Discovery Southeast's staff consists of experienced naturalists with academic, field, and teaching backgrounds who have a deep understanding and thorough familiarity with the full spectrum of nature in Southeast Alaska. Our board of directors is composed of people who combine their passion for nature with their skills and experience to give the organization a clear sense of direction while building strong community support.
[Click a name to jump to the profile]
- Executive Director: Beth Weigel
- Book Keeper: Tim Blust
- AmeriCorps Volunteer: Christine Amor
- Program Coordinator:
- Outdoor Explorers Leader: Megan Bush
- Alaska Conservation Foundation Intern: Hannah Claytor
- Naturalists: Scott Burton, Steve Merli, Tom Schwartz, Rick Bellagh, Rogelio Cardo, Kanaan Bausler, Bob Christensen, Amy Nye, Ken Leghorn, Kaitlyn Bausler
- At Large: Richard Carstensen, Kathy Hocker
Board of Directors
- President: Bonita Nelson
- Vice President: Brock Tabor
- Treasurer: Butch Carber
- Secretary: Jennifer Thompson
- Tim Moore
- Colin Todd
- Melissa Goldstein
- Zach Stenson
- Kevin Maier
- Shawn Eisele
- Clay Good
Beth Weigel - Executive Director. Beth has been with Discovery Southeast for four years. She moved to Juneau over a decade ago after having grown up on a small farm in rural Pennsylvania and eventually striking out for Colorado, where she earned a PhD in Human Communication from the University of Denver. Her experiences teaching skiing and working for Gastineau Guiding piqued her interest in the significance of the outdoor classroom and nature interpretation. Ocean literacy, along with the health benefits of spending time in nature, are two of the areas she's focused on learning more about during her time with Discovery Southeast. In addition to her work here, she teaches part-time at the University of Alaska-Southeast and enjoys spending the winter months skiing or teaching at Eaglecrest. Other hobbies include music, theatre, and coming up with ways to reuse everything (just check out 2011 Parade of Species costumes for evidence...)
Tim Blust - Book Keeper. Profile coming soon.
Christine Amor - AmeriCorps Ocean Literacy and Nature Educator. Born and raised in Massachusetts, AmeriCorps Christine Amor seeks adventure in both the intertidal and the forest. Christine holds an Associates of Science in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies. Last summer, she helped spearhead a three-week summer science day camp at Joppa Flats Education Center in Newburyport, MA, and this year she puts those skills to work assisting Rick Bellagh with Nature Studies at Harborview Elementary School and leading the Early Dismissal Monday program there. When she isn’t getting kids excited about nature, you can find her hiking, biking, practicing yoga, or singing and splashing in the rain.
Cathleen Balantic - Program Coordinator. After one year serving as Discovery Southeast's AmeriCorps member, Cathleen is back for a second year as the program and office coordinator. Last year she was the assistant naturalist for Harborview's Nature Studies program and also led the Early Dismissal Mondays program. This year she fills those same roles at Gastineau Elementary. After graduating from college in 2009 and moving away from New England, she spent a year in Atlanta where she taught nature education programs that featured everything from live boa constrictors to honeybees. When she isn't at work, you'll find her running all over Juneau's roads and trails.
Richard Carstensen. One of the founders of Discovery Southeast, Richard is coauthor of The Nature of Southeast Alaska (1992), The Enduring Forests (1996), Book of the Tongass (1999), The coastal Forests and Mountains Ecoregion (2007, Audubon/TNC),and Salmon in the Trees (2010). From 1996 to 2004 he was field leader of the Landmark Trees Project, documenting Alaska's finest remaining large-tree forests. In 2005 he teamed with Bob Christensen to begin the Ground-Truthing Project, becoming the "eyes and ears in the woods" for the Southeast Alaskan conservation community and a voice for resilient forestry. Richard is currently transitioning from Tongass-wide studies to a more local emphasis on City and Borough of Juneau watersheds, the 10,000-year history of people in our region, and applying these interests to place-based education for Juneau schools. For a tiny fraction of Richard's writing and research, check our Publications page, where you can read his newsletter features and view a handful of the research projects he's worked on. Read a feature about Richard from Orion magazine: [page 1] [page 2]
Steve Merli. Steve has been leading local elementary schoolers through the woods for Discovery Southeast since 1991. The head naturalist at Glacier Valley Elementary School's Nature Studies program, he grew up in New Jersey, earned a degree in environmental education and a certification to teach high school biology and Earth science, moved to southeast Alaska in 1981, and has been ever since. He has won the Jerry Dixon Award for Excellence in Environmental Education. For a glimpse into the mind of a veteran Nature Studies facilitator, read Steve's piece about going "Off Trail" from Discovery Southeast's Fall 2001 newsletter. Also check out "Night Walk" from the Spring 2000 issue.
Kathy Hocker. Kathy began working for Discovery Southeast in 1995. She has been a naturalist at both Mendenhall River and the Juneau Community Charter School, and has done special projects with most of the other schools in town, in addition to adult workshops. Kathy has been involved with a number of Discovery Southeast publications, including the Discovery Guides, the Streamwalker's Companion and several curricula. Now, she is a freelance writer and illustrator, and teaches classes in nature drawing to children and adults. To get a glimpse of some of Kathy's work and research, check our Publications page, where she's contributed many illustrations and features to the newsletters.
