Staff

Lori Arguelles, Executive Director

Laura Ford, Director of Program Advancement

Deanna Lutz, Director of Operations

Leona Haiden, Administrative Coordinator

Communications

Development

Land and Heritage

Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

Education

Bridging the Watershed

Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center


Lori Arguelles, Executive Director

Lori Arguelles brings nearly 25 years of experience in executive management, public relations, and government relations to her position as Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF). Prior to joining AFF Lori served as Vice President of Media and Policy Strategy for the marine conservation non-profit organization SeaWeb and she was the founding President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Previously, Lori served as Director of Communications for Girl Scouts of the USA and also as Director of Public and Constituent Affairs for the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Starting her professional career as a radio reporter, Lori has worked for several local and national outlets, as an anchor, reporter, and producer. Lori also served as press secretary for two members of congress. Lori earned her undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism and political science from Northern Arizona University and her master’s degree in public communication from American University.


Laura FordLaura Ford, Director of Program Advancement

Laura Ford supports the Potomac Watershed Study Center capital campaign, raises funds for operations, and oversees environmental programs such as Bridging the Watershed, the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, and the Trash Free Potomac River initiative. Prior to joining AFF, Laura was the Vice President of the Accokeek Foundation, where she was responsible for organizational advancement, including fundraising, communications, and strategic initiatives like the Foundation’s agriculture programs. Laura has more than a dozen years of experience as a project manager and technical writer for the Maryland Center for Environmental Training at the College of Southern Maryland. Laura holds a bachelor’s degree in Language and Literature from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. Laura is a senior program officer with the Corina Higginson Trust. She also is a certified horseback riding instructor and owns a small farm with her family in Southern Maryland.


734684_10101094808432217_313116076_nAlbert Arévalo, Community Outreach Liaison

As the newest member of the “trash team,” Albert will coordinate the community outreach for the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign in the District of Columbia. On the weekends Albert plays tennis, leads trail runs, and volunteers at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. where he facilitates interpretive programs at the nature Center and planetarium. A native Texan and lover of BBQ, Albert graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor’s of arts degree in environmental sociology and Spanish. He also is passionate about the conservation of sea turtles along the Texas coast, and educating the public about conservation.

 

 

 


JBeavanJustin Beavan, Farm Assistant

Justin is a lifelong resident of Southern Maryland, and grew up working on his family’s farm, where they raise a large herd of beef cattle. He has always had a passion for farming, and will be graduating from the University of Maryland with a BS in Agricultural Science and Technology in 2015.

 

 

 

 


Pat Biles
Pat Biles, Educator Associate

Hi. My name is Pat Biles and I am excited to start working at AFF. I love being outdoors. I think learning should be hands-on exciting fun. My background is in science. I have a chemistry degree and 25 years of varied analytical laboratory and research work which includes nuclear, forensics and food safety. I became a stay-at-home mom 12 years ago and have homeschooled my two daughters. I have also taught co-op elementary science and art classes. My volunteer work includes American Chemical Society National Chemistry Week doing real science experiments and demos with children K-12, 4-H club and archery instructor, Indian Head Rail Trail cyclist monitor, Charles County Master Gardener, and MD DNR Hunter Safety Instructor. I am also an active artist with the Charles County Arts Alliance and the Mattawoman Creek Art Center.


kathrynKathryn Culbertson, Curriculum Design and Evaluation Coordinator

Kathryn is an almost life-long resident of Northern Virginia having lived in the Arlington and Falls Church areas since she was three. She has spent countless hours in the metropolitan areas’ national, state, and local parks as a learner and an educator. Kathryn received a BS in Business Management from Virginia Tech and obtained her Virginia state teacher license through the career switcher program at Mary Baldwin College. After an extensive career in business law and community development, Kathryn endeavored to be a change advocate in education. She began by developing out-of-school education opportunities, then taught in public elementary schools in Chesterfield, Fairfax, and Arlington counties. Kathryn’s first passion is working with elementary-aged children, but she has also taught middle and high school-age students creating authentic and integrative learning experiences. She is a passionate advocate for all children – and particularly those considered to be underserved, disadvantaged and who learn best in unconventional ways.

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A_Farfalla-bioAdrienne Farfalla, Education Program Manager

Adrienne grew up in New York spending her days exploring nature. She developed a passion for the outdoors and is always excited to share her love of nature with others. Adrienne comes to the Alice Ferguson Foundation with over eight years of outdoor education experience. Previously, Adrienne worked as the Education and Adventure Director for a nonprofit in Massachusetts before moving to Washington, D.C. in 2012. Over the past two years, she served as the Program Director for the ACHIEVE Kids Tri Camp and worked for the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. Adrienne holds a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Recreation and Leisure from Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. In her free time, she enjoys trail running, hiking, biking, and new adventures.

