Cooper Center Staff

Environmental educators cultivate a love for the Sonoran Desert by engaging with the community and encouraging each student to develop a meaningful relationship with the natural world, becoming the next generation of environmental change makers. Our staff and interns work together in a collaborative, supportive environment with the shared intention of creating a space where children from southern Arizona can forge a deep and meaningful connection with their natural surroundings.


Colin Waite, Director

The 2022-23 program year marks Colin's 19th 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 like 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.



Rowan Cassarly, Marketing Coordinator

The girl with the camera. I enjoy taking pictures, hiking, traveling, practicing yoga and hanging out with my dog Maverick. You can find me at Cooper making reels, discussing the latest TikTok trends or admiring the beautiful desert landscape.



Mariah Kuehl, Program Coordinator

I am enchanted by the moon and all the magic of the world!

I enjoy sweet treats and dancing in the rain

Colorful butterflies and adventures await!



Brittne MacCleary, Program Coordinator

I enjoy planning trips with friends–biking, hiking, traveling. I love trying new foods and baking intricate desserts. I love plants, tortoises and watching the sky.



Aliya McDonald, Educator

I love crafting up a storm, collecting various trinkets and doodads, and hanging with my cat, rabbits, and gaggle of quail. My current obsessions: figuring out how to roller skate, crocheting my own clothes, camping in new places, and most importantly, taking lots of little walks. A fun fact about me is that I’ve rappelled off of a 17 story building!



Nasiha Rashid, Educator

I like ultralight backpacking and pushing myself past my limits. Mountains are magical and I love stargazing in dark remote places. I enjoy eating vegan food, going to shows, baking cookies, and walking. A fun fact about me is that I was chased by snowy owl poachers on my birthday in 2017.



Isaac Silva, Educator

Hey,  I'm Isaac, as a child my family nicknamed me “cabeza de mango atravesado” spanish for lopsided mango head, to this day they still yell out “Mango!” to get my attention. True story. 

I love to oil paint surreal art in my free time. Even though my moms never seen one of my canvas’! She is still my main supporter :)

My place of peace is getting lost in the Rincon Mountains. I love the Sonoran Desert. It is my muse and healer! And if you can't find me, you’ll definitely catch me wandering between the saguaros.



Joshua Tashoff, Educator

I enjoy watercolor painting, making new friends, and going rock climbing. Before working at Camp Cooper, I spent a year conducting archaeological fieldwork and biological surveys across Arizona. I love getting people excited to be outside and connect with their environment.