Lead Educator Jill Burgy; Trustees: Karen Zelinski, Karen Ahmed, Anne Siebecker & Jon Berry; not pictured: Ann Darling.
TRUSTEES & STAFF
The Highlands Nature Friends, Inc. is the 501(c)3 non-profit membership organization that owns and operates The New Weis Center.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES:
Jon Berry - President
Jon is a retired special education teacher raising his family in Ringwood, NJ. He spent summers in
Ringwood starting in the early 1950’s, moving there full time in 1987. His children attended Weis
programs and day camps. Jon feels very connected to the property, and through many conversations
over the years with old-timers, he also feels a connection to its fascinating history, which goes back
to the 1800's when it was a farm (the farm building still stands and was used as the 'Nature House').
Jon is a Trustee of the Highlands Natural Pool and serves on the Ringwood Environmental Commission.
While serving as the Commission Chair in 2007, he initiated electronics recycling which continues today.
Karin Adamietz Ahmed - Vice President
Karin is descended from a family of European immigrants who were members of the Nature Friends and started coming to what is now the Weis property in the 1930’s. She grew up next door to the Weis property and feels a strong sense of stewardship. She is a paralegal and did much of the work on our successful 501(3)(c) application. Karin also did extensive historic research on the history of the Weis property, as part of her ongoing work towards nominating the site for the NJ and National Registers of Historic Places.
Ann is a retired early childhood teacher, after teaching for 36 years in West Milford, NJ. She is a former ASTEC Teacher of the Year, a Dodge Fellow for the Liberty Science Center and Partner in Education designer, and currently volunteers at the Highlands Family Success Center. She also created and ran the popular Enchanted Evening tours at Ringwood Manor for many years. Ann feels a deep connection to the Weis property, where she enjoyed doing programs with her classes, such as maple sugaring. She is excited to help create new programs at the Center, and hopes to bring families together through personal connections and programs focused on the history, culture and arts of the area.
Anne Siebecker - Secretary
Anne is a Ringwood, NJ resident with a deep appreciation for the region's rich history, natural beauty and abundant wildlife. She has a background in corporate marketing, communications and project management, earned a certificate in Green Technologies and Sustainability from Bergen Community College, and was certified as a Rutgers Environmental Steward in 2016. Anne is the recipient of the 2017 New Jersey Governor's Jefferson Award for public service! She is also a LEED Green Associate, a Green Advantage Certified Practitioner, an experienced local hiking guide, and is first aid certified. She also enjoys her volunteer work as an Environmental Commissioner in Ringwood, and is on the Board of Trustees for the Ringwood Library. Anne looks forward to engaging the surrounding community, groups and individuals of all ages in a variety of programs and events at Weis.
Karen is a Ringwood, NJ resident, who was introduced to Weis when her two sons attended nature camp there before the closing in 2014. Karen is a veterinarian and nature enthusiast. She enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, biking and kayaking. Karen has great appreciation for the beauty of Ringwood and she feels Weis is a tremendous asset to the community. Karen hopes to make The New Weis Center a place for nature to be preserved and outdoor education and art to be available to all who visit the area.
Jill Burgy - Lead Educator, Camp Director
Jill completed her Master of Arts in Sustainability Studies at Ramapo College, NJ in May, 2017, and is excited to be working at Weis full time now. She grew up in Key West, FL where she first developed a personal relationship with the natural world. As an Environmental Studies major at Rowan University, she completed an internship working as an outdoor educator with the NJ nonprofit Saddler’s Woods Conservation Association. Graduating in 2013, Jill took a summer position at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, NJ, where she honed her public speaking skills with daily programs and led interpretive marsh and kayaking tours. Hooked on the idea of becoming a full-time environmental educator, she moved to New England to work for the Nature’s Classroom organization. Her experience there shapes how she writes programming and hosts activities, and taught her that you don’t need a classroom to make an impact on a student’s life. Jill brings these experiences to Weis, where she is developing programs that combine organic outdoor learning with technical skill development, and are impactful, create understanding and ignite students' creativity.
Sarah Crosby (Camp Counselor)
Sarah grew up and lives in Ringwood, and is studying Philosophy at Rutgers University. Sarah served as a New Weis Center Camp Counselor in 2016, and returns for the expanded 2017 season. Sarah has also represented Weis at farmers markets and volunteered at special events. She says: "I spent many years volunteering as a counselor at the former Weis Ecology Center and now that the center has re-opened I am looking forward to continuing to educate others about the environment. Being able to share my passion for everything outdoors is something special about the the New Weis Center!"
Liam Hickey (Intern Educator/Camp Counselor)
James O'Neil (Intern Educator/Camp Counselor)
Andrew Herrera (Intern Educator/2016 Co-Camp Director)
Andrew interned at Weis for 2016-2017 while pursuing an environmental studies major at nearby Ramapo College. He is first aid certified and served as a Weis Co-Camp Director in summer 2016. Andrew volunteered at an animal sanctuary in Costa Rica in January 2015, and participates in Big Brothers Big Sisters at Ramapo College. Andrew has previous experience working at summer camps, including the Parsippany Recreation Department's summer "Tot Time" program from 2010 to 2014, and is excited to share his enthusiasm for wildlife and the environment with Weis campers and students. In the future, he hopes to study abroad to augment his education in environmental science and stewardship.
John Curnyn (Intern Educator/2016 Co-Camp Director)
John interned at Weis for 2016-2017 while pursuing an environmental studies major at Ramapo College, with a minor in public policy. John is first aid and wilderness first aid certified, and served as a Weis Co-Camp Director in summer 2016. He worked at Spring Lake Day Camp in summer 2015 as an adventure specialist. John attended the spring 2015 semester with the National Outdoor Leadership school in Utah and Wyoming, learning to lead outdoor activities including backpacking, white water kayaking, climbing, and horse packing. John says that experience helped him see outdoor education as a viable career option, and inspired him to work towards that goal. John grew up in Ringwood, NJ, and fondly remembers visiting the former Weis Ecology Center on school trips. He hopes to pass on his many outdoor skills and environmental studies knowledge to visitors to the New Weis Center.