Alice Ferguson Foundation Staff

Amanda Foster, Interim Executive DirectorDirector of Fiscal & Operational Effectiveness

Suzanne Hogan, Director of Institutional Development

Emily Leedy,  Director of Programs

Leona Haiden
Office Manager




Land and Heritage




Pat Biles Gina McCullough  
Sandy Brown Debbie Meinholdt  
Melinda Campbell Jessica Miller  
Trecia D’Costa Sharon Rabie  
Bethany Dellagnello William Townsend  
Jess Gordon-Young Simone Trott  
  Gabi Zabel  


Amanda Foster, Director of Fiscal & Operational Effectiveness
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Amanda (Mandie) Foster serves as the Director of Fiscal and Operational Effectiveness for the Alice Ferguson Foundation. She joins the Foundation with 15 years of experience in accounting, having worked in both public accounting firm, as well as private accounting, with a focus on the non-profit sector. Previously, Mandie was the Associate Director of Accounting at Women for Women International and an Assistant Controller for Managed Organizations at Arabella Advisors. Driven by a passion for quality mission-oriented work, she has spent her career focused on non-profit accounting and financial management.



Emily Leedy, Project CoordinatorEmily Leedy, Director of Programs
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Emily Leedy has been living in Southern Maryland since moving south after graduating from West Chester University and a year of teaching. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, she never saw her connection to nature as something separate or unique. While teaching in Prince George’s County Public Schools, Emily noticed a disconnect between the students she taught and their natural environment. She began to pursue a degree in Environmental Education. She also engaged in many other outdoor education opportunities, including the PG Teacher’s institute here at Hard Bargain Farm. After spending a summer interning with the education programs, Emily decided to join the Foundation to help bring kids closer to nature. Outside of work, Emily enjoys adventuring with her family and trying new recipes in the kitchen.

Suzanne Hogan, Director of Institutional Development
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Suzanne grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where she worked with multiple nonprofits advocating for sustainable growth and investment in the local food economy. A data-driven leader, she has a 10-year track record working with diverse stakeholders to secure and leverage human and financial resources to support mission-critical work to achieve community change. She holds a degree in Environmental Biology and a Master’s in Public Health Communication. A lifelong horse enthusiast, she currently lives on Kent Island with her husband, an attorney, and their two children.

Samantha Battersby, Program Coordinator, Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative
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Born and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Samantha knew from a young age that she wanted to make a difference and inspire people to love and care for the planet as much as she does. When she is not at work doing what she loves she is usually hiking (and taking pictures) at State and National Parks with her pups and fiancé.




Cathrine Bender, Corporate, Donor & Volunteer Relations Coordinator
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Cathy serves as our Corporate, Donor & Volunteer Relations Coordinator at the Alice Ferguson Foundation. She has an extensive history in nonprofit fundraising, from working as a volunteer, engaging with sponsors, to her role as chairperson. This experience, along with her prior 20-year career as a Commercial Insurance agent inspired her to combine her passion for protecting the environment with corporate and community involvement.   Cathy loves the great outdoors, from camping to traveling throughout the country.



Pat Biles, Educator Associate
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Pat is from Texas. She volunteered to join the U.S. Army and was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She made her home in Maryland and got her degree in chemistry. She has 25 years of varied analytical laboratory and research work in nuclear, forensics and food safety. After settling in Southern Maryland she became a stay-at-home Mom and homeschooled. She taught co-op classes in science and became involved with 4-H and everything outside. Currently she is a 4-H archery instructor, MD Hunter Safety Instructor, and MD Master Gardener. She also helps operate a community well. She loves bowhunting, gardening (butterfly friendly and deer resistant) and is an artist (loves painting wildlife and landscapes).