 

 


Laura GillespieLaura Gillespie, Database Associate

A native of Accokeek, Laura grew up playing at and around Hard Bargain Farm. Though having strong ties to her home and an inclination for things environmental, Laura received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1993, and went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in Medieval Studies from the University of York, Yorkshire, England in 1994.

After five years teaching English from middle school up to the university level, Laura agreed to help out with the budding Bridging the Watershed project that has since blossomed into a regional middle and high school science program. Once the full-time program assistant, Laura now helps out on a part-time basis editing curriculum and maintaining the BTW web site. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Baltimore in Information and Interaction Design and a mom of two.

 


Leona Haiden Leona Haiden, Administrative Coordinator

Leona Haiden has been the program assistant for Bridging the Watershed at The Alice Ferguson Foundation for a little over a year. Her duties include administrative support, scheduling field studies, booking buses, communicating with teachers, educators and park rangers, managing and entering data and general office duties. Prior to this she was the office manager for five years at a small, family-owned business in Southern Maryland. In her spare time, Leona enjoys writing, music, and art. She is a published poet and also manages her own production company, Tuxedo Moon, while pursuing her degree in journalism.

 

 


Brad HartleBrad Hartle, Educator Associate

Brad was born in Western Maryland and grew up within walking distance of many key sites for Antietam National Battlefield. After high school Brad moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where he attended Coastal Carolina University and earned a B.S. in Marine Science. Moving from one beach to another Brad found his way to the Florida Keys where he worked as a Marine Science Instructor with Seacamp Association and spent every day on a boat snorkeling or scuba diving. His next move took him to West Palm Beach, Florida where he worked as an Environmental Education Graduate Assistant with Pine Jog Environmental Education Center and earned his M.Ed. in Environmental Education. Once he completed his masters degree Brad moved back to Western Maryland and worked as a Nature Center Host with Frederick County’s Nature Centers. He then spent a summer as an Assistant Camp Director with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife where he oversaw the junior counselor program. Brad is a certified lifeguard and rescue diver who would be happy to spend every day on or in the water whether teaching or relaxing.

 


 


Julene Joy, Marketing and Communications Manager
Julene is originally from Ohio, where she spent most of her younger years riding and showing horses and helping out in her parents’ florist shop. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University in Speech Communications and Marketing, Julene started her career in medical sales, working for Baxter Healthcare in upstate New York. She moved to Northern Virginia in 1994 and shortly thereafter, began her career in nonprofit work as publicist at the National Academy of Sciences. Continuing to work as a freelance writer and proofreader, Julene spent a few years at home with her three children before returning to work as a preschool teacher at Aldersgate Day School. Most recently, Julene has served as the communications manager for the National Society of Accountants where she created a magazine, wrote and managed member newsletters, was responsible for website design, and creating an overall content marketing strategy. She is very excited to be joining the team and uniting her skills with a mission to help spread the word about AFF.


Deanna Lutz, Director of Operations

Hailing from the west coast of Michigan, Deanna spent time in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains before serving in the U.S. Air Force stationed at Anchorage, AK. After settling in the Washington, D.C. area she toiled at various government contractor positions before hiring on as AFF’s Office Manager in 2007. In her current position, Deanna provides oversight to the various financial and operational areas at AFF. A long-time ham radio operator since childhood, a bee keeper, avid quilter and overall technology geek, Deanna has lived in Accokeek since 2003.

 

 

 


gina mcculoughGina McCullough, Educator Associate

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 and her husband moved to Southern Maryland and she began teaching special education with Calvert County Public Schools. During this time, Gina rediscovered her true passion is nature and all that is in it. She became certified to teach science and 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. After taking time off to stay at home raising her daughter, Gina is very excited to join the Alice Ferguson Foundation family and to begin sharing her passion of the world with everyone. Gina is an avid lover of the ocean and is most pleased with sand and salt in her hair. She loves spending time with her family, travel, cats of all shapes and sizes, the sun, sand, surf, floppy hats, and flip flops. She hopes to someday retire with her husband and daughter to a place where shoes will be optional and it never gets below 70 degrees.


Meladeh McKinnonMeladeh McKinnon, Educator Associate

Born and raised in Southern Maryland, Meladeh (or Mel) grew up playing here at Hard Bargain Farm. Her mother Sharon (also a staff member) instilled a love of all things outdoors in her from a young age causing her to peruse a bachelors degree in Environmental Science, with a concentration in Biology, and a minor in Coastal Studies from Hood College. Throughout high school and college Mel worked at AFF primarily with special events and canoe groups as the “staff Lifeguard”, and after several years of this she accepted the position as overnight educator and eventually as a part time educator. In December of 2014 she welcomed a new little addition to her family, a healthy baby boy who now frequents the farm and thus, ensuring a love of all things outdoors for the next generation.

