Our Outdoor School Community

Our Outdoor School Community

 

The foundation of Echo Hill Outdoor School is our collaborative staff community. Directors, program staff and support personnel are all integral parts of this community which stresses genuine concern for others, cooperation, integrity, and enthusiasm.

Board of Directors

Richard C. Balaban
Business Designer
London, England and Chestertown, MD

Rachel Skolnik Cogen
Associate Judge, District Court for Baltimore City
Baltimore, MD

Georgina Creamer
Special Education Teacher, Baltimore City School System
Baltimore, MD

Robert F. Creamer, Jr
Professor, Community College Baltimore County
Baltimore, MD

Julia M. Hassett
Owner, Hassett Willis Company
Washington, DC

Leslie S. Morgenthal
Community Volunteer
New York, NY

Mel S. Rapelyea, M.D.
Contract Radiologist
Betterton, MD

Peter P. Rice, Jr.
Executive Director, Echo Hill Outdoor School
Worton, Maryland

Terry V. Rice
Partner, Birks and Rice, CPA
Rockville, Maryland

 

Directors

Echo Hill Outdoor School Directors are the core of our administrative staff. They are responsible for the planning, scheduling, and hiring as well as teaching classes. Their commitment to education and the environment sets the standard for the Echo Hill community.

 

  Peter Paul Rice Jr., Founder and Executive Director
Peter Rice spent his childhood at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC where his father was Head of the Lower School. During their summers, Mr. and Mrs. Rice, Sr., operated Echo Hill Camp on the Chesapeake Bay, a highly regarded recreational summer camp. Peter began directing the successful Quaker based summer camp in the 1970’s and continues to lead the camp with passion today. Peter’s graduate work in outdoor education at Indiana and Northern Illinois University gave him the background and desire to start a non-profit educational organization. He did so in 1972, when he founded Echo Hill Outdoor School. Peter’s original vision of children learning in the outdoors remains at the core of the School’s mission. At the heart of Peter’s passion lies his commitment to provide positive experiences in the out of doors to the child within each of us. He lives on Still Pond Neck with his wife, Libby. Their daughters Katie and Julie live nearby with their families; their son Petey currently devotes his career to both Echo Hill Camp and Echo Hill Outdoor School.
   
  Elizabeth Z. McCown, Associate and Managing Director
Betsy joined Echo Hill Outdoor School in 1979 after earning a B.S. in Community Leadership and Development from Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Diverse involvement in outdoor adventure pursuits coupled with many years at a recreational summer camp built her foundation for individual and group development. She became an Associate Director in 1981 and has continued to work full time ever since. Betsy oversees all daily operations, the professional training and development of personnel, coordinates the yearly calendar of attending schools and groups, and helps to maintain a high standard of quality programming. In September 2011, Betsy joined the Board of Trustees for The Gunston School in Centreville, Maryland. At the heart of Betsy’s direction is her ability to facilitate personal growth and development and build a sense of community. Growing up in rural western New York State instilled in her a keen appreciation for creative play in the natural environment. The McCown family enjoys living on the Outdoor School’s nature preserve and appreciates the unique setting and community they call home.
   
  Andrew R. McCown, Associate Director
Director of Summer Programs and Historic Fleet
Andrew R. McCown has worked with Echo Hill Outdoor School since 1977. He founded the School’s Summer Explore Trips program in 1979, and became an Associate Director in 1981. Andrew’s contributions to the school’s mission and methodology are instrumental to the programs’ effectiveness and success. As a senior trainer and educator, he mentors the full program staff in Echo Hill’s teaching standards and quality of programming. Andrew is one of the School’s USCG licensed captains. He regularly teaches Bay Studies, aquatic ecology and the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay. Andrew is a current and founding board member of the Chester River Association and served on the board of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy for twelve years. Captain Andy worked as an oysterman for eight winters as he captained the Skipjack Elsworth, one of the last of the great dredge boats of the Chesapeake. In 2008 the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) awarded Andrew with the Robert Finton Outdoor Educator of the Year Award. Andrew also performs with the critically acclaimed folk group, Chesapeake Scenes. Andrew and his wife Betsy are caretakers of the school’s Nature Preserve.
   
