Meet The Team
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 and very active with the women’s rights group on campus. She was the 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.
Michelle Cooper visited Clear Lake Camp as a Pennfield 6th grader and now gets the honor of working here. She started as an instructor this 2017 fall season! As a youth she attended a soccer camp hosted by Olivet College and is now an Olivet College soccer team alumni. She studied Environmental Science and Business Administration at Olivet College. Michelle has worked as a Naturalist in Sequoia National Park, California and is proud now to work as an environmental educator. She LOVES animals, climbing trees, learning new things, traveling and making new friends.
Kirstin Hoffman grew up in Battle Creek and attended Clear Lake Camp. She graduated from Level Park, Northwestern and Battle Creek Central High School. Go Bearcats! Kirstin studied Elementary Education at the University of Michigan and graduated in 2012. After teaching early elementary in Detroit for 4 years, Kirstin moved to Brazil to travel. Kirstin loves to swim, read and hang out with her family. Kirstin is excited about being an instructor at the OEC where she gained so much of her love of nature. Kirstin started working at the OEC in the fall of 2017.
Jonathan Kalmink grew up in Hastings, Michigan and went to Hastings High School. He graduated from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan in Spring 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Environmental Science. Jonathan loves outdoor activities especially fishing, hunting, and golf. He also loves gardening, landscaping, and getting his hands dirty since he was a little kid.
Paula Michels graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2014 with a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Information & Education. She has lived and worked in Wisconsin, Texas, and now Michigan. Paula worked in conservation education at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose, Texas. Paula led school groups on adventures through the farm and nature preserve at Stratford Ecological Center, Delaware, Ohio. She adores animals of all kinds, especially wildlife. Paula enjoys hiking and visiting zoos.
Kyle Moore grew up in rural west Tennessee where he spent a majority of his time hunting and fishing on the Tennessee River. This early experience led to a great love and respect for the outdoors and the great natural resource that it is. He attained his Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Biology from Lambuth University, Jackson, Tennessee where he also played football. He later completed course work on his Master's in Education at Bethel University.
Victoria Rea is a wife, mother of 2, who substitute teaches for EDUStaff and PESG while also working for YMCA Barry County as a swim instructor. She earned degrees from NW Missouri State University BS in Elementary and Middle School Education (2000) and Kellogg Community College AAS in Early Childhood Education (2010). She was born and raised in Iowa for 18 years, then moved to Missouri for 10 years to attend university and teach. In 2005 she came to Michigan in search of adventure. She started working at the OEC during the spring of 2017 in the Farm Animal Program.
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.
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 fluent in German and trombone.
Tom Webb is from Kingsley in Northern Michigan. He received a Bachelors of Science in Applied Ecology and Environmental Science from Michigan Technological University. He enjoys all things outdoors: camping, hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing, skiing, and snowshoeing! Tom has previously been an instructor, blacksmith, and high ropes lead at several camps in Michigan, and at Pali Institute of Outdoor Education in California. Tom started working at the OEC in fall of 2017. He is passionate about conservation, outdoor recreation, and teaching others about the great outdoors. Also, his favorite candy is beef jerky.
Ben Smith is from Battle Creek, and is a graduate of Battle Creek Central. He spent a little bit of time at Michigan Tech before returning to coach Battle Creek Middle School Swimming and High School Water Polo. He works with multiple swim programs throughout the year, from Learn to Swim programs to College swim meets. Ben started working at the OEC as the lifeguard for the summer Bearcat Day Camp Program in 2017. Outside of work, you'll either find Ben in the lake fishing, swimming, kayaking or reading in a nice warm spot.
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.
Candace McCrackin has two children Tyelor and Elizabeth and one granddaughter Kalaiah. Candy loves golfing with the Kim (other kitchen staffer) and Rocky, throwing large get togethers and cooking for friends and family. She has raised exotic and unique goldfish for over 30 years. She is also a Chicken enthusiast who has raised many different breeds. She just recently rescued her fourth Golden retriever Eli.