Tree People Leaders

Mark Hoberecht’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.


John Jaeger is a field naturalist and outdoor educator and has been a consultant in wetland preservation conducting bird and flora surveys. His interests include the flora, fauna and natural history of Ohio, as well as the preservation of natural areas. John is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional through the National Recreation and Parks Association. He retired as Director of Natural Resources for the Metropolitan Park District of the Toledo Area in June 2008. During his career he served as a Park Manager, Ranger and Naturalist. His duties included land acquisition and land stewardship as well as the development of land management plans for the Metroparks and Fallen Timbers Ft. Miamis National Park. He directed a land management crew which conducted stewardship projects in the Metroparks, and was a State of Ohio Certified Fire Manager.


Judy Semroc is a conservation specialist, field biologist and naturalist. Judy has 25+ years of experience offering hands-on exploration based learning programs. As a former Petroleum Geologist and science teacher, Judy loves to learn about and share her passion for the natural world through hikes, interpretive programs, and photography.

Judy is the founder of Chrysalis in Time‚ the first Ohio chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). Judy also serves on the board of the Ohio Bluebird Society & Ohio Ornithological Society (Conservation Committee). She has co-authored two natural history guides, “Dragonflies & Damselflies of Northeast Ohio” in 2008, and “Goldenrods of Northeast Ohio: A Field Guide to Identification & Natural History” in 2017.

Ron Cass considers himself an old school Naturalist. Formally my education began in the world of natural resources when I was 18 at Hocking College, it continues to this day at Ohio University in the Voinovich School of Environmental Studies as there is always something new  As a profession I have been lucky enough to have maintained a lengthy career in teaching at Hocking College in the school of Natural Resources from 1989 through present. I specialize in the identification of flora and fauna within ecosystems of the Allegheny Plateau of Appalachian Plateau , essentially southeast Ohio. I can also handle boats, tractors , chainsaws and a shovel.  I love what I do and hope to spend the rest of my days sharing what I have learned of this wonderful


John Howard possesses the best of all the qualities associated with “naturalist.” He has an insatiable curiosity and a perennial sense of wonder. Studying the backroads of Adams County his entire life, he knows nearly all -if not all- of the dragonflies, butterflies, vascular plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles, and is working a good understanding of everything else. Taking a nature walk with John is a rare privilege for even his close friends, who don’t think twice about driving half-way across the state for an opportunity to watch fireflies, catch salamanders heading for the vernal pools, photograph the first spring flowers in bloom even if they are only 1/2 inch tall and tomorrow’s forecast calls for snow, or look for a new-to-science moth or caterpillar on an obscure plant.


Nancy Stranahan is the Director of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System, and was one of the non-profit’s founders back in 1995. Since that time, Nancy has organized the Arc’s expansion from zero acres to over 7000, founding over 20 new preserve regions in southern Ohio. Nancy previously worked for ODNR for ten years with Ohio State Parks as Chief Naturalist, and twenty years running a bakery, a soup & cafe, and international gift store in downtown Columbus known as Benevolence, promoting healthy and intentional food choices. Nancy not only loves preserving land, she has a passion for habitat restoration, and native plant propagation and re-introduction. Nancy LOVES teaching, learning, networking, and she has been teaching the Arc’s tree courses for over a decade.

Dave Keunher is a long-time friend of the Arc and a well-known Ohio naturalist. He is an outstanding nature photographer, documenting some of the rarest and most interesting plant and animal species in the state, which he generously shares on the Arc’s Facebook.


Brian Lokai is a veterinarian in Dayton, Ohio, and has been a long time supporter and friend of the Arc. He enjoys hiking and has attended many Arc education programs in the past. We are delighted that he is now willing to take the lead and share his knowledge with others!


Marcia Miller & Kevin Eigel have been loving and learning about trees for decades. Kevin is the owner of Ecohouse Solar and Marcia founded Yoga on High and has taught yoga for over 45 years. They have been devoted friends and supporters of the Arc of Appalachia since the organization’s early years.


Teri Gilligan is a lifelong nature enthusiast and she enjoys participating in group learning activities. She is excited to join you in developing a greater appreciation and understanding of the trees of the Eastern Forest.


Katie Bennett  works for Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks as the Naturalist at Clear Creek. She has a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management from The Ohio State University. A southern Ohio native, Katie discovered her love for the outdoors at a young age and is passionate about combining environmental education with unique opportunities for people to connect with nature.

