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KVR Instructors

Photo of Barb Duerksen holding binoculars

In addition to teaching classes at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, Barbara Duerksen does substitute teaching for the Richland School District, and in summer, does breeding bird surveys for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  She became fascinated with bird songs when she was growing up in Kansas and continues her interest in studying birds and their habitats.  She is the Youth Education Coordinator for the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, the Richland County Sandhill Crane Count Coordinator, does volunteer breeding bird surveys for the USGS, organizes the Richland County Big Sit bird event, and leads bird walks.

Photo of Barb Sarnowski

Barb Sarnowski grew up in the Kickapoo Valley enjoying its many opportunities for biking, hiking, canoeing and horseback riding.  Barb’s interest in plant and flower identification helped connect her students to the land they call home in her 35 year career as a K-12 LD teacher in the La Farge Public School system.  Barb received her graduate and master’s degrees from UW-La Crosse with additional classes in teaching methods, curriculum and science.  Barb’s background teaching a wide age range of students coupled with her broad subject experience allows her to teach a variety of KVR classes to all age ranges and learning styles. 

Photo of Bill Humphrey

Bill Humphrey is a professional wilderness guide with over 20 years’ experience who specializes in adventure travel such as rock climbing, canoeing and winter camping with individuals, families and groups.  He sees outdoor adventure as a lifetime activity that can be enjoyed at all ages either individually or with others.  Bill's mission as a guide is to partner with others to create experiences that encourage growth, promote group bonds and deepen our connection with the natural world so that we may appreciate each other and the environment more completely.  Bill is the founder of Essential Skills Outdoor School,, and lives in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

Picture of Brad Steinmetzm in winter

Brad Steinmetz taught social studies classes at La Farge High School for over thirty years.  He currently is an Affiliated Professor at UW-La Crosse and teaches courses at the Reserve on the history of the northern Kickapoo Valley including the settlement of the area, flooding problems of the Kickapoo River, the La Farge Dam Project and other topics of human history.  He has been writing about various local history projects over the last five years; volume one of his history of La Farge was published in 2010, and the history of the La Farge Dam Project was released in December 2011.  Brad says that his favorite part of teaching at the Reserve is working with people who share his interest in the history of this place.

Photo of Chuck Hatfiled

Chuck Hatfield grew up on a farm near Ontario, Wisconsin where he spent most of his spare time hiking and exploring the nearby woods and cliffs.  He received a degree in elementary education and science at La Crosse, and later a master’s degree in teaching from Oshkosh.  He taught for 35 years in Green Bay, serving in both elementary and middle schools.  His second “career” was working with Heritage Hill State Park—locating, moving and reassembling ethnic log buildings.  Gwen and Chuck moved to La Farge in 1998 and built a home on Maple Ridge Road.  He has taught since 2001 for the KVR, working with students from elementary to graduate school.  One of his passions has been to hike and explore all areas within the Reserve, studying the geological and natural history of the area.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Wisconsin Historical Society and Bethel Home & Services of Viroqua.

Photo of Dave Sarnowski

Dave Sarnowski is a lifelong resident of Wisconsin and a retired Health and Physical Education teacher, having received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from UW-La Crosse.  Dave taught K-12 students at La Farge Public Schools for 32 years and continues to teach Hunter Safety Education classes.  With his background in Health and Physical Education and lifetime as a hunter, fisherman and outdoor activities participant, Dave sees a unique opportunity for life long outdoor education and enjoyment within the KVR for people of all ages.  Dave will be teaching archery, rendezvous games and other activities for the KVR.

Photo of John Heasley next to telescope

John Heasley is an experienced amateur astronomer who shares his love of the starry sky with young people at College for Kids, Middle School U, elementary schools, state parks, libraries, and KVR's Space Camp.  He taught English for 25 years at Richland Center High School and is now an astronomy educator with Driftless Stargazing LLC.  John volunteers with NASA as a Solar System Ambassador Master Teacher.  He loves to get young people looking up and knowing their home in the cosmos.

Photo of Julie Hoel

Julie Hoel is a retired educator with a degree in Elementary Education from Iowa State University and a Masters in Professional Development from UW-La Crosse.  Julie has taught numerous classes to the younger visitors at the Reserve including Alien Invaders, Camouflage Critters, Animals in Winter, Bat Bonanza, Animal Signs, Learning to Love Herptiles, and Water Canaries.  She is a lifelong camper, hiker, canoeist, and biker.  She enjoys sharing this love of the outdoors with young people and meeting people who truly care about the environment and the place they live.  Although Julie and her husband live on a piece of property that her parents bought in 1970, it was taking the Cultural Tour of the Kickapoo Valley course in 2009 through the Reserve that finally made the Driftless Region feel like home!

