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Meet Our Team

  • Ali Jeney

    Director

    (304) 293-7190

    Ali began her journey in experiential and outdoor education in 2008 while pursuing her BA degrees at WVU in Environmental Geoscience and International Studies. Since, Ali has worked as a geologist, guide, and educator while pursuing her MA in secondary science education completed in 2018. Ali enjoys a variety of outdoor pursuits, but her favorites are backpacking and canoeing. Her passions include using the outdoors to empower and inspire inquiry in young people and teaching science through experiential learning. She firmly believes that there is a scientist in everyone, and she’s determined to help our WV children discover this within themselves.

  • Alice Morgan

    Associate Director, Programming and Research

    Alice has been working as an outdoor educator since her freshman year of college at Berry College. After earning a Masters degree from the University of Edinburgh, she worked for Shenandoah University directing their outdoor and sustainability program. She earned a PhD in WVU's Recreation Parks & Tourism program, where she loves learning about new ways to get people excited about nature. When she's not working for the Science Adventure School, Alice enjoys spending time outdoors, knitting, baking, and gardening.

  • Andrew Hoover

    Director, Science Behind the Sport & SAS Associate Director, STEM Programming

    Andrew Hoover is the Director of the Science Behind the Sport program. Andrew, a native of Bridgeport WV, is a graduate of the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Andrew has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor is Business Administration. He has been working in the field of STEM education and adventure programming since 2012 as the Program Director of the WVU Science Behind the Sport. In his free time, Andrew enjoys cycling (both mountain and road) and hiking with his wife Cheyenne and their dogs Kyra and Axel.

  • Sassy

    SASquatch

    Who are the Sassys? We don't know, but they really seem to love STEM and the outdoors! Our first Sassy came to say "hello" earlier this year and one more soon followed. It's these mysterious creatures' job to make every student smile. If you see one, make sure to offer them a hug!

  • Donna Peduto

    Science Adventure School Project Advisor

    Donna Peduto currently serves as Executive Director of the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative. The WVPEC is a non-partisan collaborative of diverse state and national leaders championing awareness and support of public schools through outreach, innovation, and convening of stakeholders.Under Peduto’s leadership, the WVPEC has convened three Legislators’ Forums on Education and the Economy and the inaugural Focus Forward: Preparing Today for the West Virginia of Tomorrow summit. Peduto brings a vast background and extensive expertise in education to the Science Adventure School team. Please click on her name above to see her Full Bio.

  • Nick Thompson

    Experiential Education Coordinator

    Nick Thompson is the Experiential Education Coordinator for Science Adventure School. He oversees the design, operation and staffing for programming, as well as the development of our seasonal guide team, program leads and training operations. Born in Wheeling, WV, Nick graduated from WVU with a BS in Recreation, Parks and Tourism while working for Adventure WV as a trip leader and in the Outdoor Recreation Center. Since graduating, he’s been working in outdoor education as an instructor, taking explorers on multi-day expeditions throughout the US. From paddling to backpacking, Nick specializes in outdoor adventure and loves the opportunity the outdoors provide for connection and new experiences. He can't wait to create meaning and transference between Science Adventure School and the students' day-to-day lives.

  • Jess Kaplan

    Environmental Education Coordinator

    Jessica serves Science Adventure School as the Environmental Education Coordinator where she works to connect youth to nature through hands-on, inquiry-based programming. Originally from Pennsylvania, Jess fell in love with the Mountain State while completing her master's in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources at WVU. Before joining Science Adventure School, Jess worked at various non-profits such as Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh and the West Virginia Botanic Garden. She loves connecting with nature because it keeps her grounded and loves to explore new places and learn the natural history of the area. Outside of work, you can find Jess hiking, trail running or rowing.

  • Annie Harmon

    STEM Coordinator

    A lifelong lover of the outdoors, Annie studied Biology and Spanish at Denison University before embarking on a varied career of teaching and researching. Highlights included managing a tropical reserve, training birds of prey, and running high ropes challenges, before she discovered that outdoor education was her real passion. Annie joined SAS as a STEM Instructor in 2021. She loves giving students from her home state the chance to explore the science and math hidden in outdoor adventures. Annie spends her free days birdwatching, rock climbing, and playing music.

