Education Department Highlights: Hello, Congratulations, and Goodbye

1024 713 Stroud Water Research Center

A new era has dawned for Stroud Center’s education department with the retirement of Susan Gill, Ph.D., the appointment of new Education Director Steven Kerlin, Ph.D., and the promotion of Tara Muenz to assistant director of education. Programmatic enhancements and new endeavors are also on the horizon.

Welcome to Our New Director of Education

Steven Kerlin, Ph.D., is joining Stroud Center to lead the education department in January 2016.

Steve Kerlin, Ph.D., is joining Stroud Center to lead the education department in January 2016. Kerlin hails from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point where he was assistant professor of environmental education and youth programming/camp management.

“We are very excited and fortunate to have Steve join our team” said Stroud Center Director Bernard Sweeney, Ph.D. “He has an amazing background and demonstrated achievements in environmental education and engaging all sorts of audiences.”

At Stevens Point, in addition to teaching environmental education and nature center management courses, he served as the creator and state coordinator of the Wisconsin Nature Centers Collaborative, which provides leadership in land and nature center management, regional networking and professional development, and outreach for more than 700 environmental and outdoor education organizations in Wisconsin.

Prior to his post in Wisconsin, Kerlin served as director of the Center for Environmental Education at Northern Kentucky University and assistant professor of science and environmental education. While at NKU, Kerlin and a team of developers created the Water Quality app for educators, water-quality enthusiasts, and citizen scientists.

Kerlin has also partnered with the Thomas More College Biology Field Station and Morehead State University to design and co-teach water education courses for teachers, where they conducted field studies to collect data on the physical, chemical and biological aspects of streams.

Kerlin completed his undergraduate, master’s of science, and doctoral studies at The Pennsylvania State University in Science and Environmental Education. In between his undergraduate and master’s studies, he taught 7th, 8th and 9th grade general and Earth science at Penns Valley Area School District in Centre County for seven years.

As an outdoor enthusiast, Kerlin will fit right in at Stroud Center. He’s an avid canoer, boater, wooden boat builder, backpacker, caver and rock climber. And he even has experience as an Eagle Scout with 10 years on staff at Custaloga Town Scout Reservation engaging youth and adults in field studies.

Tara Muenz Promoted to Assistant Diretor of Education

Tara Muenz was recently promoted from education programs manager to assistant director of education. In this new role, she will be assisting with the integration of Stroud Center science into new education programming, grant proposal development and program promotion in addition to teaching programs and leading outreach workshops.

During her short tenure at Stroud Center, Muenz has provided strong leadership in delivering our education programs. “If you’ve had the pleasure of participating in Tara’s programs, you’ve seen how her enthusiasm and passion for stream and river ecology are contagious,” said Stroud Center Assistant Director David Arscott, Ph.D. “In addition to her management and delivery of our education programs, she has been instrumental in writing and securing grant funding and helping to develop new programs and workshops.”

Congratulations, Tara!

Happy Retirement and Farewell to Susan Gill

As education director, Susan Gill (left) worked closely with Tara Muenz (center) and Libby Gregg. Photo: Beverly Payton

Susan Gill, Ph.D., served as Stroud Center’s education director for eight years, stating “I loved being at Stroud Center; it’s a great place to be proud of, and to work with such great people.” Prior to Stroud Center, Gill held many positions within the University of Pennsylvania’s College of General Studies as the director of professional education programs and executive director of the Institute of Environmental Studies.

Stroud Center’s education department was fortunate to have Susan arrive with a background in landscape architecture, environmental education and geology. Susan’s background enabled her to launch one of the most powerful packages of tools for watershed stewardship, WikiWatershed®.

“My proudest achievement was Model My Watershed®, to work with Anthony Aufdenkampe and all of the collaborators. I hope it will be a gift to the world. It’s exciting to see something like that happen.”

One of the collaborators, Nanette Marcum-Dietrich, Ph.D., of Millersville University shared her thoughts, “Susan Gill is a visionary who brought bold and innovative ideas to the education department. Her ability to enthusiastically communicate her bold ideas to professionals across the country allowed her to assemble teams of committed collaborators. This resulted in many successful grant-funded projects that brought recognition to the great scientific work of Stroud Water Research Center.”

Christina Medved, former education programs manager at Stroud Center, added these words about Susan: “I really appreciated Susan’s availability — her door was always open. She was very encouraging, whether in creating a new program or attending professional development opportunities. She brought her long history at the University of Pennsylvania with her to Stroud Center. I’m sure it was Susan’s welcoming personality that encouraged past students and colleagues to keep in touch with her, and she was always quick to introduce them to Stroud Center and figure out ways we could work together. This is perfectly demonstrated in the creation of WikiWatershed with Robert Cheetham and Dana Tomlin, Ph.D., a graduate of and professor at University of Pennsylvania, respectively. We only knew them because of Susan.”

A celebration luncheon was held in October to thank and honor Susan Gill for her many contributions to Stroud Center. We’ll end with a few lines from a poem written for Susan by Director Bern Sweeney, Ph.D.:

Using her intuition … she was able to bring to fruition,
A plan to Model, Monitor, and Manage a watershed.
But getting the money … was not even funny,
As proposal after proposal came close but would fail.
However sheer persistence … helped Susan go the distance,
And NSF funding finally helped her prevail.
With Wiki on the road to success … Susan has found happiness,
And she’ll let others take it the final mile.

The education department is excited for this new chapter, for continued growth and for building a strong and dedicated team. Please extend your well wishes to Susan Gill.