Master Naturalist Biographies

Candice Holbrook

Candice Holbrook, Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront’s Recreation Program Manager, has chosen to become a Master Naturalist to help educate Burlington residents on the natural communities of geology, soils, plants, and animals.  She looks forward to passing on the information through programs at summer camps, adult and senior activities, and general walks in the woods with her community.  Candice received her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation from Eastern Illinois University, and her Master of Science degree in Recreation from the University of North Texas.

Candice’s main project that she will pursue through the Master Naturalist program will be to create an educational program at Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront’s North Beach Campground for campers and beach visitors alike.  This program will have a hike-and-learn emphasis with educational talks, experiences, tours, and junior camper activities.  Candice believes that the outdoors is our ultimate classroom, and wants to help campers and visitors learn without any boundaries.  Campers and visitors of all ages will be intrigued by the educational resources, hands on activities, games, and much more.

Candice has always had an interest in learning more about her outdoor surroundings.  She helped plan and participated in many historical walking tours in Illinois over the past few years.  These tours included history of events, natural history, and ecology.


Chuck Hulse

Chuck Hulse, a former biochemist and a retired family physician, completed a master naturalist certificate from Cornell University’s Conservation Education and Research Program.  He recently became a Vermont Plant Conservation Volunteer for the New England Plant Conservation Program.  He is interested in the health benefits of being in nature and the medicinal biochemistry of natural products.  He maintains a photoblog ( highlighting the nature of the Champlain Islands.  As a Burlington Master Naturalist, he is helping to develop master naturalist training programs for communities around the Burlington area.


Elise Schadler

Elise was raised in a mid-Ohio neighborhood appropriately called Woodland, full of tree forts, endless summer capture the flag games, creeks to explore, backyard camping, and regular bike posse adventures.  She received her B.A. in Anthropology from Indiana University before joining the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps for a pivotal year of introduction to the country’s varying natural landscapes and myriad social, economic, and environmental issues.

She spent the next three years in the non-profit sector, directing a community-based urban tree planting program in Camden, NJ before eventually venturing north to pursue her M.S. in Natural Resources from the Rubenstein School at UVM. Elise quickly fell for the land, people, and flavors of Vermont. She became the Technical Assistance Coordinator with the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program in 2012 and spends her days working with municipal leaders and citizens to be better tree stewards in this magical state. Elise is a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture, a licensed Vermont Forester, and a graduate of the Municipal Forestry Institute.

Aside from urban forests, things that particularly excite Elise about the natural world include: tree buds, phenology, land use history, and the human-emotional connection to nature. As part of the Burlington Master Naturalist Program, Elise is helping to celebrate Burlington’s wild places and natural landscapes through a series of art workshops and a community storytelling event in the summer/fall of 2017.


Jacob Holzberg-Pill

I grew up in the hills of western Massachusetts chasing frogs and climbing trees. (Not much has changed.) My work has focused on empowering individuals and groups through personal connection with the natural world. I have focused on teaching ecology and land stewardship in many different venues, from the high school classroom to the community college to the graduate school seminar. In all these different learning environments, I aspire to promote deep ecological awareness, as well as a solutions-oriented approach when considering the needs of humans and the earth. I hold a M.F. in Ecosystem Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a M.Ed. in Ecology and Mentoring from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Since Moving to Burlington in September, I have focused on creating educational experiences for my 17-month-old son and becoming involved with land stewardship programs around the city. I am a board member and assistant nursery manager for Branch Out Burlington. I have also taught classes at the Winter NOFA conference, and the UVM Osher Life Long Learning Institute.  I am excited to use my Master Naturalist training to teach classes and lead workshops focusing on increasing knowledge, enthusiasm and connection, for Burlington’s urban wilds.


Katie Kruesi

Kate Kruesi, a Vermont Plant Conservation Volunteer for the New England Plant Conservation Program, is a Burlington Master Naturalist with a keen interest in the unusual natural communities of rare plant diversity and the lingering clues of human impact found in Burlington’s Parks and Urban Wilds. She enjoys helping the state botanists, Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront, and neighborhood associations to monitor and manage our rare plant populations, and periodically leads educational walks in Burlington’s natural areas. (She developed educational park signage content for Starr Farm Forest’s sandplain natural community with Remy Crettol for their 2017 project).


