AIP Master Institutions & Facilitators

Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo

Agnes Kovacs

... is the Manager of the School, Groups, and Teacher programs at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo. She began there in 2007. In this capacity, Agnes oversees Connections classes for school groups, teacher workshops and graduate classes, field trips, and the award winning Levels of Engagement program. Approximately 225,000 students come through these programs annually. Agnes serves as an Arctic Ambassador with Polar Bears International and has twice facilitated the PBI Leadership Camp in Churchill, Canada. Agnes loves gardening, hiking, golfing, and the ocean. Her master's degree is in Education.

Debbie Clemens

... is the Senior Coordinator of the Advanced Inquiry Program at Brookfield Zoo.  She also facilitates several AIP Web+ courses at the Brookfield Zoo. Debbie has her M.A. in Zoology from Miami University as a graduate of the Advanced Inquiry Program.  Her main interest is primates and her conservation focus is wild orangutans.  Debbie has field experience in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra, where she has studied primate conservation, behavior, and ecology.  Her relationships with various organizations in Malaysia and Indonesia assist her in her work to raise awareness and support for orangutan conservation efforts.  Debbie has a long history with the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and has worked in the volunteer, education, and primate keeper departments.  Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband, teenage sons, and her pets.  She is happiest outdoors, hiking in the forests.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Mollie O'Neil

... earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Cincinnati and worked in Project Management for a global Clinical Research Organization until she realized her lifelong passion for nature and nature education was her true path. An avid gardener and plant lover, she began volunteering with the Horticulture department at the Zoo working in the gardens. Mollie also volunteered with the Education department at the Wild Discover Zones using inquiry to engage Zoo guests with science and nature in a fun, informal setting. These experiences inspired her to investigate a new career path, which led her to Miami University and the Project Dragonfly Advanced Inquiry Program. She earned her Master of Arts in Zoology in December 2013 and is now the Volunteer Coordinator at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. 

Jerran Orwig

... is the Advanced Inquiry Program Manager in the Education Department at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in Cincinnati, Ohio.  She oversees the graduate program at the Zoo and supports AIP students as they change their communities and grow in their personal and professional lives.  She also is currently a facilitator for the National Network of Ocean & Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) workshop series, working with climate science communicators across the country to get the word out to the general public about climate change impacts. She has a B.S. in Biology from Calvin College and completed her M.A. in Zoology with the GFP at Miami University in 2011. Since graduation, she's remained in the Dragonfly family by being a course facilitator for both web-based and Earth Expedition courses, and she cherishes the adventures and experiential learning it brings. Jerran loves photography, the outdoors, reading good books, delving into a bowl of ice cream, and is a passionate Michigan Wolverine fan.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Katie Corr

…is all about Project Dragonfly. Aside from completing her own M.A. in Zoology through the GFP, she also coordinates and leads Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's branch of Dragonfly's Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP). She loves helping students to discover the power (and fun!) of inquiry while exploring local environments. She strives to connect people to their surroundings and to help them discover their own voices for positive change. Katie loves traveling, at home and abroad and is always up for a good road trip, especially one that includes her dogs. She has a B.A. in environmental studies from Hiram College where she focused on environmental education and incorporating sustainability messaging into rural schools. She likes running and reading (though not at the same time) and is a soccer enthusiast.

Vicki Searles

... is the Curator of Education at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, where she also serves as a member of the exhibit design team responsible for including scientific and cultural information in state-of-the-art multi-species naturalistic exhibits. She holds a degree from the School of Natural Resources at the Ohio State University, where she studied wildlife management with an emphasis on behavioral science. Beginning in 1990 she has been a participant in international workshops including workshops in Peru, Venezuela, and South Africa. As president of the Executive Board for the Cleveland Regional Council for Science Teachers, her conservation education program, largely inquiry-based, connects students and volunteers in the United States with students, scientists and animals around the globe.

Christine Korhnak

…is an Education Manager at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, where she creates new educational opportunities for a wide range of audiences and works with a stellar team to present existing programs ranging from school field experiences to camps to AIP. She holds a degree in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz (Go Slugs!), where she focused on Marine Biology and Oceanography in the hopes of growing up to be Jacques Cousteau. She has nearly 20 years' experience in zoo education and was recently named as a member of the AZA's Conservation Education Committee. Christine likes to travel and is passionate about helping people connect their six degrees of separation to environments they may never experience firsthand. She is still drawn to the ocean and loves to sail. After a recent snorkeling experience during a Belize Earth Expeditions trip, she is now dreaming of putting a salt water tank in her home… one big enough to float in.

