an Early Childhood Montessori Credential at St. Catherine University, and later a WI DPI Regular Teacher License for Early Childhood-Middle Childhood at Alverno College. Throughout her years of teaching in private not-for-profit, for-profit, and public schools, Emily intrinsically embeds environmental education into her classes, including a certified Nature Explore preschool, Erdkinder Montessori IB middle school, and urban public K3-K5 Montessori school. Emily has worked as the Inquiry-Based Curriculum and Instruction Manager and School Programs Coordinator for Riveredge Nature Center, and Summer Camp Manager for the Urban Ecology Center. In conjunction, Emily served a three-year term as a lay staff member for the Midwest Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Adult Leadership School.

As a FIELD Edventures Consultant in the Madison area, Emily facilitates local and regional partners in taking education outdoors, with a focus on supporting early childhood educators in integrating inquiry-based, place-based education into their curricula.

 

Bethany Kautz

Student Board Member 2020-2021

UWSP

bethany@waee.org

Bethany is a graduate student research assistant at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. She is working on completing her M.S in Natural Resources while studying the interest, familiarity, and challenges of Wisconsin Public School Districts (K-12) in using woody biomass energy to heat their school buildings. Originally from the western suburbs of Chicago, her love of the outdoors came from her family who regularly spent time outside hiking, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and camping. This passion eventually evolved into volunteering at a nearby wildlife rehabilitation center and with the DNR doing bird banding. Bethany started out pursuing a B.S. in Wildlife Management at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, but ended up transferring to North Carolina State University (NC State) where she graduated with a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conversation Biology. During her time at NC State she was apart of the work crew that managed the school’s forest and assisted in multiple research projects on woodcock, American oystercatchers, and Blanding’s turtles. After graduating, Bethany discovered her passion for environmental and outdoor education through volunteering at the Field Museum in Chicago, working at a nature center close to home, and then eventually working as an Outdoor Education Specialist at Northern Illinois University’s Lorado Taft Field Campus. Besides having a passion for the environment and education, Bethany also enjoys long-distance running, playing piano, listening to jazz music, traveling locally and internationally, trying a new tea flavor, walking dogs, making new friends, growing something new, and finding new recipes to cook! Currently, Bethany and her husband are working on developing their own regenerative organic farm to use as an educational tool and to help support the local community! As a student board member of WAEE, Bethany is excited to be able to be a part of such a talented, supportive, and fun group of individuals and for the opportunity to bring her values and experiences to help further the mission of WAEE!

 

Join the Board

Student Board Member Nomination


WAEE Administrator

Lynn Karbowski

admin@waee.org

Lynn Karbowski has been the WAEE Administrator since 2014.  She enjoys working for the WAEE board and helping with events, Winter Workshop being her favorite. Lynn enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, gardening, and reading. She works part time for WAEE and part time as a licensed administrator for Premier Realty Group.


We would like to extend a tremendous thank you to the 2020 outgoing Board members: Justin Hougham – Upham Woods, Zaynab Baalbaki – Escuela Verde

Join a committee here.

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