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VAEE Leadership

 VAEE Board of Directors

The board of directors for the Virginia Association for Environmental Education is elected by the membership and oversees the operations of the organization. Board members plan the annual Virginia Environmental Education conference, seek out funding opportunities, manage VAEE memberships, communicate VAEE activities and news to the membership and much more. 

VAEE's work is also supported by an executive director and certification administratior. 

The following VAEE members make up the current board. Click on a name to send an email to that board member.

VAEE Board

Board Chair

Daria Blom Christian

Daria Blom Christian is the Executive Director at Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) where she has served since 2010. She is a graduate of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute and earned degrees in Environmental Studies and Education. Daria is passionate about environmental education because it is the necessary foundation in developing an informed society that can make sound environmental decisions. In her free time Daria enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and doing all things active and outdoors. 

Secretary - Lowery Becker

With a family history of farmers, dairy farmers, and watermen, Lowery Becker continues the tradition at the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District as the Conservation Education Specialist. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a specialization in Environmental and Biological Conservation and earned her M. Ed. at the University of Mary Washington. Lowery’s prior work was with Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) primarily leading Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences. Lowery lives in Richmond County with her family and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, and exploring new things. 

Treasurer - Nancy Stalik

Nancy Stalik earned her M. Ed. from the University of Mary Washington and works as the Education Manager at Friends of the Rappahannock headquarters office. She teaches students ranging from preschool Head Start programs to university undergraduates. Her favorite place to teach is by the river's edge where students grow their investment for a healthy and scenic river. She enjoys developing programs that incorporate elements of Environmental STEM design which engage students in the iterative engineering process while empowering them to improve the health of their watershed.

Certifying Advisory Board Chair

 John Lord

John Lord has been an Energy Manager for public school districts in Virginia since 2003 and currently serves Fairfax County. He is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) and holds several other certifications from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE). John maintain his teaching license and has 10 years of classroom experience. Numerous programs that he has administered have earned awards such as the Virginia Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award and the AEE International Award for Institutional Energy Management.

Conference Chair

Ashley Palmer

Ashley found her passion for our environment exploring the woods and creeks around her childhood home in Pennsylvania. She has been engaging Fairfax County residents in EE and stewardship projects for more than 10 years, including in her current role as the Communications and Education Specialist at the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District. Ashley holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in environmental science from George Mason University and is a graduate of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute. She is passionate about environmental justice, community engagement and collaboration, and exploring our natural spaces.

Board Member

Julia Carson

Julia Carson grew up on the Potomac River and has always had compassion toward the environment and a great love for the outdoors. At Randolph-Macon College, she learned that she could combine her love for the water and passion for teaching into a career in environmental education. Most of her time is spent teaching students how to canoe on the beautiful rivers of Virginia with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She loves introducing students to a positive experience outside and helping students develop stewardship in their watershed.

Board Member

Tarneshia Evans

Tarneshia Evans has been educating and advocating for nature-based early childhood education for more than 20 years. Previously, she served as the Children’s Program Developer for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and in 2017 she was selected as a National Outstanding Educator by Project Learning Tree. She teaches art at The Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen. When she’s not teaching, you can find her volunteering at community events or checking out her favorite thrift and consignment shops. Tarneshia finds her joy in seeing children engaged in art and nature.

Board Member

Emily Pendergraft

Emily Pendergraft is currently the Head of Regional Operations, VA and MD for Compass, a real estate tech company. Prior to Compass, Emily worked in Strategy and Operations for a variety of companies, including leading Strategic Impact Advising services for 1% for the Planet. Originally

from South Carolina, she lived in Vermont for many years where she served on various Boards and furthered her love for the natural world. She currently resides in Charlottesville. Emily holds an undergraduate degree in History and Secondary Education from Clemson University and an MPA from Indiana University. In her free time Emily loves to hike, fly fish, and trail run.

VAEE Staff

Executive Director - Bianca Myrick

Bianca Myrick is a mother, daughter, sister, connector, and network weaver. As a former elementary and middle grades educator for twelve years, her teaching career fostered a development of youth-centered problem based experiences, with a focus on history and science.  She is also the founder and executive director of Pretty Purposed, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring communities to empower young women and girls through mentorship and enrichment programming. As a consultant, she is able to support individuals, organizations, and businesses, specifically in the areas of organization and program development. She is a graduate of Virginia State University, where she now serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, teaching other students about the nonprofit sector, education, and philanthropy. Bianca also has a masters degree in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to being a grassroots nonprofit leader, she dedicates her time advocating for funding for Black and Brown led organizations, as a founding board member of Collective 365. She resides in Chesterfield County, Virginia with her son, who loves spending his time playing and exploring the outdoors.

Certification Administrator - Tara Poelzing

Tara Poelzing holds a bachelor’s degree in Education and a master’s degree in Environmental Interpretation from the University of Utah and is a Virginia Master Naturalist and a Utah Certified Environmental Educator. She began her professional career as a classroom educator, teaching high school English and sneaking in environmental lessons. Some of her career highlights include work as a Naturalist for Cleveland Metroparks, community engagement and riparian restoration work at Bend-in-the-River Urban TreeHouse and Green Space in Utah, and, most recently, serving as an outreach educator for the Western Virginia Water Authority’s award-winning outreach program. She has been educating for more than 20 years.

She has a passion for utilizing native plants and is learning to grow a successful vegetable garden. Some of her best days include hiking, skiing, and playing in creeks with her two boys and her adventurous husband.

Board Member Interest Form

Interested in serving on the board? Whether it is on a committee or on the board of directors, we would love to hear from you! Please use this form to share your interest in involvement and we will schedule a meeting to get to know you better! 


Read more about the duties and expectations for the VAEE Board of Directors.

Each member of the VAEE Board of Directors has agreed to the following Code of Ethics and Board Member Commitment document. 


Virginia Association for Environmental Education

10221 Krause Road

P.O. Box #2193

Chesterfield, VA 23832

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