Meet the Players

Advocates for Nature

Richard Louv

Co-Founder and Chair Emeritus
Children & Nature Network

Award-winning author and renowned journalist Richard Louv stresses the importance of reconnecting with nature in a digital age. Author of Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life and Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

David Laufenburg

Resident Instructor
Yellowstone Association

Outdoor education instructor and local Yellowstone Park guide, David Laufenberg guides Studio 345 Journeys ambassadors on excursions through the park where they learn about wolves, birding, ecology, and biology.

Mark Tercek

President and CEO
The Nature Conservancy

Bestselling author and business magnate Mark Tercek promotes the planet’s natural capital, valuing the many critical services nature provides for the human race.

Champions for Nature

Sheila Garcia-Garcia

Phillip O. Berry High School Class of 2018

Known to many as the ‘Selfie Queen,’ Sheila radiates joy and energy at all times. Her vivacious spirit and determination will help her to achieve her dreams of attending college and advancing to a successful career.

Nancy Morales

East Mecklenburg High School Class of 2016

Nancy's loving, compassionate and caring spirit helps her fellow ambassadors feel at ease. Through the Journeys program, her love of nature grew so substantially that it has since caused her to change her career trajectory toward Biology.

Breanna Diaz

West Charlotte High School Class of 2016

Breanna is a highly invested individual, dedicating much of her energy to her fellow ambassadors and her mentors. Breanna’s bubbly attitude encourages her peers, and her generosity of spirit emboldens others to dedicate themselves just as much as she. Breanna hopes to one day be a film director.

Sam Atwell

Phillip O. Berry High School Class of 2017

Sam uses his adept photography skills to share his view of nature and the world. Sam's leadership, composure, and encouragement inspires others to take chances.

Rafael (Nick) Santiago

Phillip O. Berry High School Class of 2016

Nick speaks candidly and passionately about his strenuous path to gaining citizenship. He is an inclusive caretaker, making sure every one of his fellow ambassadors is comfortable. Nick currently attends Wake Forest University on a full scholarship.

Samirah Abdullah

East Mecklenburg High School Class of 2018

Samirah utilizes her gift of drawing to express her feelings on her journey through life. She was given the nickname ‘Yellow Strider’ during the trip to Yellowstone. Samirah has an adventurous spirit and is not afraid to fail.

Asha Parks

Myers Park High School Class of 2017

Asha is a friendly and engaging person, motivated by new opportunities and activities that promote learning. Asha's natural leadership skills and unique spoken word poetry abilities help encourage her peers to create.

Ma'niya Alexander

Harding High School Class of 2016

Though she may be small in stature, Ma’Niya is a powerhouse of strength and determination. Her ability to move people using her gift of song inspires her peers to create with similar passion. Ma’Niya's innate hunger to succeed will serve her well as she pursues a college education.

Rockk Faulkner

Harding High School Class of 2016

Rockk's quiet demeanor can fool you. However, once you get to know him, you begin to see his jovial and considerate personality. