Staff of the Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education Office are all a part of Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Melanie Parker, EdD
Coordinator of Environmental Literacy & Outdoor Education
A native of St. Mary’s County, Melanie spent most of her childhood exploring the creeks, farm fields and woods of the western shore of the Bay. This love for the outdoors and desire to improve the environment shaped her career. As the Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education Content Coordinator and Arlington Echo’s Administrator, she oversees developing and implementing environmental literacy curriculum and programming for AACPS. She has been with Anne Arundel County for over 25 years serving as an educator and teacher prior to becoming the Coordinator.
Melanie has a Doctorate in Education from UMCP, MS in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management from NCSU, BAs in Geography (Cert in Cartography) and Art-Graphic Design (minor in Computer Art) at UMBC.
Melanie lives with her husband and daughter in Baltimore County where they engage in nature, implement and experiment with best environmental practices.
One of her favorite native plants is the Sweetbay Magnolia!
Kristie is the Administrative Assistant for the Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education Office at the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center. She supports the entire team under this program, but primarily works with the program and teacher specialists, and alongside our Coordinator, Melanie. Kristie serves as the transportation specialist – handling all programming trips to and from schools. She also handles all of the financial operations for the department. These are just the tidbits of her position, as she is the glue that keeps the office running smoothly.
Kristie is a native Annapolitan and attended Anne Arundel County Public Schools, graduating in 2000 from South River High School. She has an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Anne Arundel Community College. She began working with AACPS in March 2008, finding her home at Arlington Echo in 2015.
Her hobbies include spending time with family and friends, and she gets enjoyment from watching her son out on the soccer and football fields. She also enjoys camping and traveling to new places. Being near the water is where she finds her peace.
Favorite Insect: Monarch Butterfly
Favorite Tree: Flowering Dogwood
Favorite Bird: Hummingbird
Environmental Literacy Team
Katy is an Environmental Literacy Program Specialist. Her responsibilities include writing elementary environmental literacy curriculum in collaboration with early childhood, social studies and science offices, supporting teachers with information and materials needed for curriculum, providing teacher professional development and MAEOE Green School consultation.
Katy has a B.A. in Biology from the University of Virginia, and a M.A. in Instructional Systems Development from UMBC.
Fun Fact: Katy started with AACPS Outdoor Education program in 1996!
Favorite bird is pileated woodpecker.
Tanya Marushak is the teacher speciali st focused on secondary grades. Her primary responsibilities include working with content coordinators to develop curriculum, host student interns, facilitate the county Envirothon, develop and run professional development for teachers, develop/support programs to increase student interactions with professionals in the environmental field, and work to support teachers as they implement environmental literacy projects and programs in their classroom.
She began working as an environmental educator at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in 1992 and has been active in the field ever since. Tanya has a B.S. in Biology with a focus in Environmental Science and a minor in Geology from Millersville University in Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Maryland. She has completed research projects in Brazil, the desert southwest, Italy, and Costa Rica.
Her hobbies include spending time with my family and pets, supporting animal rescue, hiking, reading, and exercise.
Trees are Terrific – Kindergarten Team
Sheen is a teacher specialist with the Trees are Terrific kindergarten program. In addition she coordinates the Office of Environmental Literacy & Outdoor Education volunteer program, where she supervises a Volunteer Maryland Americorp Volunteer Coordinator. In summer she is an Environmental Camp director and works with summer volunteer STEM students to be land stewards and care for the environment. Sheen is a low ropes team building instructor, and has various other roles at Arlington Echo.
Sheen holds an Associates Certificate from the University of Maryland Institute of Applied Agriculture: Horticulture and Greenhouse Management; a BS in Plant Science and Agriculture Education from The University of Delaware and a Master’s equivalency from credits earned at John Hopkins University in Environmental Science and Administrative Science. She is a CPH (Certified Public Horticulturist). Prior to her time with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, she was a horticulturist for the Baltimore Museum of Art, Hyatt Hotels, the National Aquarium in Baltimore and a gardener for Colonial Williamsburg. In the summers she would volunteer as a Camp Counselor at several private camps in the state. Sheen is a certified Watershed Steward for AAC and a founding member of Anne Arundel Patapsco River Alliance (AAPRA). She is a representative for the local and state teachers union TAAAC and MSEA and has represented teachers nationally at the NEA conference. She is the current president of a local chapter of an international teacher organization: Alpha Delta Kappa and was awarded the Alpha Delta Kappa Excellence in Education Award for 2020.
Sheen grew up in Linthicum Heights when BWI was Friendship Airport, woods and farms. She was constantly surrounded by nature and played outside until a bell rang for the families children to come home. In her off time you can find Sheen going on adventures with her husband and family. She enjoys traveling to new places, working in her forest, or playing in the water.
Favorite native plant: Joe Pye Weed (because it is beautiful and attracts many pollinators).
