Meet Our Staff, Volunteers & Interns!
SUZANNE DHRUV, CCN 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 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.
RYAN KOCH, PROGRAM COORDINATOR is a Tucson native who grew up playing in desert patches on the west side of town. His childhood experiences of building forts, playing games outdoors, and engaging in dirt clod wars instilled in him a deep appreciation for the desert. This appreciation was rekindled in his teenage years when Ryan began solo hiking in the mountains around Tucson. After high school, he began an internship with Reevis Mountain School of Self-Reliance, where he learned how to live on the land. Survival skills, gardening, livestock management, wild medicinal and edible plant uses were all part of his education at Reevis. This led Ryan to seek out more immersions in nature, which included many primitive living skills apprenticeships and permaculture workshops over the course of several years. Eventually he began work with youth at summer camps and wilderness therapy programs, where he was often affectionately known as “Nature Boy.” In 2007, Ryan completed a B.A. in Outdoor Education through the Prescott College Adult Degree Program. He then worked on an orchard in southern Utah, where he was the lead permaculture designer and later went on to work for Passages to Recovery, a wilderness therapy program for adult males struggling with substance abuse issues. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys playing soccer, studying a wide variety of subjects, playing guitar, and spending time with friends and family.
TIFFANY ASH, PROGRAM COORDINATOR, left her native Virginia when she was 18, her goal being a Bachelor’s degree from Prescott College. Nearly twenty years later she has come full circle in her experience of the beloved motto of Prescott College; ‘Education is a journey, not a destination.’ In 1997, Tiffany completed her B.A. in Environmental Conservation with and emphasis on Education. Over many years of exploring the Sonoran Desert and working in education, Tiffany has made Tucson her home. She has taught children of all ages both in the field and in the classroom. She has done environmental education in the wetlands of Northwestern Mexico, co-taught coastal ecology to college students in Kino Bay, taught English and Intertidal Ecology in Puerto Peñasco, explored the desert with students of Origins Global College. Over the past 13 years, Tiffany has worked intermittently at the Montessori Schoolhouse in Tucson while raising her two children. In 2008 she completed an M.A. degree in Teaching and Teacher Education: Environmental Learning, at the University of Arizona. She has done two internships at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and is fluent in Spanish after developing very strong ties to Mexico over the past 18 years. After leaving Tucson to live in Santa Cruz, California for 3 years, Tiffany is so happy to be back home, in the Sonoran Desert. While in California, she taught a wide variety of subjects to students in 4th through 12th grade and her experience there was invaluable. Tiffany is ecstatic to be able to see both her passion for education, and her passion for the Sonoran Desert united in the work that she is doing with Ironwood Tree Experience and the Prescott College Tucson Center.
MATT CLARK, COMMUNITY OUTREACH COORDINATOR, is a University of Arizona student an ITE mentor and employee . He enjoys hiking, camping, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. Matt has participated in the ITE Get Experience, three Expeditionary Experience EcoPrograms and two years of mentorship. Through ITE Matt was awarded a (National Outdoor Leadership School) NOLS scholarship and spent 2 weeks rafting and kayaking down the Green River in Utah. He was an ITE mentor because his love for the outdoors and wants more kids to experience the outdoors like him. He is now sharing his passion and experience with ITE to teens all over Tucson as an employee!
ALEGRIA GRAY, COMMUNITY OUTREACH COORDINATOR, is a 19 year old African-American/Venezuelan gal born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and is a fluent Spanish speaker. Alegria has participated in the ITE Get Outside, Get Experience, two Expeditionary Experience EcoPrograms and two years of mentorship. In 2012 Alegria received a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) scholarship as part of the NOLS Gateway program and spent one month kayaking the fjords of the Prince William Sound in Alaska. Alegria now attends the University of Arizona. She enjoys listening to music, being a nerd, doingwell in school, hanging out with her friends and being awesome with other ITE mentors. Alegria aspires to give others a love for the peace and beauty she finds while embraced in nature.
Martha Gebhardt, Community Action Coordinator. Martha is a current graduate student at the University of Arizona, studying Natural Resource Studies. She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia, where she focused on Ecology, in December 2009. After graduation she joined the Peace Corps as a rural Health Volunteer in southern Morocco. There she worked with her local nurse and school staff preparing a health curriculum to be included in the daily school lessons. In her free time Martha enjoys camping, hiking, running, and yoga. Martha has a passion for working with teens and is excited to get involved in the Tucson area connecting communities with the environment.
Rachel Glass, Community Action Coordinator. Rachel is a current graduate student at the University of Arizona, studying landscape architecture.
Current Interns and Volunteers
Yael GreenBlatt is a Nutritional Sciences graduate of the University of Arizona. She moved to Tucson from Chicago and immediately fell in love with the relaxed atmosphere and spectacular sunsets of Tucson. In her free time, Yael enjoys being outdoors and active. Her favorite activities include swimming, running, yoga, hiking, snowboarding, and rock climbing. Yael has a natural curiosity about everything in life, and is always challenging herself to expand on her knowledge. She is especially fascinated with the effects of healthy living on one’s mind and body. She loves sharing her passion for health and wellness with youth, and encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle.
