Our board members have deep roots in education, the natural world, and positive change.
Scott Heister, NCA Founder and Director
Scott was born in Ohio, grew up in Flint, and has lived in Ann Arbor since 1990. Scott holds a Bachelors of Science from the University of Michigan-Flint, and a Masters from Marygrove College and taught in the Willow Run School District for 22 years before moving to be Teacher/Leader for the new Ypsilanti Community STEMM Academy. He has been honored with numerous awards including, University of Michigan Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society Teacher of the Year in 2012 and Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) High School Science Teacher of the Year in1999-2000.
He began taking students on trips into the wilderness in 1996, when it became apparent many of the urban youth he was teaching had no experience in exploring the natural world. It was immediately evident these trips were life-changing events in the students lives. The students learned about nature, habitats, and ecosystems as well as good-decision making, self reliance and team work, nutrition, exercise and other vital life lessons. Natures Classroom Adventures, Inc. grew out of the need to find a way to expand the trips to a wider population of at-risk students, who without the monetary support, would be unable to attend these valuable trips into the natural world.
Eleanor Shelton, President
Eleanor is an award-winning writer specializing in education, non-profit, travel and food. She has served on several local boards including The Riverside Arts Center, the Ypsilanti Convention and Visitor's Bureau and was active on the marketing committee for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area Chamber. Eleanor grew up camping and hiking with her environmentalist father and hopes that youth who participate in Nature's Classroom Adventures enjoy the same learning experiences she did.
Mike Wilkinson, Vice President
As a former student of the NCA trips, Mike's life was changed forever when he got his first taste of backpacking in the Smoky Mountains. That was more than 10 years ago, and since then Mike has gone on to become an award winning video director while owning his own multimedia business. He has been a key chaperone on almost every backpacking trip NCA has taken in the last 4 years, and continues to volunteer his time to educate youth on the wonders of the outdoors. Now residing in Colorado, he actively pursues rock climbing, photography, and teaching.
Debbie Swanson, Secretary
Ruth Ann Jamnick, Board Member
Ruth Ann Jamnick has served her community is several capacities: State Representative, Ypsilanti Township Supervisor and Michigan Districts 18 and 25 Director. Ruth Ann has won numerous awards such as the Athena Award, Legislator of the Year and Woman of the Year from the Michigan Chapter Women Transportation Seminar. Her volunteer service is wide but includes Washtenaw United Way, Eastern Washtenaw Leaders Group and Willow Run/Ypsilanti NAACP Finance Committee.
Laura Barch, Treasurer
Laura is a third generation wanderer. Her adventures over the years have taken her (and many faithful students) all over the north woods from Alaska to Maine though there is a great place in her heart for the lands along Lake Superior. When she's not goofing around trying to perfect a cup of coffee or hopelessly trying to make moccasins out of sheepskin she may be seen wandering around the farmers market trading fresh bread for salad mix. Her favorite soup is fish stew.
Jennifer Meunier, Board Member
Born and raised in a rural and agricultural area of SE Michigan, Jen learned to appreciate the benefits of nature and the wilderness at an early age. As an avid proponent for people of all ages to experience the outdoors, in addition to her work with NCA, Jen participates in teen mentorship programs at area libraries and schools to inspire youth to seek new adventures outside. She is a Human Resources professional in the Outdoor Industry who follows her personal passions of rock & ice climbing, backpacking, camping, hiking, kayaking and exploring whenever possible. Jen's first NCA mentor experience was a winter camping trip in Michigan in 2012, she's hoping to help lead a backpacking trip in Colorado in the future.
Jakob Skogheim, Board Member
A portrait photographer turned film director, Jakob's eye for detail is only matched by his love of the outdoors. His short video work and photography has gotten hundreds of thousands of views and gained worldwide recognition.