The Virginia Association for Environmental Education is excited to share the Board of Director Nominees for 2022! Member voting on the nominees will run from February 21-24. You will find the nominee biographies below! A link to access voting will be shared when the voting period opens.
Chair Elect: Rick Mittler
Rick Mittler, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Virginia Student Leadership Coordinator, educates and engages students from across Virginia in support of clean water, clean air, and healthy communities. He works with students to identify and address issues that are impacting their community through advocacy, action, and awareness. Prior to his current role, Rick managed two other environmental education programs at CBF, was an educator with the Blue Sky Fund, and taught EE in schools across western Massachusetts with AmeriCorps. Earning a degree in Geography from Virginia Tech in 2011, Rick incorporates the power of GIS, in both his professional and personal life, by creating mapping tools to monitor and analyze natural resources. With extensive background in conservation work with the Student Conservation Association, he recognizes the importance of hands-on experiences in nature and the impact that can play. As a “product of environmental education” Rick has a keen focus on ensuring that everyone has access to the same high quality and solution-based EE that he was privileged to participate in. Most importantly, he strives to create more seats at the decision-making table while ensuring everyone invited is comfortable to participate.
Rick is currently enrolled in the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership and lives in Richmond. When not educating the next generation of environmental stewards, he can be found along the James with his four-legged shadow, Atticus, a 10-year-old Blue Heeler, or at a local disc golf course.
Secretary: Lowery Becker
Lowery Becker is the Community Conservation Specialist with the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District. Lowery was raised in Richmond County and has a family history of farmers, dairy farmers and watermen. She graduated from the University of Virginia where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Specialization in Environmental and Biological Conservation. She has since also received her Master of Education from the University of Mary Washington. After graduating from college, Lowery was an AmeriCorps Vista stationed with Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR). She later served as the Education Coordinator for FOR, a position she held for five years, and worked primarily on Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences. Lowery lives in Richmond County with her husband, Robert. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and exploring new things. Lowery is excited to continue working to better environmental education in the Commonwealth.
Treasurer: Nancy Stalik
Nancy Stalik the middle watershed education manager for Friends of the Rappahannock where she has worked as an Environmental Educator since 2014. Nancy earned a Master of Education from University of Mary Washington and grew up in coastal Connecticut with a passion for better understanding the environment of our planet, especially aquatic life, both flora and fauna. She participated in programs at Project Oceanology that focused on the use of science to keep Marine habitats healthy. To preserve the wellness of Planet Earth, she is a strong advocate for environmental rights, especially for those who do not have a voice including plants, animals, air, and water. Nancy is well-postured for your consideration to be a Treasurer for VAEE: She has been a Treasurer for a robust gymnastics club for ten years when her children were active in the club, she has managed her family's household finances for over thirty years, and managed a large B-WET grant for four years.
Communications: Anne Self
Anne Self grew up in the Northern Neck of Virginia, where she first developed her love for outdoor learning. Anne attended the College of William and Mary, receiving a BS in Biology. During her time at W&M she discovered her passion for the field of environmental education while interning at Chincoteague Bay Field Station, where she now serves as Education Director. Throughout her career, Anne has held education positions across the state of Virginia, gaining experience in school based programming, outdoor and experiential education, and after school programming. In all of her roles she has played a key part in outreach, marketing, and communication efforts. Anne is passionate about equitable access to outdoor education and recreation and believes that environmental education is a right, not a privilege. When she's not working, Anne enjoys cooking (and eating), reading, and getting outside with her dog, Midnight!
Professional Learning: Julia Carson
Julia Carson is the Senior Environmental Educator for the James River Association, based out of Richmond, VA. She have been working in EE for over 4 years now and has been interested in getting more involved with VAEE. From a young age she developed a love and appreciation for wildlife. Julia has always wanted to be a teacher, but didn’t know there was such a thing as environmental education until she went to college. She studied Environmental Studies and Elementary Education at Randolph-Macon College and fell in love with the idea of teaching kids and encouraging a positive relationship with their environment. Since 2018, Julia has been intensifying her passion for getting students outside to develop an appreciation for nature. Her position at JRA allows her to give students an experience that encourages them to protect wildlife and the natural environment.
