Board of Directors

There are many roles within the board but our overall goal is to oversee the operation and management of the organization.
We set and execute strategic visions and goals, manage finances, plan events, handle membership and registrations, communicate with members and represent the interests of the membership.

Meetings are held virtually at 6:30 p.m.
Next Meeting: June 14th, 2022

If you are interested in attending, please email Becky Pollack (rebecca@neycenter.org) at least 3 days before the meeting date for the meeting link. 

Would you like to run for the MNA board?
Being a part of the Minnesota Naturalists’ Association Board of Directors
is a great way to give back to the interpretive community in Minnesota. |
Read on to see if it is right for you and how to run >>


Becky Pollack, President / Ney Nature Center

I am currently the Executive Director of the Ney Nature Center in Henderson, MN. I am a graduate of Mankato State University, Mankato with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography and minors in Earth Science and Geology. I began working with Ney Nature Center 10 years ago scheduling and teaching naturalist programs. My background with project based learning, love of the natural world and experience in non-profit management made for an easy transition to Executive Director. My connection to the Ney Nature Center and love of the outdoors goes back to 1995, when the deformed frogs were found by my fellow classmates from the Minnesota New Country School. As students, we worked closely with scientists, the media, and local environmentalist to bring awareness to the water quality issues that harm the frogs and other wildlife. My husband, Nick, and I have two kids, Greg (16) and Sami (13) and many family pets. Recently we have begun rasing a heritage breed of pigs (Red Wattle) in a non-confinement, pasture style setting, fulfilling my husband’s lifelong goal of being a farmer. 


Michael Harrison, Vice President / St. Paul School of Northern Lights

Hello! My name is Michael and I am the new vice-president! I am very excited to be starting this new adventure on the MNA board. I started my naturalist career as a summer intern at Dodge Nature Center, and from there I went to work at Dakota County Parks as a seasonal naturalist for the past four years. Currently, I have been working as an environmental educator at St Paul School of Northern Lights, I started there at the end of August. In my free time I love spending time outside and hanging out with my reptilian children (Fred and George are my corn snakes, Atlas is my map turtle, and Sapphira is my red eared slider). 




Stephanie Rathsack, Secretary / Cannon River STEM School
mnamembership@gmail.com

Secretary Stephanie here on my second term on the MNA Board! I’ve spent my entire career in the amazing state of Minnesota, gaining experience while working at Nature Centers, RELCs, museums, and schools. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, working at both the Bell Museum of Natural History and at the Monarch Butterfly Lab. And while I’ve always been drawn to the forests and lakes of central and northern Minnesota (spending almost the entirety of my childhood at Springbrook Nature Center), after graduating, I headed south and worked at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center where my passion for the outdoors grew even more, surrounded by amazing people and the beauty of bluff country. Now, as the full time School Naturalist at the environmentally focused Cannon River STEM School, I enjoy the best of both worlds when it comes to environmental education--I work with grades K through 8, and on any given day you'll find me and my students hiking, composting, tagging monarch butterflies, snowshoeing, skiing, beekeeping, maple syruping, gardening, and so much more! I hope to use my time on the MNA board to help create opportunities that will foster meaningful connections between Naturalists of all backgrounds and workplaces.


Elizabeth Sheppard, Treasurer / Staring Lake Outdoor Center

My love for nature was fostered by my grandfather who worked with The Nature Conservancy. I grew up in WI and spent summers with him in Iron County. I graduated from UW - Stevens Point with a B.S. in Wildlife Management.  After volunteering with The Raptor Center as an education crew member for 4.5 years, I went back to school to become a teacher. I volunteered at Richardson Nature Center from 2015 to 2017. I started at Staring Lake Nature Center in 2015 as a volunteer and have been working there as a Naturalist since 2017.  

I have worked as a summer camp counselor for The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee and a field research assistant as a seasonal throughout the US. I love working with our preK programs, am passionate about program modifications to be more accessible by all learners, and have found MNA to be an invaluable resource, both personally and professionally. I am excited to serve my first term as Treasurer on the MNA Board.


Benjamin Vogel, Communications Coordinator / Bartlett Tree Experts
mnanewsletter@gmail.com

I was homegrown in the North Country and grew up with an obsession for climbing trees. This obsession transformed into a passion for dendrology and knowing everything about the local trees in my neighborhood.
I received my B.S. in Environmental Education & Interpretation (Dendrology Emphasis) from UW-Stevens Point, which fostered and strengthened my dedication to the health and study of timberlands in the Midwest.
After graduation I spent 5 years working for various nature centers, youth camps, and outdoor retailers until I found my perfect fit at Bartlett Tree Experts as an Arborist Climber. On my down time, you'll find me with my hiking buddy (my daughter Ari), playing video games with my wife Natali, and exploring random forests in the Land O' 10,000+ Lakes. I'm excited to contribute my time to MNA, as it has contributed to the success of countless naturalists.