Denver Zoo

Molly Maloy

... is the Teacher Professional Development Coordinator at the Denver Zoo as well as Co-lead on the Zoo’s Botswana Conservation Education project. Molly has a master’s degree in Environmental Education and always knew zoo education and conservation was the path for her. Molly began her zoo career at the Baltimore Zoo where she was the Keeper Encounter Coordinator and then left the East Coast to head to the Denver Zoo to become a trainer at their Wildlife Show. Molly left the Zoo for a year to pursue a job in Zambia where she met her husband and bribed him to move to Denver and live with her so she could return to the Denver Zoo. Molly has been at the Denver Zoo for 14 years and with each year that passes, her passion for wildlife (especially hornbills and wombats), global conservation and education is reinforced every day. When not at work, Molly spends her time with her husband Pete and their 2 year old son Charlie. Traveling to Africa for both work and pleasure is a huge part of Molly’s life as is enjoying eating three times her body weight in chocolate.

Phoenix Zoo

Ruth Allard

... is the Executive Vice President for Conservation and Visitor Experiences at the Phoenix Zoo, where she oversees the Zoo’s involvement in regional and international conservation efforts and the Zoo’s educational programming team. She holds a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment with an emphasis on applied conservation biology, as well as a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Arizona. She has conducted studies on butterfly learning and sea turtle nesting behavior, which helped her realize that she prefers science communication to basic research. Prior to her arrival at the Phoenix Zoo, Ruth spent 10 years working in the Conservation and Science Department at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. While there, she discovered a love for connecting people and building community through conservation and education partnerships.

Gabrielle (Gabby) Hebert

... is the Director of Visitor Experiences for the Phoenix Zoo, the place where her love for environmental education began back in her undergraduate days as a summer camp instructor.  Gabby has a BS in Conservation Biology from Arizona State University and a freshly earned Master's in Environmental Education and Communication from Royal Roads University. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Association for Environmental Education and will serve as the organization’s president in 2013. Developing the capacity of educators to most effectively reach their audiences is a passion for Gabby, and her recent master’s thesis focused on using professional development to explore the emotional needs of environmental educators. In her free time Gabby loves to bike, garden, and cuddle with her four feline children.

Sarena Randall Gill

... lives in Phoenix, Arizona and works at the Phoenix Zoo as the Community Engagement Manager. This role enables her to express her passion for higher education as well as nonformal environmental and conservation education through engaging and interactive interpretation. She earned her B.S. in Biology from Arizona State University, her M.A. in Zoology through Project Dragonfly's Global Field Program at Miami University, and is a doctoral student in the Ph.D. Sustainability Education program at Prescott College. Sarena continues to appreciate her time in the GFP and her Earth Expeditions to Baja, Borneo, and Namibia and brings all she learned and experienced into her daily life. Lifelong discovery and experiential learning sparked and continues to encourage her desire to groom the connection to and fascination for the natural world, inquiry, and learning in others.

San Diego Zoo Global

Robin Keith

... is the Conservation Program Specialist in the Conservation Education Division at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Robin holds a B.S and M.S. in Biology from San Diego State University, where she studied the evolutionary biology of arachnids. Since joining the San Diego Zoo Global in 2007, Robin has focused on community engagement in conservation. She has helped develop a national teacher workshop in conservation research, and is excited to partner with Project Dragonfly to grow San Diego Zoo Global’s (SDZG) professional development programs. Robin manages SDZG’s Advanced Inquiry Program Master’s degree and assist in coordinating and instructing the new Hawai`i Earth Expedition. Robin also works closely with the Institute’s field conservation programs, and is currently developing a community-based conservation education plan for the Hawai`i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. She feels very lucky to be able to share her passion for biodiversity and conservation with students, teachers and community members, both locally and worldwide.

David O'Connor

... is a community-based conservation ecologist affiliated with the Conservation Education Division of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and a contract senior researcher with National Geographic Magazine. David’s work focuses on human-wildlife-livestock interactions, and developing community-based conservation and conservation education programs, primarily in developing nations. He takes participatory, stakeholder driven, socio-ecological approaches to his work. David holds a B.Sc. in Zoology and Earth Science from University College Cork, Ireland, a Grad. Dip. in Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate School of Business, University College Dublin, Ireland, and an M.Sc. in Conservation Biology from the University of Michigan. He’s also previously worked with the BBC, World Wildlife Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Jackson Laboratory, and Whole Foods Market HQ. Most recently his work has focused on reticulated giraffe conservation in Kenya, Bornean sun bear conservation education, and socio-economic evaluation of bear part usage in Laos and Cambodia. David feels very lucky to be part of a fantastic team at the Institute and to contribute to this amazing, innovative program. And he reminds you that giraffe are the best!

