Yellowstone in Winter: Meet the Team

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2024 Yellowstone in Winter Institute Participants

Teacher Photo About the Teacher
Kelly Allen Kelly Allen
Science Teacher
East Chapel Hill High School, Orange County
Hobbies: Hiking, gardening, birding, reading, baking, cooking.
Looking forward to: I’m looking forward to experiencing the grandeur of Yellowstone as it is wrapped in a blanket of snow and ice. I am looking forward to the quiet of the landscape without the usual summer visitors. Finally, I’m hoping to see an American dipper, snowy bison and frosty geysers.
Tracy Brumble Tracy Brumble
Environmental Science Elementary School Teacher
Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary, Wake County
Hobbies: Since becoming a mom four years ago my new hobbies consist of parks, parks and more parks! My daughter loves to play. We have some amazing park spaces in Raleigh that provide many outdoor learning experiences. We truly appreciate these spaces and have very much enjoyed playing in nature! Some of my other favorite hobbies include watching rainstorms from my garage with my husband, cycling, traveling to explore new places, reading a variety of books, cooking and being social with friends and family.
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to experiencing Yellowstone during the colder months, which means fewer visitors and quieter observations. I’m imagining peaceful, breathtaking sights at dusk and dawn. I’m excited to explore the many habitats and view different landforms in the park. There’s so much winter energy in Yellowstone to be discovered and I can’t wait to be a part of it all. It’s going to be a great adventure with an amazing group of teachers and I’m grateful to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.
Johlynn Harrelson Johlynn Harrelson
Science Lab Teacher
Edgewood Elementary, Whiteville City Schools, Columbus County
Hobbies: When I’m not teaching and planning hands-on science activities for my 3rd-5th grade students, I enjoy reading mysteries, listening to NPR (especially “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”), watching “The Great British Baking Show” with my fiancé, and playing with my two cats, Agatha and Tabitha.
Looking forward to: I have wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park since I read “Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Creech in fifth grade. As I pictured Sal and her Gram and Gramps viewing Old Faithful, I knew that I would want to visit Yellowstone and experience the geyser for myself one day. I am also very excited to observe wildlife there and learn concepts from scientists and local experts.
Angie Heinze Angie Heinze
4th Grade Teacher
Salem Elementary, Wake County
Hobbies: Board games, hiking, bird watching.
Looking forward to: Seeing animals in winter and experiencing the thermal features; also getting to know the awesome teachers on the trip.
Klara Higgins Klara Higgins
High School Science Teacher
Innovation Early College High School, Pitt County
Hobbies: I like to travel, try new foods and spend quality time with my family and friends. Outside is my happy place. I enjoy everything from the mountains to the coast, rivers to the sea. I have two daughters who are 3 and 7 years old, and they are my “adventure buddies.” I offer them new experiences in nature and in turn, they show me how to slow down and be in awe of every little detail and treasure.
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to everything because this is a bucket list experience for me, but I really can’t wait to geek out over the geology!
Landon Leggett Landon Leggett
Middle School History Teacher
Riverside Middle School, Martin County
Hobbies: Travel & reading.
Looking forward to: I look forward to seeing the wildlife and the park during winter!
Jennifer Martin Jennifer Martin
Science Teacher
Eastern Randolph High School, Randolph County
Hobbies: Coaching, basketball, farming, music.
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to the thrill of traveling and exploring the natural wonders of the world. I cannot wait to see wildlife in their natural habit, experience the cold snow and just remember why I chose science as my subject to teach.
Sallie Senseney Sallie Senseney
Science Teacher
Mountain Heritage High School, Yancey County
Hobbies: Running, spending time outside, baking.
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to experiencing REAL winter, seeing wildlife and traveling with awesome teachers from across North Carolina.
Adam Smith Adam Smith
8th Grade Science Teacher
South Stanly Middle School, Stanly County
Hobbies: Camping, birding, photography, visiting state parks, and discovering cool places in North Carolina.
Looking forward to: I look forward to experiencing a real winter, viewing wildlife in a natural setting, spending time with others that are passionate about the things I am, and going on my first plane ride!


Teacher Photo About the Teacher
Lauren Norwood
Earth Science Teacher
James Kenan High School, Duplin County
Hobbies: Reading, running, crocheting.
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to the breathtaking scenery, the wildlife, hot springs and geysers. The Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the main places I look forward to visiting!
Rita Wilson
K-5 Music Teacher
Plain View Elementary and Clements Elentary, Sampson County
Hobbies: Hiking, dancing, and visiting antique stores.
Looking forward to: New friendships with fellow educators and exploring and learning about that area of our country.

Museum Staff Leaders

Staff Photo About the Staff Member
Melissa Dowland
Manager of Teacher Education
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Hobbies: Camping, hiking, reading, nature photography, cooking.
Looking forward to: Sharing the wildlife, the geology, the snow and the quiet of my favorite place with an amazing group of educators!
Megan Davis
Coordinator of Teacher Education
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Hobbies: My new hobby that takes up most of my time is chasing my 2-year-old around and seeing the world through her eyes. I also love cooking and baking, gardening and sleeping when I get the chance — ha!
Looking forward to: I can’t wait for the crisp, cold, deep SILENCE and STILLNESS that only winter can bring to the landscape (and life). My ears yearn to pick out the low, long howl of the wolves, and the crunch of snow and ice beneath my feet. I can’t wait to share in all the thrills of wildlife watching and geothermal features with our NC teachers! It’s going to be amazing!
Chris Smith
Coordinator of Current Science Programs
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Hobbies: Hiking, gardening, NY Times puzzles (but the crossword is so hard!), listening to music, sifting through bins of vinyl at the record store.
Looking forward to: I am holding out hope for crystal clear nights away from blinding lights when the moon, the stars, the Milky Way, and — if I’m the luckiest person alive — an aurora, might shine bright on the snow so white. I can’t wait to hike in snowshoes, and I am already excited for the laughs we’ll have along the way.

2023 Yellowstone in Winter Institute Team
2020 Yellowstone in Winter Institute Team