  Deborah Grigsby, Assistant Director
Debbie joined Echo Hill Outdoor School in 1991. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia. Her love of the outdoors began as a young child spending cherished times with family in the countryside surrounding her Front Royal, Virginia, home. She actively directs Echo Hill’s challenge course, is one of the school’s USCG licensed captains, and teaches an array of classes. Debbie coordinates the weekly program schedule, assists with personnel and risk management, and is instrumental in helping to maintain our program standard in all areas. Debbie lives with her charismatic son Benjamin, who spends all the free time he can on the Echo Hill campus.
   
  James A. Stone, Assistant Director of Facility Care
and Daily Operations
Senior Educator, USCG Captain
Jim joined the Outdoor School’s full time teaching staff in 1997. As a senior educator and licensed USCG Captain, Jim frequently teaches Chesapeake Bay Studies aboard our lab vessels along with a variety of aquatic, history, and ecology classes. His leadership style sparks a strong work ethic in fellow staff. Along with his wife Tracy, Jim owns and operates the award-winning bed and breakfast “The Inn at Mitchell House” in Tolchester, Maryland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Administrative Support

 

  Pat Bjorke, School Secretary/Office Manager
Pat grew up in eastern Pennsylvania in a family that valued time outdoors fishing, hunting, camping and skiing. She is still happiest digging in a garden, poking around shorelines in her kayak, and walking in a quiet snowfall at night. Curiosity about the human mind and psyche led her to a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. On a whim, she and her husband Clark wound up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland nearly 40 years ago and they have called it “home” ever since, raising three daughters and now three granddaughters on crabs and Old Bay seasoning.
   
  Robin Whitney, Business Manager
Robin has been the Business Manager at Echo Hill Outdoor School since July 2013. Robin is a native New Yorker and her business career began in retail management in Macy’s Herald Square. She and her husband, Chris, left city life behind in 1990 and have never looked back. After taking time off to raise their two young sons, Robin returned to work in an accounting firm, where she managed payrolls for clients in Maryland and Delaware. Her attention to detail and customer service provided the framework for strong professional relationships with all her clients. Robin handled Echo Hill Outdoor School’s payroll as well as accounting assistance and consulting when needed. She has now found her niche at Echo Hill and loves the non-profit world of outdoor education. Robin holds a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences and Psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University, and currently lives in Worton, Maryland with her husband and their orange tabby cat, Rocket J. Squirrel, aka Rocky.
   

 

Program Staff

Echo Hill Outdoor School teachers and interns are highly qualified professionals and dedicated naturalists who communicate appreciation and respect for nature and people. Since 1972, hundreds of individuals have committed a part of their lives to teaching, counseling, and nurturing students at Echo Hill Outdoor School. Our instructors thrive on the flexibility and freedom of the School’s learning and teaching environment. They take initiative to design unique classes and they skillfully adapt their classes to incorporate teachable moments. Their energy and creativity engage students and make learning fun.

Qualifications
All teachers have experience working with children or working in the environmental field. These experienced outdoor leaders come from a variety of educational backgrounds including environmental studies, education, history, sociology, biology, and English. Our staff diversity adds variety and imagination to our classes and lesson planning. The School also employs interns each season to assist teachers and students. Echo Hill Outdoor School staff hold American Red Cross certification in First Aid and CPR. Additionally, a team of teachers with more advanced medical training oversees the health and safety of participants.

CORE TEACHERS

  Elizabeth Brown, Teacher
Elizabeth grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland near Washington, DC. She graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and a year later with a Master of Arts in Teaching. Elizabeth has always loved the outdoors and being on or near the water, and jumped at the opportunity to work on the Maryland Dove, a tall ship in St. Mary’s City. After graduation she began seeking a non-traditional job in teaching where she could work with a hands-on approach to learning. Echo Hill Outdoor School fit the bill perfectly, and she is excited to continue introducing children to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem she loves.
   
  Amanda Fry, Senior Educator
Between growing up in the Appalachians of Central Pennsylvania, and spending her time in high school and college working as an Educator and Animal Caretaker at Catoctin Zoo, Amanda found a deep-seated love and respect for the outdoors and the wildlife that calls it home. She took this passion to Salisbury University in Maryland where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Since 2008 Amanda has been helping children and adults find wonder, magic and themselves at Echo Hill Outdoor School. She believes that mud, leaf piles and a starry sky make for the best teaching tools, and you’re never too old for puddle jumping or learning through play.
   
