L-R: Jon Berry, Tom Strube, Karen Ahmed, Ann Darling, Karen Zelinski, Anne Siebecker; not pictured: Jazmine Garcia
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The Highlands Nature Friends, Inc. is the 501(c)3 non-profit membership organization that owns and operates The New Weis Center
Jon Berry - President, Co-founder
Jon is a retired special education teacher who chose to raise his family in Ringwood, NJ, where he spent his summers before moving here full time in the late 1980’s. He is also a co-founder and Trustee of the Highlands Natural Pool. Jon served on the Ringwood Environmental Commission for many years, including as Chairperson, where he initiated electronics recycling. Even before his children attended Weis programs and day camps, Jon felt a connection to the old Nature Friends property and its unique history, which he learned from conversations with neighborhood old-timers. Jon is delighted to work alongside his fellow New Weis Center Trustees, with the great Weis staff, with dedicated volunteers, and with an inspiring group of high-school and college interns. Jon says it is especially rewarding to see so many children learning about and enjoying the natural environment, as he did as a child in this very special place.
Reflections: "I am moved every time I see children at The New Weis Center, as they are having fun outdoors while learning to appreciate the wonder and value of the natural world, just as I did here in my childhood, and as so many youngsters have done at this site for over a hundred years. And I am very grateful every single day that as a Trustee, I can be a part of this wonderful, ongoing journey!"
Karin Adamietz Ahmed - Vice President, Co-founder
Karin is descended from a family of European immigrants who were members of the Nature Friends and moved to Ringwood in the 1940's. She is a retired IT professional and paralegal. Her hobbies include hiking, gardening, and foraging for mushrooms and other wild edibles. Karin grew up next door to the Weis property and is excited for the opportunity to bring the Center back to life, with environmental education, local history, art, music, and recreation programs that serve the local community. Her current areas of focus include researching the history of the property, grant writing and organizing the new "Music at Midvale" open mic series. She is also working on a "mini-museum" and archive at Weis, to chronicle its history since it was founded as Camp Midvale almost 100 years ago.
Reflections: "I am thankful for all of our volunteers at The New Weis Center. I participated in several volunteer events this past year, during our regular third Saturday of the month volunteer days, and also a special work day we held to stain the new porch of our historic farmhouse building. It was great to meet some of the people who came to help us out, and spend time talking and getting to know them. Thank you all, for taking time from your busy schedule to paint, pull weeds, plant flowers, or whatever you did!"
Ann is a retired early childhood teacher, who taught 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 a Partner in Education designer. She was a long-time volunteer at the Highlands Family Success Center, and 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, is involved in our outreach and membership communications, and is always ready to land a hand. She is also fondly known as the Weis "muffin lady" for the delicious treats she bakes for many of our special events. Ann hopes to bring families together through personal connections and programs focused on the history, culture and arts of the area.
Reflections: "The New Weis Center is a living extension of nature in all her varied forms; music, art, theater, education. It warms my heart to hear from students present and past and know that ongoing generations continue to experience the same beautiful kinship that arises from a personal association with nature there. Whether it was through creating and tasting Maple sugar for the first time or experiencing the sensual beauty of a forest bath, or the sacredness of a “talking stick” made as a child in their woods, its been a pleasure and privilege to share Weis as a teacher for almost half a century. It’s thrilling to see the legacy last and continue over a lifetime!"
Anne Siebecker - Secretary & Executive Director
Anne is a Ringwood, NJ resident (since 2005) with a deep appreciation for the region's rich history, natural beauty and abundant wildlife. She brings her experience in marketing, communications and project management to Weis, and she also serves as our Executive Director. In addition to her B.S. from Centenary College, Anne earned a certificate in Green Technologies and Sustainability from Bergen Community College, and was certified as a Rutgers Environmental Steward in 2016. She was the recipient of the 2017 NJ Governor's Jefferson Award for public service in Environmental Stewardship, and has been nominated for the Russ Berrie "Making a Difference Award" four times (2018-2021). She serves on the NJ Commission on Environmental Education, and the Morris County Vocational School's Academy for Environmental Science Advisory Council. She is also First Aid/CPR/AED certified and Mental Health First Aid certified. In addition to her work at Weis, Anne serves her local community as a Ringwood Environmental Commissioner, a member of the Sustainable Ringwood Green Team, and the Friends or the Ringwood Library. She enjoys engaging with the community and people of all ages who visit the Center, and mentoring our student interns. Anne looks forward to developing exciting new programs and partnerships for the community.
Reflections: "I’m grateful that my role with The New Weis Center has given me a sense of purpose and a path to channel my passion for connecting people with nature and share the importance of environmental education. I’m thankful to have this opportunity to support and enhance the community, to provide meaningful experiences to so many, and to know that I’m truly making a difference! I am also grateful for my wonderful colleagues and co-workers, who continue to inspire and motivate me to achieve my personal and professional goals."
Karen is a Ringwood, NJ resident, who was introduced to Weis when her two sons attended nature camp there before the closing in 2012. 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. Among her many contributions, Karen assists with fundraising and coordinates many of our Scout activities, events, service projects and merit badges!
Reflections: "I am thankful for volunteering at The New Weis Center because it has been great to see kids enjoying nature and learning about new things during the classes I have helped with. I am grateful to everyone who has put in a lot of time and effort over the past few years to make the New Weis Center a vibrant place that welcomes the community."