We wanted to introduce some new personnel who have joined the Asbury Woods team! Meet Karyn Polaski, Gift Shop and Rental Coordinator, Sarah Pelkowski, Visitor Services Associate, and Karina Wismer, Visitor Services Associate. They all have ties to Asbury Woods and are excited to start a new chapter with us.
Karyn Polaski, Gift Shop and Rental Coordinator
Karyn Polaski was born and raised in Erie and grew up in Fairview. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors of Communication Disorders then went on to get a Masters of Speech Language Pathology from Edinboro University. She has worked as a Speech Pathologist in home health, skilled nursing, and outpatient settings. She currently volunteers as a Hospice caretaker. Karyn has 3 adult children and a daughter in-law, which keeps her pretty busy, but in her spare time she enjoys sailing, golfing, hiking, reading, cooking and entertaining.
Asbury Woods became very important to Karyn when raising her children as an avenue for discovery, nature, and adventure. Now that her kids are grown, she feels fortunate to be able to expand her work life joining the Asbury Woods team. Karyn loves working with people and knew she would enjoy assisting with visitors in the gift shop and with people renting spaces for special events. Karyn says, “I love seeing the regulars that come in and showing them what is new in the gift shop and I can’t wait to work with some of the couples who plan to marry in one of our venues!”
Karyn would like to thank everyone; staff, volunteers, and visitors for giving her such a warm welcome. She looks forward to meeting new faces, new challenges, and getting to know everyone better. Please stop in to meet Karyn in the Squeaky Frog Gift Shop during her hours Tuesday - Friday from 12:30 - 4:30 pm.
Sarah Pelkowski, Visitor Services Associate
Sarah Pelkowski is a senior at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy. She enjoys reading, baking, and recently attended a week-long art camp at Touchstone Center for the Arts where she learned many new and exciting ceramic techniques. Sarah first got involved with Asbury Woods as an animal care assistant and volunteered during our summer camps.
An Erie native, she has been visiting Asbury Woods her whole life including having her 5th birthday party here, attending week-long nature camps in the summer, and simply stopping in from time to time with her family for a quick hike and to look at the animals.
Sarah started volunteering as an animal care assistant in the winter of 2022. “I’ve always enjoyed being out in nature, and I love animals, so being an animal care assistant was a great fit,” said Sarah. “I don’t have any pets at home (although in the future I would love to) so it was exciting to be around the rabbit, ferret, snakes, turtles, etc. to learn more about them and how to care for them.” Her favorite part of animal care was getting to know each animal's personality over time as well as getting to meet different staff members. For example, Sarah says that “Fridge, one of the box turtles, is super outgoing and good with people. The black rat snake, despite his daunting appearance, is always chill and fairly polite. And Oliver, the rabbit, tends to be on the sassy side.”
Hoping to get some job experience before going to college, she applied for the part-time Visitor Services Position. It was the perfect opportunity as Sarah was already volunteering here, had experience with taking care of the animals, was familiar with some of the staff, and the schedule would work extremely well for her during the school year. She has enjoyed getting to meet the people that come through here (and getting to see the animals each week). Said Sarah, “Everyone is always very friendly, and many people love telling me about what Asbury Woods means to them. It’s always nice to hear how much of an impact Asbury Woods has had on people even as far back as 40 or 50 years ago. Similarly, many people have come in and explain that they haven’t been here in years/since they were a kid, but still have fond memories of the place. It has continually shown me how much of a positive impact this place has had (and will continue to have) on people!”
Sarah has been accepted to several small liberal arts colleges and looks forward to living somewhere new. Sarah is so pleasant and has been a huge help in the gift shop and with the animals! Please stop in to meet Sarah in the Squeaky Frog Gift Shop during our weekend hours Saturday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 – 5:00 pm
Karina Wismer: Visitor Services Associate
Karina Wismer is a senior at McDowell High School, where she is part of the National Honors Society and has performed in some of their theater productions. Karina enjoys photography, drawing, hiking and is part of a yarn club, where for the past three years she has knitted hats for children in need at a local church.
Growing up in Erie Karina attended Summer Camps at Asbury Woods when she was younger. She feels strongly about our mission and loves doing fun things with kids like participating in our Scary Creature Feature Event, where she volunteered this past year to be one of the performing animal characters along the trails.
Karina had experience in customer service so when the Visitor Services position opened, she was excited to apply and bring her skills to our organization. Karina states that “My favorite part has been interacting with people of all ages, some people have shared stories of their past times here and kids have loved interacting with me. Overall, it has been a beautiful experience getting to know so many people and how Asbury Woods has impacted them.”
In the fall, Karina will be attending Pennwest Edinboro to study animation. We feel lucky to have found such a talented young person to join our team. Please stop in to meet Karina in the Squeaky Frog Gift Shop during our weekend hours Saturday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 – 5:00 pm