Katie Michels

Katie was interested in being a Burlington Master Naturalist as a way of getting to know Vermont better. She grew up in Montana, where she felt at home because she knew the names of most of the plants underfoot and above. Katie has lived in Vermont for 6 years, and felt it was high time to better understand this place, her current home. In the past year’s naturalist explorations, she has focused on learning how to identify trees.

Katie is particularly interested in land use, land conservation, and relationships to place. She currently works for the High Meadows Fund, a Vermont-based foundation that gives grants to support work in the areas of land use, farm and forest enterprises, and energy. She has interned with the Vermont Land Trust, the Montana Land Reliance, and local Vermont farms, and spent two years chronicling the story of Middlebury College’s protection of its Bread Loaf campus. She studied geography and environmental studies at Middlebury College, and lives in Burlington.

As part of the Burlington Master Naturalist Program, Katie is helping to celebrate Burlington’s wild places and natural landscapes through a series of art workshops and a community storytelling event in the summer/fall of 2017.


Mary Ann Samuels

Music has been central to my life.  I have taught in public schools and given private lessons for many years.  I also perform with “Full Circle”, and sing with the Hospice Choir, “Noyana”.

I have long maintained an interest in the natural world.  I have become especially fond of learning about birds, wildflowers, and trees.   The human history of Vermont is also intriguing to me.  And through the Master Naturalist Program I have become more interested in geology, the foundation of our natural communities.

I feel so fortunate to be in this program, and to have the opportunity to learn much more about our urban wilds.  I hope to become more observant through reading, sitting, drawing, writing and taking photographs.  I am interested in the natural world as an inspiration for artistic and spiritual growth.  As part of the Burlington Master Naturalist Program, I am helping to celebrate Burlington’s wild places and natural landscapes through a series of art workshops and a community storytelling event in the summer of 2017. I am very pleased to be working with Katie and Elise on this project, and hope our participants will come away with a new appreciation for the nature of Burlington.


Tim Wick

Tim Wick has an extensive background in human ecology; he was director of a small residential school for troubled adolescents and also developed and guided VSAC’s Outreach programs. A key element of those efforts was the desire to help people identify and pursue their chosen path through life. He is passionate about being outdoors in all seasons…bicycling, hiking, paddling, x-country skiing, and exploring all aspects of Lake Champlain. The MVBVT program has both fed his curiosity and piqued his interest in the natural world within Burlington’s city limits. He is helping to refine and enrich the program for the next round of participants and will also continue to introduce community members to their urban wilds through guided walks and field study. He loves rocks and trees.


Remy Crettol

Remy’s curiosity for the natural world began as a child growing up in Connecticut. His mother would regularly take him to visit an ancient oak where she would meditate and he would play under its canopy. As a teenager, he began working at his local Audubon center where he blossomed into a young naturalist. After high school Remy moved to Burlington to attend the University of Vermont where he studied ecology and conservation. He is currently serving the Winooski Valley Park District as their AmeriCorps Environmental Educator and Resource Specialist.

Remy’s passion to continue learning is insatiable. He enjoys exploring natural areas, documenting the species he encounters, and studying different layers of the landscape to understand natural history. He has a sustained interest in wildlife tracking and contributes observations to the Burlington Mammal Tracking Initiative. He recently became a Plant Conservation Volunteer for the New England Wildflower Society to survey and learn more about the rare plant populations in Vermont. As a Burlington Master Naturalist, Remy is using this knowledge to develop educational park signage for a rare sandplain natural community at Starr Farm Forest. He is grateful to have been involved in the Master Naturalist Program because it has strengthened his connection to Burlington’s landscape and given him the opportunity to learn and share his knowledge with the community.


Rowan Cignoni

Rowan Cignoni is one of Burlington’s Master Naturalist alumni with a deep interest in the intersections of human social and ecological systems, specifically related to the human impact (both positive and negative) on the landscape, food procurement, and human dignity/sovereignty. In his spare time, he enjoys the multi-faceted benefits of hunting and gathering – including exercise, finding super-local, seasonal, nutrient-dense wild foods, and participating in one’s ecology on a deeply meaningful level. Rowan is involved in the re-establishment of Burlington Permaculture, a community organization that seeks to improve the vitality and resilience of the Champlain Valley’s social and ecological communities through grassroots, whole systems-thinking, with hopes to collaborate with Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront and the Master Naturalist program. He is also working with Dan Cahill, Land Steward at BPRW, to address the over-harvest of the edible fiddlehead, ostrich fern, in Burlington’s silver maple floodplain forests.

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