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Meet the Team 2013

Meghan BakerIMG_6739
Extension Agent – Small Farms
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Buncombe County
Hobbies:hiking, gardening, reading, running
What I am looking forward to:
Experiencing the natural sounds of the rainforest at night; snorkeling along the coast; being amazed by the diverse animals and habitats we’ll be exploring.

Laura CochraneIMG_6731
6th Grade Science
Mills Park Middle School
Wake County
Hobbies: tennis, walking, gardening, cooking, reading
What I am looking forward to: Snorkeling on the Belize Barrier Reef and exploring the diversity of plants and animals in the rainforest. I’m excited to bring this adventure back to the classroom and share it with my students and school community.

Les-LeeLes-Lee Peeler Efird
Chemistry and Forensic Teacher/Coach
Jesse C. Carson High
Rowan and Salisbury Counties
Hobbies: running, reading, learning and exploring
What I am looking forward to: Learning about a new culture, soaking in the tropical surroundings and being rejuvenated by others who love science as much as I do!

David EverettIMG_6722
5th grade Teacher
Belville Elementary School
Brunswick County
Hobbies: Reading, Gardening, Computers, History
What I am looking forward to: I am excited to travel outside of the United States for the first time in my life! To visit a rainforest, a Mayan Temple, and spend time in a jaguar reserve entices my curiosity and brings smiles to my face! Also I am excited to experience the culture of a country other than my own! All of these experiences I can bring back to my school/district and share with colleagues and especially students make this experience something I look forward to immensely!

Steve GerkinIMG_6749
Programs Coordinator
North Carolina Zoo
Randolph County
Hobbies: photography, softball, yard work, reading, collecting baseball cards
What I am looking forward to: Being immersed within wonderfully diverse ecosystems and sharing those experiences. The Belize Zoo and (hopefully) meeting Sharon Matola! Night hikes, visiting Mayan ruins, and meeting Belize teachers and students. Finding Jaguar tracks!

Bridget JeskewichIMG_6727
Elementary Teacher
Clyde Erwin Elementary Magnet School for International Studies
Onslow County
Hobbies: Travel, hiking, Kayaking, Beach Lounging, Hanging with my family!
What I am looking forward to: Experiencing Belize from a teacher’s perspective and coming back to share those experiences with my students and teaching team.

Samantha LawingIMG_6725
South Iredell High School
Iredell County
Hobbies: Reading, dancing, scrapbooking, hiking and camping
What I am looking forward to: I am looking forward to experiencing the rainforest for myself and having an amazing experience I can share with my students and community.

Adrienne PalmaIMG_6728
Nags Head Elementary
Dare County
Hobbies:reading, walking, gardening, bike riding

What I am looking forward to: I look forward to seeing the animal life and ecosystems in the rainforest, snorkeling (for the first time!), seeing the Mayan Temple and experiencing the Belizean culture.

Wendy Patoprstywendy-patoprsty
Natural Resources Extension Agent
All schools in the County
Watauga County
Hobbies: Gardening, yoga, road biking, water recreation, crafting, reading, baking, exploring nature
What I am looking forward to: I am looking forward to realizing the similarities and connections between North Carolina and Belize.  I’m excited to immerse in the natural resources of Belize, especially (fresh and salt) water, and learn how Belizeans use and protect their natural resources.

Robin SeamonIMG_6748
6th Grade Teacher
William Ellis Middle School
Davie County
Hobbies: Naturalist, hiking, drawing and painting, macro photography, gardening and reading
What I am looking forward to: Sharing stories and pictures with my family and students of rainforest escapades, coral reef adventures and Mayan ruin wonders!

Carol TaylorIMG_6738
7th Grade Math Teacher
Hanes Magnet School
Forsyth County
Hobbies: running, pilates, music and nature
What I am looking forward to: Exploring the coral reefs, mangrove swaps, tropical rain forests, and rivers of Belize while snorkeling, hiking, canoeing. I look forward to developing relationships with teachers and students in Belize. I can’t wait to share my experiences with my family, friends, students and colleagues.n

Kate WernersbachIMG_6746
English Teacher
Havelock High School
Craven County
Hobbies: reading exercising, painting, traveling, and hanging out with my dogs.
What I am looking forward to: An adventure in a tropical rainforest, an insight into Belizean culture, an opportunity to make new friends and share an eye-opening journey.

Liz Baird (Institute Leader)
Director of Education
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Wake County
Hobbies: Kayaking, hiking, reading, fostering golden retrievers
What I am looking forward to: Seeing Nathan, our guide and the beautiful places in Belize. I look forward to snorkeling on the reef, finding Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, and visiting Monkey River Village where we have worked for many years. I cannot wait to share this with such an outstanding group!

Jason Cryan (Institute Leader)JasonCryan_Madagascar
Deputy  Museum Director of Research and Collections
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Wake County
Hobbies:kayaking, martial arts, cooking (& eating) yummy food!
What I am looking forward to: Sharing my love of nature and experience in tropical biology with educators from NC and Belize, and learning from everyone in return!

Nathan Forbes
Tour guide
Nathan has been guiding the Museum’s annual Tropical Ecology Institute for more than 15 years. He came to a Museum workshop (Summer Field Institute) in June 2002.





Consuelo Ek  SmithConsuelo
Teacher at Our Lady of Guadalupe School

Lord’s Bank

Consuelo wins the award for fastest packer! She was invited to join the trip the day we arrived an only had 20 minutes to pack before we picked her up!


Yolanda Eck Nicholasyolanda
Vice Principal

Our Lady of Guadalupe School 
Yolanda shared the riches of Belize with us, and enjoyed visiting areas of her country that were new to her. She said going on this trip gave her new eyes becasue she could see Belize as we saw it.

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