Meet the outdoor education staff

We have assembled an experienced and enthusiastic team to carry out the mission of connecting people with nature

Meet The Team



Ronny Cain graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. His interest to teach branches from his passion for the environment and his attention towards nature schools. He loves organic farming, gardening and reading. Ronny started at the OEC autumn of 2019.

Jimmy Haslam is a graduate of 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.

Kirstin Hoffman grew up in Battle Creek and attended Clear Lake Camp. She graduated from Level Park Elementary, Northwestern Middle School 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.

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. Paula started working at the OEC in the fall of 2017.

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.

John Spearow came to the OEC with a love for wildlife and the outdoors that started even before his time as a boy scout in California. John has a degrees in both illustration and computer animation from Lansing Community College. He has extensive experience developing graphics for online training courses. His hunger for adventure has taken him from volunteering with at-risk kids in the slums of Kenya to hiking the canyons of Utah, exploring the islands of Japan and the jungles of Peru. He is certified in Wilderness Survival and Tracking from Tom Brown Jr.'s famous Tracker school.


Lifeguard Services

Ben Smith

Health Officer

Ben Smith is a graduate of Battle Creek Central High School. 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. Since spring of 2018, Ben has been the Health Officer. Outside of work, you'll either find Ben in the lake fishing, swimming, kayaking or reading in a nice warm spot.

Building Engineer/Maintenance

Barb Skidmore 

Kitchen Staff

Barb Burbank is a long time staff member of the Outdoor Education Center. She was a Garden Guide, Summer Bearcat Instructor and currently a kitchen staff member. Barb has worked in the Battle Creek Public School District the past 24 years. She is a para pro at Springfield Middle School and brings students for the BCPS 6th grade Adventure Day Camp. Barb has 3 children and 4 grandchildren. 

Laura Langford

Candace McCrackin has two children Tyelor and Elizabeth and one granddaughter Kalaiah. Candy loves golfing with the Kim 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.