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Meet the Team 2016

Leslie Blaich      IMG_0835
Kindergarten Teacher
Isaac Dickson Elementary
Buncombe County
Hobbies: Swimming, book-making, traveling, meeting new people
What I am looking forward to: Learning experientially about Belizean ecology and culture so that I can share the experience with my students and their families. I also hope to inspire my fellow teachers to seek out similar experiences.



Rebecca CrapsIMG_0833
Fifth Grade Teacher, Science Liaison
Whitaker Elementary School
Winston-Salem, NC
Hobbies: Reading, cooking, obstacle course runs, hanging out with my family and friends
What I am looking forward to: Exploring rain forests and coral reefs, learning about another culture, and bringing back exciting stories to share with my students, colleagues, friends and family!


Lauren DanielIMG_0814
EC  Teacher K-5
Bogue Sound Elementary
Carteret County
Hobbies: Kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, camping, and riding bikes
What I am looking forward to:I am excited to learn about a new culture, meet new people, and learn about the unique qualities of the ecosystem and Mayan history in Central America


Jeff DerdaIMG_0812
Apex High School
Wake County
Hobbies: Reading, spending time with my family, and collecting silver age comic books
What I am looking forward to: Learning firsthand about the plants and animals found in this part of the world and meeting and getting to work with amazing teachers, students, and scientists from different walks of life.


Ken EatonIMG_0838
Morehead Montessori Magnet School
Durham County
Hobbies: Working out, gardening, politics, camping, canoeing, outdoors
What I am looking forward to: Meeting people and the other living things, exploring the wide diversity of ecosystems; learning about and visiting Maya artifacts; breathing and taking in the life and culture of Belize; enjoying and basking in the rich and surprising life of a true learner


Ryan ElijioRyan
Upper Level Teacher
St. Luke Methodist School
Belize City, Belize
Hobbies: Dominoes, Basketball and Poker
What I am looking forward to: I am looking forward to having a fun and great experience and we explore this great country, and to learn first hand information of places in this country.



Pamela GilchristIMG_0825
Director, Imhotep and Kyran Andersaon Academies
The Science House, North Carolina State University                                 Wake County

Hobbies: Reading, singing, traveling, exercising, and learning new things
What I am looking forward to: Exploring the rainforest, corals and the Belizean culture. Reflecting with my peers during our exploration, and sharing the adventures with students, parents and family!

Amy HarringtonIMG_0823
Eighth Grade Science Teacher
Bethel Middle School
Haywood County
Hobbies: Hiking and camping with my family, dogs and friends, road and mountain biking, running, kayaking, live music, exploring new places
What I am looking forward to:Snorkeling, jaguars and monkeys, visiting a Mayan Ruin, Identifying plants and animals I’ve never seen, a refreshing experience with other educators from across the state, and sharing all that with my students along the way.


Alda Loague
More information coming soon!


Ashley MerrittIMG_0831
Fourth Grade Math/Science teacher
Sunset Avenue School
Sampson County
Hobbies: Running, playing with my dog and kids, and being outdoors.
What I am looking forward to:This will be my first trip out of the country. I am looking forward to a new adventure, seeing exotic animals, snorkeling and bringing stories and pictures back for all to see.


Kayla NorvilleIMG_0820
Seventh Grade Science
Farmville Middle School
Pitt County
Hobbies: Reading, Shopping, Riding four-wheelers, playing with my dog, and trying new things
What I am looking forward to: I am really looking forward to new experiences: exploring rainforests, Mayan ruins, and coral reefs. I also look forward to meeting a new group of educators and sharing my experiences with students.


Kimberlie SkeenIMG_0817
Art and Outdoor Ed Teacher
Mountain Sun Community School
Transylvania County
Hobbies: Pottery, mountain biking, running and traveling
What I am looking forward to: I am looking forward to exploring and learning about the rainforest and the culture of Belize. I am excited about sharing this experience with the other educators and learning from them as well.


Julie StanleyIMG_0843
Fourth Grade Math and Science, AIG Cluster
Union Intermediate School                                                                   Sampson County
Hobbies:Kayaking, yoga, hiking, travel
What I am looking forward to: I cannot wait to experience a tropical rainforest and share all the sights and sounds of this trip with my students. I am especially looking forward to interacting with Belizean students and teachers and discovering more about their culture and lifestyle.


Freddy WangIMG_0827
Sixth Grade Science Teacher
Harris Road Middle School
Cabarrus County
Hobbies: Reading, soccer
What I am looking forward to: I am excited about everything and I think I will be surprised and learn the most about things I haven’t anticipated. I am looking forward to learning more about the Mayan Ruins and the Coral Reefs. I really hope to tie the experiences into my student’s learning next year.


Lynn Cross (Institute Leader)Lynn profile
Head of Youth Programs
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Raleigh, NC
Hobbies:Reading, spending time with family, camping, visiting state and national parks
What I am looking forward to: I am looking forward to seeing many different habitats and learning more about Belizean culture and ecology. I am excited to see the jaguar preserve, learn about local conservation projects, and snorkel.


Liz Baird (Institute Leader)
Chief, School and Lifelong 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)Jason
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.

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