  • Abe Johnson

    Program Manager

    A Morgantown, WV native, Abe Johnson is Program Manager for Science Adventure School. He supports the overall management, operations and growth of SAS through hands-on support of programming and Science Behind the Sport curriculum. Johnson graduated from West Virginia University with a with a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources. Throughout his tenure at WVU and after graduation, he worked on developing and running mountain bike programs for the BSA. Abe loves exploring the great outdoors to discover new activities and find new passions. In his free time, you can find him mountain biking (of course!), backpacking, and caving.

  • JoAn Jackson

    Outdoor Education Nurse

    As the Outdoor Education Nurse JoAn brings many years of varied nursing experience to the team. JoAn graduated from WVU with her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She was a Girl Scout as a youth and has volunteered over the years in Cub and Boy Scout camping programs. With a love of nature and the outdoors, JoAn strongly believes that youth being present in nature and participating in an outdoor learning environment, provides multiple benefits for them academically, as well as improvement in physical and mental health. In her spare time, JoAn enjoys spending time with her three sons, in her perennial butterfly garden, bird watching, genealogy researching, and reading while sitting with her three dogs.

  • Adrianna O'Neal

    Intern

    Adrianna O'Neal is the Data Management and Administration Intern for Science Adventure School, where she helps to code a database to better store and access information for the program. Adrianna also assists with administrative duties. Adrianna is a current Management Information Systems student at West Virginia University and enjoys kayaking, hiking and simply being outside, surrounded by the woods.

  • Sam Shrestha

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION LEAD

    I grew up in Towson, MD, where I learned to love the outdoors with his journey in Boy Scouts. Afterwards, I attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where I earned my B.S. in Aerospace Engineering in spring 2021 and minored in Sustainability Studies. While at UMD, I worked as a Trip Leader for the UMD Adventure Program, where I got the opportunity to lead trips for other university students in hiking, camping, backpacking, road and mountain biking, climbing, canoeing, and whitewater and coastal kayaking. My favorite activities in the outdoors are backpacking, climbing, and coastal kayaking. After graduating, I worked as an Outdoor Education Guide for SAS in 2021 and loved it! I am very excited to be back! Since last year, I’ve been working in an office at Snowbird Ski Resort where I have learned to ski and snowboard.

  • Blake Flessas

    Environmental Education Lead

    Blake’s outdoor education journey began as a 6th grader, attending an outdoor science school similar to SAS. That formative experience led to a lifelong passion for youth development and leading young people in discovering the outdoors. Blake’s background is in environmental education, critical pedagogy, youth development and mentorship, food justice and farming access, and they hold a BA in Environmental Education from Hampshire College. A recent transplant to West Virginia, Blake has lived and worked throughout the country and is excited to put roots down in Appalachia. Outside of SAS, Blake enjoys “hiking” (meandering slowly through the woods looking at cool plants), gardening, and hanging out with their pet Angora rabbit, François Brunch

  • Alina Anchondo

    Outdoor Education Guide

    In 2017 I graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and a double minor in French and Translation. However, in 2018 I got my first seasonal job working for the BSA for a summer camp. Since then, I have had different temporary outdoor jobs, and over a year ago I started referring to myself as a “seasonal employee”. That means that not only do I move around to where my jobs take me, but more importantly: I go where my heart leads. I have been a scout since I was 8 years old, and I have always loved nature. To me, doing what I love means being outside. I love seeing other people enjoy the outdoors as much as me, and the look of a kid who is truly experiencing nature for the first time. In my free time I love to be outdoors: I like climbing, hiking, camping, skiing and more, but I also like to cuddle indoors with a good book and good music.

  • Megan Gardner

    Environmental Educator

    I am an environmental educator and have been working seasonal jobs around the country since 2018. I started out as the Ecology and Conservation Director at a Scouts BSA camp in Ohio. I earned my B.A. in General Science-Biology and Environmental Studies from Grinnell College in Iowa where I also had the opportunity to work part-time for the local soil and water conservation district. Since graduating, I have worked in the Florida Keys as a STEM Mate for the BSA Florida High Adventure Sea Base, and I am a returning Environmental Educator for Science Adventure School. Through my outdoor environmental education experiences, I hope to make the outdoors and environmental science accessible and engaging to everyone, especially school-aged children and people that have been historically separated from the outdoors. I am looking forward to another year at SAS!

