Nancy Stranahan has been the Director of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System since she co-founded the non-profit back in 1995. In the span of directing the organization over the last 20-plus years, Nancy has cultivated a vigorous citizen advocacy network in Ohio, what Nancy like to refer to as a “tree-roots network.” In the last 23 years, Nancy has led the charge to save and preserve 6600 acres of natural areas in Appalachian Ohio, representing 22 preserve regions and well over 100 separate real estate negotiations and fund-raising campaigns. In addition to her land preservation work she has been a life-long student and teacher of nature, founding the Arc’s Appalachian Forest School to ensure the perpetuation of natural history skills in our culture, field knowledge that is best taught person-to-person. Learning her trees as a teenager was a pivotal experience in her life, directing her to becoming a naturalist by vocation and leading her into other natural history fields. Studying trees, restoring trees to broken landscapes, and growing wild trees from seed remain primary passions in her life. Just as other people keep bird lists, Nancy keeps” tree lists,” and eagerly tries to learn the trees in any international landscape she may find herself in. Over the years, Nancy has taught many Tree Courses for the Arc of Appalachia, and has helped many registrants begin or advance their life-long study of trees. Previously in her career, Nancy served as Chief Naturalist for Ohio State Parks with the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (actually working with Brent for some of those years!). Later on, she operated Benevolence Café and Bakery in downtown Columbus’ city market for 20 years, where she promoted healthy and intentional food choices.
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 work as Park Manager for Malabar Farm State Park. From his childhood Brent was most comfortable and at home in tree-filled landscapes. He loves the limitless variety of trees and inhabitants inherent in the America’s Great Eastern Forest, each woodland is differentiated by site, species combinations, and individual life histories. Becoming familiar with the trees as a young man was a transformative experience for Brent, one of his most important life passages. It opened up for him a looking glass into a world of fascinating and complex ecosystems both above and below ground; turning a “wall of green” into astonishing tapestries of identifiable and diverse life forms. Learning the species and natural history of the many “citizens of the forest” allowed Brent, (and after this course, you too!) to be able to read the ever-changing forest landscape like a favorite book. Brent learned how to apply his forest literacy to interpret the subtle cues that reveal past land uses, climatic history, soil quality and type, forest health, and the presence of nearly invisible animals. Even more importantly, he learned how to teach these same skills to others. Brent has collected extensive field knowledge while walking his life path in the company the trees. And he is looking forward to walking this path with you!