Board of Directors


Executive Board


Eric Powers


Eric Powers, President

“Ranger Eric” as students know him, is a biologist, teacher, photographer, outdoorsman, and overall nature-lover.  He started leading nature hikes in 1987 as a Park Ranger in Colorado until he served two years in the US Peace Corps as an Environmental Education Officer.  Since then, he has been running nature centers in Colorado, Alabama and New York.   In 2005 he started his own company, “YOUR CONNECTION TO NATURE” (YC2N), dedicated to meaningful environmental education programs and eco-tourism, these programs connect classrooms to field studies, and give people a better understanding of their local environment.  His on-going wildlife projects include “Save Our Box Turtles,” “Quail vs. Ticks,”  “Frog Pond Monitoring” and “Owl Nesting Projects.”  For more information please visit his website at, or LIKE us on Facebook- “Your Connection To Nature.”

Sunny Corrao


Sunny Corrao, Secretary

Sunny joined as a member in 2010, after learning about it through her graduate degree program at NYU.  She saw a call to volunteer at an outreach event and was quickly recruited to join committees and serve on the board.  Originally from Nevada, she grew up loving the heat and vast mountains of the western deserts.  She moved East in search of adventure and a change of scenery – celebrating 10 years working in EE in the NYC area last fall.  As long as she can remember, her personal goals and daily life have been centered around recycling, wildlife, and energy conservation.  
After moving to the NYC area she began work in the theater and movie industry as a costume technician and designer.  Sunny quickly realized how much she missed working outside, immersed in the sciences.  She accepted a summer job with the Urban Park Rangers Fellowship Program during the summer of 2006.  At the end of the summer, she was accepted to the Parks Academy and has been working full time in NYC Parks ever since.  Currently she is the Public Engagement Associate for the NYC Parks’ Wildlife Unit.  What does that mean?  It means she gets the opportunity to engage New Yorkers and engage them in conversations about coexisting with wildlife.



Elizabeth Van Acker, Treasurer

Elizabeth Van Acker currently serves as treasurer. She started working for The Olga Fleisher Ornithological Foundation over 15 years ago as the office manager. In 1999 she got the opportunity to participate in the building of Huckleberry Swamp which opened in the fall of 2001.Since then I she has continued her position in the office along with running a few programs at Huckleberry Swamp. She also currently serves on the foundation board as secretary/treasurer.

Lizza enjoys spending her spare time with her three daughters and husband. They enjoy kayaking, whitewater rafting, and a monthly movie night.

Jessica Kratz


Jessica Kratz, VP Communications

Jessica Kratz  currently serves as a Coordinator for the Greenbelt Nature Center. She joined NYSOEA in 2004, when she attended her first conference in Montauk and fell in love with the confluence of land, sea, and lighthouses.  She has been to nearly every annual conference since, presenting regularly and composing articles for NYSOEA’s quarterly publication, Pathways, which she has edited since 2009.  She previously served as Metro Region Representative from 2009-2013 and was the NAAEE Stapp Scholarship Auction chair in 2010.



Jolene Thompson, VP Programs

Jolene  Thompson attended her first NYSOEA conference in 2010 in Buffalo and was inspired to become more deeply involved with the organization.  Since that time she has worked as a co-chair for the 2012 conference on Long Island, and now as the VP of Programs.

Jolene fell in love with environmental education while leading park-based field trips and public programs as an SCA member at Scenic Hudson.  After moving to Long Island, she became an Environmental Education Assistant with the NYSDEC, where she taught in-school and scout EE programs, facilitated teacher workshops, and participated in community events.  Her work in schools taught her the importance of connecting environmental education with classroom learning, and motivated her to complete a Masters in Arts in Teaching degree in 7-12th grade science and biology at Stony Brook University.  One day, she hopes to use her experiences and education to bridge the gap between the outdoors and classroom learning.  For now, she gets to play outside all day with her curious young son and daughter, as her family recently moved to the southern Adirondacks.


Elizabeth (“Libby”) Young


Elizabeth (“Libby”) Young, VP Administration

Libby Young   has been involved with SCA since she served as an environmental educator for the Gallatin National Forest’s Earthquake Lake Visitor Center in 2010. The following year, she served another SCA term with the Hudson Valley Corps.  Libby became hooked on SCA’s mission, initiative and culture, and has been involved with the organization ever since. In her current role as program coordinator for the SCA Hudson Valley Corps, she supports the placement of 40 – 50 SCA/AmeriCorps members with various conservation groups, from Saratoga to Long Island and everywhere in between. Each year, SCA collaborates with partners to organize and facilitate service projects, trainings and events throughout the region. As a Leave No Trace Master Educator, Libby also has the pleasure of leading 3-day Trainer’s courses in the backcountry. She values the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people, provide professional development and growth opportunities to young adults, and support local environmental education and conservation initiatives in the Hudson Valley.



Jonathan Billig, Metro Regional Chair

Metro Region Counties:  Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Nassau, New York (Manhattan),Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Suffolk, Westchester

After attending Winter Weekend 2015 and thinking “THIS is the kind of thing I’ve been wanting to get involved in!” it wasn’t long before he ended up getting involved with NYSOEA! Professionally, he is the School Programs Educator at Wave Hill, working closely with our Senior Educator to provide high quality educational programming for school groups. He has served as a Teacher Trainer and School Programs Educator at The New York Botanical Garden, formalized and expanded the volunteer program for New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock, and sailed for a summer aboard the Clearwater. He enjoys facilitating connections between people, plants, and other parts of the New York bioregion, and is excited to facilitate connections between professionals in the field as the NYSOEA Metro Region representative.