  • Nathan Swanton

    STEM INSTRUCTOR

    Originally from Buffalo, NY, Nathan has spent the last year hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail, ski instructing, and working a summer camp in rural Alaska. Before entering seasonal work, his background was in Biomedical Engineering and medical equipment repair. His main interests are in outdoors education, international development work, and slow travel like backpacking or bike touring. When he's not doing those, you can usually find him attempting to learn a new hobby.

  • Jacob Bentley

    ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR

    This is my first time stepping into the world of outdoor education, but I’m really excited to be involved with SAS! I’ve been a swim coach and snowboard instructor for the last 8 years, and have been coaching the freestyle snowboard team at Massanutten Resort for the last 4 years, where I’ve been lucky enough to coach at USASA Nationals out in Copper Mountain, CO. Getting to work outside for a living and getting to see people fall in love with the outdoors was instrumental in my decision to pursue environmental studies in college, and this past May I graduated from Bridgewater College with my B.S. in Environmental Science, where I concentrated largely on environmental chemistry and conservation biology. In addition to being an outdoors enthusiast - I love to snowboard, hike, backpack, and bike - I play guitar, a bit of piano, and love to read in my free time. I’m super stoked to be working as an Environmental Educator at the Summit and combining my education with my coaching background to get people connected to nature through science!

  • Hali Stuck

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION GUIDE

    Hali Stuck has worked in the outdoor field for the past three years leading First Year Trips and high ropes programs with Adventure West Virginia. She recently graduated with her bachelors degree in political science and plans to return for her masters degree in wildlife and fisheries. She loves spending time with her two cats Stumpy and Yao and her favorite outdoor activity is whitewater rafting!

  • Joel Mota

    STEM Instructor

    My name is Joel Mota. I am from Louriçal, a rustic small village in Portugal. At a young age I developed a fascination in the outdoors and nature, particularly with snakes. Once I entered college I finally got to contribute to many different scientific projects: studying epilepsy and seizures, identifying how bird species change their vocalizations in response to road noise, and conducting environmental restoration work in the Chesapeake Bay. Throughout my undergraduate years, I continued to develop passions and hobbies in cooking/baking and cycling. Most recently, I graduated with my master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries management from West Virginia University where I focused on better understanding where spotted turtles are found in West Virginia. I am very excited to be part of Science Adventure School this season and to bring my unique scientific experiences to the program!

  • Allee Sadler

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION GUIDE

    Hey I’m Allee! I love anything and everything outside. Recently I have been pursuing seasonal jobs in outdoor education and recreation so that I can share my passion for the outdoors with others. I have gotten to be a rock climbing instructor and run challenge courses and zip lines. I grew up in scouting and I am a part of the first class of female Eagle Scouts. In my free time you can catch me hiking, rock climbing, nature journaling and reading in a hammock.

  • Carina Rees

    ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR

    After growing up on the coast of South Wales, I studied for my BSc in Biology and an MRes in Biosciences, with a focus on ecology and conservation. After university, I led educational field trips in South-East Asia, working with students aged 7 to 18, teaching biology and geography, and encouraging discussion of important topics such as global warming and single-use plastics. I love being outdoors, and getting the next generation excited about the natural world.

  • Saurav Rai

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION GUIDE

    I'm a fully accredited river guiding professional trained in all aspects of outdoor adventure acumen in the Adventure Tourism Industry. A strong record of success in providing adventure tourism experiences for customers relating to whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking, canyoneering and trekking. I have facilitated team building activities for corporate groups, schools and colleges and have experience working as a team leader teaching basic outdoor courses to small international groups and Nepali youths. I'm a national athlete. In 2019 I represented Nepal in the ICF Wildwater Canoeing World Cup in China. We secured 1st runner up in the recent national rafting championship too. I made it to the podium in a few different kayaking championships and freestyle kayaking championships too.

  • Claire Wayne

    BMX Program Specialist / Operations

    Claire Wayne hails from Clay, West Virginia. She has a B.A. in music from West Virginia University as well as a minor in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources. Claire has spent four seasons as an outdoor educator teaching skiing or mountain biking at Snowshoe Resort, Ace Adventure Resort, and Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. She has an adventurous, fun-loving spirit, and considers herself to be a life long learner. Her favorite past times are roller skating in the park, singing, and walking barefoot.

