Meet The Team
Bonnie Bailey is from Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee in 2016 with a Bachelors of Science in Ecology and Biodiversity. She was previously a counselor at Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama where she loved to teach Pond and Stream Study. Her favorite animal is the Florida Manatee and she is a strong advocate for their conservation. Bonnie's hobbies include hiking, playing the baritone ukulele, and exploring new places. Bonnie started working at the OEC in the fall of 2017.
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.
Michelle Cooper visited Clear Lake Camp as a Pennfield 6th grader and now gets the honor of working here 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.
Michael Frederick graduated from Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois in November 2011 with a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science. In 2013, he spent a year working at Echo Hill Outdoor School in Maryland, teaching middle and high school aged students about ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay. He is passionate about animals, and has experience caring for all different types of species. He also enjoys spending his free time playing running, playing basketball, and participating in a variety of different outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and fishing. He started working at the OEC in the spring of 2017.
Hannah Hazewinkel is from a little farm town called Mason, Michigan. She recently graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology/Zoology. She started as an Instructor at the OEC in the spring of 2017. Combining her passions for community and the environment, she has completed an internship with the Department of Conservation in New Zealand, and she also works as a Staff Naturalist for a local nature center. In her free time, Hannah loves hiking, photography, yoga, kayaking, and drinking tea (preferably peach).
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.
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.
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.
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 also fluent in German and trombone.
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. He started working at the OEC in the spring of 2017.
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.
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.
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.