Kirstie Ruppert

Kirstie Ruppert

... is a Research Coordinator on the Community Engagement team at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. In this position, she conducts social research to understand the human dimensions of conservation issues and to evaluate conservation learning programs. Her current work is based in the conservancies of northern Kenya, where she works in partnership with pastoralist communities and conservation organizations to promote coexistence between people and wildlife, including reticulated giraffe, leopards, and elephants. During her time at SDZG, she served as the AIP program coordinator and now facilitates AIP courses in socio-ecological research methods and conservation education. Kirstie earned a B.S. in Environmental Science from UCLA, and then joined SDZG as a research fellow, where she worked to measure the long-term outcomes of a professional development program for teachers. She then completed her M.A. in Zoology through the Global Field Program with Earth Expeditions to Baja, Guyana, and Kenya, and she centered her graduate work around the intersection of participatory research and conservation photography. After spending just enough time away from school to miss it, she has started working towards her Ph.D. in Human Dimensions of Ecology and Environmental Science at the University of Maine!

Mckenzie Bergstrom

Mackenzie Bergstrom

... recently joined our team as the Conservation Program Specialist, Graduate Programs Manager for AIP in the Conservation Education Division at San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) Institute for Conservation Research. She earned a B.Sc. in Biology from Trinity University in Texas and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from the University of Calgary, AB, Canada. Her dissertation research focused on the behavioral ecology, nutrition and energetics of wild white-faced capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. She has interdisciplinary research interests and experience in lab and field settings with project development, team-based research, and data analysis and presentation. She loves teaching, mentoring and wildlife and is excited to put all of these together to help students realize their potential and explore their passion for conservation through the AIP. She is also excited to have moved to the warm climate in San Diego where she can garden, hike and play soccer outdoors year-round without fear of freezing!

Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo

Amanda Lindell

... is a Director of Professional Development for Educators at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Amanda holds a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami and a M.S.Ed in Secondary Science Education from Lehman College. After teaching high school  biology for two years in New York City, Amanda joined the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2010 where she has focused most of her time on the Urban Advantage Middle School Science Initiative teaching students and teachers how to use the Zoo for long-term science investigations. Recently, she has been shifting her focus to pre-service teachers in on-site and online workshops, where she inspires them to become passionate about both science and teaching science to their future students. She enjoys traveling with her husband to faraway places like New Zealand and Kenya but also coming home to their loving mutt, Juno. Being able to pass on her passion and inspire others to love science and the environment is her favorite part of her job.

Kathryn Atkins

... is a Coordinator of Professional Development for Educators at the Wildlife Conservation Society.  Kathryn has a BA in Biology from the University of Mississippi, an MS in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development and a Certificate in African Studies from the University of Wisconsin/Madison, and an MS Ed in Secondary Science Education from Lehman College.  Prior to joining the WCS Professional Development team she was a Secondary Instructor in the Bronx Zoo’s School Program Department, where she taught informal science programming to middle and high school students and developed and taught courses for graduate students.  She then taught middle school science for three years as a New York City Teaching Fellow before returning to WCS to work with AIP.  In addition to a love of conservation and science education, Kathryn is an avid knitter, crafter and baker – all of which she hopes to share with AIP students!

Woodland Park Zoo

Katie Remine

... works as the Science and Conservation Education Supervisor in the Education Department at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, where she provides professional development for formal and informal educators; supervises on-site and outreach school, afterschool and summer learning programs; and facilitates programs that engage these audiences in wildlife conservation. Katie is a huge believer in the potential of international experiential learning to foster a sustainable global community! She spent a year in Iceland as an exchange student, and then received a degree in biology and a minor in African studies from Colorado College (with two semesters of study abroad in east and southern Africa). She completed her M.Sc. degree in Biodiversity Conservation and Management through Imperial College London.

Alicia Highland

Alicia Highland

... works as the Educator & School Partnerships Coordinator with Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) in Seattle. In addition to her work with WPZ's Advanced Inquiry Program, Alicia works with educators and school districts to develop and deliver innovative, experiential science curriculum. She also facilitates professional development opportunities for adult learners and science workshops for all members of her community. Alicia earned her B.S. in Conservation Biology from Kent State University and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in environmental Education from IslandWood and the University of Washington. She also has a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Washington. Alicia enjoys outdoor recreation and traveling, and recently checked backpacking and kayaking in Alaska off of her bucket list!