Tim Pohlar is a Project Lead for the Land Stewardship team and resides at Blackgum Woods with his wife Miriam and two daughters Rose and Quinn.  Tim has been with the Arc since 2004, where he started as an intern, learning his trees and nature studies from the many great naturalists before him. He has a passion for sharing the beauty of nature with others and stewarding our natural lands.

Dave Todt is a retired professor of natural science at Shawnee State University. He  served in various capacities at Shawnee since 1975, including 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 taught courses including Ohio’s Natural Heritage, Field Ornithology, Ecology, and numerous other science and recreation courses. Dave was 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. He proudly serves on the Arc of Appalachia Board.


Dick Moseley served as the first Chief of the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves and managed the program for 20 years. Under his leadership, the Division acquired and dedicated 103 nature preserves, and the Ohio Natural Areas Program was nationally recognized as one of the outstanding Natural Areas Programs in the country. In 1990, Dick became Deputy Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources supervising the Divisions of Parks and Recreation, Wildlife, Natural Areas and Preserves, Forestry, and Watercraft. He retired from the Department on November 30, 1993 and moved to Colorado where he volunteered for the U.S. Forest Service on the San Juan National Forest for 15 years.  He is a member of the Ohio Conservation Hall of Fame.


Anthony Downs works for USDA APHIS as a Plant Pest Quarantine Technician, identifing invasive insect damage for the Ohio Asian Longhorned Beetle Quarantine Program in Clermont county. His interests include Ohio native flora and fauna, orchid growing, landscaping, aquarium aquascaping, photography, and hiking. He has a degree from Hocking college in forest management and is an ISA Certified Arborist. Since 2005, Anthony has worked in the forest industry, beginning with The Ohio State Extension Office in Jackson County as a field researcher looking at the effects of deer browse on various oak/hickory management stands. He then worked for Hocking College as a Dendrology Tutor. He also worked for the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry as a conservation worker implementing timber stand improvement techniques and chemically/mechanically treated invasive species.

Ethan King is the Assistant Manager of Land Stewardship at the Arc of Appalachia. He is a native of Cincinnati and has developed a passion for the outdoors, which stemmed from his Grandmother who is an outstanding naturalist herself. He is an only child so he is very close with his parents, family, and friends that he has stayed in touch with after graduating from High school. Ethan graduated from Hocking College with a degree in Wildlife Management. He worked for Wayne National Forest where he used topographic maps to locate Tree of Heaven infestations and schedule them for removal.  While looking to get his foot in the door after graduation he found a job in Colorado where he engaged in ecological field studies for a company called NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). Shortly after that position had come to an end he knew his roots were in Ohio and wanted to look for work in his home state.


Randy Carmel is a retired Wooster High School science teacher, adjunct instructor at the College of Wooster, and current President of Killbuck Watershed Land Trust.  In addition to science teaching, he was employed as a naturalist for ODNR, Muskingham Watershed Conservancy District, Columbus & Dayton metropolitan park districts, and the National Wildlife Federation.  For his efforts in native plant restoration and education he has earned several awards including the first Cleveland Museum of Natural History Conservation Teacher of the Year, College of Wooster Excellence in Teaching, and most recently, the Holmes Soil and Water District Friend of Conservation Award for his work protecting portions of the Killbuck Creek Wetlands south of Millersburg Ohio.

Clyde Gosnell is a legendary Ohio philanthropist with a deep passion for the environment. He built his career as an architect, designing many well-known landmarks in Columbus.  Now retired, he lives on a sustainable farm in Ashville, OH with his wife, Dr. Louise (Omie) Warner. Clyde serves as the board president of Stratford Ecological Center, and as a board member of multiple conservation-minded non-profit organizations.  He and Omie were the recipients of 2017 Leadership in Philanthropy award from the Columbus Foundation, and were inducted into the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame in 2020. They were instrumental in the creation of the new John Glenn Astronomy Park in Hocking Hills. To this day, they remain dedicated to protecting and educating the public about the natural world.

Elijah Crabtree is the On-site Land Manager for the Arc of Appalachia at Tremper Mound Preserve in Scioto County. Elijah was born and raised in Ross County – the epicenter of Hopewell architecture – where he developed a passion for local cultural history, natural sciences and conservation work. He has a special interest in connecting people to the natural world and promoting historically significant sites as protected public domains for education and inspiration.


Ann Geise is a Cincinnati based artist, who has been drawing and studying nature her entire life. Her artistry leans toward the ecological – how local plants, animals, geology are all deeply inter-connected. After working in pharmaceutical research for several years, Ann’s love of both nature and art converged and blossomed into full expression when she took a job at the Cincinnati Nature Center as Artist & Exhibits Manager. She stayed for 19 years – producing what is now Ann’s signature art.