Favorite insect today (there are so many to choose from)- The hummingbird moth
Fun fact: Sheen’s pet is a bearded Dragon named Zilly.
Sean is a Program Specialist with the kindergarten and first grade Environmental Literacy programs. Sean is an Educator at heart. He has a thirst for learning, but loves teaching even more. It is Sean’s purpose to share the beauty and magic of the natural world with others. More importantly, however, he aims to educate people on preserving and respecting our planet. Sean graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Education and a Master’s degree in Education from Salisbury University. Sean is currently a Maryland Master Naturalist Trainee. He became a Certified Maryland Master Environmental Educator in 2013. Sean has been with the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education’s (MAEOE) Advisory Council since 2017. Sean is the Chair of MAEOE’s Membership Committee and also serves on the Conference Committee. Sean has served as a mentor through Chesapeake Bay Trusts Chesapeake Conservation Corps program since 2014. In addition, Sean was a Board Member with the Friends of Jug Bay between 2011-2016, working in the Education Committee. For the past 8 years, Sean has worked closely with the Monarch butterfly. His passion for the species is demonstrated through his presentations on the topic.
Sean’s hobbies include birding, exploring new habitats and photographing nature. His favorite bird is the White-breasted Nuthatch and favorite tree is the American Hornbeam or “musclewood”. Sean loves the color yellow and his favorite smell is pine needles warmed up by the sunshine.
Fun fact: Sean always wears tie-dye socks on Tuesdays!
Arlington Echo – 4th Grade Team
Ted Hall is a Teacher Specialist who assists 4th grade teachers in the planning and implementation of their environmental literacy program at Arlington Echo. He writes the schedule for 4th grade overnights and day programs, trains volunteers, updates lessons, runs professional development for teachers, and also directs the High Adventure summer camp.
After getting an AA in Environmental Science and BS in Environmental Health, Ted worked for an Engineering Company designing and overseeing the building of a state of the art wastewater treatment facility. At the time, Ted’s brother was working as an outdoor educator for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Norfolk VA. On Ted’s 29th birthday his brother invited him to go out on a Skipjack with him and a class of middle schoolers. It was awesome. The next day he quit his job and started down a path toward teaching.
Ted spent 10 years in Anne Arundel County teaching mostly fifth grade, went back to school for a MS in Administration, then spent 8 years teaching in Calvert County. After teaching in the classroom for 18 years he combined his love of teaching and his love of the outdoors by taking a position at Arlington Echo.
Ted is a father of two incredible teenagers Carlena and Jackson, and is a husband to his wife of 21 years Caryn that he adores as much as the day he meet her. They live in Davidsonville with five chickens and their dog Nigel.
Favorite native animal: the American Beaver. “I love that the beavers slow down the water with their dams and create beautiful wetlands in the process.”
Fun fact: “One of the most personally enriching activities that I do each week is volunteering at a local prison.”
Jason Toraldo is the Program Specialist for the 4th grade program at Arlington Echo. In this position he provides program management and operational structure to ensure the highest quality environmental literacy and outdoor education programs for AACPS 4th grade students, families, and staff.
He began his career in education as an intern at Arlington Echo in 2004. Throughout his journey, he continued to provide educational opportunities for individuals in his positions at AACPS, Irvine Nature Center, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and Generation. During his years at Johns Hopkins, he earned a Masters Degree in Educational Studies. In 2019 he returned to AACPS and Arlington Echo, elated to be back where his journey began.
He enjoys fishing, kayaking, biking, traveling as well as time spent with family, friends, and his dog Izzy. His favorite native bird is the Belted Kingfisher.
Environmental Literacy Assistant
Environmental Literacy Assistant
Adam is joining Arlington Echo as an Environmental Literacy Assistant for the fourth-grade program. He is looking forward to working with students as they explore their surroundings and discover their passion for the outdoors.
Adam studied at Goucher College and Johns Hopkins University where he discovered his passion for teaching and helping others. During an intensive course abroad, he spent time working in township and rural schools in South Africa. He holds a master’s degree in nursing from Johns Hopkins and also works for Johns Hopkins Healthcare systems at Howard County General as an inpatient nurse case manager.
Adam enjoys running, traveling to and learning about historic sites, kayaking, and spending time with family and his two cats— Presley & Cat!
Fun fact: Adam loves music and the band Phish.
Favorite tree: Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica)
Environmental Literacy Assistant
Lily is thrilled to be an Environmental Literacy Assistant for the 4th Grade Outdoor Education Program! She joins the rest of the team in caring for our residential animals, training chaperones in our lessons, and opening students’ minds to the wonderful (and fun) opportunities that nature holds. Lily remembers going on her own Arlington Echo 4th grade field trip and telling her family that she wanted to work there when she gets older! She swears that this exact field trip changes the trajectory of her life at a young age and hopes to have that same impact on students this year.
