Megan Seifert, PhD, Executive Director

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Megan holds a Ph.D. in zoology from Washington State University and is passionate about science and the environment. Her focus is on teaching more people the process of science and she hopes to bring it to as many students as possible across the US. In her free time Meg enjoys Nordic skiing, running, and playing with her family in the Sierra.

Spencer Eusden, Program Director


Spencer graduated from Bowdoin College with a major in Biology and Environmental Studies. He has taught with Headwaters since its inception in 2014 and now spearheads their science programming. In addition to teaching, Spencer loves brainstorming accessible and engaging systems within which students can conduct original research. His favorite science “lab” is flipping over rocks and exploring the plethora of invertebrates living around us.

Ashley Pierce, Grants Coordinator and Programs

Ashley completed her undergraduate degree in biology and environmental science at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. She continued on to earn her Master’s and PhD in environmental science at the University of Nevada, Reno with a focus on atmospheric science, specifically measuring and understanding sources of atmospheric mercury, particulate matter, and ozone in the western United States. Ashley is interested in science communication and multidisciplinary solutions to environmental issues.

Anne Espeset, PhD, Program Manager

Anne holds a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno where she researched the impacts of human-induced changes on sexually selected signals of a butterfly. She has also been a part of several scientific outreach programs, including a community science project (Pieris Project) and the University of Nevada’s Museum of Natural History. Anne is excited to continue sharing the scientific process and research with a diversity of students through the Headwaters Science Institute! 

Le’a Gleason, Communications Director

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Le’a is from Hilo, Hawaii, where the science focus ranges from studying coral reefs to marine biology, preserving the native forests, and studying the night sky. She began in education as a teacher, working simultaneously as a journalist. She has since worked in media in many capacities, at newspapers, small companies, non-profits, and more. She most enjoys working with organizations that focus on education and positive community impacts.

Mary Ellen Benier, Programs

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Mary Ellen holds a BA in Biology/Environmental Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz. She has worked as an environmental education guide for more than 10 years, balancing that with substitute teaching K-12 in the local school district. For fun she coaches a high school Nordic ski team and tries to get in as much play time outside, skiing, running and biking. She hopes to inspire students to be curious about natural processes in order to foster a deeper appreciation of our environment.

Graduate Student Instructors:

Daniel Dudek

In the fall of 2016, Dan completed his B.S. in plant physiology at Pennsylvania State University. He is currently completing his M.S. Biology degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania working under Dr. Josiah Townsend, researching the evolutionary relationships between the herpetofauna, mainly amphibians, of Mesoamerica and assessing levels of biodiversity in this region. Dan intends on continuing his academic interests in the future by pursing a PhD in systematics, ecology, and evolution. He is also focused on developing effective teaching methods of scientific information to all age groups.

Gabriela Rios-Sotelo

In 2019, Gabriela completed her second Master’s of Science in fungal ecology at the University of Nevada, Reno. She researched the disease dynamics of fatal bat fungal disease, White nose syndrome. While she worked as a graduate student she also worked at UNR’s Museum of Natural History where she taught all ages natural history and science lessons using real museum specimens. She had the unique opportunity to bring these lessons to the Black Rock Desert at Burning Man for the last few years. Previously, she managed a amphibian disease lab in New Mexico where she mentored students in designing research projects and data collection. Gabriela enjoys paring research with learning and has also developed scientific inquiry based curriculum as a part time Truckee Meadows Community College Biology instructor in Reno. She hopes to continue to mentor in science for the rest of her career.

Board of Directors

Andy Giordano- Board President
Andy is the Dean of Students and a science teacher at Sugar Bowl Academy, where he has worked for 10 years. His focus in the classroom is to continually push core understandings in science by drawing together big ideas. He asks students to develop the ability to make observations, ask scientific questions, formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and create scientific arguments. His goal is not only to improve students’ scientific minds, but also to build confidence and independence. He has extensive experience training adults in student support programs and outdoor education. His experience as an educator, residential life specialist, scientist, and outdoorsman supports his role at Headwaters. Andy is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers and the Nation Science Teachers Association.

Michelle Furbershaw- Board Secretary
Michelle has been a licensed architect in the state of California for over 32 years. She has a passion for both the natural and built environments. She believes that in an ever-increasing technology based world, environmental education, awareness, and interaction are vital for survival and sustainability. She has been self employed for the past 32 years, is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and has volunteered countless hours at her local schools. She hopes to bring collaboration, ethics, and creativity into Headwaters processes, problem solving, and development. Michelle loves swimming, cross country skiing, hiking, kayaking, and just enjoying the beauty of our natural environment. She graduated from the University of California in Environmental Design with an emphasis in Architecture.

Erica Seifert
Erica is a Washington, DC-based consultant and advisor to the National Education Association, elected leaders, and 501c3/4 organizations.

Craig Rowe
Craig is a career communicator, holding a variety of roles involving public outreach, academic communications, corporate marketing, fundraising, and writing. Most notably, he was the Director of Communications for several years at The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, one of the nation’s premier high schools, and one of four founding members of The National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools. Craig has been a full-time contract writer for seven years, works as a wilderness guide, and is a strong proponent of experiential education and all forms of hands-on education. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Professional Communication from Nazareth College.

Jack Holmes
Jack holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Berkeley and Master’s from UC Davis in human ecology. He is retired from UC Davis, where he worked as a Programmer Analyst focusing in biostatistics, UCD/USDA relational database design, Geographic Information System Laboratories Design, as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, and worked in grant writing. Jack now sits on the Board of Directors of the Sacramento Youth Symphony Foundation and the Camellia Symphony Association.

Important notes about our staffing and emergency policies:

Headwaters Science Institute is committed to maintaining the highest safety and security standards for our programs.  When your children are in our care, you can trust that they are safe.

  • All employees and contractors are background checked before they start working with us. We use a national-level background check program called National Crime Search ( that searches all states and county records for any criminal records, sex & violent offenders, and includes a terrorist search.
  • Our staff members are all first-aid and CPR certified. Some are Wilderness First Responder certified as well.  
  • We have a safety plan for every field site we use and know where the nearest fire station is located. We are never more than a few minutes walk to the nearest road.
  • In the unlikely event of an emergency, we always work in areas that are easily served by 911. Our field site on Donner Summit is less than 2 miles from the nearest fire station with full-time EMT services and the hospital is a short 10-minute ride away.