Sandy Brown, Educator Associate
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Sandy Brown has spent more than 25 years in politics and education, almost always living within walking distance of the Potomac River. After many years on Capitol Hill, she ran the government affairs shop for Amtrak, and later, for Teach For America. Along the way she found what was most rewarding was helping young people understand that they had the power to change both their circumstances and the world. So she became a high school social studies teacher. After moving to Shepherdstown, WV, in 2013, she had the opportunity to combine her passion for the outdoors with her vocation, and started teaching environmental education. A certified WV Master Naturalist, avid biker, hiker and kayaker, she is thrilled to join the team at the Alice Ferguson Foundation to help inspire the environmental stewards of the future.


Melinda Campbell, Educator Associate
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Melinda grew up in Prince George’s County, and while she has lived as far away as Hawai’i and Australia, she keeps coming back to this fantastic ecosystem she calls home. She got her first dose of the education world on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and has had a passion for teaching youth about their backyard watershed ever since. She has been a high school science teacher in Maryland and Hawaii, and taught informally with various foundations around the Bay. When she is not teaching, Melinda can be found snuggling with her rescue dog, in the kitchen, or exploring the world.



Trecia D’Costa, Education Associate
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Trecia grew up in Burke, VA. Since a young age, she has always been fond of the outdoors, from catching hermit crabs and crayfish in her neighborhood creek to hiking national parks at a family trip in Brisbane, Australia. Nature has always been her favorite source of therapy. Her love for the environment encouraged her to pursue a degree in environmental science with a background in GIS from the University of Mary Washington. Her internship as an environmental outreach intern in Prince William County has influenced her to believe that education plays a big role in creating a sustainable future. She is really looking forward to working with children and influencing them to be more involved in our environment.


Kayla-DavidKayla David, Educational Outreach Coordinator
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Kayla grew up in central and south Florida with a family that took any chance to get outdoors. Her love of the natural world grew as she explored the unique ecosystems of Florida from the white sand, natural beaches of the panhandle, to the swamps of the everglades, all the way down to the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelors of Science in Management and Organization and a minor in Environmental Policy. Before coming to the Alice Ferguson Foundation Kayla has worked in conservation, science communication and on a sea turtle monitoring team. She was also a heavily active member of her campus student environmental organization, which is a key driving role on campus and in the community for all things “green” and sustainable. Besides the environment, Kayla’s other passion is for the arts, and has been performing on stage for as long as she can remember. She also taught a children’s improv class and promotes incorporating art into education whenever possible. She attributes her love of the natural world to her hands-on experiences in the outdoors throughout her youth and is thrilled to be working with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to create similar experiences for today’s youth.

Bethany Dellagnello, Educational Associate
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Born in Kentucky and raised on a rural farm where she was free to wander field and forest instilled in Bethany an intense curiosity and a love of all things living.  Both her parents nurtured her love of nature, but her physics teacher father was especially influential on her, sparking and encouraging her lifelong love of learning with long science discussions at every opportunity, from the dinner table to road trips. This led her to seek a degree in zoology and finally, the desire to be a teacher herself. Bethany taught middle and high school science in Frederick County for 23 years, teaches a nature class at Frederick Community College and is an amateur naturalist and botanist.  She has a creative side, with a small business designing and making jewelry.  She is also a member of the Frederick County Forestry Board and is trained as a Master Gardener.


Jess Gordon-Young, Educator Associate
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Jess is a Maryland native, raised in Prince George’s and Charles Counties. She graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Ancient Studies, a minor in Korean Language and Culture. During her tenure in the Baltimore area, she worked primarily as an educator for the Walters Art Museum, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the National Museum of the United States Navy, and at the Carroll Mansion in conjunction with the Baltimore summer program SuperKids. She has since returned to Southern Maryland with the intent on continuing working as an educator outside the classroom. Jess also works as a Museum Educator at Historic St. Mary’s City Museum, where she works with school groups on their outdoor adventures through history.


Brittney Gray, Member & Volunteer Engagement Coordinator
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Brittney was born and raised in Charles County, MD. From a young age, Brittney was fascinated by nature and spent many evenings after school exploring in the woods and visiting local parks. She is a graduate of the College of Southern Maryland, with an associate degree in Social Sciences and joins the Alice Ferguson Foundation with eight years of administrative experience. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, baking, traveling and trying foods from different cultures.



