Our Staff


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colin "Jackrabbit" Waite, Director

 

The 2016-17 program year marks Colin's 14th year at the Cooper Center.  His love of nature started during his childhood in Upstate New York, exploring the fields, forests, and creeks near his home. His high school biology teacher, Mr. Coaster, sparked his interest in environmental science and a family trip west in 1994 carried him to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in 1996. 

Colin graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science in 2000 and decided to focus on communicating environmental issues and concepts to the public at large.  This began with work on grassroots campaigns with the Fund For Public Interest Research as a Field Manager in Oregon and later Canvass Director in North Carolina, building membership and political support for such groups as Sierra Club, Human Rights Campaign, and the State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS).  In 2001, Colin's love of the West brought him to Tucson, AZ, where he worked briefly for Bookman's Entertainment Exchange before joining the staff of the Cooper Center in 2003.  He received his Master's Degree in Elementary Education from NAU in 2005.  Colin has served the Cooper Center as an Environmental Education Specialist, Program Coordinator, Assistant Director, and Director, building strong relationships with teachers across Southern Arizona and with the community at large.  He can't imagine working anywhere else.

Colin is married to University High School math teacher Leiba Schuneman and together they have 2 sons, Gavin and Sawyer, and 2 cats, Angie, and Rusty.  In addition to his duties at the Cooper Center, Colin officiates high school and youth football.  He also enjoys cooking, reading, hiking, video games, music, and movies.

 

 

Constantinos "Black Bear" Manoli, Assistant Director

 

Constantinos holds a BS in Renewable Natural Resources (Wildlife, Watershed and Rangeland Resources) and a Master's and PhD in Teaching and Teacher Education (Environmental Learning) from the University of Arizona. His research interests focus on children's environmental values and attitudes and their effect on ecological actions and behavior as a result of participation in educational programs.

Constantinos has worked as a visting professor and an associate researcher in the Department of Educational Sciences at the University of Cyprus (UCY). As a visiting professor, Constantinos taught undergraduate environmental science courses. As an associate researcher, his duties included the development of innovative science education with state-of-the-art technology through European-funded programs such as Science Created by You (SCY) and Global Science Labs (Go-Lab) for Inquiry Learning at School.

In parallel, during the last two years, Constantinos served as an instructor of Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development in the Department of Education at Frederick University. At Frederick, he taught several undergraduate and graduate courses. In addition, he supervised Frederick students' work at the Master's and PhD level and served as a committee member.

Currently, Constantinos is a University of Arizona affiliate with the Earth Education Research and Evaluation Team (ERRET) in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies. His association with the EERET dates back to its origins in 2003, when he served as a researcher and later as Team Coordinator. Constantinos has been an associate of The Institute for Earth Education since 2002 and has led numerous earth education programs (particularily Earthkeepers) at different environmenal centers both nationally and internationally. Currenty, Constantinos is the Pilot Coordinator of the Earthkeepers program at the Cyprus Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CYCERE), where the program has been translated and interpreted in Greek.

Constantinos's return to the University of Arizona and the Cooper Center fulfills the goal of a lifetime and reflects his love for the Sonoran Desert.

 

Nick "River Otter" Giannini, Instructional Specialist

 

Nick graduated from the University of Arizona in July, 2016 with a B.S. in Literacy, Learning, and Leadership. His focus is on informal education of elementary students. Nick first found his love for educating as a preceptor for a Biology 101 lab at the U of A, and soon after found his love for working with elementary school students by teaching at various summer camps.

 

Nick has worked as a lead at a student-run restaurant, an instructor for a summer sports camp and STEM summer camp, lead instructor at Arizona Youth University, and played a key role on a 100% Engagement grant that created a handbook for community organizations hosting UA volunteers and interns.

 

Nick grew up in Phoenix and moved to Tucson in 2012 to start his higher education at the U of A. He is currently an Instructional Specialist at the Cooper Center and he hopes to improve his experience as an informal educator and to learn about and appreciate the wonders of the Sonoran Desert.

 

 

 

Emily "Wash" Belle, Instructional Specialist

Emily graduated from Oberlin College in May 2016 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies. She has worked as an educator in various contexts, including classrooms and after-school programs as well as outdoor camps.

