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The board members of the Friends of NCTC are glad you share their passion for conservation and are willing to take the time to get to know all of us! Information on each member is provided below.

Karmann Kessler: Chair.

Karmann has a B.S. in Biology, concentrating in Ecological Sciences, and minored in Anthropology. Her career has resulted from a love of nature. She strives in every aspect of her life to promote diversity and its conservation. Currently, she is working with the Eastern Ecological Science Center on aquatic preservation. Karmann serves as co-Chair of the Outreach Committee and is a member of the Communication Committee where she brings educational programs and resources to schools and the broad public (via online sources). She works towards connecting with, and educating, the local community on topics of conservation. In Karmann’s free time, she enjoys being active outdoors. Her hobbies include hiking, rock climbing, spending time with loved ones (close friends, family, and her animals), and taking pictures.

Ellen Andersen: Secretary.

Ellen has a Ph.D. in infectious disease epidemiology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She also has an M.S. in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego, and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. Ellen retired in 2010 after serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy. She served a 5-year tour as Head of Parasitology in Peru, 2-year tour as Head of Malaria Research in Indonesia, 2 years as Head of Parasitology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, 1 year in Puerto Rico as co-director of the Military Tropical Medicine Course, and the remaining years in San Diego, CA as the Head of the Microbiology Dept at the Navy Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit and in Bethesda, MD as the Assistant Course Director for the Navy Military Tropical Medicine (MTM) Program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. As course director, she co-led medical field mission trips to Bolivia, Guyana, Belize, Peru, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. After retirement, she taught biology at Shepherd University for several years until retiring fully to take care of her little homestead and the animals that reside there. Her hobbies include beekeeping, organic gardening, playing the violin badly, cooking, baking, knitting, and volunteering.

Susan Holloway: Treasurer.

Susan is currently an independent consultant. She helps clients with their issues with Federal Government contract compliance. She has spent the past 5 years as an Audit Manager performing contract audits for a CPA firm of contractors engaged with USAID, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Education projects. Prior experience included working on a two-year special assignment in Saudi Arabia and a two-year assignment in Saipan and the Northern Marianas for the Department of the Interior. Susan and her husband John have lived in Shepherdstown for over 20 years. She has three children from a prior marriage and two stepchildren. She and John have 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. She holds a B. A. in Business Administration/Accounting from the University of Virginia and has completed the Public Administration Master’s Program from the University of Oklahoma. She maintains the education requirements to support requirements for the Federal Yellow Book. Her hobbies include 5 Dogs and creating jewelry with polymer clay.

Ora Dixon: USFWS/NCTC Liaison, Friends of NCTC.

Ora works closely with the FNCTC to provide regular communication and coordination of mutually developed programs and projects. Ora earned a B.S. degree in Microbiology while living in Louisiana, an M.S. degree in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University, in WV, and an M.A. in Communication Studies from West Virginia University. She is a Biologist and Course Leader at the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, National Conservation Training Center, where she currently works. Her responsibilities include planning, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating training courses and programs. During her career, she has designed, directed, and coordinated training and programs in a variety of areas including: News Media, Congressional Operations, Volunteer Recruitment and Management, Conservation Partnerships, Grant Writing, Communicating Science, Negotiation Skills, Mentoring, Inland Oil Spill, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of USA, served as President GSUSA-Board of Directors at Council located in Martinsburg, WV, and Shore Sister School Program.

Her career in the Department of the Interior has served several federal governmental agencies with a career span of expertise from Teaching, Research, Park Ranger, to that of Biologist/Course Leader. In one of her most rewarding volunteer adventures, Ora and two other West Virginians, including her husband, traveled to various locations throughout the state to complete the required classes to become a West Virginia Master Naturalist. It also required fieldwork, plus volunteer service hours to finalize certification with the WV Department of Natural Resources. Afterward, the three returned to the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia in 2006 and established the Potomac Valley Master Naturalist Chapter in partnership with the Potomac Valley Audubon Society Chapter, Shepherdstown, WV. Hundreds of Master Naturalists have been trained and now volunteer with the Friends of the National Conservation Training Center (FNCTC) and throughout the community. Ora is now a lifetime member of the PWMN. Ora enjoys family, and quietness with moments of stillness.

Gabrielle Hersey: Web Manager.

Gabrielle holds a B.A. in English, concentrating in Creative Writing, as well as has double minors in Communications and Gender & Women’s Studies from Shepherd University. She is a ghostwriter, creative consultant, and community marketing specialist. She’s contributed to numerous websites, writing conferences, festivals, literary magazines, and anthologies. She has been published in multiple places, including, but not limited to, the Good Shepherdstown Newspaper and Equality & Justice: An Engaged Generation, A troubled World. Her varying interests and dedicated work ethic led her to the Web Manager position with the FNCTC. Here, she is responsible for: managing website updates; informing members of current goals and news; evaluating website performance; and implementing strategies to increase web traffic and subscribers.

