Nancy Stranahan : Executive Director

Nancy Stranahan

Executive Director

Nancy is the Director of the Arc of Appalachia, and was one of the non-profit’s founders in 1995. In the span of directing the organization over the last 20 years, Nancy has cultivated a vigorous citizen advocacy network in Ohio (what she likes to call a tree-roots organization) to support the purchase of over a dozen new natural areas in southern Ohio and expanding several pre-existing preserves.

Altogether, Nancy has personally led the charge to save over 4000 acres of new natural areas and has participated in 80 separate real estate closings. The Arc’s headquarters, the 2200-acre Highlands Nature Sanctuary, is the Arc’s largest preserve region, and the area that Nancy and the Arc’s fledging board first concentrated their land preservation efforts in the non-profit’s early years. A few of the signature species protected within the Arc suite of nature preserves have been Henslow sparrows, cerulean warblers, golden star lilies, northern long-eared bats and timber rattlesnakes – just to name a few. Under her guidance, the Arc has also been instrumental in not only saving Native American Indian legacy sites, including Spruce Hill Earthworks and Junction Earthworks, but also managing Fort Hill and Serpent Mound, working in partnership with the Ohio History Connection.

Nancy previously served as Chief Naturalist for Ohio State Parks with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; and operated Benevolence Café and Bakery in downtown Columbus’ city market for 20 years, where she promoted healthy and intentional food choices.

Jean Farkas : Board President

Jean Farkas

Board President

Jean first connected to the Arc when she became a Land Steward at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary in 2008 at Shellbark Woods, where she now lives part-time and helps steward the property’s plant and animal diversity. Here you can find her every spring actively and energetically removing non-native invasive plants from Shellbarks’ organic soils and rich understory. She takes pleasure in being part of a larger community of neighbors and stewards who are passionate about nature preservation.

Jean has provided extensive volunteer hours supporting the Arc’s education programs where she often performs the role of course facilitator. She is retired from a 30-plus year career as an administrator of health and wellness programs and non-profit organizations, most recently in Dayton, Ohio; and has served on several non-profit boards and professional organizations throughout her long philanthropic life.

Rick Perkins : Vice President

Rick Perkins

Vice President

Rick Perkins worked as Chief Ranger for Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe, Ohio where he has overseen the park’s visitor services and law enforcement for the last 12 years. Rick left the NPS after a full career and is now working for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio at Camp Oty’Okwa, a year around children’s camp and education center in Hocking County.

Previously Rick worked as Park Ranger at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan and at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. Because the Arc often embeds Native American earthworks inside its larger preserves, the Arc’s marriage of cultural preservation and ecological preservation appeals to Rick. He is also attracted to the Arc’s flexible grass-roots infrastructure and its ability to act quickly to preserve landscapes in peril.

Rick shares his wise counsel to the Arc in the fields of history interpretation, security and land management. Rick holds degrees in Outdoor Education and Field biology from Ohio University. Hobbies include running a family-sized homestead with chickens, goats, pigs, and rescue horses. His favorite pastimes include bird watching and hiking.

Dave Todt : Secretary

Dave Todt


Dave Todt is a professor of natural science at Shawnee State University. He has served in various capacities at Shawnee since 1975, including the most recent seven years as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at SSU.

Dave’s love of the natural environment started at an early age with family camping trips around Ohio and summers in the mountains of western North Carolina. At Shawnee State he has taught a course called Ohio’s Natural Heritage, Field Ornithology, Ecology, and numerous other science and recreation courses.

Dave has been involved in the preparation of science teachers and environmental educators while at Shawnee. He also worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as a manager of the Youth Conservation Corps program. Dave served two terms on the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves Natural Areas Council and is currently active with the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association.

Dave lives in Friendship, Ohio with his wife of 45 years, Patsy. He is currently developing and teaching an online course called Naturally Ohio which will explore Ohio’s five physiographic regions and natural history.

Martha Fikes : Treasurer

Martha Fikes


Martha Fikes has been a supporter and volunteer for the Arc since 2002. As a board member she works diligently to support education programming and to provide professional review in realms of insurance, contracts, and deed restrictions. She has an excellent eye for detail and brings accuracy and perfection to the Arc’s records and operating systems. She also has been very active in land stewardship, spending hours of her time removing non-native invasive plants.

Martha worked as a Zoology lab coordinator for 9 years at Ohio Wesleyan University. A resident of Delaware County, she has volunteered in past years with Stratford Ecological Center, primarily in school children’s outdoor education programming and development. Martha is particularly attracted to the Arc for its agility and speed in land acquisition and its commitment to biodiversity protection.

