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Our Staff and Volunteers

The SMNHC staff is a dedicated group of environmental education professionals with many years of diverse experiences in both traditional and non-traditional education and ecological settings, and a wealth of knowledge in many subjects.

Photo by Frank Michel
Photo by Frank Michel.    Top to Bottom, L to R: Steven, Daniel, Vince, Paul, Toby
                                                                      Vanessa, Hannah, Susanna, Fiana

What teachers have said about our educators...

Paul Mauermann 

Paul has been with the SMNHC through the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science since 2000 and has served as the SMNHC manager since 2004. 

Paul is originally from the Philadelphia area and moved to New Mexico in 1995. Paul has a degree in History and American Studies from the University of Delaware. Paul began his informal education career with the National Park Service where he worked at Independence National Historical Park and Carlsbad Caverns National Park. 

Besides teaching the Ecology Field Program at the Center, Paul is responsible for most administrative and planning tasks.  He received the Outstanding Service to Environmental Education Award from the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico in 2018.  He is also certified in Wilderness First Aid.

Paul can be contacted about scheduling a non-APS school, volunteering, donations, and general information at paul.mauermann@state.nm.us

Vince Case

Vince Case has been with Albuquerque Public Schools since 2000 and began working at the SMNHC in the fall of 2010.  With over 20 years teaching experience from primary school to university, Vince returns to the SMNHC from his family’s year-long sabbatical living, teaching and going to school in Guayaquil, Ecuador.  

Originally from Maryland and after graduating from the University of Delaware, Vince moved to New Mexico in 1994 to teach on the Navajo Nation in Thoreau and Shiprock.  For ten years Vince then taught at School on Wheels Alternative High School in Albuquerque where he and his students collaborated closely with the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Project, New Mexico Watershed Watch, the ABQ Water Utility Authority, and the Environmental Education Association of NM.   In 2006, Vince completed his Master’s Degree in education from the University of NM.  In 2009, Vince was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching from President Obama.

Vince can be contacted at case@aps.edu.

Steven Henley

APS Resource Teacher Steven Henley joined the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center in 2013. 

Originally from Southern California, Steven moved to New Mexico with his family in 2003. He earned a B.F.A. in Metalsmithing from California State University- Long Beach and began teaching elementary school in 2001. Steven has taught first, third and fourth grades as a general education teacher, and his greatest impact on student learning was made as the fourth grade science and social studies teacher at Tierra Antigua Elementary in Albuquerque. 

There, his students engaged in hands-on projects and learning focused on inquiry, investigation  and discovery. Though not formally trained in the natural sciences, Steven has spent the last twelve years experiencing and studying the landscape, geology, flora and fauna of our state.  He is certified in Wilderness First Aid.

Steven can be contacted at henley_s@aps.edu

Toby Archuleta
Toby is our maintenance and custodial person since 2013. 

Toby was born and raised in Albuquerque.  He graduated from Valley High School and joined the U.S. Navy in 1981.  He was stationed in Long Beach, CA and served onboard the U.S.S. Ogden.  After serving in the Navy, Toby moved back to New Mexico and worked for Wal-Mart as a support manager and then as an assistant manager.  

Toby brings many useful skills and abilities to the SMNHC, including his ingenuity in completing a wide variety of projects.

Fiana Shapiro

Fiana joined the SMNHC in 2014 as an instructor for the Ecology Field Program and science coordinator.

Fiana is originally from the Chicago area and holds a degree in Environmental Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.  She has been working as an environmental educator, interpreter, and wildlife researcher all over the country since 2007.  

Fiana previously worked as an SCA interpretation intern at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, SCA Amphibian Monitor at Cape Cod National Seashore, herp technician for the University of Missouri, bighorn sheep surveyor for American Conservation Experience (California), sea turtle intern for Sea Turtle, Inc. (Texas), desert tortoise technician for the State of Utah, biology graduate student and T.A. at the University of South Dakota, and environmental educator for the University of Maine.  She was most recently a park ranger and environmental educator at Acadia National Park in Maine before moving to New Mexico to work at the SMNHC.    

                                                                      Fiana teaches at the center, as well as on outreaches around the state and at special events.  She manages the scientific research projects at the center and is in charge of the website and social media.  She is certified as a Wilderness First Responder.

Fiana can be contacted at fiana.shapiro@state.nm.us

Vanessa Barela

Vanessa has been with the SMNHC since 2017. She has 7 years of teaching experience with many ages, with her primary focus on 6-12th grades in Science, Mathematics, Technology, and Engineering. Vanessa earned a B.S. in Basic Science with Technical Writing, and in Environmental Engineering, from New Mexico Tech in 2008.  She later obtained an alternative teaching license and an M.S. for Teachers focused on Geology in 2010. She has worked at schools in New Mexico and Colorado, and as a summer camp instructor for the NMMNHS. In 2014, Vanessa earned her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Science.  She became the Academic Services Director for the statewide virtual school IDEAL-NM. She has taught a wide variety of science classes formally and informally, and loves to create a connection between all science subjects for students.