Leona Haiden Leona Haiden, Office Manager 
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Leona was born in Washington D.C., but has been a Southern Maryland resident for over 25 years. She has certifications in accounting, Human Resources and microsoft. She studied accounting and bookeeping at The College of Southern Maryland. Leona has chaired several committees for the community and in her spare time enjoys gaming, long walks and music.




Gina McCullough, Educator Associate
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A self-proclaimed beach bum from South Jersey, Gina received her Bachelor’s degree in special education from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Southern Maryland and began teaching special education and science with Calvert County Public Schools. During this time, Gina rediscovered her true passion for nature and all that is in it. She spent two years teaching at CHESPAX, the environmental education center for Calvert County Public Schools. While teaching in the traditional classroom setting, Gina incorporated several school-wide programs to help connect students and teachers with their outside world. She also worked closely with the county’s schools to help them obtain and maintain their Green School status.

Gina is excited to work with the Alice Ferguson Foundation family and share her passion of the natural world with everyone. Gina is an avid lover of the ocean and is happiest with sand and salt in her hair. She loves to travel, cats of all shapes and sizes, the sun, sand, surf, floppy hats, and flip flops. Someday she hopes to permanently escape to a place where shoes are optional and it never gets below 70 degrees.


Debbie MeinholdtDebbie Meinholdt, Educator Associate

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Debbie grew up in Kansas exploring the natural world, from the stream in her backyard to the grasslands surrounding her grandmother’s farm. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and a Master’s degree from the College of William and Mary, both in secondary science education. During her twenty years as a high school biology teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia, she involved her students in experiential learning to help them understand and appreciate the nature of science. Some of her students’ activities included testing local waterways for EarthEcho International World Water Monitoring Challenge, participating in Potomac Watershed Cleanups, and Bridging the Watershed field studies with the Alice Ferguson Foundation. In addition to her hobbies of gardening, knitting, and reading, Debbie is a volunteer at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Q?rius (pronounced curious): The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center. She is very happy to be working at Alice Ferguson Foundation helping students learn about the ecosystem and their role in protecting the environment.

Karen Jensen Miles, Land Use & Facilities Manager
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Karen has acted as a mentor to teachers and students alike in the fields of biology and ecology. Using her broad background and skills, Karen was project leader for a living shoreline restoration along the Potomac River and is currently Land Use/Facilities Manager at the Foundation, where she acts as staff liaison for a Living Building project at Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center. She was a consultant to the Office of Horticulture at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and, prior to that, Project Coordinator and Field Station Manager for a large environmental assessment project at a 1,400 acre proposed nuclear power generating facility site. Karen has authored and illustrated a field guide to invasive plants of the mid-Atlantic region and has extensive photographic images used in publications for The Smithsonian Institution and DK Books.


Jessica Miller, Coordinator, Bridging The Watershed
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Jessica grew up in Prince William County, Virginia. She studied geology and geography at George Mason University. Serving with Americorp as a Student Conservation Association intern in various National Parks cemented her desire to work in the conservation field. Before coming to the Alice Ferguson Foundation, she worked in North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia for the National Park Service and the Maryland Park Service. She has a passion for the outdoors and enjoys gardening, hiking, biking, crabbing, and birding.




Michael Morris

Michael Morris, Farm Manager
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Mike grew up in Accokeek and spent most of his childhood exploring in the woods and on the Potomac River. He and his family lived on a small farmstead where they grew much of their own food, raised livestock, milled their own lumber and practiced self-sufficiency and sustainable living. Mike attended the University of Mary Washington and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Ecology. After graduation, Mike worked as an environmental educator for the Alice Ferguson Foundation and then decided to pursue a career in farming. During the next few years, Mike worked for several local farms and also pursued his own farming business, and is now excited to bring his experience and passion for farming and the natural world to his role as farm manager at Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm.


