Angela has a long history with The Nature Institute. She grew up on a property adjacent to the Olin Nature Preserve in Godfrey, IL. She and her neighboring friends used the preserve as a playground of sorts by hiking trails, visiting the waterfalls, and playing flashlight tag in the woods. TNI holds a very special place in her heart. She became Executive Director in 2015.
Before becoming the executive director at TNI, Angela graduated Alton High in 1985. She attended the University of Mississippi where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance in 1989. Since then, she has worked in finance for such companies as Talbots, Reebok, and Fox Sports. Angela has a unique mix of professional leadership with business strategy. She has over 20 years of experience in managing a business.
Angela is dedicated to TNI and its members. She is devoted to growing the TNI experience and making it a better place. She believes in a sense of community and is an advocate for the nonprofit. Angela looks forward to continuing on and has several projects she is working towards completion. She is focused on a maintenance stewardship plan to better understand and control invasive species, starting a greenhouse program, working with the education team to increase opportunities in our community, and extending TNI outreach efforts in the Riverbend area.
Eric was hired in the spring of 2018 and looks forward to maintaining and improving the land managed by The Nature Institute. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Lindenwood University and attended grad school at the University of Illinois. Eric has researched the fauna of ephemeral wetlands across the state of Illinois and in east-central Missouri and the effectiveness of the aerial application of herbicide to treat invasive bush honeysuckle. Eric has worked as a natural heritage resident with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and has held several positions with the Illinois Recreational Access Program.
Eric’s passion is increasing native biodiversity by removing non-native invasive species, restoring ecological disturbances, and facilitating ecosystem resiliency and sustainability.
Ramona was hired in the summer of 2015 and is very excited to be a part the education team. She received a degree in Biology from McKendree University and has over four years of experience in environmental education. In 2014, she became a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) through the National Association of Interpretations. Some places Ramona has interned include the Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford, OH, and the Dunes Learning Center in Chesterton, IN. She also served as a seasonal interpreter at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, IL for two seasons.
Now that Ramona has been here for 7 years, she has continued to learn and improve her ability to work in the Riverbend Community. She has moved into more of an outreach role from education. She still loves working as an environmental educator and believes that the best way to save our planet is to instill a love and respect for nature in children and adults of all ages through firsthand experience and exploration.
Lauren joined the TNI team in the summer of 2021! She holds a degree in Ecotourism & Adventure Travel and has numerous years of experience in education. Lauren started her environmental education career as an Educator and Assistant Camp Director at the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor, MI. Since then, she has served as an educator at several zoos, as well as a Junior Volunteer Coordinator and Educator at the Endangered Wolf Center. In addition to her experience in environmental and conservation education, she has previous experience with children as a substitute teacher, nanny, residential camp counselor, and preschool art & science teacher.
Lauren is a Certified Interpretive Guide with the National Association for Interpretation, as well as a WMA Wilderness First Responder. She has earned multiple environmental education certifications, including the Amphibian Foundation’s Master Herpetologist certification, Project WILD, and Project Learning Tree. Lauren it constantly looking for new opportunities to grow her knowledge of the natural world in order to better educate others!
Lauren looks forward to helping TNI’s education programs grow and to work with the local community. She is passionate about connecting both children and adults with nature through positive outdoor experiences. When she’s not educating the public about nature, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband, practicing yoga, and going for hikes!
Mick holds a degree in Wildlife Resource Management. After graduation, he spent 3 years working in Ann Arbor, Michigan for Plantwise, an ecological restoration and native landscaping company. Following PlantWise, Mick moved to St. Louis, MO to work for Forest Park Forever as a Nature Reserve Technician. Mick has a passion for all aspects of natural resources — hunting, fishing, biding, wild flower and pollinator walks, and foraging for mushrooms. When he isn’t managing the land at TNI, he is exploring the St. Louis area with his wife, daughter, bulldog, and cat.
Dave was hired in the summer of 2021 and is excited to be a part the education team. He received a degree in Elementary Education from Southern Illinois
University at Edwardsville and has more than 25 years of experience in education.
From 1996-2004, he worked at the St. Louis Science Center in various roles, but mostly in gallery interpretation and management. He wrote and performed many of the live science demonstrations that are still being performed to this day. From 2004-2021, he was the middle school science teacher for Evangelical School in Godfrey, Illinois where he taught more than 400 students over his career. Some areas in which Dave has some expertise are curriculum development, program development, physics, chemistry, astronomy and earth science.
Dave loves working as an environmental educator and believes that the best way to take care of our planet is to help people to experience nature’s beauty and diversity firsthand. Hands-on interaction is always better!