Meet Our Executive Committee!
STEVE BUCKLEY brings a deep critical awareness of the literature of place-based educational experience along with a broad ecological science background to his work with Ironwood Tree Experience. Most recently, Steve was farm manager for a small start-up organic farm near Patagonia, AZ, where previously he had worked with Native Seeds/SEARCH on a 60-acre farm. He has worked professionally as a botanist and has worked on wild land and agricultural restoration projects throughout the southwestern United States. Steve’s passion for all things planted and flowering is not only evident in any of the numerous gardens he has his hands in, but also in his work organizing local food systems through Slow Food USA and his work with agro-ecological restoration techniques. He has taught place-based classes at Northern Arizona University and holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing along with a Master of Liberal Studies focusing on Ecology. Steve is always looking to add to his awareness of how to live in place and live ecologically. He lives in Tucson with his beautiful wife Tasha and their beloved dog Mona.
SUZANNE DHRUV, CO-DIRECTOR Suzanne, a native Tucsonan, has established deep, strong roots in the Sonoran Desert Region. Her passion to reconnect children with the natural world is fueled by a lifetime of playing, living, learning and teaching within a dynamic, colorful, and detailed landscape. In an effort to develop authentic, engaging, and educational opportunities in nature for adolescents, Suzanne achieved a Prescott College Master of Arts degree in Environmental Studies, investigating youths’ implicit theories of the natural world and their experiences within. This graduate research project builds upon Suzanne’s academic and professional foundation. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and has over ten years professional experience that includes directing, designing and instructing environmental education programs for all ages. Most recently, Suzanne directed the educational efforts of Tucson Audubon Society, a local non-profit that focuses on conservation, education, and recreation in the Sonoran Desert Region. Prior to this she worked as a museum educator which allowed her to create and manage programs for high school students to work and learn in a museum environment. Her experiences with local nonprofit organizations foster the ability to collaborate with community organizations, educators, and parents in an effort to enhance learning opportunities for adolescents and children throughout the Tucson area. Suzanne is also certified as a Wilderness First Responder and in First Aid/CPR.
ERIC DHRUV, ITE DIRECTOR Eric began his love affair with the Sonoran Desert and Tucson, Arizona while earning a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Arizona. The romance and desire for immersion in the natural world led to several years of field work in such places as Arizona, Alaska and Papua New Guinea. Eric was employed by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as an environmental educator and interpretive manager working with community members of all ages. Eric went on to earn an M.A. from Prescott College in Place-Based Education and enjoyed a position as Sustainability Director and professional naturalist at Miraval Resort in Catalina, Arizona. He also served as Associate Faculty for the Liberal Arts, Adult Degree Program at Prescott College Tucson Center before becoming full time Director of ITE. He is LEED accredited and a member of the Southern Arizona branch of the US Green Building Council. Eric’s passion for sharing the intrinsic bond between nature and humanity has generated many wonderful opportunities to “get the word out” en mass on TV and radio as well as one on one and in small groups with youth over many years in both urban and back country settings.
DEB HILBERT is a registered dietitian who is dedicated to bringing nutrition awareness into the lives of people everywhere. Deb’s commitment to sharing her knowledge of healthful living has taken her to Guyana, South America, where she and her family offered aide to local people. She most recently helped to plan the National Health for Humanity conference in Tucson, in February of 2006. Deb has worked in a variety of settings including a hospital, a college, community health, long-term care, worksite health, and currently, Miraval Life in Balance Resort. She is a member of many organizations centered on healthful living, including Health for Humanity, American Dietetic Association, Southern Arizona Dietetic Association, Hunger & Environmental Practice Group, Advisory Board for Commit to Fit Program of Northwest Medical Center, and ITE board member since spring of ’06. Deb shared in the excitement of Ironwood Tree Experience by remembering her early connection to nature, chasing lightning bugs in New Jersey and at age 12, watching the Perseid meteor showers in the Adirondack Mountains. Currently, Deb is hoping to link her love of nature to her love of nutrition in becoming an expert on sustainable cuisine.
RUTH MARBLESTONE struggled in the traditional academic system until she participated in the SouthWest Field Studies Program her sophomore year at Earlham College. This semester-long survival wilderness program/mobile classroom began Ruth’s love of the desert southwest and introduced her to ‘experiential’ learning. The immersion style of education enabled Ruth to feel success academically. She was living what she was learning and loving it! Ruth began to feel a sense of responsibility that extended not only to herself, but to the natural environment and to the health of her peers. Her self-confidence began to emerge and she developed skills that have stayed with her. Understanding and appreciation of her learning style motivated her to finish college and earning a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography and combined Media at California College of The Arts in San Francisco. Ruth works to make experiential learning opportunities available to youth as an art educator. Ruth has collaborated with Tucson artists, the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department and participated in an Art Intervention Project that provided alternatives to vandalism and graffiti. She also coordinated First Exposures: Youth Opportunities Through Photography at SF Camerawork gallery in San Francisco. Currently Ruth coordinates the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation’s Art In Reality Program; a free arts program for Tucson’s youth ages 13-21. Ruth is thrilled to participate as an ITE executive committee member and is committed to work to ensure that Tucson’s young people have opportunities to gain experiential knowledge of the southwestern deserts. Ruth lives in Tucson with her husband Rafael, their son Ving and cat Esperanza (ESB!)