Events Chair: Bonnie Tillotson
Bonnie Tillotson has been the 4-H Agent for Appomattox County for over 17 years, and lives by the motto “Learn by Doing”. An alumnus of the University of Tennessee, she received her Bachelors in Forest Management, and was recruited by the Virginia Department of Forestry to serve as a county Forester in Surry & Prince George. She later took a promotion to work on the Appomattox/Buckingham State Forest. Real Estate lured her away, as she became a farm & land specialist for Century 21. During these years, Bonnie was a volunteer leader for 4-H, and when the Appomattox County 4-H agent retired, it just made sense to take that new direction in her career path. Bonnie utilizes her Master of Education degree to deliver in-school and after-school programming to over 900 students ( On a “normal” year), on topics such as: Virginia Wildlife, Horticulture, Soils, Electricity, Public Speaking & Presentations, Science Fair, GPS, Financial Education, Archery, Cooking, Handbells, and Water Quality, which is the topic of her workshop for the conference.
Events Support Chair: Kelli Ramirez
Kelli Ramirez is a first grade teacher in Chesterfield County Public Schools with a passion for getting outdoors and sharing the natural world with others. She began her journey in environmental education in 2001 after a rehabilitator preceptorship at The Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro (WCV). Kelli spent a year traveling around the state with ambassador animals, teaching children and adults about our native wildlife. She coordinated the Bear Oak field trip programs at The Wildlife Center by advertising, scheduling, training and staffing volunteers and docents, preparing materials, and leading groups through onsite hiking field trips. Kelli Ramirez also had some wonderful learning opportunities through WCV, such as Project Wild and Wet facilitator training and a herpetology monitoring weekend in Front Royal.
In her first public classroom position, Kelli helped spearhead the Learning Garden project at Bowling Green elementary school. She embraced the outdoor classroom and the use of Project Wild and Project Learning Tree resources. After 12 years in the classroom, she took a year off and lived her dream, working as an environmental educator at Maymont Park in Richmond. Mrs. Ramirez returned to the public school system in 2017 and is sharing her love of our natural world with her young students.
Kelli hopes to use her gifts to support the work of the VAEE as the events co-chair. She can provide a unique bridge between environmental education and the public school system.
Kelli Ramirez has also worked as a veterinarian technician. Mrs. Ramirez is married, has two children and a rescued Labradoodle. She enjoys family hikes in nature, camping, beach vacations and firepits.
Resource Development Chair: James Kenney
James Kenney has been teaching for 26 year and most recently teaching Biology, Earth Science, and AP Environmental Science for the last 12 years within Warren County Public Schools. He is also the Science Department Chair at Skyline High School in Front Royal, VA and is trained as a Climate Reality Presenter through Al Gore's Climate Reality Project. Although he has not presented yet he is looking forward to doing so! James is very interested in getting involved with an organization that supports Environmental Education which is why I look hope to contribute as a Resource Development Chair on VAEE’s board of directors.
Certification Advisory Board Chair: John Lord
Mr. Lord has been an Energy Manager for public school districts in Virginia since 2003. He has experience in three school divisions, Amelia County, Loudoun County, and currently Fairfax County. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is the 11thlargest school district in the nation.
Mr. Lord is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM). In addition to the CEM, Mr. Lord holds several other certifications from the Association of Energy Engineers including Certified Sustainable Development Professional, Certified Demand Side Management Professional, Certified Energy Auditor and Certified Measurement and Verification Professional. Mr. Lord is also licensed teacher in VA with 10 years of classroom experience.
Mr. Lord is a past President of the National Capital Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers and continues to serve as a Board Member. At the National level, Mr. Lord serves as AEE Adviser to Student Chapters for the US. In addition, he serves on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Climate, Energy & Environmental Policy Committee, the Certification Advisory Board for the Virginia Association of Environmental Education and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Virginia Energy Purchasing Governmental Association.
Programs that Mr. Lord has administered have earned many prestigious awards, including: The AEE International Award for Institutional Energy Management, ENERGY STAR®Partner of the Year and Sustained Excellence Awards, Virginia School Boards Association Green Schools Challenge winner, Virginia Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award, The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Climate and Energy Leadership Award, The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council’s Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Award and many others.