Bob Christensen. Bob has been working with Discovery Southeast for about ten years as a Teacher Expeditions guide and technology consultant. He's made his home at a remote wilderness cabin in Icy Strait since 1997. For the past 15 years, he has worked with a wide range of state and federal resource agencies, conservation groups, community groups, and private developers on fish and wildlife studies, wilderness guiding, and construction projects throughout Southeast Alaska. He is the sole proprietor of Living Systems Design and the co-founder of SEAWEAD, a nonprofit ecological research and education organization based in Gustavus, Alaska. Bob's favorite things to do are ocean kayaking, hunting, fishing, mapping bear trails and listening to people tell their stories.
Scott Burton. Scott has been with Discovery Southeast for eight years. In addition to a variety of special projects, he has led both Nature Studies and the Early Dismissal Mondays program at Gastineau elementary school and currently helps facilitate Discovery Days and other programs. He grew up in southern California flipping rocks and looking for snakes and scorpions. A BA in Economics and Japanese led him to Japan as an ESL instructor, where he learned to love teaching. He is currently working on an MFA in creative writing, and would like to help children write about nature. If he isn't outside, he's probably playing music with his bluebrass band, writing, or working on his car.
Rick Bellagh. Rick is in his fifth year with Discovery Southeast, acting as lead naturalist for Harborview's Nature Studies program and leading Discovery Days. His interest in the natural world started with Boy Scouts in Cleveland, which opened his eyes to and desire for wild spaces. Outside of his work as a Discovery Southeast naturalist, he teaches Spanish and runs the rugged Wabi Sabi Organic Wilderness farm on Shelter Island. Some of his favorite activities aside from exploring the outdoors include cooking, eating, yoga, and ping pong.
Tom Schwartz. Tom started working as a kayak guide for Alaska Discovery in 2003. He is currently in his fourth year as a naturalist for Discovery Southeast, currently acting as the lead naturalist in the Nature Studies program at Gastineau Elementary School and also helping guide the Bears of Admiralty Island Teacher Expedition. He has guided for adults in Pack Creek, Katmai, Glacier Bay, and western Alaska, and uses the abundance of bear experience he's gained on these trips to deliver the bear education program for all fifth grade classrooms in the Juneau School District. Tom has leads Discovery Days.
Kanaan Bausler. Kanaan grew up at the foot of Mt. Jumbo in Douglas and joins Discovery Southeast as the Early Dismissal Monday leader at Auke Bay. He also assists with Nature Studies, leads Discovery Days, and was recently honored with a grant from Outdoor Nation for his work on a project that helps connect youth to nature. After completing his liberal arts and sciences program at Quest University in British Columbia, Kanaan is currently taking Tlingit language and culture classes at UAS in order to understand our region from a more complete human perspective. A few of his favorite pursuits are exploring new places, learning new ways to have fun, thinking new thoughts, meeting interesting people, and doing all of those things with good friends and family.
Amy Nye. Amy ventured to Alaska nearly ten years ago as a sea kayak guide after working with numerous nature studies programs worldwide. As a zoologist with a passion for teaching, Amy strives to share her understanding and enthusiasm for nature in hopes that through education we will appreciate and protect our precious planet. Amy joined the Discovery Southeast team four years ago and has enjoyed the opportunity to create positive experiences for students and connect them to their unique natural world. In her free time, she's often outside collecting berries and other delicious wild edibles, or peacefully kayaking among whales and sea lions!
Megan Bush. Joining us this summer as the Lead Naturalist for Outdoor Explorers camp, Megan tromped through the woods with Discovery Southeast naturalists as an elementary school student and has loved playing outside ever since. She has a B.A. in classical studies and English, and has spent the past few years working and volunteering in outdoor education and youth development, exposing kids to the outdoors in eastern Washington, rural New Jersey, the Teton Mountain region and now back home in Juneau. Megan loves trail running, skiing, finding undiscovered places, and meeting interesting mountains and interesting people (and writing about them)!
Hannah Claytor. Hannah will be joining Discovery Southeast as the ACF summer intern. She will be working with Megan Bush to lead the Outdoor Explorers summer camp! Her first Alaskan experience was commercial fishing in the Cook Inlet. Her passions include trail running, long-distance backpacking, and traveling. She has a B.A in Economics and Environmental Studies and will be attending graduate school in the fall. She has spent three months backpacking in the Himalayas while studying the natural world. Hannah loves outdoor adventures and would like to pass along her passion for the environment with Discovery Southeast!
Board of Directors
Bonita Nelson - President. Bonita has been a member of the Discovery Southeast board since 2006. She is a Federal Fisheries Research Biologist with NOAA and has been involved with extensive nature education outreach projects throughout her career there. She devotes her spare time to family, walks and hiking, pets, cooking, reading, and being with kids.
Brock Tabor - Vice President. Brock joined the Discovery Board in 2009. Along with an educational background in geosciences, environmental policy, and education, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and professional naturalist, having worked as a guide for twenty years.
Clay Good. Clay joined the board in 2011 after retiring from teaching science here in Juneau. He grew up fishing, hunting, and camping in southeast. He believes that, "studies need inspiration to more fully engage in formal learning. Nature helps provide that inspiration." His interests include music, alpine sports, boating, and biking.