Michele was hired as coordinator of the Wildlife Leadership Academy in 2009 and was promoted to Executive Director of the non-profit in late 2012. She received her M.S. in Zoology from Clemson University and her B.S. in Biology from Pennsylvania State University. Michele has a diverse research background ranging from studying the ecological effects of an invasive plant species to fish behavior and genetics. She has participated in coral reef surveying in the Bahamas, fish health and husbandry research, and dolphin cognition projects. Michele enjoys teaching in formal and informal settings. Her experience includes teaching environmental science courses at community colleges, leading workshops for the general public on the indigenous flora and fauna of Oconee State Park in South Carolina, and introducing marine ecology to guests of Disney’s The Seas. Michele has published several scientific manuscripts and has presented her work nationally and internationally. She is an avid conservationist and enjoys traveling, birding, painting, nature journaling, and nature photography. For questions, comments or concerns regarding the Wildlife Leadership Academy, feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (570) 245-8518.
Wildlife Leadership Academy Program and Outreach Coordinator – Katie Cassidy
Katie leads coordination and implementation of the Academy field schools as well as post field school mentorship including coordination of college visit days, students’ attendance at professional meetings, and field trips. Katie is a Penn State graduate, receiving her M.S. in Agricultural Extension Education, and her B.S. in Forest Biology, with a minor in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. While at Penn State, Katie participated in a number of entomological research projects, including virus as a control for Gypsy Moth, monitoring Asian Longhorn Beetle populations, and exploring and rearing biological control agents of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Katie has been involved with 4-H for a number of years, both as a member and leader, and has guided members through projects ranging from quilting to insect studies. Having grown up in the mountains of Pennsylvania, Katie has long enjoyed being out of doors and sharing that love of nature and the importance of conservation with others. Katie can be contacted at email@example.com or (570) 939-5109.
Curriculum Coordinator – Dr. Gary Alt
Dr. Gary Alt leads curriculum development, implementation and assessment for all field schools. Gary received an associate degree in Wildlife Technology from the DuBois Campus of the Pennsylvania State University in 1972, a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Utah State University in 1974, a M.S. in Wildlife Management from the Pennsylvania State University in 1977, and a Ph.D. in Forest Resources Science from West Virginia University in 1989. Gary worked as a wildlife research biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission for over 27 years: 22 running their statewide black bear and 5 running their statewide deer research and management programs. During his tenure, Gary was responsible for launching some of the largest field studies in the country on black bears and white-tailed deer and made some of the most sweeping changes to bear and deer management in the history of Pennsylvania. He and Hal Korber produced a video on black bears that generated over $1.5 million for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and won 5 awards at an International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, Montana. They teamed up again and produced over 35,000 deer management videos that were distributed to the general public which were instrumental in an educational campaign to win support for major policy changes. Gary has been very active in public education presenting over 1,500 lectures to approximately 300,000 people during his career. Since retiring from the Game Commission, December 2004, Gary has established a wildlife consulting business, leads photographic and natural history tours worldwide, and works part time with the Wildlife Leadership Academy.
Each summer, the logistical operations of the Wildlife Leadership Academy require a committed enthusiastic staff to make sure that we provide a safe and exceptional experience for our students.
Summer Staff Includes:
2 summer-long interns,
A Health Care Coordinator for each field school, and
The Academy Support Team – Alumni who attend various field schools to support the staff leadership.
Instructors and Volunteers
Each field school boasts 25+ instructors; a group of those instructors serve on a Advisory board that reviews and improves each field school from year to year.
While some instructors receive stipends for their time, a majority of instructors give their time in-kind through various agencies and conservation organizations including the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA Department of Environmental Protection, Penn State Extension, National Fish and Wildlife Service, Quality Deer Management Association, Trout Unlimited, Ruffed Grouse Society and National Wild Turkey Federation…just to name a few!
Logistical operations, from helping to cook to supporting youth as they finish projects, the summer field schools are also supported by a dedicated by group of volunteers who were past participants at the Wildlife Leadership Academy and continue to return because of their love of the program! Two of those volunteers include Steve Fecik (pictured to the left), a retired school teacher and Sharon Sielski, a retired school administrator. Both who have been with the program for more than five years.
The mission of the Wildlife Leadership Academy is to engage and empower high school age youth to become Conservation Ambassadors to ensure a sustained wildlife, fisheries and natural resource legacy for future generations. The Academy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a cooperative initiative involving state agencies and conservation organizations.