Janet Olcott:

Janet, is a part-time veterinarian at Hillside Veterinary Hospital in Charles Town, WV. She has an A.B. in Biology from Mount Holyoke College, a DVM from the University of Missouri, and practices veterinary acupuncture. Janet spends much of her time caring for her mother who is almost 106 years old, carriage driving, and caring for her 14 senior miniature horses. She is married to Mike Shepp, and they are currently expecting their first grandchild. Janet organized and continues to maintain the FNCTC Brick Fund Project, which offers the opportunity to commemorate individuals by paving the courtyard of the FWS Fallen Comrades Memorial. Janet currently serves as the co-Chair of the FNCTC Outreach Committee.

Nancy Streeter:

Nancy, married, is retired after 20 years with the National Park Service and 16 with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at NCTC. She has a B.A. in Geology from East Carolina University and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from State University of New York. She is a wood sculptor and shows yearly at the Over The Mountain Studio Tour. She has taught classes in wood carving. She has served on the boards of Heritage Craft Center and Washington Street Artists Cooperative. Nancy has served two years as FNCTC Board Chair.

Joseph Spurgas:

Joseph has a B.S. in Forestry and Wildlife from Virginia Tech, a B.A. in Elementary Education from Shepherd University, and an M.A. in Secondary Education from West Virginia University. He retired as a principal at Harpers Ferry Middle School. His hobbies include combined driving with horses, gardening, and horticulture. Joseph serves as the Chair of the FNCTC Outreach Committee and Chairman of the Shepherdstown Elementary School Improvement Council. He is a classroom reader at Shepherdstown Elementary School. He is a Hike Leader at Harpers Ferry Middle School in collaboration with the Harpers Ferry National Park Service Tiger on the Trail program.

Laura Robertson:

Laura is an Associate Professor in Biology at Shepherd University, where she teaches Microbiology, Mycology, and other biology courses. She has a Ph.D. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.S. in Genetics from the University of Georgia, and a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Georgia. She and her husband and two sons have lived on a farm in the Eastern Panhandle for about twenty years. Laura is a certified Master Naturalist with the Potomac Valley Master Naturalist Chapter and is a fabric artist.

Daniel Bennett:

Daniel has a B.A. from Hampshire College. He is a political and government technology consultant, and has volunteered for, worked for, and had numerous political clients including being a Field Organizer. Daniel is the FNCTC board, Chair of Communication with responsibilities to develop, update, monitor policies, social networking, electronic discussion groups, and recommend new ways to communicate with FNCTC members and others through alternative media. He is an award-winning technologist and writer about how technology influences politics. And, he has worked on Capitol Hill for Members of Congress and Committees. He is the co-author of "The Net Effect: How Cyber-Advocacy is changing the Political Landscape". He was a columnist for The Cloakroom, a website for the National Journal.

Ellen Murphy:

Ellen is the former Program Specialist for the Potomac Valley Audubon Society which she says was the best job ever (although now she is happily retired!) Prior to joining PVAS in 2006, she had a varied career as a National Park Service ranger, a professional Girl Scout camp director, and a church program director. For more than 16 years she has directed children’s camps, including PVAS’s Audubon Discovery Camp at Yankauer Preserve. She became a Master Naturalist in 2007 and was co-Chair for the Master Naturalist Committee for several years. In 2016, she began volunteering at the USFWS Archives at NCTC.

Ellen spent much of her time with PVAS in the classroom, teaching a variety of environmental subjects to ages PK-5th grade. She majored in American History at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, but is proof that even a historian can become fascinated by nature. She’s come to love West Virginia as a home and feels that sharing nature with children is one of the greatest things anyone can do.

Ellen and her husband, Kevin, live outside of Harpers Ferry and have two rather large and spoiled pound puppies. Everything they own is covered in dog hair and she’s happy to share pictures of the mutts. She is a certified private pilot, loves to read, and has a complete Pickleball addiction. She lives her life based on the first word she ever learned to read, which was “Look!”

Chiquita Howard-Bostic:

Chiquita has a Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She joined Shepherd University in the Summer of 2013. She accepted the position of department chair in the Fall of 2015 and is also the coordinator of internships in Sociology and Criminal Justice in the Department of Sociology, Criminology, and Criminal Justice. Additionally, her added role is that of Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity. She received the SU Outstanding Teacher Award, Outstanding Service Award, the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award, and also earned the Outstanding Professional Development Award. She was the first recipient of Shepherd's Storer College Award, which recognizes faculty who incorporate diversity and social justice into his or her classroom, research, scholarship, and interaction with students. She has infused service-learning opportunities in her course design.

As founder of Help Bridge, a social justice program, she has facilitated university service-learning projects, community-based youth programs, and international learning initiatives. She has also established strong relationships with several state and local organizations that serve homeless persons, lower-income residents, and battered women. She has grant writing experience as a member of several executive boards and non-profit organizations. She has represented Shepherd University as the Keynote speaker at several conferences/events and her research is published in several peer-reviewed academic journals and texts.

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