 

Emily first came to Tucson as a student, and developed a deep respect for the Sonoran Desert. She's excited to learn with kids about this ecosystem and community as an Instructional Specialist at the Cooper Center.

 

Kellie "Night Hawk" Sheehan, Instructional Specialist 

Kellie graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2016 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Sustainable Built Environments. She specialized in sustainable landscape design and also completed a minor in sustainable plant systems. Kellie's first time working with elementary school students in an informal setting was through the UA Community and School Garden Program in which Kellie was partnered with a kindergarten teacher at Manzo Elementary to develop school garden curriculum.

 

Kellie has been involved in curriculum and intern development for school gardens and has also done work with agriculture education as a member of the professional agriculture sorority, Sigma Alpha. Through her sorority Kellie competed in a national challenge for agriculture education curriculum development and was named one of the finalists to win a $2,000 scholarship.

 

Kellie grew up in San Diego, California and moved to Tucson in 2013 to complete her bachelor's degree. Her love of working with students and her passion towards environmental education has made her appreciate how the Cooper Center encourages environmental stewardship.

 

 

 

Judy "Cooper's Hawk" Cooper, Green Funds Project Leader

Judy, a native Tucsonan, holds a BS in Liberal Arts from the University of Arizona, a K-12 teaching certification and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Currently she is a PhD student at the UofA with an emphasis in science education.

Judy first encountered Camp Cooper as a volunteer while accompanying her granddaughter on a field trip. That experience was pivotal, as she saw a merger of her love for teaching and the natural world. The following year Judy took a leave from her 18 years of teaching elementary children to work at the Cooper Center, teaching on the trails.  Although her last name, Cooper, is completely coincidental, and in no way related to the Cooper Center, she teasingly tells visiting kids that she owns Camp Cooper.

Currently Judy is a Project Leader for the Green Funds Project whose mission is to create a bridge between Camp Cooper and the University of Arizona in sustainable efforts. Judy and her team help to create pathways for UofA students towards developing a relationship with the natural environment and living lightly on the Earth.

Judy is married to roboticist/aerospace engineer/inventor, Robert Wagoner (no, not the actor).  She enjoys their 6 grandchildren, hiking canyons, reading, learning, writing, watching sunsets, cooking and eating.

 

Ryan "Dubu" Shortal, Peace Corp Fellow

Ryan Shortal is from St. Louis, Missouri. He earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri in 2009 and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Engineering at the University of Arizona as a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow while working part time at the Cooper Center.

Ryan served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa from 2013-2015 where he worked as an Education Development Facilitator teaching Biology to rural secondary school students. Additionally, he helped develop students' critical thinking skills through the creation of a science club, whose members met weekly to investigate scientific concepts using limited materials available in the local environment. He was given the nickname "Dubu" (Swahili for "Bear") during his time in Tanzania.

Ryan has worked in Education in several capacities in addition to teaching high school Biology in Tanzania. While living in Colorado, he volunteered at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) where he worked as a snow skiing instructor, teaching skiing to individuals of all ages and abilities, including veterans with physical disabilities, children and teenagers with developmental disabilities, and at-risk youth populations.  During high school, Ryan worked as a summer camp counselor for teenagers with developmental disabilities and remembers it as the best job he's ever had. When he learned about the Cooper Center, he knew it would be the perfect place to continue cultivating his love of teaching and the outdoors.

 

 

Mark "El Lobo" Wagoner, Green Fund Outreach Coordinator

Mark Wagoner is from Normal, Illinois and has resided in Tucson for just over six years now. Since moving to Tucson he has earned two BA degrees in International Politics and German Studies at the University of Arizona and is currently pursuing his aspirations of becoming a physician and medical researcher.

 
Mark has extensive experience leading and teaching stemming from his time in Air Force ROTC at the U of A overseeing all attendance and disciplinary functions of the wing. This consisted of over 100 people both active duty and reserve status. In addition, Mark taught German Language at Sam Hughes Elementary by designing and instructing a curriculum of his choice as to give the students the best level of instruction possible.
 
Splitting his time between the office and the Cooper Center, Mark is serving the center as the Outreach Coordinator under the Green Fund project and Judy Cooper. His efforts in producing the bridge between the center and the UofA community at large is vital to allow more students to experience the work that is being done and help them develop a bond with the environment.