Will OrndorffWill Orndorff, Educator Associate for Curriculum & Evaluation
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Born and raised in Maryland, Will spent most of his childhood camping and running outdoors for scouts and cross country. He hiked multiple sections of the Appalachian Trail while discussing his favorite animal signs with his friends. After graduating from high school Will traveled south to Lynchburg, VA to study Environmental Science. While at Lynchburg College he competed in cross country and track, while working at their outdoor recreation center, and volunteering as a meteorologist for the tv program. During the summers he worked as a lifeguard, at a camp in Honesdale, PA, and an adventure park in Savage, MD. After graduating from college Will traveled north to Lanesboro, MN to become a naturalist fellow at Eagle Bluff ELC. While in Minnesota he taught a variety of classes from history to adventure to sciences. At the end of the fellowship Will decided to come back to the east coast where he flexed his adventure muscles at Adventure Links in Clifton, VA. There he taught a variety of outdoor science materials while also taking groups paddling, caving, rock climbing, and through team building courses. Will is an adventure lover who goes outdoors as much as possible.

Krupa PatelKrupa Patel, Educator Associate
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I love the outdoors, traveling and photography. Joining AFF as an educator, has been exciting, new experience for her. Everyday at AFF, is a new experience – seeing kids reacting to the pig urinating is priceless! To be serious, seeing kids out on the farm and on the habitat walk excited is great. I have also been interning for Port Tobacco River Conservancy for about a year now to develop skills in the non-profit world as well as in the environmental field. Also, I am pursuing a degree in Environmental Management at University of Maryland University College. I hope to transform the growing world into a sustainable world.


Sharon Rabie, Educator Associate
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Sharon was born in Michigan and raised on a 1,000 acre farm that had been in her family for four generations. Her very first summer job as a teen was in Yellowstone National Park where she became a volunteer and enjoyed meeting and working with National Park Service rangers. Following graduation from Corunna High School as valedictorian, she attended Central Michigan University taking dual majors in Art and Biology with a Conservation minor on the “Interpretive Naturalist” program. She added teaching certification for secondary education, and taught school for several years, starting out in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the Island of St. Thomas. Moving to Maryland in 1983, she joined the National Park Service and spent 11 years in sites such as Oxon Hill Farm, the National Mall, Glen Echo Park, Old Post Office Tower, and Turkey Run Pkwy. as a tractor operator. She was married (1985) to the late Fahim S. Rabie and has four children. Residing in Indian Head, Sharon is also an educator for the Humane Society of Charles County, and a 4-H leader. She enjoys training and raising German Shepherd dogs, canning from her garden, and is active in her church. Sharon has been on the staff at Hard Bargain Farm since 1995.

Laura Cattell Noll, Program Manager, Trash Initiative
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Laura Cattell Noll, Assistant Program Manager. At the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Laura manages all aspects of the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, including outreach, education and stewardship programs. She has more than eight years of experience managing and implementing community-based environmental stewardship projects across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Previously, Laura has worked for the University of Virginia, the National Aquarium and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. She has a BS in Environmental Science from Eastern Mennonite University and an MS in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia.


Teresa MartinTeresa Martin, Educator Associate for Curriculum & Evaluation
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Teresa grew up in Prince George’s County and returned here in 2010 to raise her two nature loving children. With a degree in social work, she spent 13 years working in the foster care systems of Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, and Prince George’s county before joining the Alice Ferguson Foundation in 2014 as an environmental educator. Teresa became a Watershed Steward with Anacostia Watershed Society in 2013 after learning about the plight of this beautiful river near her home in Hyattsville. This coursework put her on a different path in life, and she is now passionate about sharing a hopeful message with students about how they can affect their environment and about instilling a sense of adventure in every child who is exposed to something new at the farm. Teresa leads the Children’s Garden team, and wants every student who comes to the farm to learn about healthy food and to get dirty while doing it. She has been a beekeeper at home, and always wants to learn more about pollinators. In her free time, she loves to bike, paddle, swim, and hike with her kids.