She earned a BA in Environmental Studies from Salisbury University, with minors in Sociology as well as Communications. During her final semester and a bit after that, she spent time as an intern working with a land trust on the Lower Eastern Shore with a strong focus in communications and pollinators. Lily designed and implemented a pollinator garden toward the end of her internship that she is still very proud of!
Lily enjoys spending her free time painting, doing her own nails, and hanging out with her rambunctious little pup, Hank.
Favorite Native Plant: American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Fun fact: Lily completed a full case study on chicken houses of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and a community led activist group that halted a large construction of one. Her work was a portion of a GIS Story Map that presented a virtual walk through of toxic sites within Wicomico County, MD.
Water Ready with Drownproofing- 5th Grade Team
Heather is the Program Director for the 5th grade Water Safety Program, Drownproofing. She coordinates with all 5th grade teachers to plan for their water safety lessons that take place in the classroom and in the pool, works with the Water Safety Instructors to provide skill development for students to know what to do in and around the water to be safe, and oversees the aquatic summer programs at Arlington Echo. In addition, Heather is also one of the lead instructors for the Initiative and Confidence course.
Heather grew up boating on the Chesapeake Bay which led to a love of the water and nature. An Outward Bound trip as part of Residence Assistant staff training, changed her career path and led to a BS from Salisbury University in Outdoor Education and Psychology. She was a Program Coordinator with Maryland DNR’s Outdoor Discovery Camp. Prior to coming to Arlington Echo in 2007, she was a long term substitute teacher at Eastport Elementary school.
Heather enjoys hiking, kayaking and camping with her family and can be found doing crafting projects with recycled materials in her free time.
The Belted Kingfisher is her favorite bird with a distinct call and the best hairdo anywhere on the Bay!
Fun fact- She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia for 2 years and is fluent in Spanish.
Amy is an Environmental Literacy Teacher Specialist with Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Her current position is with the Water Ready Program. Prior to working for the office of Environmental Literacy Amy was a member of the AACPS Mathematics Office. She taught at Brooklyn Park Middle, Old Mill Middle North and Rolling Knolls Elementary schools. Amy completed her undergraduate work at Towson University. She holds master’s degrees from Goucher College, UMBC and Slippery Rock University.
Amy enjoys boating, biking, running, camping and spending time outdoors. Amy and her husband Dan have three grown daughters and one awesome grandson.
Water Safety Instructor
Maureen has been a Drownproofing Instructor for over 20 years. She enjoys teaching water safety skills to students. Whether it’s a student new to the water and afraid to get in or it’s a student who has been on a swim team. She has found that all the students love to learn practical information about being safe in and around the water. It’s rewarding to see the students grow and learn about themselves, to overcome their fear of water, to be brave and try something new (even if it’s a little scary!) She finds joy in seeing the students gain confidence with their newly acquired water survival skills. They understand that the skills can save their life and that of others.
Maureen has a BS in Communications from Ohio University. She enjoys swimming in the ocean, bay and rivers, plus running/hiking the various trails in MD and VA.
Favorite Plant: Wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) Great to eat, while out running in the woods. Unfortunately, it’s invasive.
Fun fact: “Apparently, I’ve been teaching Drownproofing for so long, that I have taught some of the teachers and parents!”
Water Safety Instructor
Robin grew up on the Columbia River in St.Helens, Oregon along the scenic Lewis and Clark trail. It was important to the community to be water safe.
In elementary school she began taking Red Cross lessons which was a short walk next door to the pool. During those lessons, she not only learned how to swim, but also learned non-swimming rescues. At 15 years old she started lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons. Thirty four years later, she is still passionate about water safety and teaching the community how to swim.
Robin’s favorite things when she’s not in the pool include paddle boarding, biking, gardening, and yoga.
Water Safety Instructor
Gladney is in her 7th year of the Drownproofing program and really enjoys working with kids. Teaching safety first around the water has always been Gladney’s priority whether she is teaching someone to swim or teaching 5th graders water safety. It’s great to be part of such an important program for the county. She has been teaching swimming to all levels and ages for many years and finds it very rewarding. She also coached all levels and ages and currently coaches adults in a masters program in Severna Park. Her swimming background extends beyond 50 years of competition, coaching, teaching and open water. It’s part of her life. Gladney grew up in Kansas and was awarded a swimming scholarship at Kansas University finishing with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology.
While raising her two sons who are now adults, she enjoyed gardening, biking, hiking and travel. At home she enjoys cooking and baking.
Her favorite animal is her dog– Leia, a yellow lab.
Fun fact: She loves Maine and spent 10 years on Mt Desert Island and has been back each year since moving to Severna Park in 1995.
