Board of Directors
President, Amanda Obery, Ph.D. – Billings, MT
Getting to live in the shadow of the Beartooths, Amanda is happy to call Billings home. After obtaining degrees in molecular genetics and secondary science education, she taught high school for three years prior to moving on to teach at Montana State University. She received her doctoral degree, exploring informal science education, and is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at Montana State University Billings. As the community of people using and engaging in their environment in Montana have inspired her, Amanda hopes to give back through MEEA and share the love!
Vice-President, Jessica Haas – Livingston, MT
Jess believes that experiences in nature are crucial to the well-being of individuals and communities. With over ten years of non-profit outdoor education experience in urban and rural areas, she has been integral to the development and sustainability of outdoor education programs for youth and adults across the west. Jess is the Executive Director at Montana Outdoor Science School and is an active volunteer and committee member with several state and national organizations including the Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association and the National Parks Conservation Association. She spends her time skiing and running with her rescue dog, Hazel, reading with her plus-sized cat, Suki, and eating elaborate meals with her Michigan-born partner, Eric.
Secretary, Rose Vallor, Ed.D – Bozeman, MT
Rose teaches inquiry science and environmental education in Southwest Montana, with the goal of getting kids outdoors whenever possible. She created and runs the outdoor skills camp program Bridger Nature Center, and recently worked with the Flathead CORE writing the Flathead Watershed Educators Guide, a companion volume for the Flathead Watershed Sourcebook. She’s been able to contribute her passion, leadership and teaching skills in a range of outdoor and informal science programs: Ennis Good Thyme camps, Montana Outdoor Science School, Museum of the Rockies and the Children’s Museum of Bozeman. Rose traveled the state as a MT Project WET State Coordinator and Project Learning Tree facilitator, and served with Greater Gallatin Watershed Council as Education Outreach director. Never one to say no to more education, she teaches science education as part of her doctoral program at Montana State University, sharing her experiences with future teachers in teaching inquiry science in the outdoors. Rose has a M. Ed. and B. S. in science education from MSU, and a B.A. in geology from U of M. She firmly believes that learning and caring about the natural world begins with stepping outside your door. Rose lives in Bozeman, where she really does try to get outdoors every day!
Treasurer, Zeffie Heaton- Great Falls, MT
Chris Doyle – Butte, MT
Hi my name is Chris Doyle. I was born and raised in beautiful Butte Montana and I graduated from Butte High School in 2009. I am 23 years old and I married my beautiful high school sweetheart last June. After High School, I went to school at Montana Tech of the University of Montana and received a Bachelor’s degree in organismal biology in 2013. My thesis research was on Bighorn Sheep in the Highland Mountains where I studied their movement and distribution patterns, as well as survival rates in conjunction with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. I am currently working to get it published into the Intermountain Journal of Sciences. I am also now enrolled in the Education Program at Montana Western to get my teaching certificate. I am the Program Coordinator at Cfwep.Org (The Clark Fork Watershed Education Program) and I have been in this position for eight months, however, I have worked for Cfwep.Org for five years and a student and summer intern. In this position, I travel around the state and teach middle school and high school students. I assist in teaching our Restoration Education Program (Superfund Cleanup), Bringing Research into the Classroom (Working with Viruses), and Trout Dissections. I also have experience in running a kid’s fly fishing camp every summer as well as working and developing a program to work with at risk youth through the juvenile probation office in Butte Silver Bow. I absolutely love the outdoors, hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping. One of my other hobbies is I bowl in leagues and tournaments around Montana. I am a very energetic and passionate person about science and the environment as well as education.
Lauren Rivers – Helena, MT
Lauren moved from Asheville, NC, to Helena in 2009, intending to lose herself in the mountains. She found a connection to the natural world that transformed her views on education, growth and fulfillment. Feeling called to help others experience this transformation led her in 2010 to the IslandWood School in the Woods, in Bainbridge Island, WA, where she learned to foster a lifelong love of nature and investigation in her students. Unable to resist Montana’s siren call, Lauren returned to Helena in 2011 and was inspired to create Clancy Creek Squad, for 1st-5th graders at Clancy School. This place-based, outdoor after school program has since grown from once-a-week creek observations in spring, to creek-side experiments and visits from scientists working in the community. Creek Squad even has a “spin-off” program, ExploreSquad, which takes Clancy 3rd-4th graders on science treks in nearby natural spaces in the fall. Lauren is an alumna of A Forest For Every Classroom, a professional development program for place-based education. She is currently the Family and Youth Education Director at ExplorationWorks, Montana’s Science Center in Helena. This position allows her to reach many classrooms in Montana, and one message she carries is that the outdoors is a great place for learning to happen. Nature is our first teacher, and still the best!
Carolyn Pardini – Polson, MT
Many years ago I told a famous person that I was lucky. He responded by telling me that I was lucky because I can take a chance. “Most people say Ready, Set, Go! But you say Ready, Go!” I think he was correct. I have been lucky to live in the Mission Valley on the Flathead Indian Reservation for most of my life. I have taught in public school for the past 25 years and with the support of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Montana Arts Council, the Montana Natural History Center, School District 30, and lots of good people I have advocated for further inclusion of integrated learning in all classrooms. I am happiest when I am outdoors, with my family, my friends of many ages, or alone with the dogs. I am still ready to go and I still feel lucky.
Carolyn Taber – Missoula, MT
Originally from the East Coast, Carolyn graduated from Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications in 2008 and moved to Colorado shortly thereafter. In Colorado for 6 years, Carolyn co-founded Earth Explorers, a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) nonprofit that connects students with working scientists in their community: students create short documentary films that highlight their scientists’ research efforts. This opportunity allowed Carolyn to harness both her video production and education skills. As a co-founder of Earth Explorers Carolyn wore many hats: board member, program developer, grant writer, program operations manager and for the past two years Executive Director.
Seeking a new challenge, and looking to reconnect with family in Missoula, Carolyn has switched gears and joined the team at the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium to focus on education program development. Carolyn is passionate about informal science and environmental education and is excited everyday about potential new programs for the MBHI! Out of the classroom Carolyn enjoys working on a variety of video projects and all of the outdoor opportunities Missoula has to offer.
Janene Lichtenberg – Polson, MT
Janene is currently the Department Chair of the Wildlife and Fisheries Department at Salish Kootenai College. She will bring incredible experience and depth of knowledge in wildlife biology, ecology, and science teaching to the MEEA board. When asked what are the characteristics of a great board member, Janene says, “Enthusiasm, commitment, [and] creativity.” In addition to serving on the Mission Mountain Audubon Society, and the Wildlife Society Native Peoples Working Group boards, she was on the steering committee for the Northwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.
Anne Grant – Missoula, MT
Anne is the first University of Montana Elouise Cobell Fellow and currently serves as a Faculty Affiliate. She will bring her experiences being a classroom teaching, professional artist, consultant, and academic to the MEEA board. As a “long-term advocate for multicultural, interdisciplinary education who supports community development, and culturally relevant curriculum,” we’re grateful that Anne is willing to join the board. When asked what the characteristics of a great board member are, Anne says that, “great board members are humanists. They are honest, caring people who believe in the mission of the board they serve. They exhibit positive, professional attitudes and open-mindedness. They are good at engaging others in conversation and they don’t shy away from discussing more serious matters relevant to their organization and its objectives. They believe in volunteering their time to issues and/or events they care about.”
Regions 4, 6, & 7: Vacant until filled.
Want to help MEEA by joining our board? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!