AXHEL MUÑOZ is a naturalist and dynamic environmental educator from the Sonoran Desert region. He has participated in a variety of projects as a research assistant ranging from pollination biology of an endangered species to intertidal plant-animal interactions. This provides him with a broad ecological perspective. In Puerto Rico he was involved in conservation research that led to the creation of the Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge. In California he co-founded the Rainforest Action Group at California State University, Fullerton. As vice-president and then president of the group he helped conservation projects in Costa Rica and Brazil and brought speakers such as Norman Myers and Daniel Janzen to the university. In Arizona he has worked for Oracle State Park, The Nature Conservancy, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as an environmental educator for kids of all ages. He has created many science-based environmental curriculum based on the Sonoran Desert Region as a model. He has taught students from kindergarten to university, as well as designed and taught teacher workshops. He enjoys camping, snorkeling, tide pooling, birding, playing guitar or bongos, and getting together with friends.
JOSH SCHACHTER is a photographer, visual/digital storyteller and teaching artist, who believes “images are a powerful means of sharing stories that foster personal and community transformation.” Josh Schachter first discovered this as a Master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he taught photography to 9-12 year-old, at-risk girls.” Their honest imagery and stories forever transformed my understanding of how urban youth experience nature” Josh Schachter has conducted artist residencies which have varied from teaching photography in Spanish to Mexican-American women creating an oral history book about success to helping young Indian performance artists visually explore their lives in New Delhi to teaching digital storytelling to native youth on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. For several years Josh was the Director of Photography at the Tucson-based nonprofit Voices Inc., where he mentored low-income teenagers in documentary photography and managed an after-school youth magazine program. When Josh is not teaching, he works to photograph social and environmental issues for nonprofit organizations throughout the US. Josh Schachters images have been published internationally in books, magazines, newspapers, films and web sites, in venues ranging from the New York Times to the Navajo Times.
Netzin Gerald Steklis, has served the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International as the Director Scientific Information Resources and Affiliate Scientist for more than 15 years. She holds a double B.A. in Anthropology and Biology from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University. Netzin’s research experience on wild monkeys and apes in Central America and Africa includes field observations of howler monkey calls in Costa Rica, the behavioral ecology of wild chimpanzees in eastern Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), followed by research at the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda on the vocalizations and behavior of mountain gorillas. Further research focused on mountain gorilla life history; mountain gorilla population size and density, distribution and vital statistics; the application of GIS technology to mountain gorilla behavior and conservation; and biodiversity assessment and education. Her activities also include curriculum development for environmental education programs.
In addition to serving as an Executive Committee member for the Center for Children and Nature at Prescott College, Netzin’s current activities and interests are focused on youth environmental education, which includes scientific research, environmental ethics, and natural resource monitoring and stewardship; the comparative study of personality in equids and gorillas; and multi-media public outreach and publications.
H. Dieter Steklis, Ph.D. Dr. H. Dieter Steklis currently serves as Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona South. He is also Professor Emeritus of Primatology at Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, where he served as a faculty member for 30 years(1974 to 2004), and as chairman of the Department of Anthropology (1983-1991). For many years, Dr. Steklis also held a faculty appointment in the Dept. of Psychiatry at Rutgers Medical School (UMDNJ), where his neurobiological research was based, and where he contributed to the Behavioral Sciences teaching program. From 1991 to 2005, Dr. Steklis served the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in the capacity of Director of the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda, Executive Director, Chief Scientist and Vice-President. Since 2005, Dr. Steklis continues to serve the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International as an Affiliate Scientist. Dr. Steklis received his Ph.D. in 1974 from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied comparative anatomy, neurobiology, biological anthropology, and primatology. He spent over three decades engaged in laboratory and field research on the behavioral biology of monkeys and apes. In recognition of their conservation work, in 2002, he and his wife received the Explorers Club “Champions of Wildlife Award”. Dr. Steklis has authored or edited over 70 scientific publications, including six books. For four years he served as Editor of the scientific journal, American Journal of Primatology. Since 1990, he has served on the editorial board for the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Advisory Committee.