Education Program Grows, Adds New Staff

Seven staff members of the Arboretum education unit pose for a photo in the snow.

Annie, Marian, Maddie, Anne, Gail, Nancy, and Jennifer

The Arboretum’s education program has grown, adding key staff positions that will help us advance public education opportunities and strategic priorities.

We welcome Anne Pearce (Adult and community engagement coordinator), Maddie Smith (outreach specialist), Nancy Sheehan (Journey North coordinator), and Annie Isenbarger (Journey North outreach associate). Adding these positions enhances our capacity to offer accessible, meaningful, and responsive programs and to foster ecologically sustainable relationships between people and the land. Our new team members bring skills that will help us align on-site and virtual approaches to education and outreach. While people develop a relationship with the land by being immersed in the natural world, we hope to use technology to support how people make valuable connections.

Anne Pearce brings experience in environmental education and natural resources outreach. She previously led a community science program that empowered people to monitor, manage, and teach others about invasive species. She first came to love the Arboretum in 2015 as a restoration team leader. Maddie Smith started at the Arboretum in 2022 as a summer camp naturalist, with a background in biology, horticulture, and environmental education. Both have digital technology skills that will enhance educational programs and support other Arboretum work units.

Nancy Sheehan has led Journey North (JN) since it moved to the Arboretum in 2018. She has worked at the intersection of science, outreach, and adventure education for more than three decades. Annie Isenbarger brings a passion for education and public outreach. She previously served in various K–12 and post-secondary education settings, including schools, government, and nonprofit organizations. Nancy and Annie have worked tirelessly the last few years to bring technological advancement to JN’s platform and ways to support program volunteers. Journey North was initially part of the research unit. As an international citizen science program with deep connections to K–12 education, the move to the education unit will enhance outreach and engagement opportunities both on site and virtually.

Rounding out our unit are Marian Farrior (restoration outreach coordinator) and Jennifer Mitchell (youth and community education coordinator), who have worked at the Arboretum 21 and 16 years, respectively. I also want to recognize our dedicated team of 15 naturalist educators who are the “face of the Arboretum” to many Arboretum visitors. I am truly excited to welcome our new staff and feel honored to work alongside this amazing team!

There are many ways you can discover and learn about the natural world. Walk the Arboretum trails, support migratory species as a Journey North volunteer, register for upcoming adult and youth programs, become a restoration work party volunteer, and come into the Visitor Center exhibit hall to learn more about what we do!

—Gail Epping Overholt, education program manager