Juanita Armstrong is the Natural Resource Specialist for Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department. She has more than 20 years’ experience planning and managing high quality natural areas and open space; from developing plans to implementing projects that improve the biodiversity and health of our natural open space public lands. She enjoys mentoring, teaching, and working with environmental and natural resource-minded volunteers. She is passionate about natural resource management and maintaining the natural biodiversity within the county for current and future generations
Kathy Balman is a homeschool mom, wife, naturalist, chronic pain warrior, artist, wanderluster, writer, fieldtrip expert, community science addict, homeschool group leader, literacy advocate, and technology wizard. She is the founder of and educator of an environmental education program called Educating Children Outdoors.
-Maricopa County Parks Master Naturalist (President, Technology Wizard, Curriculum Committee, Timekeeper, Communications Committee)
-Tucson Audubon, Desert Rivers Audubon (Vice President, Technology Committee), Rio Salado Audubon
-AZ Association for Environmental Education (Professional Development Committee)
-The Native Plant Society (Board Secretary)
-And….Watershed Management Group, Sky Island Alliance, Friends of the Tonto, South Mountain, Keep Nature Wild, Forestry Service, Maricopa County Parks, Desert Defenders, NASA Develop, SciStarter Projects, EarthEcho Water Monitoring, US National Phenology Network, Wild Wonder Nature Journaling, GLOBE Observer, CoCoRahs, AZ Fish and Game
-AZ Certified Environmental Educator
-Outdoor Wildlife Leader
-National Geographic Certified Educator
-Certified Phenology Leader
-Project Wet , Project Wild, Project Learning Tree, Aquatic Wild, GLOBE
-CPR/First Aid Certified
-NAI Certified Interpretive Guide
-Greater Phoenix City Nature Challenge Co-organizer
-Metro Phoenix Christmas Bird Count Leader
-Frog Watch Chapter Coordinator
-Pollinator BioBliltz Co-organizer
Volunteer Interests and Knowledge Areas:
-Working With Youth
-Working With Those With Special Needs and/or Accessibility Challenges
-Community Science (Phenology, BioBlitzes, Surveys)
-Birds, Frogs, Invasive Species, Plants
-Technology (Website Design, Data Managment, Newsletters)
Alexis Woods is originally from Houston, Texas, and moved to Arizona in 2005. She lives with her husband and two grade school-aged boys in Ahwatukee. Alexis currently works as an internal medicine physician in a private practice in Ahwatukee and as a hospitalist at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center Hospital. She earned her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio, and a Masters of Public Health from the University of Texas Houston School of Public Health. Alexis completed the Maricopa County Master Naturalist Program in Spring 2020 with Cohort 2. She serves as the current Vice President, and has served on the former Recruitment and Outreach Committee, as well as the Volunteer Projects Committee. Alexis and her family also have a home in the White Mountains of Arizona in Heber-Overgaard. She has completed both the University of Arizona’s Maricopa County Master Gardener Program and the Northern Arizona Home Horticulture Program in Spring 2021. She volunteers with Friends of the Tonto, participating in the Riparian Photopoint Program and the Milkweed Watering Program. She also participates in the Desert Botanical Garden’s Tonto Rare Plant Program. Her primary interests are riparian areas, native plants, pollinator plants, and birds.
Dr. Molina Walters known as Dr. Mo, is a Clinical Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher College. Prior to entering higher education, Mo spent twenty-four years teaching elementary, middle school and high school in Northern California. Since coming to Arizona State University, she is well-known for her dedication to teaching educators and children about scientific inquiry, Environmental Education and STEM. Mo currently teaches elementary and secondary science method courses and environmental education courses in the Environmental Education Program of Distinction program. In addition to teaching, Mo is the program coordinator for the Elementary STEM program, course coordinator for elementary science methods and the environmental education program, runs Family Science Night events in East Valley schools, and is involved in many collaboration projects with Fulton Engineering. Mo was the first university professor to receive the Educator of the Year award from the Arizona Game and Fish Department; awarded for her work in environmental education for integrating wildlife programming into her Science Methods class and partnering in field activities.
Mo is the creator/lead teacher consultant for Teaching Inquiry Based Science, a professional development for educators. She is a Life member of NAAEE, an AZ Certified Environmental Educator, an AZ Master Naturalist, a NAI Certified Guide and soon to be Master Gardener. She is certified in Project Learning Tree, Project WET, Project WILD, Aquatic WILD, Flying WILD and GLOBE.
Previously she has served in positions, such as the co-chair of the Professional Development and Teaching group for the North America Association for Environmental Education, the Project Learning Tree and Project Wild CDO-State Coordinator, Secretary for the Arizona Association for Environmental Education, a Council member on both the Audubon Education Committee and the AZventure Advisory Council for Arizona Foundation for Resources in Science Education.
Tawsha Trahan has a passion for projects and a love of farmers, food, and promoting equitable opportunities. Organizations invested in climate action are my interest, and being a Master Naturalist provides another layer of knowledge and understanding, to assist in those efforts.
Sharon Beal is a snowbird who has been coming to Arizona since 2015. A retired RCAF, Flight Nurse, she now divides her time between Arizona and a lakeside home in Ontario, Canada. She feel in love with the Sonoran Desert and has worked to increase her knowledge ever since her very first hike in the White Tanks. In 2017 she took that Master Gardener course and has volunteered with Citrus Clinics, Mentoring, and course development. Sharon enjoys group work, research and sharing. She has been the Advanced Training Chair since Jan 2022. She is a Steward for the White Tank Mountains Conservancy, participating in Desert Defenders, Budding Botanist, Wildflower hikes and the White Tank Floristic survey. When not out and about, she can be found either behind her sewing machine or a good book.