Rachel Giemza (she/her), Professional Workshop Coordinator / Wood Lake Nature Center

As a more or less native Minnesotan, being outside and exploring was my favorite activity growing up. I’ve been a naturalist for about 6 years at various nature centers around the Twin Cities and I've loved every minute. It's shown me that our field is diverse and there’s such variety to the different programs we can do, that they don’t have to have the traditional format. I’ve been honored with working with some truly amazing people and educators, who inspire me to continue to think outside the box and never stop learning.  My goal as the Professional Workshop Coordinator is to facilitate learning opportunities and promote discussions on how to change and keep our field as naturalists growing. In my downtime, I enjoy hiking, gardening, playing dungeons and dragons, reading, and crocheting, hanging out with my roommates’ cats, Finley and Juniper as well as my leopard gecko Yarrow.


Mary Burch, Conference Co-Coordinator/ Westwood Hills Nature Center
mnaconference@gmail.com

I grew up in Minnesota and spent most of my childhood either up a tree or in a lake. Several of those trees and lakes happened to be part of Warner Nature Center, which is where I found out that a) being a naturalist is a thing and b) I wanted to do that thing. I have a B.S. in Environmental Education from the U of M Twin Cities, although that certainly isn’t where I learned all my tricks. Over the last seven years I’ve had the opportunity to teach with several different twin cities nature centers, honing my skills in natural history techniques from puppet shows to pond study. I believe work and play are both better outside, whether that’s birding, fishing, canoeing, or (downhill) skiing. At home you can find me in a hammock with a good book or getting my dirt therapy fix digging in the garden. MNA has been an incredible resource for me from the get-go, and I’m so excited to help put together our next few conferences!




Eva Clelland, Conference Co-Coordinator / Ney Nature Center
mnaconference@gmail.com

Hi there! My name is Eva and I am currently the Programs Coordinator at Ney Nature Center in Henderson.
I am looking forward to my first year with MNA as the conference co-coordinator. My role is to help plan and organize the conference to make sure it is one to remember! A little about me, I grew up in Saint Paul and found my love for the outdoors at summer camp doing canoeing and backpacking trips. My environmental education journey started in high school as a Junior Assistant Naturalist at Tamarack Nature Center, and then I headed to Iowa where I graduated from Drake University with a B.A. in Environmental Science. I have been lucky enough to work in environmental education in Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. On my days off, you can find me walking or skiing the lakes in Minneapolis where I live, or searching for new houseplants to add to my growing collection.



Alex Colling, Member-At-Large / Ney Nature Center

I currently work as the Resource Manager at the Ney Nature Center on the bluffs of the Minnesota River Valley near Henderson. I am excited to serve on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Naturalists’ Association.  I was born and raised in southern Minnesota developing a deep connection to the Big Woods and Ravines of the Minnesota River Valley, so it became natural to make it my profession!  I received a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from South Dakota State University (Go Jacks!) in 2019 and a MAED in Natural Science and Environmental Education from Hamline University in 2021.  I have been a member of MNA since I was a Junior in college and firmly believe in the importance of community around our field.  I, just like many naturalists, have a mile-long list of outdoor hobbies but especially love snowshoeing in the winter and fishing in the
summer with plenty of other activities to fill the space in between!  I look forward to meeting and
welcoming even more folks to this great organization!  If you see me at conferences, workshops,
or on the trail, don’t hesitate to say hi!


Erica Northwick, Member-At-Large / Dallas County Conservation

Hi there! I'm Erica, I have been a seasonal naturalist in Minnesota for about 6 years before just moving down to Iowa for a full-time permanent naturalist position in March 2022. I love Minnesota, its local ecology, and MNA so I plan to stay connected even though I'm in Iowa now. I'm currently the Outreach and Recruitment Chair on the MNA Board and serve on the Conference Planning Committee. I got into the naturalist field because I was the little kid that loved animals and being outside that never grew up. I discovered what a naturalist was while in college studying Animal Ecology at Iowa State University and decided that's what I wanted to do. I fell in love with the field and the natural world the more I got into it and have never looked back. 

With my recent move, this will be my last year on the MNA Board of Directors. I will serve the organization to the best of my ability until the very end, along with the Conference Planning Committee. I plan to be at the 2022 Annual Conference in November, so feel free to say hi if you see me!


Savannah Maiers, Member-at-Large / Osprey Wilds ELC

I am originally from a northwest suburb of Chicago and loved to be outside exploring and watching other animals. Although I am not a Minnesota native, my Dad is. We would visit family in Minnesota a few times a year and would stay with my grandparents at their lake house which was my favorite place to be. I transferred to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities from a two year community college where I received my B.S. in Biology and minor in Sustainability. I started my naturalist career at Osprey Wilds ELC as a fellow for about a year and a half. I worked briefly as a Zoo Naturalist with the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, Missouri before coming back to Osprey Wilds to take on the role as Wildlife Coordinator. I love sharing what I know with others and I love to learn. Excited to be on the board for another year!

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