Meet our Educators:
Linda Oltman became the Conservancy’s Environmental Education Coordinator in 2011. Her exceptional and energetic teaching style as a Conservancy Educator, began in 2004. 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.
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.
Ruth and her husband became members of the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy in 1989 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.
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.
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.
Tricia Anderson has been teaching for over 20 years. During much of that time, she has emphasized and integrated the environment into as many learning experiences as possible. She holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia and a PA teaching certificate from West Chester University.
While volunteering and teaching at Audubon Elementary in the Methacton School District, Tricia helped develop a versatile environmental center complete with pond, greenhouse, perennial gardens, pumpkin patch, student-painted murals, and family-made stepping stones. Nothing made her happier than to bring her own students out to the center for a lesson integrating science with literature or math.
More recently Tricia has worked at and continues to volunteer with the Audubon Society. Her absolute favorite activity at the center at Mill Grove is working with their non-releasable raptors. “There is nothing quite like teaching about bird adaptations while holding a gorgeous Great Horned Owl on your fist. I love to draw students into caring about the environment by letting them get up close. They make that meaningful connection with an individual bird, and, hopefully, that connection will support their being future environmental stewards.
At PWC I hope to do the same with the creek. How can you not care about the creek eco-system once you’ve explored it and all its intriguing creatures?”
Cathy Natalini lives in Lower Providence Township with her husband, Jerry and two children. She holds a B.A. in Human Development specializing in Early Ed, an Associates in Early Ed, and an Associates in Architectural Engineering.
Cathy has been teaching at the preschool – kindergarten level for eighteen years. She has also been teaching the elementary school age at afterschool STEM programs for the last five years and a library storyteller for six years.
Cathy believes that “the outside is the most beautiful and the most beneficial classroom! Children need only to look around and learn everything from science, math, art, etc… through nature!” Science was always apart of my classroom. In being on staff at the Watershed, Cathy enjoys sharing that love of “teaching through Nature” with the children that visit the Watershed.
In her spare time Cathy enjoys gardening, kayaking, music, and fostering for her dog rescue group.
Connie Stevenson comes to the PWC with a wide variety of work experience. Here former teaching experience comes from the customer service and retail sectors. For 4 years, she was an On-The-Job Trainer for Marriott Corporation at their Omaha, Nebraska central reservation office. She later taught quilting and knitting classes at shops in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area.
She has learned how to apply her love of nature while serving in various volunteer positions at the Desert Botanical Garden and Audubon Arizona’s nature center, both in Phoenix, and currently with Audubon Pennsylvania at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove. It was at Mill Grove that she first became involved in leading field trips for children, specializing in the Bird Adaptations and Birding with Binoculars presentations.
Connie enjoys spending as much time as possible outside, where she can hike, garden, and watch birds. If she must be indoors, she is likely knitting, quilting, or reading.
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 more than 12 years with her husband and 4 children. Donna holds an Associates Degree in Applied Science.
"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.