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Meet the Team 2012

Meet the participants of the 2012 Yellowstone Institute

Ami Abramson

Ami Abramson
Literacy Facilitator
Pinewood Elementary School
Mecklenburg County
Hobbies: traveling, art, music, theater, movies, cookie, foodie.
Looking forward to: exploring “America’s Best Idea” (Ken Burns). Experiencing the magic of Yellowstone National Park with educators from across the state of North Carolina.

Meghan Baker

Meghan Baker
Extension Age, Agriculture and Horticulture
NC Cooperative Extension
Watauga County
Hobbies: hiking, running, traveling, gardening, beekeeping, learning clawhammer banjo.
Looking forward to: Networking with other educators, experiencing the geological wonders and ecological systems of Yellowstone. Hearing and viewing wildlife I have yet to experience, and have new adventures.

Rowan Beauchemin

Rowan Beauchemin
Special Education Teacher
Fox Road Elementary School
Wake County
Hobbies: reading, gardening, nature walks
Looking forward to: Everything!!! Hearing the sounds made by the different wildlife in their natural habitat, seeing the geysers, the plant and animal life, the waterfalls. And, that exquisite feeling of joy that overwhelms when you’re in the presence of something breathtaking and beyond words.


Billie Davison

Billie Davison 
Earth Science Teacher 
North Buncombe High School 
Buncombe County
Hobbies: Gardening, Art, Hiking, Yoga, Reading, Photography & Astronomy
Looking forward to: Everything! I want to see first-hand the shifting world beneath us and the smell of Old Faithful. I want to slow down and let nature unfold in front of me, and I want to be still enough to enjoy it- and I know I will.


Mary Loveless

Mary Loveless
Science Teacher and Dept. Chair
West Carteret High School
Carteret County
Hobbies: reading, traveling exercising, and attending my kids’ extracurricular activities
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to observing the wildlife of Yellowstone and seeing all of the geothermal features.


Laura McGuire

Laura McGuire
Special Education Teacher, Inclusion Biology
Jesse C. Carson High School
Rowan County
Hobbies: reading, jogging, spending time with family
Looking forward to: Absorbing as much information and beauty as I can to bring back to my students; I hope to inspire them to explore the connection between science and nature, now and in the future.

Joyce Metger

Joyce Metger
2nd Grade Teacher
Moyock Elementary School
Currituck County
Hobbies: gardening, reading, traveling, and taking care of my grandson, Ryland!
Looking forward to: excited to witness, experience and share about the beauty, wildlife and natural energy that Yellowstone will offer.

Pam Nolen

Pam Nolen
7th Grade Science Teacher
Crest Middle School
Cleveland County
Hobbies: reading and gardening
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to taking in the spectacular beauty of the area. I already know the many geologic and biologic wonders will make an ever-lasting impression on me.

Blair Ogburn

Blair Ogburn
Senior Naturalist & Education Coordinator
Balsam Mountain Trust Nature Center
Jackson County
Hobbies: hiking in the Smoky Mountains; bird and wildflower ID; canoeing with my family
Looking forward to: I am excited to see a new ecosystem unlike any other I have seen; I look forward to wildlife watching and hope to see wolves and perhaps a grizzly bear…although not too close… and of course some western songbird species must be found and identified.

Meg Rawls

Meg Rawls
Biology Instructor
Currituck Community College
Currituck County
Hobbies: learning to sail, growing vegetables organically
Looking forward to: stillness in a grand natural ecosystem, one that promises to be full of geological delights!

Lou Skrabec

Lou Skrabec
6th Grade Math Teacher
Brown Summit Middle School Center for Advanced Academics
Guilford County
Hobbies: bird watching, photography, hiking, gardening
Looking forward to: experiencing the grandeur of Yellowstone and the incredible wildlife diversity- particularly the bird life. Hope to get tons of photos and stories to share in the classroom. Want to see a Great Grey Owl!

Cindy Stephenson

Cindy Stephenson
7th Grade Science Teacher
Forsyth Country Day School
Davie County
Hobbies: Zumba, Biking, Gardening, Painting, Photography
Looking forward to: Immersing myself in the wonders and tranquility of nature. I will be on the lookout for Indian Paintbrush and other wildflowers. I want to view the bison, elk, moose, owls, wolves, and other wildlife in their nature habitat- especially those with young. I will look forward to the beauty of geysers, rivers, sunrises, sunsets, rainbows, and the night sky constellations.

Museum Staff Leaders

Melissa Dowland

Melissa Dowland (Institute leader)
Teacher Education Specialist
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Wake County
Hobbies: nature photography, hiking, camping, kayaking, and being outdoors
Looking forward to: sharing my favorite place in the world with a wonderful, talented group of educators; continuing to get to know Yellowstone National Park and the locals we meet better; and reconnecting with the sense of wildness and peace I find in Yellowstone.

Mike Dunn

Mike Dunn (Institute leader)
Senior Manager of Outreach
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Wake County
Hobbies: kayaking, nature photography, woods watching, wood carving, camping
Looking forward to: sharing this place I love with another group of Yellowstone soon-to-be-fans, seeing grizzlies, learning more about the wildflowers of the park, seeing our park friends again, savoring the sounds of Yellowstone, and being in my favorite place in the world.


Liani Yirka

Liani Yirka (Institute leader)
Curator of Special Populations
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Wake County
Hobbies: reading, hiking, camping, herping, photography, being outdoors, learning about anything and everything
Looking forward to: experiencing a whole new ecosystem and all it entails- flora and fauna great and small. Feeling a sense of peace and connection with nature.

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