Will Townsend, Educator Associate
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Bill Grew up in Accokeek, working on Hard Bargain farm and exploring the Potomac River. After graduating from Springfield College with a B.S. in Outdoor Recreation Management, he spent several years teaching English as a second language in Taiwan and photographing Asia. When he returned, his love of the great outdoors lead him back to Hard Bargain Farm as a Naturalist and wildlife photographer. When not teaching children about nature and agriculture in southern Maryland, he spends his time kayaking, climbing, hiking, and traveling.



SimoreTrott_Photo-150by150Simone Trott, Educator Associate
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Born in California and raised around the country as a military ‘brat’, Simone developed a love of nature at a very early age. Even though her family moved often, they were always near the beach, forests, and open fields where children could explore their surroundings from morning until night. While studying at Texas Tech University, she continued her love for the outdoors by traveling extensively by bike in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Mexico. She graduated with a degree in Physical Education and Biology. Upon graduation, she set off on a trip around the world on her bicycle to learn more, see more and appreciate diversity. Once married she set off around the world again, this time living in Japan and Italy. While in both countries she continued her passion in the environment and environmental issues. She taught middle school science, high school biology, environmental science, and human anatomy. Simone is an avid gardener, Mom, and lover of all things nature. She is looking forward to  interacting with children doing hands on science activities that hopefully will open their eyes, hearts and minds regarding their natural environment.

Eileen Watts, Assistant Farm Manager
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Eileen is a D.C. native, but had the love of the quieter, natural world instilled in her as a child by her parents. As a student, Eileen loved science and chose microbiology as a major in college. After graduating with a B.S. from Maryland University, she worked at the National Institutes of Health for three years, became a stay at home mom for 10 years. Eileen started working at Hard Bargain Farm in 1973 and is still enjoying every minute of it.



Brenda WrightBrenda Wright, Coordinator, Hard Bargain Farm
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Brenda came to Maryland from Massachusetts in 1983 and purchased an 1800’s farm house in Accokeek. Prior to working at the Alice Ferguson Foundation, she discovered Piscataway National Park, and worked as a student teacher at the Accokeek Foundation teaching students about Colonial life. Brenda joined the Alice Ferguson Foundation in 1994 as a Naturalist and now serves as the Hard Bargain Farm Program Coordinator. Brenda has always loved the outdoors and has fond memories of playing in her “hundred acre wood” as a child. She wants to share that passion with the students that visit the farm. In her spare time, you can find Brenda playing with her beagle, working in her garden, quilting, and spinning wool.


heatherHeather Zdobysz, Bridging the Watershed Program Manager
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Heather is a life-long resident of Southern Maryland. Growing up in the region and participating in a myriad of outdoor activities has instilled in her a love of the natural world and a passion for environmental education and outreach, with an emphasis on local marine and freshwater ecosystems. These interests motivated her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and a Master of Science in Environmental Management.

Heather has worked with a variety of organizations to help further environmental education and awareness among a wide range of audiences. A few of her favorite examples include organizing and taking area students on three-day trips to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s education centers, working with high school students as an aquatics instructor to help prepare them for the Charles County Envirothon competitions, and helping to run the U.S. Navy’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Robotics Program. Through this program, which is based out of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Heather has had the opportunity to teach STEM concepts to elementary and middle school students in classrooms across a wide variety of schools in Southern Maryland.

She is also an active volunteer in a wide range of groups. She is on the board of directors for the Port Tobacco River Conservancy, is a chief participant in administrative and fundraising activities for the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, and works with Second Chance Dog Rescue to help find homes for dogs in need.

Gabi Zabel, Educator Associate
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Gabi has lived in Southern Maryland nearly her whole life. She has always been passionate about nature and animals, which led her to earn a Bachelor’s degree in biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a minor in environmental studies, and a Master’s in environmental education from Concordia University. She spent over three years in Paraguay in South America as an environmental educator with the Peace Corps. Gabi also works in animal rescue with Round Table Haven and the Humane Society of Charles County, usually fostering kittens until they are ready for adoption. Additionally, she is a tutor with the College of Southern Maryland. She loves the water, and will jump at the chance to look for what lives in it, whether it be by dip netting in the river, or scuba diving in the Caribbean.