Meet our Educators:
Linda Oltman became the Conservancy’s Environmental Education Coordinator in 2011. Her exceptional and energetic teaching style as a Conservancy Educator, beginning in 2004, and her years of volunteering for Conservancy events, assured a perfect fit for a position of leadership.
Linda holds a B.S. in Biochemical Technology from Spring Garden College, Philadelphia, PA. Linda's work history includes time spent as an Analytical Technician for DeKalb Laboratory, Plymouth Meeting, PA; a Research Assistant at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA; and 10 years as a Research Scientist for Rohm and Haas Company in Spring House, PA.
Linda, her husband, Steve, and their three daughters live in Collegeville where Linda has been an active community volunteer since 1991. Her volunteer activities include 10 years as a Girl Scout leader for two troops; and coaching community soccer, basketball, and softball teams. In her spare time Linda enjoys gardening.
PWC part time Environmental Educators:
Heidi Rader, a local resident of Harleysville, comes to the Perkiomen Watershed with a BS in Education from East Stroudsburg University and a MS in Environmental Education from Arcadia University.
Heidi brings to the Perkiomen Watershed her philosophy that environmental experiences help shape children’s values, perspectives and understanding of the environment and how to interact with it.
Heidi is excited about trading the traditional classroom for the great outdoors where she can focus on basic science concepts children can explore, and provide experiences to begin building a foundation of understanding for future action and decision making because today’s children will be responsible for making decisions that will shape the health of the environment..
When not teaching at the Perkiomen Watershed, Heidi can be found traveling both in the US and overseas reporting on the status of the four endangered species of sea turtles on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, West Africa. As a research associate for the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program which is an academic partnership between Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) and Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (“UNGE”, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea), she traveled to Bioko Island in 2006 as a participant in a three week expedition as a research assistant working along side the villagers of Ureca collecting sea turtle data, and again in January 2008, again as a research associate with National Geographic Magazine documenting the expedition and biodiversity of Bioko Island.
Christine Bennett - With close to three decades of classroom experience working with elementary students, Christine Bennett has demonstrated her unique gift of weaving together the lives of children with the natural world she champions. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education, Pennsylvania Master's Equivalency Certification and a M.A.Ed. in Environmental Education.
While teaching for Souderton Area School District, Christine served as the Environment and Ecology Coordinator for more than 12 years. During that time, she co-authored the district's Environment and Ecology award winning K-5 curriculum. An area of her professional expertise is selecting and using theme-based nature education materials to facilitate the links between ecology, children's literature, writing and learning.
As a Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy volunteer and educator, she enjoys sharing her love of nature with children of all ages. She finds it inspirational to work with the dedicated staff and PWC teachers who share her desire to encourage environmental stewardship and nurture knowledge of the earth through educational experiences. Christine likes to read books, walk with friends and travel, especially if it includes a visit to her children and granddaughter.
Ruth Yeiser, a native of New England, transplanted herself to the Philadelphia Area when she earned her B.A. in Elementary Education in the 1980’s from the University of Pennsylvania. Ruth spent 12 years teaching elementary school in West Philadelphia where she got the kids outside of the classroom and into the natural environment as often as was physically possible.
In 1989, Ruth married, moved to Schwenksville and continued to commute. She and her husband became members of the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy and were regular participants in stream monitoring and the Lenape Survival Challenge. Between 1996 and 1999, Ruth was the lead facilitator of a project in which Merck, the University of Pennsylvania, and the School District of Philadelphia collaborated to immerse inner-city teachers in an inquiry and constructivist-based approach to the teaching of science. In 1998, Ruth’s first son was born, where upon she retired from the school district. As soon as her sons were old enough to participate in the Conservancy’s family education programs, they all became regular participants in the Discovery Playgroups, Animal Adventure Hours, Summer Explorer Camps, and Halloween Night Hikes
Dana Collingwood lives in Souderton with her husband, Bill, two teenage children, Paige and Bryce, and Labrador retriever, Maddie. Originally from Greenville, PA, she has enjoyed the outdoors from an early age thanks to the influence of her father, a former Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officer with the PA Game Commission.
After graduating from Penn State University with a bachelor's degree in biology/vertebrate physiology, Dana worked in the pharmaceutical industry for twenty-one years, until her family relocated to Switzerland. Upon returning to the United States, Dana has enjoyed volunteering with the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy and is currently pursuing a M.S. degree in Parks and Recreation, Natural Resource Management and Environmental Education, from Slippery Rock University.
In her free time, Dana enjoys hiking, kayaking, reading, photography and crafts. A former Sunday school teacher, she particularly enjoys working with young children.
Heidi Lucas recently joined the Conservancy's teaching staff after having taught in the North Penn School District for over 20 years. With a B.S. In biology, a Pennsylvania Master's equivalency and additional advanced ecology and teaching courses under her belt, Heidi specialized in teaching biology to seventh grade students.
Heidi is very excited to be able to continue sharing her passion with students of all ages. She believes that the best way to have children grow up to care about their environment is to enthusiastically encourage their sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world.
Heidi has always felt very fortunate to be able to combine her vocation with her avocation. Some interests include adventure travel with her husband, reading, gardening, camping, and growing orchids
Paula Law came to the Watershed in 1997 when she enrolled her 3 year old daughter in the Playgroup Discovery Time series with Trudy Phillips. They had a terrific time learning about nature through songs, stories, and crafts. The organization welcomed children at their Education Volunteer meetings, so Paula's family began volunteering. They enjoyed participating in Earth Day celebrations, stream clean-ups, and the Halloween Hike as well as preparing mailings and teaching materials.
When Paula found there were teaching opportunities with PWC, she welcomed the chance to combine her education background (B.S. in Secondary Education-Biology/General Science Certification from Penn State University) with her love for the outdoors.
When asked about working at the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy, Paula comments:
"The Watershed offered a family-friendly work schedule and a nurturing environment with talented, creative people. I am proud to be a member of the education staff since 2000."
Paula lives in Skippack Township with her husband Jay, daughters Stacey and Tricia, and their kitten, Gussie
Donna Vorwald has been living in Perkiomen Township for 12 years with her husband and 4 children. Donna holds an Associates Degree in Applied Science, and she has recently worked as a teacher's aide in the Perkiomen Valley School District.
When asked about her experience with PWC, Donna had this to say:
"I discovered the PWC when I accompanied my son on a school field trip last spring. I was so impressed by the enthusiasm of the educators, passionately passing their knowledge of nature and the outdoors on to our young students. Sharing their love for the outdoors, I wanted to be a part of this. Since my youngest child was entering first grade and would be in school all day this year, I decided to pursue an educator position at PWC.
"I enjoy working with children. I enjoy seeing the expressions on their faces when they have made a new discovery or learned something fascinating. Our natural world makes a great classroom. It is filled with so many new things for growing minds to discover and opens doors to worlds children did not even know existed. Having spent so much time outdoors, I feel that I have a lot to offer our students. This is their world and they need to be given the opportunity to understand it and enjoy it and just as importantly, to help preserve it."
Donna loves to be outdoors and spends much of her free time engaged in outdoor activities. She is an avid hiker and has hiked numerous miles on the Appalachian Trail, including the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine. She enjoys bird-watching, gardening, kayaking, skiing and rock climbing.