  Ian Harrison, Senior Educator/USCG Captain
Ian developed a passion for the outdoors from the curiosity, excitement, and knowledge of his parents. As an Eagle Scout today, he feels strong ties to his Boy Scout roots every time he gets the opportunity to work outdoors. Ian is an avid sailor and raced on the sailing team at Salisbury University, where he graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Biology. He is a U.S. Coast Guard-certified captain, and thrives working on boats with Echo Hill Outdoor School
   
  Joe Longstreth, Teacher
From East Greenville, Pennsylvania, Joe has wanted to be an outdoor educator since he was eleven years old and slept in a tent for the first time. He went on his first Outward Bound trip for canoeing, backpacking, and rock climbing at the age of thirteen. He graduated from Kenyon College with a Bachelors of Art in English. Teaching experiences include a three-month internship at the Perkiomen School, the boarding school he attended as a youth. Post-graduation, Joe embarked on a 50-day Hurricane Island Outward Bound course for outdoor educators. Joe has a deep love for and background in theater, and he loves singing, improvisation, and group bonding activities as well as reading, knitting and drawing. He believes that it is crucial for kids’ development to spend time outdoors, away from screens and getting dirty.
   
  Andrew Philips, Teacher
Andrew grew up in the forests of central Pennsylvania along the mighty Susquehanna River and has a lifelong passion for all things outdoors, from kayaking to foraging to trail running. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Health from West Chester University. He has a particular passion for agriculture, which led him to serve in the Peace Corps for two years in Nepal working in sustainable agriculture and food security. Andrew believes in the unmatched value of experiential learning which is so deeply ingrained in the EHOS curriculum.
   
  Peter Rice III, Senior Educator/USCG Captain
After graduating from Gettysburg College with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, Petey felt a strong desire to experience a bit more of the world. He accepted a job farming oysters in New York, then went on to a position as Course Designer/Supervisor for Tough Mudder in New York City where he designed and built challenging obstacle course races all over the world. After that, he spent a year with New York Road Runners, organizing and supporting marathons. Each summer he returned to the place he loves most – Echo Hill. In 2014, Petey returned to Kent County, Maryland full time to be with his family, help run the best camp ever, and join the Echo Hill Outdoor School’s faculty as a teacher and USCG licensed Captain. Petey contributes significantly to the care and management of the campus and facilities as a Site Manager as well.
   
  James Stankewicz, Teacher
James Stankewicz embraces a passion for outdoor adventure and discovery. He graduated from Washington College with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a double major in both Environmental Studies and Music. Following graduation he through-hiked the Appalachian Trail from north to south. His energy and enthusiasm while teaching children, doing maintenance work, or playing his guitar is irresistable.
   
  Jacob Swane, Teacher
Jake is a Vermont native who comes to Echo Hill Outdoor School pursuing his dream of being an outdoor educator. He has always had a passion for nature and exploring the world around him. Jake graduated from Castelton University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and has studied abroad in Belize, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Jake may hail from the Green Mountains, but he is more than happy to claim the Chesapeake Bay as his second home.
   
  Sara Vogel, Senior Educator
Born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Sara first came to the eastern Shore of Maryland in 2009 to work at Echo Hill Outdoor School. While growing up, she spent her free time paddling on the Great Lakes and playing team sports – skills she now uses on EHOS’ challenge course and summer EXPLORE programs on the Chester River. She and her family live full time in northern Kent County, where they enjoy the Chesapeake Bay life and culture on a daily basis.
   

FIELD TEACHERS/STAFF NATURALISTS

  Sahil Bandyopadhyay, Teacher
Sahil grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he spent summers on his local swim team, and later as a summer camp counselor. He graduated from University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelors of Science in chemistry. Sahil was eager to join Echo Hill Outdoor School, where he hopes to gain a more practical relationship with science by teaching youth in the outdoors. He continues to enjoy swimming in his free time, and plays video games and attends concerts for fun.
   
  Kaeo Clarke, Captain/Educator
Kaeo Clarke grew up sailing on the Chesapeake with his parents and younger sister, then spent four years with the family living and traveling fulltime on their 45-foot sailboat Osprey. He has sailed some 25,000 bluewater miles from Nova Scotia to Panama, but he still loves mudlarking in the rivers and creeks of the Bay and passing that sense of wonder on to others.
   