 


Karen Jensen Miles, Land Use/ Facilities Manager

Karen has acted as a mentor to teachers and students alike in the fields of biology and ecology. Her undergraduate studies are in biology and her graduate studies are in environmental systems management. Using her broad background and skills, Karen is currently project leader for a $1.1 million living shoreline restoration along the Potomac River and Land Use/Facilities Manager at the Foundation. 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.

 


tim murphyTim Murphy, Trash and Development Team Associate

A native Chicagoan, Tim came to Maryland by way of Iowa, Arizona, South Dakota and Kansas. His professional background has been in higher education and athletics following his Masters of Science in Exercise and Sport Sciences from the University of Arizona and Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Iowa State University. When he is not at the farm, he operates his own individual education consulting firm with the goal of helping people of all ages earn their college degree. Tim and his family are members of Peace Lutheran Church in Waldorf where he assists with the food pantry and gives regular children’s sermons. He is passionate about children’s causes, education, and mental health platforms. He and his wife, Angela, live with their three children in Charles County.

 


Will OrndorffWill Orndorff, Educator Associate

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

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.

 


unnamedKara Pennino, Community Outreach Liaison

Kara Pennino is a Community Outreach Liaison for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative working in Prince George’s County. Previously, she has worked in Philadelphia supporting undeserved areas to carry healthier food options. With a bachelor’s degree from Drew University in Environmental Sustainability and Studies, she is excited to work on environmental issues again with the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Native to upstate New York, Kara loves to be outside hiking, exploring, and being around farm animals. Her favorite farm animal is a goat. Kara is passionate about working with people and helping their communities flourish.

 


Sharon Rabie, Educator Associate

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.

 


 

Rachel130Rachel Richardson, Educator Associate ^ top

Adopted from Kwangju, South Korea as an infant I’ve lived in MD ever since. I went to undergrad at Shepherd University in West Virginia studying environmental science with a concentration in aquatic science. As a sea turtle enthusiast, I spent a month in Costa Rica saving Leatherback Sea Turtles and working with a variety of exotic animals at a rescue center. I did an internship in Sarasota, Florida working in the Benthic Ecology department of the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium where I fell in love with scuba diving. I love spending time at the beach, in the water, and everything about sea turtles!


profile picEleiah Sexton, Grants Coordinator

Eleiah’s connection to the natural world reaches back to her childhood on a small, organic farm in rural Michigan where sustainability and stewardship of the environment were not just ideas, but a daily way of life. Since then, her interests have led her to American University in Washington, D.C., where she earned a B.A. in International Studies, concentrating in the Middle East and Peace and Conflict Resolution, and also to a graduate program in Peace and Conflict Management at the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel. Eleiah’s professional experience includes resource development at a joint Jewish-Arab environmental NGO in Sakhnin, Israel, and grants management and foundation administration as part of a philanthropy consulting firm in Detroit, Michigan. In her free time, Eleiah enjoys dabbling in the culinary arts, listening to NPR as much as is humanly possible, and exploring the many great treasures the region has to offer.


Doris Sharp, Membership and Events Coordinator

Doris Sharp grew up in Frankfurt, Germany and moved to the United States in 1973 where she raised a family. In 1987, she entered the job market again and began working at the Alice Ferguson Foundation as a naturalist; publications specialist; manager of the arts collections; and coordinator of the performing arts programs “Theater in the Woods” and “Concert in the Woods.” Since the beginning she felt that Hard Bargain Farm is a very special place and loves working here.

 

 


Teresa thiemannTeresa Martin Thiemann, Educator Associate

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 is 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.


casey thomassonCasey Thomasson, Outreach Coordinator

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Casey began working with children through theater, as both a performer and instructor, before attending Ithaca College in New York. From there, he traveled with his future wife to Japan and China, teaching English to students from toddlers to high schoolers.

His passion for education ignited abroad, Casey returned to the US, first working as a pre-k lead teacher, then entering the nonprofit sector as an educator for Kids Smiles Dental Center in underserved West Philadelphia schools. When a new center was opened in Washington, D.C., Casey was chosen to build the center’s outreach program from scratch, leading to over 14,000 students educated in two years. After moving on to curriculum development with a child care center in Virginia, Casey finds himself excited to work with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to educate young people about the importance of the natural world.



William Townsend, Educator Associate

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.

 

 



Eileen Watts, Farm Manager

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, HBF Program Manager

Brenda came to Maryland from Massachusetts in 1983 and purchased an 1800’s farm house in Accokeek. Prior to working at AFF, she discovered Piscataway National Park, and worked as a student teacher at the Accokeek Foundation teaching students about Colonial life. Brenda joined AFF in 1994 as a Naturalist and now serves as the Hard Bargain Farm Program Manager. 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.

 

 


 

heather

Heather Zdobysz, BTW Coordinator

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.