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Welcoming New Staff Members to the Education Department

We are thrilled to announce the addition of three new staff members to the education department. Creating a greater connection to the natural world by providing environmental education experiences is one of the three pillars of our mission. The future is bright with new leadership and team members to support the curriculum-based educational programming we offer to schools. Join us as we welcome Sarah Bennett, Director of Education and Community Programs; Erin Paquette, Environmental Educator; and Julia Szilvas, Environmental Educator to our Asbury Woods education team!

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Sarah Bennett, Director of Education and Community Programs

Sarah Bennett has joined the Asbury Woods team to lead the Education Department. She has a robust background teaching ecology and biology at Mercyhurst University. While there, she was also the sustainability coordinator and Biology Department Chairperson. Most recently, she was the environmental advocate for clean water at PennFuture. She has her B.S. and M.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University.

“I have always loved learning about how living things work and interact with each other and the environment around them. I also enjoy taking complex concepts and simplifying them to help others understand. I believe that education teaches us to appreciate the world around us and our impacts on it so that we can, hopefully, make better decisions to protect this planet we call home,” says Sarah.

Fun Fact: Sarah is the oldest of six kids!


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Erin Paquette, Environmental Educator

Erin Paquette has joined the Asbury Woods team as an environmental educator. She moved to Erie from Kansas, where she was an education specialist at the Topeka Zoo. She has spent the last few years working at state parks, nature centers, YMCA outdoor camps, and zoos. She has her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Wright State University. Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Erin is happy to be back closer to her roots.

“I have always known I would go into education since I was young but found the best career when I realized I could teach people outside rather than just in a classroom. Arthropods and macroinvertebrates have always been some of my favorite animals to teach about,” says Erin.

Fun Fact: Erin can name around 30 owl species!

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Julia Szilvas, Environmental Educator

Julia Szilvas has joined Asbury Woods as an environmental educator. She moved to Erie from Cleveland, where she spent the last three years at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. She also spent time with the Natural Resources and Outdoor Education divisions at Cleveland Metroparks. She has her B.S of Science in Educational Studies from Kent State University with minors in Park Management and Geography.

“I always knew I wanted to be an educator. I enjoy working with children and teaching them about the natural world. I am most excited to connect students to their local flora and fauna in a more comprehensive way by helping them to identify the species we have here, why we have them and their importance.,” says Julia.

Fun Fact: Szilvas means “plum” in Hungarian!