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 has also done extensive 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 in Environmental Stewardship! She is also a LEED Green Associate, a Green Advantage Certified Practitioner, an experienced local hiking guide, and is First Aid and CPR 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.
Liam Hickey (Intern) - Educator, Camp Counselor
Liam Hickey is an Environmental Science major at Ramapo College, and is interning at Weis for 2017-2018. He served as a Counselor, and then Head Counselor, for 5 summers at the Dumont, NJ Summer Rec program, where he supervised the campers as well as other Counselors, and planned activities and events. He has also worked as a Land Surveyor and Theater Assistant. Liam is active in community service and is a member of Ramapo’s 1Step club, which works to help further the 'Ramapo Green' initiative . An avid hiker and backpacker, Liam also enjoys photography and says being in nature is his favorite thing, Liam hopes to share his enthusiasm for nature with others during his year at Weis. He is First Aid and CPR certified, and serves as our 2017 Summer Camp Co-Health Director.
James O'Neil (Intern) - Educator, Camp Counselor
James O’Neill is an Environmental Studies/Biology major at Ramapo College, and is interning at Weis for 2017-2018. He previously worked at YMCA Camp Bernie, where he was an overnight counselor and taught wilderness survival, He has also worked for Clean Water Action and was a teacher's assistant at the Meadowlands Environment Center. James manages Ramapo’s on-campus gardens, organizes student volunteers to tend the greenhouse, and is working to form the college’s first gardening club. He is a member of Ramapo's 1Step club, which works to help further the 'Ramapo Green' initiative. His interests include birdwatching, hiking, activism, writing and working with kids. James has always been passionately interested in nature, and enjoys connecting with younger generations and learning from them as they learn from him. He is First Aid and CPR certified, and serves as our 2017 Summer Camp Co-Health Director.
Sarah Crosby - Educator, Camp Counselor
Sarah grew up and lives in Ringwood, and is majoring in Philosophy at Rutgers University. Sarah served as a New Weis Center Camp Counselor in 2016, and returned for the expanded 2017 season. She is also one of our field trip educators, and has a great rapport with kids of all ages. 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!"
Heather Frisbie - Educator, Camp Counselor
Heather moved to Ringwood when she was 9 and lived near Weis for many years. She explored the trails, caves, waterfalls and hidden places within Weis and that love of the outdoors propelled her into studying the natural world. She graduated from Ramapo College with a Bachelors degree in Biology/Environmental Studies and went on to intern with SCA/Americorp in Harriman State Park as an Environmental Educator. Currently Heather runs the Sunday School program at the Community Presbyterian Church in Ringwood, teaches music at their vacation bible school, runs the Ringwood Girl Scout unit annual campfire and works as a teacher’s aide at Christ the King Nursery School. She continues to reside in beautiful Ringwood with her husband and 3 girls. Heather is thrilled to be an educator at Weis and hopes to provide an engaging outdoor education program so children can learn to love our natural environment just as she did when she was a kid.
Previous Ramapo College May H Weis Environmental Award Interns
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 - 2016-2017)
John interned at Weis while pursuing an environmental studies major at Ramapo College, with a minor in public policy. John is first aid, wilderness first aid, and first responder certified, and served as Weis Co-Camp Director in summer 2016. He previously worked at Spring Lake Day Camp 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.