Photo of Kristine Teghtmeyer

Kristine Teghtmeyer grew up in Vernon County enjoying the outdoors.  She has a degree in Biology and Chemistry from UW-La Crosse.  Kristine’s training has also included advanced training from a number of nature-based schools including Earth Heart, Tracker, Inc., Wilderness Awareness School and Tomiki with Bears in the Wilderness.  She has been a volunteer for Tracker, Inc. and helped put together a transitional survival class for them here in the KVR in the late 90’s.  She has also been both a youth and adult instructor for Wilderness Awareness School, Wilderness Youth Project, and developed a program for Windemere Institute of Healing Arts called “Nature as a Mentor”.  She currently spends as much time outdoors as possible exploring, tracking and sharing awareness of the natural world with people of all ages.

Photo of Mary Szepi

Mary Szepi is a retired teacher of Pre-k-2nd grades.  She has led an environmental club of 4th-6th graders and been a Girl Scout lead for many years.  Since retiring she has taught environmental education as a volunteer for grades K-3 at NOW Schools, has taught as a KVR instructor and led the Jeepers Creepers and Kindercamp summer camps at the Reserve.  Since childhood she has loved camping, hiking, canoeing, swimming and exploring the outdoors.  She loves spending time with children in the outdoors experiencing the wonders of nature, observing their curiosity and enthusiasm and helping hone their love of nature

Photo of Maureen Carlson

Maureen Carlson is an experiential educator and outdoor enthusiast who hails from the big city, but has found a home in the Kickapoo Valley. Maureen, like all people, thrives best closer to nature. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She has worked as a high ropes course and teambuilding instructor in the Wisconsin area for the past six years, teaching kids and adults to play together. At one of her favorite jobs, Maureen facilitated youth in growing, cooking and loving vegetables at an urban farm in Madison. She currently runs and operates Savanna Gardens, a grass-based livestock and ecological restoration company. She lives with her fiancé and many animals on a farm where she enjoys skiing, running, writing short fiction, and playing in the dirt. 

Photo of Meaghan Gustafson

Meaghan Gustafson has been an early childhood educator for 10 years, teaching primarily preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade students in a variety of settings.  She is currently the first grade teacher at La Farge Elementary.  She has been leading Jeepers Creepers and Kinder Camp sessions at KVR Summer Camp for the past several years.  Meaghan appreciates the diversity of landscapes, vegetation, and wildlife on the Reserve, where she spends a lot of time hiking, paddling, and snowshoeing.  Meaghan and her husband live outside La Farge on a small-scale farm.

Photo of Nicholas Gale

Nicholas Gale wishes he had been born in Wisconsin a few thousand years ago; but at least he was born in Wisconsin, enjoying the freedom to explore the natural world from an early age. His first loves were insects, frogs and snakes but grew to incorporate birds, environmentalism, earth skills and Native philosophy. At the Teaching Drum School in Northern Wisconsin he immersed himself in a year-long course in wilderness skills, tanning, lodge building, wilderness travel, foraging and food storage and bushcraft. Here he became firmly planted in his passions for living close to the land and sharing this connected lifeway with others. He lives with his wife and children in the Kickapoo Valley and with them celebrates gathering edibles, fishing and hunting, and pursuing the art of dressing and furnishing a life from the gifts of the Earth. He shares this world with youth and adults through classes and workshops on wild edibles, wilderness skills, traditional crafts and nature awareness.

Photo of Peg La Martina

Peg La Martina came to love the natural world as a small girl on her grandparents farm in Southeast Wisconsin.  Her days were spent "bog walking" along a creek in a pair of old shoes, and day dreaming among ancient Oaks and Hickories, as well as Native American mounds.  As an adult, nature continues to nurture her spirit as she spends vacations kayaking, hiking, and camping.  She has participated in an Outward Bound program and has spent time at Camp Woodbrooke for kids in Richland Center, Wisconsin.  She loves to share nature with others, especially children, and feels that when most people are exposed to the natural world an innate connection is sparked.  Hopefully from there, the spark is bright enough that they will, in turn, work to nurture nature. 

Photo of Vicki Ramsay

Vicki Ramsay is a state certified teacher in Biology and Environmental Science.  She teaches biology at Youth Initiative High School in Viroqua to grades 9 through 12.  She has been teaching at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve for the past five years.  The best part about teaching at the Reserve, she says, is seeing how inspired students become through exploring the wild, learning something really cool like survival skills, or just by being out in nature.  She lives in Viroqua with her two sons, ages 10 and 3.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve | S3661 State Highway 131 | La Farge, Wisconsin 54639 
Phone: 608-625-2960 | FAX: 608-625-2962

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