  Allison Dolan, Teacher
Allison is a self-proclaimed New Hampshire girl, who lived by the Atlantic Ocean watching and listening to the waves crashing in. Allison graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and enjoyed being part of the outdoor club. Allison received a Masters of Secondary Education from Lesley University while working in special education.
   
  Holly Funkhouser, Teacher
Holly grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, surrounded by beautiful mountains where she fostered her curiosity in nature. After spending much of her childhood well above sea level she headed toward Virginia Beach, graduating from the College of William & Mary with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Environmental Science. She devoted three years of research to the diamondback terrapin. Determined to pair her passion for the environment with her calling to teach, Holly was drawn to Echo Hill Outdoor School where she remains mesmerized by the environment, people, and mission.
   
  Michaela Oberkfell, Teacher
Michaela grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, exploring the woods behind her house. During her junior year in high school she attended the Chewonki semester school in Maine, where she experienced how nature and ecology are integrated into the school curriculum. Michaela went on to graduate from Colby College with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, and she spent two summers monitoring algae blooms on the Belgrade Lakes in Maine. Ready for a slightly warmer climate, Michaela headed south to Maryland and Echo Hill Outdoor School, where she is excited to learn and teach about the Chesapeake Bay. In her spare time she enjoys creating art with her own pressed flowers and leaves.
   
  Coale Wilde, Teacher
Coale hails from across the Bay in Gaithersburg, MD, but calls the whole state home. He was lucky enough to have attended Echo Hill Outdoor School for three years as a middle school student at Friends Meeting School. Coale attended Hood College in Frederick, MD while pursuing his degree in Environmental Science. He was an active member of Boy Scouts of America, and is excited to bring his skills and knowledge to EHOS for his debut as an outdoor educator. In his free time, Coale loves to “get his nerd on” by playing tabletop games.
   

INTERNS

   
   

 

Listed below is a sampling of college affiliations of Echo Hill Outdoor School teachers and interns over the past ten years.

  • • Audubon Expedition Institute
    • Bard College
    • Boston College
    • Boston University
    • Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts
    • Bowdoin College
    • Bowling Green University
    • Cape Cod Community College
    • Cape Fear Community College
    • Carnegie Mellon University
    • Castleton University
    • Cedarville University
    • Chesapeake College
    • Colgate University
    • College of the Atlantic
    • Columbia University
    • Connecticut College
    • Cornell University
    • Dartmouth College
    • Dickinson College
    • Duke University
    • Evergreen State College
    • George Washington University
    • Georgia College and State University
    • Gettysburg College
    • Goucher College
    • Grinnell College
    • Guilford College
    • Hampshire College
    • Harvard College
    • Hood College
    • Indiana University
    • James Madison University
    • Johnson State College
    • Karoli Gaspar Reformatus University
    • Lock Haven University
    • Masaryk University
    • McDaniel College
    • Michigan State University
    • Monterey Institute of International Studies
    • Montgomery College
    • Mount St. Mary’s University
    • North Central College
    • NW Missouri State University
    • Oberlin CollegeOccidental College
    • Pennsylvania State University
  • • Randolph-Macon College
    • Roanoke College
    • Saint Michael’s College
    • Saint Vincent College
    • Salisbury University
    • San Diego State University
    • Scripps College
    • Shepherd College
    • Smith College
    • Springfield College
    • St. Joseph’s University
    • St. Lawrence University
    • St. Mary’s College
    • St. Norbert College
    • State University of New York at New Paltz
    • Stanford University
    • Stevenson University
    • Union College
    • University of Connecticut
    • University of Delaware
    • University of Georgia
    • University of Kansas
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    • University of Maryland, College Park
    • University of Massachusetts
    • University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • University of Michigan
    • University of New Hampshire
    • University of North Texas
    • University of Richmond
    • University of Vermont
    • University of Virginia
    • Vassar College
    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    • Warren Wilson College
    • Washington College
    • Westfield State College
    • Wichita State University
    • Yale University
    • York College

 

Support Staff

Our Amazing Food Service Team: Doneisha Wilson, Cindy Jackson, Cherelle Torres, Cody Hertz, Cheryl Torres