Vanessa loves to focus on project-based learning, exploratory learning, and in-depth science with students of all ages. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, biking, cross-fit, power-lifting, and hanging out with her dogs.  She is certified as a Wilderness First Responder.

Vanessa can be reached about scheduling non-APS programming on-site and statewide, and about the NM State Parks Kids 'n Parks grant, at vanessa.barela2@state.nm.us

Our Volunteers

Daniel Bush

Daniel has been a volunteer at the SMNHC since March 2000.  He is a New Mexico native and loves to work with kids. He enjoys camping, hiking, and visiting train museums. 

Daniel teaches our ecology field program and outreach programs, and he has helped SMNHC staff with various trail and construction projects. Over the years, Daniel has become an integral part of the staff here at the Center and we appreciate all of his many efforts.


Dave Weaver

Dave has been a volunteer at the Center since 2011.  He is a retired physical anthropologist who started his career in Arizona and New Mexico as an archaeologist and has worked all over the world while a Professor of Anthropology and Comparative Medicine at Wake Forest University.  

Dave has worked on various projects at the SMNHC, including trail maintenance, construction, cleaning and preparing animal skeletons, and public presentations.  He particularly enjoys going out with the school groups and assisting with public events.  Dave has spent years as a U.S. Forest Service volunteer and volunteers at Animal Humane in Albuquerque as well. 

Michael Cox

Michael came to us through the Bernalillo County Open Space Master Naturalist Program in 2012.   He is a native New Mexican who grew up hiking in the Sandias and now enjoys introducing children to the mountain. He teaches  our ecology field program and outreach programs and also helps out with the Sandia Mountain Bear Collaborative.  Michael researched and wrote a history of the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, which can also be found under the "About" tab on this website.   

im Patrick

Jim joined SMNHC as a Trail Volunteer in the fall of 2014.  He became acquainted with us through the Bernalillo County Master Naturalist Program, and enjoys assisting staff members in providing elementary students with a better understanding of our forest ecosystem.

A native of Arizona, Jim is a retired U.S Naval Flight Officer, with a variety of operational and staff assignments in California, Utah, Nebraska, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, and Hawaii, as well as Japan and the British Indian Ocean Territories.  He enjoys most outdoor activities, including backpacking, hiking, cycling, birding, swimming, and geocaching.

Ken Nicholson

Ken has volunteered with us since 2016.

Ken was born and raised on the east coast of central Florida and enjoyed the outdoors, sailing on the intra-coastal waterway or body-surfing in the nearby ocean.  After graduating from Florida State University, he became an Air Force officer addressing electronic warfare, defense suppression, special operations, and aerial reconnaissance during his twenty-two year career. He spent the next 18 years teaching defensive tactics to active duty MC-130H aircrews during their training at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Now, Ken is enjoying the outdoors again as a volunteer with the Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM), maintaining and building hiking trails and picnic areas in the local forest.  He mans the FOSM Visitor Center at the top of the Sandia Crest, informing visitors of the local hiking trails.  He also assists the local Air Force and Marine JROTC detachments at the local high schools.  Ken volunteers regularly and assists our instructors as he can.

Bev Riley

Bev has been volunteering at the center since Fall 2016, coming weekly to assist with our educational programming, during the school year and even in the winter.  

Bev has 30 years of teaching experience with APS and CNM.  

In addition to the SMNHC, she also volunteers at Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico,  where she's taken in and dropper-fed baby birds and cared for injured or orphaned wildlife that are brought to them.  Here she is pictured with a resident barn owl.  

Frank Michel

Frank has been with the SMNHC since summer 2017.  He is a Bernalillo County Master Naturalist who started volunteering as part of his project, and he got hooked.  Frank began by assisting with our program, and he started teaching groups himself in spring 2019.  Frank often volunteers at special programs and events off-site.  He is also our resident photographer and filmmaker, documenting our building construction project in detail.

Frank worked at the Houston Chronicle as a newspaper editor for about 30 years.  He was also Communications Director for the Mayor of Houston for 6 years, amongst other prestigious appointments.

Frank is also a docent tour guide for historic Old Town tours through the Albuquerque museum.  He is an active member of the Sandia Mountain Bear Collaborative as well.

Recent Former Staff & Volunteers

Dianna Bethany 
Dianna is our APS Clerk and newbie to ABQ and to the APS school district.  She is originally from St. Louis, MO but moved to ABQ by way of Dallas, TX in 2017.  Dianna is a wife and mother of 2 boys.  Dianna and her family are very musically involved; she sings professionally, her husband plays the organ and keys professionally, and both children are in the marching band. 
Dianna is a current student at Ashford University and is seeking to complete her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication in 2021.
Dianna’s favorite past-times are watching sports, football, and WWE wrestling; couponing; and designing t-shirts.  