Chesapeake Connections – 6th Grade Team
As a program specialist for the Chesapeake Connections program, Eóin leads 6th grade students in environmental experiences including native plant restoration projects, stream investigations, and hiking adventures through local parks. In the summer months, Eóin directs High Adventure Camp, a weeklong backpacking expedition for high school students, as well as Planet Earth Camp, a residential camp for upper elementary students at Arlington Echo.
Eóin developed his passion for the outdoors at an early age, through family trips to parks and nature centers, as well as his 5th grade class trip to Arlington Echo. He spent his teenage and college summers working at Arlington Echo camps, and summer camp season remains his favorite time of year to this day. This love of all-things outdoors ultimately led to his full-time career with Arlington Echo and earning a Master of Science in Environmental Studies and Sustainability from Unity College. In his free time, Eóin enjoys wilderness backpacking, nature photography, and reading.
Favorite trees: Tulip poplar for its unique flowers and cat-shaped leaves, and mountain laurel for its textured bark, gnarly branches, and beautiful blossoms.
Anna is a Program Specialist for the Chesapeake Connections team and works to provide meaningful outdoor educational experiences for our 6th grade students. She began her education career as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteer at Arlington Echo in 2015 and later became an Environmental Literacy Assistant with the 4th grade program.
Anna earned a BA in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Chesapeake Regional Studies at Washington College. It was at Washington College that she learned the true value of hands on, outdoor learning and has strived to provide her students with those same experiences. She completed her MAEOE Outdoor Education Certification in 2017 and is also an ACA Level 2 Kayak Instructor.
Anna enjoys spending time on the water kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding and is always testing out new recipes with ingredients from her garden!
Favorite Native Plant: Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Amanda is a Teacher Specialist for the Chesapeake Connections team. Her goal is for 6th grade students to gain knowledge about the environment and take action in their communities. Amanda is an Anne Arundel County native where she grew up attending Arlington Echo’s programs throughout her elementary school experience.
Amanda earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Towson University and went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction from McDaniel College. She spent her first five years teaching in Howard County Public Schools but decided to come back “home” to teach 4th grade in Anne Arundel County for the last five years. Amanda thoroughly enjoyed bringing her students to Arlington Echo for the overnight trips because her students got to have new, outdoor experiences that they would not have been awarded otherwise.
Amanda loves to read and spend her time outdoors kayaking, paddleboarding, and hiking with her dog Chance.
Favorite Native Plant: Spice bush
Environmental Literacy Assistant
Michael is an Environmental Literacy Assistant with the Chesapeake Connection programs. Michael hopes to teach our 6th graders the importance of the environment and the large effect that we have on it. He is a Prince George’s County native but has spent a large amount of his life in Anne Arundel County visiting his family and attending summer camps.
Michael earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Parks and Recreation Management with a minor in Biology from Frostburg State University where he also played baseball. His involvement in sports and love for the outdoors drew him to Arlington Echo’s Chesapeake Connections program with aspirations of working with the Maryland Natural Resources Police.
Michael enjoys baseball, football, hiking, swimming, eating, and especially trying an array of new things.
Favorite Native Tree: Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) because of its lemony scent.
Misty is the Food Service Manager at Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center. She attended Culinary Arts vocational technical school in Bakersfield California. She has worked every aspect of the food service industry from dishwasher to management during the past 43 years. Misty is sanitation certified, and continues to update this certification regularly.
Misty holds a license for bartending from the bartenders academy in Glen Burnie MD.
In her spare time, Misty likes working in the yard and crafting.
Melissa is a part of the Maintenance Team at Arlington Echo. She started at Echo as a permanent employee in 2013. Before working as a permanent part of the AE team, she worked Friendship, Planet Earth, and Echo Adventure Camps as a camp counselor.
Melissa enjoys the outdoors, and likes to vacation in her favorite places: the mountains and the beach.
Favorite Birds: Robin and Chickadee
Favorite wildflowers: Blue flag Iris and Black eyed Susan
Fun fact: When Melissa is alone in her car she likes to have karaoke jam sessions!
Ali is our volunteer coordinator and supports our K-12 programs, as well as our land stewards and Eco-Buddies.
After pursuing a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and a minor in geography at Towson University, she became an AmeriCorps service member and is currently a part of the Volunteer Maryland 35th class.
Ali grew up in Anne Arundel County, participating in the MAEOE Green School certification of West Annapolis Elementary School and graduated from Annapolis High School. She feels extremely gracious for the opportunity to help sustain and strengthen our mission during her service year. She has always believed that environmental literacy was key to fostering environmental stewardship in our community and in future generations.
Her environmental focus is mainly local to the Chesapeake Bay, with an interest in oyster restoration. She loves being on the water, walking in the woods, and cooking.
Favorite Chesapeake Bay Critter: Mnemiopsis leidyi, Sea Walnuts!