Meet The Team
Dan Auer is from Hastings Michigan. He graduated from Hastings High School where he was part of the Jazz, Marching and Concert Band. Dan just graduated from Central Michigan University with a double major in Environmental Studies and Biology Natural Resources. He was an RA for 3 years and conducted 3 years of research on Michigan Freshwater ecosystems. Dan loves being outdoors and being in the water. Hiking and camping are one of his favorite pastimes. He joined the OEC staff in 2012. Dan says “Working here is a dream-come-true as I return to the camp that I attended as a kid”.
Whitney Beaird is from Frog Jump, Tennessee! She prefers to be called Frog Jump or Froggy. She graduated from Austin Peay State University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies. She was a Resident Assistant for three years in two different halls and very active with the women’s rights group on campus. She is the Assistant Director in the summer at Camp Gregory in New York and has worked at camps across the US for over six years. Froggy loves to travel and has studied abroad in Mexico. Her favorite colors are blue and yellow. She loves to read, cross stitch, draw, and all things involving Alice in Wonderland. Froggy has worked at the OEC since the Fall of 2013 and is excited to work and play with all the kids coming to the OEC.
Jack Chappell started working at the OEC in the fall of 2015. He studied environmental science and outdoor education at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. For the last six years he has worked as the Lakefront Director at a Boy Scouts of America camp in central NY. He has been an avid Scouter all his life and spends inordinate amounts of time outdoors sailing, camping, and hiking. Jack is excited about working at the OEC because he enjoys passing on his collected knowledge to others.
Gayle Ebben is from Northville, Michigan. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in April 2015 with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and a minor in Business. Throughout her college career Gayle was a member of the Laker Marching Band and served as the sousaphone section leader for three years. She has previously worked for summer camps in Michigan and Minnesota where she taught horseback riding, rock climbing, and ropes courses. Gayle is also a former Disney Cast Member for Magic Kingdom. When not teaching at the OEC, she enjoys traveling, swing dancing, and playing tuba.
Jimmy Haslam is a graduate from Spring Arbor University, with a degree in Music Performance. After working on farms and studying Spanish in South America, he returned to the states and taught in Michigan schools before discovering his love of outdoor education. Jimmy’s interests include frisbee, playing his saxophone or guitar, biking, canoeing, adventures big and small, and trying to learn from everyone and everything.
Ben Loiselle is from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. He started at the OEC in the fall of 2015. Ben attended the University of Maine, where he studied Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. He is an Eagle Scout, and is very experienced in camping, outdoorsmanship, and wilderness survival. Ben worked for many years as a summer camp counselor, and most recently worked as an Environmental Education Instructor at the Maria Mitchell Association in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Lia Risser is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is not far as the crow flies, but in a car Lake Michigan gets in the way. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in May of 2016 with a degree in Environmental Science and came to the OEC in Fall 2016. She has worked her way up from a “Cindy” (aka, dishwasher) at the Girl Scout’s Camp Alice Chester to a counselor, then was a playground recreation leader for Milwaukee Public School Recreation. Lia spent last summer as a naturalist at Camp Upham Woods in the Wisconsin Dells, waterpark capitol of the world. When not busy, she enjoys hula hooping, camping and talking about her two cats. Lia is also fluent in German and trombone.
Gary Reynolds (ROV pilot / instructor) is married and enjoys camping, hiking, photography and working with young people. He is a Vietnam veteran who retired from the military after 26 years of service. While in the Air Force, Gary taught photography. Gary has been a Boy Scout leader for over 20 years. He worked for the State of Illinois for 35 years in Multi-Media.
Maryse Wilson is a graduate of Grand Valley State University, with a bachelor's of science in Natural Resource Management. She marched with the Laker marching band for four years playing both clarinet and sousaphone. Maryse is a certified wilderness firefighter, and has a strong interests in wilderness law and wetland management. Her hobbies include backpacking, kayaking, and rock climbing.
Lisa Wolfgang is an adventurer, artist and wandering soul looking for the good life. She graduated from Alfred University with her BFA in Sculpture and Expanded Media. Her artwork grapples with unraveling the paradox between regular life and the pressing global environmental concerns of our time. She is a impassioned hiker and most recently completed 250 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in California this April. She is also fresh off the farm, coming from working as farm hand after many seasons of organic vegetable farming and animal husbandry. She's so happy to be apart of the OEC Staff this fall.
Braedon Young is from Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio in 2015 with a degree in Cognitive Psychology and is a certified WFR (Wilderness First Responder). After working indoor jobs for too long, Braedon is stoked to spend his time sharing his love of the outdoors. In his free time Braedon climbs rocks, reads, and walks in the woods.
Pat Doran provides lifeguard protection for the OEC canoe activities. She has a teaching certificate and a graduate degree from Western MI University. Pat’s real love lies in water activities: both “soft” water as she trains lifeguards, teaches swimming, windsurfing, and sailing and “hard” water as she teaches skiing, snowboarding in western resorts in the winter. Her Shetland companions are certified in Search and Rescue (SAR) and therapy dog work. When she is off the water, Pat teaches dog agility classes and coaches a sponsored competition Agility team and her new love: Dog dancing.
Abby Laubaugh is back for her second summer working as the waterfront lifeguard and kitchen staff at the OEC. She graduated from Hastings High School in 2015 and is currently attending Northern Nichigan University. Abby is studying Nursing at NMU and loves the outdoors that surrounds the university. When she is not working, Abby enjoys rock climbing, running, hiking and downhill skiing.
Lora Swenson is the Night Health Officer. Since returning to Michigan in 2008 she has spent summers teaching sailing, spring & fall guide for schools groups through stations at the Muskegon Nature Preserve and Kasey Hartz Nature Trail at Muskegon Community College. In the winter she enjoys playing on Lake Michigan ice floes and shoveling snow. Lora likes to fix up older homes in the Nelson Neighborhood in downtown Muskegon, garden, tutor elementary students in math and teach kids about safe water play in Lake Michigan. She graduated from the Habitat Environmental Institute in 1975, where students apprenticed on environmental projects in the Boston and Atlantic coastal areas. She was the medical officer for the Boy Scout's Prevailing Winds sailing camp and trained in crisis intervention with Community Mental Health. She has her Red Cross Health Officer Certification.
Chris Jozwik has been our engineer for 23 years. He enjoys hunting and riding his mountain bike. He does lots of things to keep the place running often volunteering for special projects on the weekends and as a firefighter for the Johnstown VFD. He enjoys spending time at his cabin in the U.P.
Judith McMillen is a wife, mother and grandmother. Her husband’s name is Dan and they have been married for 40 years. She enjoys camping, canoeing, quilting and reading. She is just “living the dream” working at the Outdoor Ed Center!
Kimberly Burandt Foster has been married to her husband Doug Foster for 20 years. Kim is the proud mother of 2 sons and a daughter. She has 5 amazing grandchildren Jayliana, Maliya, Kaliyah, Skyler, and Hailey. Kim enjoys golfing, swimming, living on a lake, and spending time with friends and family. Kim is proud to be part of the OEC and its awesome kitchen staff.
Robin Girrbach retired from Hastings Area Schools in January 2015 after working 35 years in the maintenance department. For enjoyment she spends time with her horses, dogs and girls. Abby is a high school junior and Breanna has just relocated to Hastings for work. Robin has one son Tommy who is married and lives in Chicago.
Ashley Miller lives in Hastings and also works at Central Elementary School. She loves the outdoors and enjoys fishing. Ashley's husband is taller than the Jolly Green Giant!