Yellowstone in Winter: Meet the Team 2023

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2023 Yellowstone in Winter Institute Participants

Joseph Beamon
Spring Creek High School, Wayne County
Hobbies: Video games, painting, beekeeping.
Looking forward to: The snow!! I am also looking forward to seeing how the wildlife copes with the cold, and what happens to all that water near the hydrothermal features.
Cathy Berrier
Agriscience Teacher
Ledford High School, Davidson County
Hobbies: Gardening, spending time with family, spending time outdoors, beekeeping.
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to experiencing Yellowstone – its unique features and observing wildlife. This experience will bring nature into the classroom! In turn, it will allow students to develop a personal bond and sense of conservation ethics that are at the core of my mission as an educator.
Dustin Best
Instructional Coach
Margaret Willis Elementary, Cumberland County
Hobbies: Traveling, reading, cooking, board games, marathon running.
Looking forward to: Having a new and exciting adventure while learning new things.
Tonya Dobson
6th/7th Science Teacher
Alamance Virtual School, Alamance County
Hobbies: Hiking, kayaking, camping.
Looking forward to: Exploring the park in the winter, seeing great wildlife and sharing it all with my students.
Robert Garrison III
Science Educator
Jack Britt High School and NC Virtual Public Schools, Cumberland County
Hobbies: Waterfowl and upland hunting, fishing (fly, inshore, offshore), snow skiing, traveling with my family. Foodie and South Carolina football fan!
Looking forward to: Viewing the active geysers like Old Faithful and all of the vibrant hydrothermal features. Setting my eyes on the variety of animal species but especially bison!
Amanda Hall-Fleming
Exceptional Children’s Educator Inclusion 9-12
Columbia High School, Tyrrell County
Hobbies: Coaching & going on adventures with my sons.
Looking forward to: Experiencing Yellowstone’s extraordinary views, animals, and attractions like Old Faithful.
Julie Holbert
Apple Valley Middle School, Henderson County
Hobbies: Being outdoors, antiquing.
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to experiencing everything in Yellowstone! I can’t wait to see the beauty that occurs during the winter.
Maggie Miller
Park Ranger
Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County
Hobbies: My favorite hobbies include camping, hiking, and paddling with my family (Ryan, Ray (chiweenie), Zoey (chiweenie)) and friends. I also love to travel, garden and watch wildlife.
Looking forward to: I cannot wait to explore America’s first national park with other passionate educators. Traveling to Yellowstone has been a dream of mine ever since I became a park ranger. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity and to see Yellowstone’s notable wildlife and geological features. I look forward to learning from other educators and exploring a beloved public land.
Travis Wester
Science Teacher
Riverside High School, Martin County
Hobbies: Vinyl albums, playing the banjo, cooking, working out.
Looking forward to: The overall experience of experiencing nature in a new place with people from different backgrounds.


Alternates attend orientation and step in if a participant is unable to go. Additionally, they are guaranteed a spot the next time this Institute is offered.

Kelly Allen
Science Teacher
East Chapel Hill High School, Orange County
Hobbies: Gardening, hiking, “playing in the kitchen”, birdwatching.
Looking forward to: I’m eager to see how the Yellowstone landscape differs from the summer. I hope to see bison and wolves trudging through the snow and the geysers surrounded by ice. I’m also eager to rise to the challenges of staying warm in such a cold environment.

Museum Staff Leaders

Melissa Dowland
Manager of Teacher Education
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Hobbies: Camping, hiking, reading, nature photography.
Looking forward to: Experiencing the cold, observing the behavior of wildlife, taking in the minute details of rime ice, being bathed in hot spring steam, snowshoeing in silence, and again being awed by the wildness of Yellowstone.
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 1 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!
Andy Kauffman
Curator of the Living Conservatory
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Hobbies: Gardening, biking, hiking, kayaking, fishing, homebrewing.
Looking forward to: I am looking forward to the geothermal features, amazing animals, rich history, and being immersed in the peace of a Yellowstone winter.