(Rebeca serves on the MCPMN Communications Committee)
Jess White is a wildlife biologist working with the military to protect the endangered Sonoran Pronghorn. She has a passion for the natural world and enjoys using her enthusiasm to bring ecological understanding and appreciation to others. As a transplant from Delaware in 2017, she is constantly learning more about the Arizona landscape and especially enjoys learning about native plants and pollinators. (Jess serves on the MCPMN Communications Committee)
(Kathleen serves on the MCPMN Communications Committee and heads up the newsletter)
Jodie Snyder is a native Arizonan, Jodie Snyder has spent most of her life writing about the state’s triumphs and challenges. A former reporter with The Arizona Republic, she now works for Banner Health. She has two energetic beagles and has written “Happy Dog Phoenix,’’ which benefited Phoenix area animal rescues. She enjoys hiking and hopes to finish the Maricopa Trail one of these days. As a master naturalist, she helped create the county’s natural resource plan, harvested and grew native seeds and kept track of the beetle population in Phoenix.
Emily Williams moved to Arizona in 2017 from Indiana. She lives in Tempe with her husband, three sons, and her very loud dog. Emily loves spring ephemeral wildflowers. aquatic ecology, and geology. She has an MS in Environmental Science and works at ASU as a Laboratory Coordinator.Emily currently volunteers with the Beetle Brigade and No More Deaths Phoenix. (Emily serves on the MCPMN Communications Committee and Curriculum Committee)
Rachel Hewitt is an Army Logistics Officer, Biologist, and Biomimicry Professional Rachel is a certified Master Naturalist who obtained her certification in 2020. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation Biology and Ecological Sustainability and a Master of Science degree in Biomimicry. She serves in the military as a logistics officer with the Arizona Army National Guard with a current total of twenty-three years of service. Rachel brings her passion for natural sciences and community stewardship to both professional and volunteer career paths with an emphasis on exploring and researching biomimetic approaches to solving everyday challenges. Her science interests include entomology, biochemistry, astrobiology, and biophysics. Rachel aspires to
be a thought-leader and change-agent through the lens of biomimicry. In her free time, Rachel loves to research and learn more about nature, hike, and especially enjoys exploring the gifts of nature with her family.
Pablo Cazares moved to Arizona in winter of 2019. Coming from the Pacific Northwest, he fell in love with the alien desert landscape and surprising diversity of species. Pablo is a freelance illustrator and designer, and is an instructor with The University Of Fashion. He is also a Master Gardener and is always looking to learn something new. He lives near Lake Pleasant, where he gardens, drives around tractors, and makes structures out of stone and concrete. (Pablo serves on the MCPMN Communications Committee and handles our graphic design needs)
Kevin was transplanted to the Sonoran desert at age 11 from the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Forty-some years of living here has taught him a profound appreciation and respect for the toughnessand resilience of desert life. His passion is connecting people and nature, protecting all things wild, and being a curious human. When he’s not working as an Educator at the Phoenix Zoo, you might find him volunteering with Liberty Wildlife, Friends of the Tonto National Forest, or the Maricopa County Parks and Rec Department. He received a B.A. in English from ASU, a M.Ed. in Secondary Education from
Grand Canyon University, and is certified as an Interpretive Guide through NAI. His home is in Peoria, where he lives with his wife, two daughters, two dogs (both female), and a guinea pig (you guessed it – female!) named Chocolate. He encourages everyone to become a curious human, and to get started today wherever you are, even if it’s just your own backyard. In fact, if you’re curious to see an assortment of plants and critters he has found in his own backyard, check out iNaturalist. Look for the house in Peoria covered in green, red and a few blue dots.
Karen Hajek - Devoted to the outdoors and learning from individual experience and from those with more knowledge about the flora and fauna that inhabit the land--especially the Sonoran desert. I would like to contribute time and effort to preserve, protect and enjoy those experiences along the way.
John Jung retired in June 2018 from teaching Environmental Science at Mesa High School. His 36 years as a successful Arizona secondary school science and math teacher were recognized numerous times with the 2017 North American Association of Environmental Education K-12 Educator of the Year Award, 2014 Scadden Teacher of the Year, 2011 NAAEE Columbia Scholarship, 2004 AAEE Educator Award, and others. He's been highlighted in the Arizona Republic, the East Valley Tribune, and ABC15 News. John initiated and led the development of a 1-acre Sonoran desert garden on Mesa High's campus. Established in 2015, the Garden of the B's has been awarded $33,000 in grants and donations, and received multiple recognitions including the Phoenix Sun's "Green Team Award" and Arizona Diamondbacks' School Challenge. John joined Maricopa Master Naturalists Cohort 4 in January 2022 in order to connect with volunteering and educational opportunities in natural history. His retirement years have already been filled by volunteering (at the Garden, Tempe Community Action Agency, and his son's fix-er-upper duplex), traveling with his wife (Wendy) of 38 years, birding during their travels (see photo of least tern in Pensacola FL dropping a bio-bomb), golfing, cooking for friends and family, and yoga.