Michael Rigsby : Board Member

Michael Rigsby

Board Member

Michael Rigsby has been an avid naturalist ever since he was a young child. He currently works as an independent writer and content developer for museum exhibit designs – bringing natural and cultural history stories to life for the visiting public. His work can be seen, among other locations, at the Utah Museum of Natural History, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, and California Academy of Sciences.

In earlier years, Michael was employed as a biologist and science writer for the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Michael holds a degree in English Rhetoric from the University of Illinois and studied for a masters in Biology at Northeastern Illinois University. His favorite pursuits include being in nature and exploring new landscapes. Michael discovered the Arc of Appalachia not long after moving to southern Ohio in 2005 and was attracted to the innovative ways the Arc buys and preserves land.

Jim Silver : Board Member

Jim Silver

Board Member

W. Jim Silver, and his wife Emily, have been engaged supporters of the Arc of Appalachia since 1998. He first visited the area as a child going to Seven Caves. A lifelong hiker and camper, Jim is dedicated to helping preserve land and habitat.

Having majored in Anthropology at Grinnell College in Iowa, Jim is excited about the Arc’s successful efforts to preserve Earthworks and other American Indian heritage sites.

Jim is a broker/dealer with Ross, Sinclaire & Associates in Cincinnati, joining RSA in 2000. He has 30 years experience  specializing  in fixed income securities, primarily municipal bonds. He comes to the board with past and present non-profit board appointments in the Cincinnati area.

Mark Hoberecht : Board Member

Mark Hoberecht

Board Member

Mark’s love and wonder for nature began as a child. He is fascinated by all aspects of the eastern Forest, and especially its ferns. He first became familiar with the Arc when attending a fern course in the summer of 2014. It was during this and other courses, along with the Wildflower Pilgrimage, that Mark developed a lasting bond with the Arc of Appalachia “family.”

Mark is from northeast Ohio, and has recently retired after a nearly 40-year career at NASA working on fuel cell and other energy storage technologies.  He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering, and M.S. degrees in engineering science and sustainable systems. Mark also founded a small business, HarvestBuild Associates, that specialized in various natural building techniques, including straw-bale and cob construction. He was also a certified Passive House consultant.

Mark is anxious to expand the educational offerings at the Arc of Appalachia, feeling that this can grow and sustain its mission far into the future.

Marilyn Welker : Board Member

Marilyn Welker

Board Member

Marilyn's passions include earth care and involvement with nonprofit organizations whose missions contribute to a world that works for all. Living with her husband on three acres of land in Champaign County, she works on ecological regeneration year-round, including removing invasive species, building soil health, and planting for habitat biodiversity.

She has worked many years for and with nonprofit organizations in Central Ohio, becoming acquainted with the Arc of Appalachia in its founding phase. More recently she has been part of the Arc invasives removal group at Ridgeview Farm. (Join us to be inspired by such tangible results!)

More recently, lifelong learning as a cherished value has led her into the depths of EPA's Superfund Division, working with an inspired group of citizens in Clark County on a toxic barrel fill site that potentially endangers the Mad River Aquifer and City of Springfield's well field. Driven by the belief that we must work together to understand and act on behalf of the integrity of life on Earth, she is grateful for the legacy of all who have "filled the sails" of the Arc's mission and continue to create its vision.

John Jaeger : Board Advisor

John Jaeger

Board Advisor

John F. Jaeger is a field naturalist and outdoor educator with interests in Ohio’s flora, fauna and natural and human history.  He retired as the Director of Natural Resources for the Metropolitan Park District of the Toledo Area where he also served as a Park Manager/Ranger and Naturalist/Historic Interpreter.  He currently is an active volunteer as a Board Advisor for the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System, and conducts educational tours for the public, performs preserve boundary checks and evaluates potential land acquisitions.

Dave Minney : Board Advisor

Dave Minney

Board Advisor

Dave Minney has worked in the conservation field all of his life. Much of his career was spent working as the Southern Ohio Preserve Manager for The Ohio Nature Conservancy. He has also updated rare plant records for the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, conducted a SILVAH Oak Inventory at Zaleski and Shawnee State Forests, censused breeding birds at Crane Hollow Nature Preserve, undertook a botanical for Wayne National Forest, and took a floral inventory at Tranquility Wildlife Area. Dave is a well-trained field naturalist with a broad variety of interests and skills. He is well trained in fire ecology, and has an abiding interest in the moundbuilding cultures of Ohio and other Native American Indian legacies.