Sue Keil

Sue became a volunteer in the fall of 2014 as her volunteer project with Bernalillo County Master Naturalist Program.  Since returning to New Mexico in 2006, she has actively sought ways of learning more about the state.  The opportunity to volunteer and share her knowledge with the students who visit the SMNHC is becoming her new passion!
Sue grew up in Vermont, as part of the 5th generation on a farm.  There, she developed an interest in conservation, the environment, plants, animals, and other natural things.  She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Vermont and spent many years as a Human Resources Director in various industries. 

Jon Rogers 

Jon has been a volunteer since August of 2016 and was a student teacher for us in 2017.  
Jon was born and raised in Albuquerque (Corrales to be more specific).  He has a degree in Elementary Education from UNM with a focus in science.  He teaches elementary and middle school grades in APS.
Jon participated in the Master Naturalist Program in 2017.  He spent time in Switzerland working on an organic farm/art center where they hosted youth camps.
Jon is an avid trail runner/ultra runner and can be found most weekends running and exploring our local mountains.
Jon is a life-long animal lover. He currently has 2 and 3/4 cats at home (one is missing a leg).

Susanna Sprague Harris

 Susanna was our APS clerk through spring 2019, managing program logistics and scheduling, and providing  other needed support for the SMNHC.  Susanna also worked for us as an APS  Resource Teacher, instructing the Ecology Field Program, during the 2015-16 school  year.

 Susanna has always enjoyed getting her students outside and learning more about the  ecosystem.  As a classroom teacher, she worked with quality local programs such as    Talking Talons, RiverXchange, ABQ Water Utility Authority, Tijeras Creek  Restoration, Bernalillo County Open Space, and the SMNHC to enhance learning in  her classroom.   

Hannah Perry

Hannah was been our SCA AmeriCorps Education Intern for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. She worked for and served as a liaison between the SMNHC and Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.  She grew up in the East Mountains, where she developed her interest in the natural world.

Hannah has a Bachelors in Liberal Arts from the University of New Mexico and is pursuing a veterinary technician certification in the hopes of becoming a wildlife rehabilitator. 

Hannah has worked with a number of environmental organizations including Talking Talons Youth Leadership, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation, Soilutions, Bernallilo County Open Space, and Arid Land Innovation. All of these organization are situated in New Mexico and provided her with a substantial background in environmental knowledge.

                                                                        When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, camping, spending time with                                                                            her cats, and learning new things about the environment around her.  She                                                                                 received the Rising Star in Environmental Education Award from the                                                                                         Environmental Education Association of New Mexico in 2017.  She is also                                                                                 certified in Wilderness First Aid.

Larry Littlefield

Larry has been an SMNHC volunteer since 2006. A retired Professor of Plant Pathology, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in plant pathology and mycology for 20 years each at North Dakota State and Oklahoma State Universities. His research work focused primarily on light and electron microscopy of fungal infections of agronomic and horticultural plants.  We love having Larry along during programs to impart his extensive knowledge.

Larry likes volunteering because it provides the opportunity to be outdoors and work with elementary school students in ecosystems. He also volunteers weekly with the U.S. Forest Service in a variety of tasks including trail maintenance, removing dead trees and reducing fuel loads (fire management). 

Amanda Haraksin

Amanda was our Environmental Education intern for spring 2017. She grew up in Riverside, California and received her Bachelors of Science in Biology at the University of California Riverside. 

While in college, Amanda worked as a research assistant in a lab studying restoration ecology and as a tutor at a middle school after school program. After graduating she worked as a field technician at the National Ecological Observatory Network performing vegetation surveys in the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau. She then became an instructor at the McDowell Environmental Center, where she taught science classes in the forest in Alabama and found a passion for environmental 
education. She enjoys spending time outdoors, especially rock climbing and hiking. 

Chris Modelski

Chris worked at the SMNHC from 2003 through 2016.

Chris taught the Ecology Field Program and traveling Ecology Field Program.  Furthermore, he managed many of our science and conservation efforts, planned public programs, scheduled non-APS and outreach programs, created and maintained exhibits, and completed all kinds of facility and trail maintenance.  

We thank Chris for all the many efforts he contributed over his 13 years working here!

Elizabeth Segura
Liz was the SMNHC clerk from 2013-16. 

Liz moved to New Mexico with her family as a child and grew up in Albuquerque’s South Valley, where she learned to garden and care for animals.  She attended Rio Grande High School and afterward took courses in Business Administration at CNM.  In 2005, she joined the Albuquerque Public Schools where she worked as a clerk under the Career & Technical Education Dept.  

Kelly Dix

Kelly joined the SMNHC in the summer of 2010, when she began working with us on our dendrochronology project and teaching the Ecology Field Program.  She also wrote grants to help fund our programming.  Kelly is a retired toxicologist.  She has volunteered with the NM Wilderness Alliance and began volunteering at SMNHC to combine her interest in education and passion for wilderness. 

Marty Peterson
Marty began volunteering with the Center through a project with the Bernalillo County Master Naturalist program in 2011.  Marty lent a hand in a variety of projects around the Center year-round.  In 2014, he articulated a skeleton of a black bear whose carcass was found on our property.   His previous outdoor experiences, including leading Boy Scouts, prepared him well for adventures at the SMNHC.