Board Members

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Gustavo Requena Santos

President, Membership Chair

Gustavo grew up in close contact with the Brazilian Rainforest, a fascination that years later motivated him to become a field biologist by the Universidade Estadual de Campinas. His passion for nature and science compelled him to do fieldwork in the familiar forests around his hometown, and also in the Brazilian savannah, in the Amazon, and in the Tropical Forests of Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica. In 2012, he obtained his PhD in Ecology from the Universidade de São Paulo. As an academic, Gustavo strongly advocates for the importance of science literacy and critical thinking for advancements in education and social transformation. In 2017, he moved to Connecticut and decided to transition from academia to the non-profit sector, particularly using outdoor education to promote science literacy, where audiences of all ages and backgrounds experience the scientific method by doing science themselves. He has worked with the non-profits New Haven Land Trust and Solar Youth. Gustavo and his partner Stephen live in Hamden, love hiking and camping, and have been exploring CT outdoors on weekend trips across the state.

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Jessica LaPolt

Executive Director

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Chelsey Hobby

Treasurer

Love of nature started at an early age for this native New Yorker with family camping and Kayak trips across New England. Her love of nature guided her to SUNY Morrisville where she earned her AAS in Natural Resource Conservation. After graduation she transitioned to administrative work in the non-profit sector, where, for the past 23 years, she has worked in different areas of the Finance Department for multiple non-profits.  Chelsey holds a BA in Business Management with a minor in HR from Post University.  She currently serves as the Director of Finance and HR at the New Canaan Nature Center.  In her spare time you can find her camping, kayaking, canoeing and hiking across NY State with her daughter, Scarlet. 

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Laura Cisneros

Conference Co-Chair

Laura Cisneros an Assistant Extension Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment & Institute of the Environment at UConn. Laura is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received a B.S. in Zoology at Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. Laura’s Ph.D. research explored how human land use and forest fragmentation affect bat communities in Costa Rica. Currently, Laura works with UConn’s Natural Resources Conservation Academy to develop and implement place-based, environmental action programs that integrate technology used by professionals and support intergenerational (e.g., teen & adult teams) community conservation projects. Her integrated research efforts center on understanding how environmental action programs and community science impact capacity to address environmental issues. In Laura’s spare time, she enjoys being on the move, whether it be long distant running, biking, hiking or camping.

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Victoria “Torey” Dake

Officer

Torey, is a blossoming naturalist and environmental educator. Many trips to museums and parks as a child inspired her to pursue a career in public education and animal care. She graduated from Colby-Sawyer College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Sciences, with her focus on terrestrial ecology, animal behavior, and sustainability. After graduation, she discovered her passion for volunteering and has made it a core part of her life. She has volunteered at Camp Care Therapeutic Riding, Mystic Aquarium, and (most recently) The Sciencenter in Ithaca, NY. She is a member of IMATA and NAI and a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG). In her spare time, Torey can be found walking trails with her dog, Riker, taking in the scenery while snowshoeing or paddle boarding, or researching new recipe ideas to test out.

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Nicole Freidenfelds

Officer

Nicole Freidenfelds is a Visiting Assistant Extension Educator in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at UConn. She earned a B.S. in Biology at Eastern Connecticut State University and a M.S. in Natural Resources at the University of New Hampshire. In her previous role as a professional scientist, Nicole’s research mainly focused on studying the behavior, ecology and evolution of amphibians and reptiles. Later, while teaching public high school science for several years, she developed a genuine joy of working with youth. Currently, as program coordinator for UConn’s Natural Resources Conservation Academy, Nicole oversees a wide range of unique and exciting local environmental projects being conducted by teen-adult teams throughout the state. She tries to spend as much of her free time outdoors as possible – hiking, fishing, hunting, and exploring.

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Kimberly Hughs

Officer

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Doris Johnson

Officer

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Justin Kaput

Officer

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Evelyn Kubik

Officer

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Susan Robinson

Officer

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Bethany Sheffer

Officer

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THE

TEAM

THANK YOU to outgoing 2020 Board members:

  • Michelle Eckman

  • Abby Beissinger

  • Geoff McCann

 

Please visit our contact page to connect with any of our board members.