  • Ashley Shannon

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION GUIDE

    Hello! My name is Ashley Shannon and I have recently acquired a new found love for everything related to the outdoors. I have started doing some seasonal work beginning at the Summit as a zip line and rock climbing guide. Pursuing new hobbies and activities as a part of my job has been a great way to experience new things and meet new people. Because of this, I am very excited to be working as a part of the Science Adventure School team this season and to make the whole experience great for everyone involved!

  • Adam Messenger

    STEM INSTRUCTOR

    Adam Messenger is a resident of Morgantown, WV, and has been involved in education for close to a decade. He has served in different positions in organizations such as the WVU Youth Theatre Academy, Mountaineer Boys and Girls Club, and Monongalia County Schools. He recently finished teaching a year of 4th grade at Mylan Park Elementary, and managing a volunteer service group of middle school campers at Camp YETI with BOPARC, and is now excited to join Science Adventure School as a STEM Instructor. In his free time Adam enjoys threatre, getting outside to hike and camp, and playing board games and RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. He also enjoys his many pets, including his cats Jazz and Toulouse, and his reptiles Luna, Helen, and Esther.

  • Bernardo Escudero

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION GUIDE

    Hi, my name is Bernardo but you can call me Bernie. I'm from Puerto Rico, but I've been living in Florida for the past 2 years and a half. I've been in the Boy Scouts movement since I was a kid. I love outdoor stuff like camping, hiking, rappelling and being under the stars with my hammock. I was the past assistant manager for the BigZip line on the Summit Bechtel Reserve. I love the cold that’s strange because I’m from the Caribbean.

  • Chris Heselton

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION GUIDE

    I worked in the outdoor field with Adventure West Virginia for the past four years leading First Year Trips. I recently graduated from WVU with a bachelors degree in Multidisciplinary Studies. I love all things outdoors but my favorite being kayaking and climbing!

  • Cy Patterson

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION GUIDE

    Hello! I grew up in Northern Ohio and I have always had a deep fascination with nature and the natural world. I attended college and got a degree in biology, with the intent to work with animals. I achieved that goal and worked as a zookeeper for several years, in various facilities throughout the country. Eventually, because I spent a lot of time facilitating educational programs in the facilities I worked at, I came to realize that I really, really loved teaching kids about the wonders of nature and watching their faces light up with excitement because they learned something new and interesting. I finally found my way into the outdoor education field last year, and it has truly captured my heart. I am very excited to learn and to grow, on this new path that I have discovered, and that SAS gets to be a part of that experience.

  • Ian Bradford

    STEM INSTRUCTOR

    Ian Bradford is a Morgantown, West Virginia native who has spent his whole life living in and exploring Appalachia! He is a recent graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. During his time at WVU, Ian worked for Adventure WV for 3 years as a trip and program leader, as well as a program support staff member. Taking a gap year before pursuing a career in Wilderness Medicine, he is excited to have the opportunity to combine his love for science and the outdoors in the STEM Educator role with SAS. When not working, you will find Ian skiing, backpacking, or climbing around West Virginia. On top of the outdoors, he has a love for music and playing piano.

  • James Longenderfer

    STEM INSTRUCTOR

    Originally graduating with a business degree, I explored many different jobs before working with kids. Most recently, I worked as a Behavioral Health Technician for kids with Autism in Philadelphia. Although this will be my first time working in Outdoor Education, I am no stranger to the outdoors! I enjoy spending as much time as possible outside, whether it be cycling, hiking, climbing or swimming. I also enjoy reading, listening to music and playing guitar. I am very excited to work as a STEM Instructor for Science Adventure School this season!

  • Kris Cooper

    OUTDOOR EDUCATION GUIDE

    Kris Cooper graduated from WVU in 2020 with a BS in Wildlife & Fisheries Resources Management. Since then, he has been working seasonal jobs as a naturalist, an outdoor educator, a ropes course instructor, a veterinary assistant, and most recently- a wildlife rehabber. Kris got his love for the outdoors from exploring the creek in his hometown of Coalton, WV and is extremely excited to be returning to the mountain state & working with SAS.

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