Past Staff, Interns & Volunteers
They may not be hiking among the cactus with us right now but all are still near and dear to our hearts. The Center for Children and Nature and Ironwood Tree Experience would not be where it is without these folks and their hard work!
RACHEL ANN MACADAM, PROGRAM COORDINATOR started working with ITE as a volunteer, intern, and student employee in 2007, as she was finishing up her BA in Outdoor Education and Holistic Health through Prescott College. In addition to her work with ITE she currently teaches Anusara influenced yoga at Yoga Oasis, and is a Licensed Massage Therapist. She is also trained as a Certified Wilderness First Responder, through the Wilderness Medical Institute. She is a Certified Permaculture Designer through the Sonoran Permaculture Guild. Her undergrad studies also included work in the field of native desert plant medicine. She loves sharing her knowledge of how to identify, cultivate, and process native plants with our teens. Rachel shares a passion for connecting children, especially teenagers with the natural world as a means of engaging in their local community. She believes that teenagers thrive when given the opportunity to take ownership, and have a voice in their community. When teens are empowered in this way, and develop a love for the natural world, they become nature’s greatest allies. Rachel enjoys hiking, yoga, running, camping, rock-climbing, and all forms of exploration in wild places all over the US, in addition to her local Sonoran Desert habitat. Her absolute favorite times include bouts of uncontrollable laughter with ITE kids out in the backcountry. She and her husband, James currently live in Tucson, where they cultivate an organic garden, tend bees and try to live simply.
Diana Dang was born in California but has lived in Tucson her whole life. She is currently a senior at The University of Arizona majoring in Physiology and plans on going to dental school. She loves being involved with the community, being outdoors, and playing sports. She enjoys playing sports like, flag football, soccer, tennis, and volleyball. She looks forward to working with Ironwood Tree Experience because she enjoys working with kids and wants to help educate them about living an active and healthy lifestyle.
Kathy Tran was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. She is a native to the desert lifestyle. When she was younger, her and her family used to travel, go camping and fishing on a monthly basis. Kathy has camped out at the White Mountains in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Redwood Forest in Northern California and as far as Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. She has a passion for the great outdoors and wants to share her knowledge with the community. Kathy is currently a senior at the University of Arizona studying physiology. She wants to have a greater impact on people’s lives and make a difference in the world, which is why she wants to become a physician’s assistant. Kathy enjoys cooking, jogging, hiking and playing sports such as: flag football, soccer, basketball and tennis. Kathy is joining Ironwood Tree Experience with enthusiasm to learn and to share her experiences with youth.
Chester Clark, Community Action Coordinator. Chester was born and raised on the Oregon Coast in a small town called Waldport. He attended college at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana where he studied Mechanical Engineering. During college Chester participated in a study aboard program at the University of Manchester in Manchester, England. After graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Chester joined the U.S. Peace Corps and volunteered in Namibia, Africa. As an education volunteer he taught both students and teachers in mathematics, physical science and computer technologies. He also collaborated with the local community and schools through various HIV/AIDS organizations and extra-curricular activities such as science clubs, sports and art projects. Chester also had the opportunity to establish a school and community library and a computer laboratory. Upon returning to the United States, Chester worked in the oil and natural gas fields as a wireline field engineer for Schlumberger, Ltd and as an equipment and logistics coordinator for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Currently Chester is enrolled in the masters of education program through the University of Arizona. In his spare time he enjoys spending his time with his wife Natalie, mountain biking, rock climbing, backpacking, playing the guitar, fishing, camping and traveling.
Zachary Rockov is a currently a student at the University of Arizona. His major is in physiology where he one day plans to make it to medical school. His interest in the outdoors has been in his life for a matter of years. He lived in New Jersey for 12 years where he enjoyed camping, hiking, kayaking and white tail deer hunting. He also has an interest in weight lifting and healthy eating. Zach’s interest in Ironwood Tree Experience is to reach out to kids and help them in there progress of living a healthier and more knowledgeable lifestyle. He feels that everyone, starting at children should have the opportunity to gain knowledge of their community, family, bodies and world as a whole. He wants to be able to help kids see that the decisions they make will not only affect themselves but the people and world around them.
BRICE HOLMES was a student intern through Northern Arizona University where he earned BS in Health Sciences- Community Health Promotion. His passions for nutrition and physical fitness came about at a young age and truly manifested at the university level. Before transferring to NAU, Brice studied physiology, chemistry, and nutrition at the University of Arizona. This is where his personal passions of health and wellness shined through and his desire to make the world a healthier place came about. Brice’s interest in Ironwood Tree Experience is in the Youth Wellness facet. He feels that reaching our youth is the best way to make a healthier impact on our communities. His desire is to provide them with the educational tools necessary to make healthier decisions that affect their everyday mind and body health. Currently, Brice is pursuing a certification as a Health Education Specialist through the NCHEC Board of Commissioners.
Jesse Williams was an our first ITE intern for 2005 to 2007 and a Prescott College undergrad studying Environmental Policy. Jesse’s passions are the outdoors, international travel and rock-climbing. Jesse hopes to utilize her academic training, experiences working with youth and her passion for adventure to motivate others to take action and make a difference in the world. She sees herself in involved in the political spheres of Washington DC pushing for laws that lead to a sustainable future. Presently Jesse is experience life below the equator as she travels across Australia and New Zealand.