2020 Wildflower Pilgrimage Hike Leaders
Marjie Becus, Gladys Riley Preserve (Saturday)
Marjie Becus is a botanist from the Cincinnati area. She grew up playing in the woods and that’s where she still most likes to be. Her interest in botany led her to performing plant inventories for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in particular seeking to verify species that were reported years ago and updating their status. One of her many project is monitoring the federally endangered running buffalo clover that still can be found in southwestern Ohio.
Ryan Brown, Davis Memorial & Chalet Nivale (Saturday), Parker Woods & Sad Song Creek (Sunday)
Hi, my name is Ryan Brown. I’m a lifelong outdoorsman and lover of all things wild. I’m also cousins with Ethan King here at the Arc. I have degrees in environmental biology at Ohio University and wildlife management at Hocking College. Currently I work for the biological sciences department at OU as a lab assistant, helping with research on a array of species including eastern hellbenders and bobcats. I also have had experience working as interpreter with Camp Oty’ Okwa and as an AmeriCorps member for Rural Action and the Buckeye Trail Association.
Brent Charette, Otter Banks (Saturday & Sunday)
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 natural landscapes. He loves the limitless variety of prairies and wetlands embedded in the America’s Great Eastern Forest, each unique community differentiated by site, species combinations, and individual life histories. Becoming familiar with the trees and herbaceous plants as a young man was a transformative experience for Brent. 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.
Bill Creasey, Harmony Trail & Maude's Cedar Narrows (Saturday & Sunday)
Bill Creasey retired from Cincinnati Nature Center in December 2016 after 43 years of service. Currently, Bill holds the title of Chief Naturalist Emeritus and produces a weekly podcast entitled Nature Guys, with Cincinnati Nature Center volunteer Bob Staggenborg.
Anthony Downs, Lewis Gorge (Saturday & Sunday)
Anthony Downs is a PPQ Technician with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. He works with various pests all over the US and has worked in the L.A. Plant Inspection Station that services the entire west coast, inspecting shipments from all over the world for harmful pests and pathogens. Originally from Logan, OH, he now lives in Cincinnati, four doors down from his father-in-law, John Jaeger, who he will be co-leading the Lewis Gorge hike with! Anthony has been a hike leader for the Wildflower Pilgrimage for several years and enjoys sharing his love of the outdoors with others.
Ann Geise, Gladys Riley Preserve (Saturday)
A lifetime spent loving, observing and learning about nature is reflected in the artwork of Ann Geise. Ann was born and raised in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and studied biology at Northern Kentucky University. After working for nineteen years as artist and exhibits manager for Cincinnati Nature Center, where she illustrated and designed the center’s publications and educational exhibits, she now paints from her home studio in Batavia, Ohio. Working in watercolors and oils Ann paints landscapes, birds, botanicals and wildlife. Inspiration for her paintings come from many sources: the backyard birdfeeders and gardens, the rural landscapes of southern Ohio, or observations from more distant travels. Ann’s paintings have won numerous awards both local and national. She is commissioned regularly by environmental organizations to create artwork used to promote conservation and connect people with nature. Ann is a signature member of The Society of Animal Artists and Greenacres Artists Guild. www.AnnGeiseArt.com.
Andrea Jaeger, Barrett's Rim (Sunday)
Andrea Jaeger has been the Arc’s Outreach Coordinator since 2016. A fervent cook, you will find her working alongside the Arc’s wonderful volunteers during the Wildflower Pilgrimage preparing delicious and healthy meals for our participants. This year, she will be hanging up her apron on Sunday to lead a hike on the Barrett’s Rim trail. She looks forward to sharing her infectious enthusiasm for Spring ephemerals with her fellow hikers on one of the Sanctuary’s most beautiful trails.
John Jaeger, Lewis Family Gorge (Saturday & Sunday)
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 Keuhner, Ohio River Bluffs & Whipple (Saturday)
Dave Kuehner, has been a naturalist for 40 years. Dave is retired, enjoys photography and lives in Lynx, Ohio. He puts his photography skills to good use by sharing his nature photos on the Arc of Appalachia’s website.
Ethan King, Davis Memorial & Chalet Nivale (Saturday), Parker Woods & Sad Song Creek (Sunday)
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 from graduation of 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. Ethan always says Hocking College was the best decision he ever made while exploring options for furthering his education. 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. Soon after he found The Arc he fell in love with its mission, the preserves, and everyone he gets to work with on a daily basis. Ethan spends time maintaining over 40 miles of trails, enhancing them for overall hiker experience. He works on the removal of invasive’s from the rich biological hubs that we are fortunate enough to have here in our area and runs the Arcs deer management program to keep the ecosystem as healthy as possible. He likes to have a good time while keeping The Arcs mission the number one priority. He looks forward to meeting and working with everyone he comes across.
Jennifer Kleinrichert & Steve Ross, Plum Run & Shoemaker (Saturday)
Jennifer & Steve are a husband and wife duo that love to explore and observe this wildly beautiful planet. They are Indiana natives that transplanted to Ohio via New Mexico in 2009 where they bought a sweet, decrepit old farmhouse on 3.5 acres and worked steadily to replace lawn with native plants made easier thanks to a big helping hand from Mother Nature. Their love of the ecology of plants inspired them to open a small native plant nursery named The Common Milkweed. Steve’s background in soil and both their backgrounds in natural history inspired them to work for Audubon New Mexico, Little River Wetlands Project, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Columbus Metro Parks (Jennifer) and The Nature Conservancy (Steve). They love offering what they have to be of service to the planet and people.