Bob & Beth Staggenborg were both teachers and have experience leading nature hikes with kids in the woods. We love to help all ages connect to the natural world. We are passionate about having native diversity on our property and have planted a number of native trees. Bob is the host and producer of Nature Guys Podcast.

Jacob Bartley is a Restoration Ecologist that has worked in the wetland and stream restoration/enhancement industry for 20 years. He is the owner of an ecological consulting firm known as Plum Hill Ecological Services, based out of Northern Kentucky. His expertise includes wetlands restoration and many other habitat enhancement projects.  He serves as the project director of the Red Stone Farm Wetland Mitigation Bank, where just a portion of their construction and restoration activities have included hand-planting 27,000 native trees and hand seeding over 500 lbs of native perennial wetland seeds. The goal of this effort is to restore some of the historic forested wetland ecosystem known as the Beech Flats that once dominated this region of southern Ohio and to conserve it for perpetuity.


Andrea Jaeger & Brit Wood Brit Wood is the Arc’s Facility Manager, overseeing the maintenance and upkeep of the Arc’s multiple overnight lodges and educational buildings. Andrea Jaeger is the Arc’s Director of Land Acquisition & Visitor Services. Their careers with the Arc began in August 2016 after moving back to Ohio from Chattanooga, TN. Since then, the Arc has become more than a job, but a way of life. In addition to their regular work responsibilities, they serve as caretakers of the Tobacco Barn Hollow Preserve region. They fervently enjoy spending as much time in the forest as they can get, and love having the opportunity to share their passion for this truly remarkable preserve with others.

Brent Charette was trained in forest resource management at Hocking Technical College. His first career was with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, working as a state-wide naturalist for the Division of Parks and Recreation. He eventually went on to serve as Park Manager at Malabar Farm State Park. Brent now works for the Arc of Appalachia. As Nancy’s partner, the two of them enjoy hosting natural history events and courses at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary and, in their personal time, caring for one of the Sanctuary’s tracts of land known as Ridgeview Restoration Farm. Brent’s greatest passions include nature interpretation, permaculture & forest gardening, native tree propagation, and subsistence gardening. He loves anything to do with trees, including growing edible mushrooms, carpentry, studying mycorrhizal associations, and teaching others how to learn and appreciate our native trees.

Paul & Cathy Knoop Paul is retired from the National Audubon Society, where he served as the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm Education Director for 35 years. He is presently involved in several land preservation efforts and serves as a Board Advisor for the Arc of Appalachia. Cathy is a retired environmental science teacher and worked as the development director for Camp Oty’Okwa. As a team, they teach graduate Natural History classes for Ashland University but have always had a devotion to teaching and inspiring children to love the natural world, using the outdoors as their classroom.  The Knoops are patient, kind, and supportive educators who have inspired burgeoning naturalists for generations. In 2016, they were the recipients of the Ohio Environmental Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


Bob Scott Placier retired in 2015, after teaching in the School of Natural Resources at Hocking College for over 30 years. He mostly taught Dendrology and Ornithology toward the end, but also classes in Field Biology and Forest Ecology. Presently he devotes most of his time to bird banding at his Vinton County home, and serves as president of the Ohio Bird Banding Association.

Vicki Solomon has loved the forests and wildlands of Ohio as long as she can remember, She was that kid hanging around naturalists whenever and wherever she could.  With a degree in Environmental Interpretation from the Ohio State University, Vicki has helped people discover their own love of nature working for the US Forest Service, Ohio State Park, Cleveland and Lake Metroparks.  Vicki trains and works oxen, mentoring others in the US and Africa.   She manages her acreage at the headwaters of the Cuyahoga River as a small farm and nature sanctuary.  She and her husband, Mark, operate a seasonal local foods concession, and argue about which areas of the property Mark is allowed to mow.

Jeff Dickinson has been involved in organic, sustainable, regenerative agriculture over the last 50 years, with forests and nature being a part of his vocation and avocations throughout this period.  In addition to his BS and MS in Horticulture, he has received his PhD in Entomology at OSU in pursuit of applied ecology in agroecosystems, including agroforestry. In addition to working at OSU as the Project Manager in Sustainable Agriculture, and the Agricultural Director at Meadowcreek Project in Arkansas, Jeff has spent the last 30 years as the Executive Director, Farmer, Educator, and Researcher at the Stratford Ecological Center.