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

 

Instructors

Whitney Beaird is from Frog Jump, Tennessee! She graduated from Austin Peay State University Clarksville, Tennessee in 2013 with a B.A. 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 worked as a summer Camp Director for three years. Froggy loves to travel and has studied abroad in Mexico.  Her favorite colors are blue and yellow.  She loves to read, cross stitch, cook, draw, and all things involving Alice in Wonderland.  Froggy has worked at the OEC since the fall of 2013 and has since risen to the rank of Pioneer Cabin Manager and Summer Day Camp Coordinator.

Andrew Bradway grew up in Michigan. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in international relations from Grand Valley State University and Master’s Degree in international relations from Concordia University-Irvine, California. Andrew has had experience in construction, woodworking, and political organizations. He also taught outdoor education in North Carolina and Beaver Island, Michigan. Recently, Andrew moved back to the U.S. after teaching ESL in China. He was a substitute teacher before he started working at Clear Lake Camp. Andrew is a Boatswain’s Mate in The United States Navy Reserve.

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.

Alivia Ellis came to the OEC from Toledo, Ohio. She's on the Resource Staff for Supercamp Inc. based out of 4-H Camp Palmer in Fayette, Ohio and is very excited for what the opportunity to be at the OEC brings for her this year. She enjoys adventure, as seen in her picture atop the climbing tower. She loves kayaking and canoeing on the lake here at sunset, as well as, Harry Potter references. Ask her what house she is and she will give you the biggest smile you've ever seen and a great high five! 

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.

Sarah Quick is a Ferris State University graduate with a degree in Elementary Education and minors/endorsements in Mathematics and Integrated Science. She originally is from Paw Paw, Michigan and graduated high school from Mattawan Consolidated Schools. Sarah loves anything and everything with Disney, swimming, and going on adventures whether it’s outside hiking or to a different city and discovering new things. Sarah visited our camp while she was student teaching with her 5th grade class from Plainwell. She’s had many years of experience with teaching different ages, as well as working Ropes Courses and Climbing Walls at Ferris.

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.

Kristoffer Tierce portrays Harow "Pa" Merrill at the Pioneer Cabin.  He is an eight -year U.S. Army veteran.  He graduated Austin State Peay University with degrees in Literature and History.  When not at camp, he lives in Mantachie, Mississippi, where he loves to spend time with his eight dogs.  His other hobbies include watching movies, reading, cooking, and watching his favorite NFL team, The New Orleans Saints.

Lindsey Wheaton graduated from Battle Creek Central High School and the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center in 2017. She has worked at the OEC for three summer and two spring seasons. She attended Kellogg Community College for two years after high school and is currently taking a gap year to work at camp before going to a university. 

Lifeguard Services

Kayleigh Collins

Health Officer

Ben Smith Night Health Officer. Ben 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.

Jennifer Stauffer Day Health Officer and Accounting Specialist. Jennifer was born in Michigan. She graduated from Grand Valley State University with degrees in Criminal Justice, Physical Education, minors in psychology and Spanish. Enjoys the outdoors, sauntering in nature, hiking, reading, playing guitar and listening to music.  

Building Engineer/Maintenance

Jim Frohlich

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!

 

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. 

Gaylynn Hudson is from Battle Creek and graduated from Harper Creek High School. She attended Calhoun Area Career Center with a focus on automotive repair. Gaylynn graduated from the Michigan Career Technical Institute, Culinary class 2016 and enjoys baking. She has a sister, niece, and nephew.

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.

 

 

 

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