Paul & Cathy Knoop, Miller State Nature Preserve (Saturday & Sunday)
Paul and Cathy have retired to the Hocking Hills where they work as a team leading field trips, teaching environmental education classes, and working on land preservation. They are involved with Camp Oty’Okwa, Crane Hollow Preserve, Rural Action and Appalachian Ohio Alliance. Paul retired from Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm and Cathy is a retired elementary science teacher.
Wendy McVicker, Barrett's Rim (Sunday)
Wendy McVicker is an Ohio Arts Council teaching artist and Athens’ 2020-22 poet laureate. She has been stirring up poetry in a variety of settings for many years. She is currently involved in leading a creative writing residency for seniors in southeastern Ohio. Her poems have appeared in many small journals over the years, and in anthologies, including A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford (ed. Becca J. R. Lachman). Her chapbook, The Dancer’s Notes, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2015. She performs with instrumentalist Emily Prince as the duo another language altogether, often in collaboration with dancers and other musicians. She will be sharing poems from Mary Oliver as well as some of her own works as we break for lunch during the Barrett’s Rim hike.
Tim Pohlar, Rock Run (Saturday & Sunday)
Tim Pohlar is the Arc’s Land Stewardship and Volunteer Manager. He is passionate about nature preservation and fell in love with the mission of the Arc from the day he first visited the website back in 2004 when it was only one preserve in size – the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. He started at the Sanctuary as an intern, worked as a seasonal staff for a few years; and then, after that, became a full time employee. During these used he lived places in the Sanctuary, including a tent by Talodon Pond, and the old farm house at the trailhead entrance to Kamelands Trail. In 2010, Tim met a wonderful lady, Miriam, and decided that fate was leading them into sustainable agriculture. They married and moved to to La Crosse, WI, where they had two little girls and worked on the family’s organic dairy farm. During the eight years they worked the farm, Tim gained a vast range of skills and perspectives of the world that helped give him a rounded understanding of land management and preservation, and the juxtaposition of farmlands and preserved natural areas. Through a series of fateful events, Miriam and Tim, and their girls, Rose and Quinn, have recently returned to continue their work with the Arc. They are excited to further the mission of the organization and work with the many wonderful people that come together under the Arc’s umbrella – making the Arc’s miraculous landscape possible!
Jenny Richards, Plum Run & Shoemaker (Saturday)
Jenny Richards is a naturalist at Shawnee State Park. Jenny grew up on the edge of Shawnee Forest exploring the outdoors with her family. She obtained her BS in Geography from Ohio University, traveled and worked abroad and returned home to land her dream job as a state park naturalist in the very forest she was raised. She loves sharing her passion for the great outdoors with everyone she meets.
Stan Sells, Harmony Trail & Maude's Cedar Narrows (Saturday & Sunday)
Stan Sells has been a land steward at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary since 2003, when he, and his wife, Diana, bought a property on Cave Road and donated it to the sanctuary, retaining life estate on the house. Stan began many years ago clearing out the multiflora rose and bush honeysuckles that had invaded his donated property, as well as adjacent tracts. Each year he leads invasive removal volunteer crews at Turkeyfoot Woods in the Highlands Nature Sanctuary.
Vicki Solomon, Kamelands (Sunday)
Vicki Solomon has loved the forests and wildlands of Ohio as long as she can remember. She led her first nature hike at age 13 in Cleveland Metroparks. After gaining her degree in Environmental Interpretation from the Ohio State University, Vicki landed her dream job as Naturalist in Ohio State Parks under the mentorship of Nancy Stranahan. She currently works for Lake Metroparks leading hikes programs. 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 sustainable farm and nature sanctuary. She and her husband, Mark, operate a seasonal local foods concession using oxen, and argue about which areas of the property Mark is allowed to mow.
Jon Srofe, Rock Run (Saturday)
Jon Srofe is Rock Run’s most devoted local advocate. Srofe is an expert historian and has spent countless hours studying and hiking Rock Run’s terrain. He looks forward to any opportunity to introduce new people to the area and share his passion for protecting this beautiful region. “I’ve grown to know Rock Run more each year, and to grow in knowledge of that beautifully complex area has stimulated a growing interest in the people of the area and their rich history! It’s joy when others can share Rock Run in the beautiful month of April!” – Jon Srofe
Bob Staggenborg, Harmony Trail & Maude's Cedar Narrows (Saturday & Sunday)
Bob Staggenborg co-hosts Nature Guys Podcast. Bob and Bill Creasey co-led wildflower walks at the Southern Ohio Wildflower Pilgrimage run by the Arc of Appalachia Preserves from the beginning. At the end of one our hikes a woman suggested we do a radio show on nature. Nature Guys podcast launched in October 2016. We now have over 130 episides usually about what you would find in a typical midwest neighborhood. We also have a number of podcasts about nature in spots around the world.
Nancy Stranahan, Otter Banks (Saturday & Sunday)
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 ensuing years, Nancy has cultivated a vigorous citizen advocacy network in Ohio (what she likes to call a tree-roots organization) to support new natural areas in twenty-one preserve regions of southern Ohio.
Altogether, Nancy has personally led the charge to save 7000 acres of wildlands in Ohio and has participated in well over 100 separate real estate closings. The Arc’s headquarters, the 3000-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 wildlife species now protected within the Arc suite of nature preserves include such rarities as Henslow’s sparrows, cerulean warblers, bobcats, northern long-eared bats, river otters, and timber rattlesnakes – just to name a few. The Arc has also been instrumental in saving four Native American Indian legacy sites — Spruce Hill Earthworks, Junction Earthworks Glenford Fort and Steel Earthworks. The Arc also manages Fort Hill and Serpent Mound on behalf 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.
Dave Todt, Rock Run (Saturday)
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.