Meet Our Staff

All SM&NC school programs are taught by professional environmental educators, many of whom hold Master's Degrees. Our educators all have extensive experience teaching children about nature and the natural sciences in both indoor and outdoor settings. We look forward to meeting your group!

Lisa Monachelli, Director of Education
Lisa has been with the SM&NC since 2010. She holds Bachelor's Degrees in Biology and English/Creative Writing from WV Wesleyan College and a Master's Degree in Environmental Education from Southern CT State University. Before coming to SM&NC, she worked for CT DEP Divisions of State Parks and Education, Maine Audubon Society and the New Canaan Nature Center. In 2009, she was named the Outstanding Outdoor Educator for Connecticut by the CT Outdoor & Environmental Education Assoc. Her favorite part of sharing nature with children is to instill appreciation for "nature's underdogs" - those plants and animals often disliked. She is responsible for scheduling all programs, creating many of our public programs, teaching school and after school programs. She is also one of SM&NC's beekeepers.

Malinda Sears, Environmental Education Supervisor
Malinda joined the SM&NC in the fall of 2013. She holds a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has worked for The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center, as well as a Herpetological Collection Assistant at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Malinda loves to spend her time outside hiking, camping and sharing the wonders of the natural world with her daughter. At the SM&NC she teaches our nature and farm-based school and after school programs, and coordinates the daily care and well-being of our teaching animals and their exhibits.

Victoria Jaffrey, Manager of Heckscher Farm Administration
Victoria has been with the SM&NC since 2007. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science from the University of Rhode Island. Before coming to the SM&NC, she worked at the Bronx Zoo, the CT Humane Society and various horse farms in the area. As Co-Manager of Heckscher Farm, Victoria is responsible for the overall care of our animals, managing farm staff and volunteers and working with our oxen team and working goats. She teaches many of our farm classes, including Otterly Amazing and Hands-on Heckscher.

Mark Mogensen, Manager of Heckscher Farm Operations
Mark has been with the SM&NC since 2008. He Holds a B.A. in Natural Resource Management and Engineering with a concentration in Wildlife Management from the University of Connecticut. Before the SM&NC, he worked for the State of CT Department of Environmental Protection for three years. Mark has a true passion for everything outdoors with an affinity for wildlife and landscape photography. As Co-Manager of Heckscher Farm, Mark is responsible for the daily operation and the maintenance of all farm grounds and buildings. Mark also teaches many classes on the farm including Hands-on Heckscher and the Junior Curator Program. Mark can often be found outdoors on the grounds tending to the farm.

Daniel Brubaker, Farm and Environmental Educator
Daniel has been at the SM&NC since 2013. He holds Bachelor's Degrees in Biology and Environmental Science from Eastern Mennonite University and a Master's Degree in Natural Resources from the University of New Hampshire. Prior to joining the SM&NC team, he has worked as a park naturalist at the Lancaster County Environmental Center and has studied spotted owls in California, coyotes in Yellowstone, leopards in South Africa, and lynx in Ontario. Daniel works with daily care of our farm animals, is one of our oxen teamsters, and also teaches many of our farm and nature-based school and after school programs. He is also one of SM&NC's beekeepers.

Tessa Grebey, Farm & Environmental Educator & Birthday Party Coordinator
Tessa began volunteering at the SM&NC when she was 10 years old, and joined the farm staff team when she turned 16 in 2010. She joined as a full time farm curator in July 2017. Since her time here, she has earned a B.A. in Animal Behavior from Franklin & Marshall College, where she studied everything from aquatic snails to chimpanzees. However, farming is her true focus, and she continues to learn as much as she can about farm animals and agrarian lifestyles. It is her goal to teach the public about sustainable and humane farming practices, eating local, and moving away from the mass-production farming currently dominating the industry today. She can often be found caring for the animals, teaching volunteers and some environmental classes, and leading our summer Heckscher Farmers camp. She also acts as our birthday party coordinator and host on the weekends. 

Pat Standaert, Environmental Educator
Pat is a long-time, dedicated member of the environmental education staff at SM&NC and has served in many capacities during her 30-plus year tenure, including Science Curator and Assistant Director of Education. She holds a B.S. in Biology from College of St. Elizabeth and has taken numerous graduate-level courses in science and Native American studies. Before coming to SM&NC, she taught general science and biology on the elementary, high school and college levels. She served as SM&NC's 'weather-guru' until 2012, has written numerous articles and created many exhibits for the museum. She teaches our Early American Life, Apple Cidering, physical science and planetarium programs.

Jessica Dowling, Environmental & Art Educator
Jessica joined the SM&NC education team in 2017. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Green Mountain College, a liberal arts school in Vermont that focuses on ecological, social, and economic sustainability. Jessica has worked as a Science Educator at The Maritime Aquarium and posseses a variety of experience as an artist and illustrator. She brings to the position a lifelong love of creativity and the natural world, as well as a desire to teach children about the importance of protecting our environment. 

Sydnee Foster, Environmental Educator
Sydnee joined SM&NC in the fall of 2016. She is a Central CT State University graduate with a B.S. in Biology. Before SM&NC, Sydnee worked at Roaring Brook Nature Center, where she was involved with the wildlife rehabilitation clinic, in addition to educating the public on the natural history of Connecticut and the surrounding areas. Sydnee is excited to work with the exotic animals in Heckscher WILD! and to share her knowledge through teaching natural sciences both on and off site.

Kendall Musgrave, Farm & Environmental Educator
Kendall joined the SM&NC team in 2017. She holds a B.A. in History from Bates College in Maine and a MS in History by Research from the University of Edinburgh. Prior to coming to SM&NC, she served as a teacher-naturalist for the Connecticut Audubon Society and as an outreach museum educator for the Bruce Museum. While admittedly a history fanatic, Kendall loves to share her fascination with the natural world with students of all ages and to encourage them to explore and embrace their curiosity. As one of the educators for the school programs everywhere from the farm to after school programs, Kendall is happy to teach students about everything from strange animal adaptations to the medical applications of leeches.
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