Josh Teeter Image

Josh Teeter


Josh Teeter, Central Regional Chair

Central Region Counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Seneca, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins, Yates

Josh Teeter currently works for New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as the environmental educator for the Finger Lakes Region. He received his undergraduate degree from Binghamton University 1999 and earned his masters degree in recreation management at SUNY Cortland in 2009. The ten years between those degrees were spent inadvertently preparing him for his current position. In 2003, during a year long primitive and survival skills course at Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall Washington, he realized that he want to share things that might help connect people to their surrounding and feel comfortable being outside (while being outside himself). After returning to the east he completed an environmental education internship with the DEC at the Roger’s Environmental Center in Sherburne, then worked as the program director at the Waterman Conservation and Education Center in Apalachin for a couple of years, followed by a few years teaching classes for the Outdoor Pursuits Department at Binghamton University. During these years he worked at many different jobs (at least 12) to make ends meet in order to be able to find one the he has now. He also continues to attend conferences, trainings, lectures, webinars and has to fight the urge to constantly look things up. Very few days pass in his daily life without lots of laughter and hike or trail run.

Shannon Morley


Shannon Morley, Western Regional Chair

Western Region Counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne,Wyoming

Shannon  earned her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 1998.   After graduation she worked as a GIS intern for the Monroe County Planning department, and as a drafter for BBL, an environmental consulting firm.   She started her work as an environmental educator with a DEC Naturalist internship at Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar, NY during the winter of 2004.

From 2004-2005 she volunteered as a tidepool monitor and steward for Crystal Cove State Park; as an educator, hostess and habitat restoration assistant for Bolsa Chica Conservancy; and an education docent and aquarist for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA.  From 2005-2012 she worked as the full-time Staff Naturalist for Helmer Nature Center in West Irondequoit, where she developed and taught curriculum-based school field trip programs, outreach programs, Girl Scout programs and educational events.  She attended her first NYSOEA conference in the fall of 2005, and her horizons were expanded. She attended the conference every year until 2012.

In the fall of 2012 she moved to Fairfax County VA, where she worked as a Roving Naturalist for several county parks and implemented new standards-based school programs and Girl Scout programming.  She also worked as an educator for Cub Run RECenter, Frying Pan Farm Park, and Hidden Pond Nature Center.    On the farm she witnessed the birth of a calf and got to name it (Larissa), milked cows, bottle-fed tiny Nubian goat kids, and taught preschool programs about peachicks (baby peacocks) and third grade science programs about simple machines.   With Hidden Pond Nature Center she taught summer and winter camps, school programs, and public programs on pond and wetland life and nature.  Shannon also served as Assistant Coach for the Hidden Pond Envirothon Team, who took 15th place at the North American competition in 2013 and 9th place in 2015.  Her work with the Fairfax County Park Authority was recognized with a Director’s Leadership Award, Outstanding Interpretive Project and Program awards, and the “Rookie of the Year” Interpretive Excellence Award. She earned her CIG with NAI in 2015.

Shannon started her work as the Conservation Education Program Coordinator for the Genesee County Parks in January of 2015. She is very excited to be back home in New York State, and to be an active member of NYSOEA once again.


Rebecca Schultz image

Rebecca Schultz


Rebecca Schultz, Eastern Regional Chair

Eastern Region Counties: Albany, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, Washington

Rebecca received her BA in Anthropology in 2001 from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.  In 2006, she joined the United States Peace Corps in Ukraine, where she worked as a youth development volunteer. After her service in 2008, Rebecca decided to pursue her career in Environmental Education and graduated from NYU’s Master’s program in Environmental Conservation Education in early 2010. Since completing her Master’s Degree, she has worked on a variety of projects throughout the NY region:  interning at NYC Audubon for the horseshoe crab and shorebird program; as the Education Coordinator at  the NYC Soil & Water Conservation District implementing numerous citywide Environmental Education programs; and most recently, as the Education Manager at Constitution Marsh Audubon Center & Sanctuary in Garrison, NY, where she develops, coordinates, and  implements environmental education programs about the Natural World of the Hudson Highlands.

Brian DeGroat Image

Brian DeGroat


Brian DeGroat, Northern Regional Director

Northern Region Counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Warren

Brian hails from the Kittatinny Mountains of Northern New Jersey.  After obtaining his degree in History and Secondary Education from the College of New Jersey, he taught in a public high school for a year, worked as an event planner, and eventually ended up as an instructor at the Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center.  After four years of service to Pok-O, he was asked to be the Director in August of 2012.

Tracy Thomas



Tracy Thomas, Northern Regional Director

Tracy Thomas is the Executive Director of The Nicandri Nature Center in Massena, NY. Prior to that, she was the Manager of Visitor Experience at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, where she spent ten years managing visitor services and enjoying fantastic experiences. Tracy is a Certified Volunteer Administrator and working with volunteers remains one of her favorite parts of running a nature center. When not teaching outdoor education, managing all the things, or working with volunteers, Tracy enjoys hiking, kayaking, adventure activities, and time with her dog, the incredibly goofy Cader.











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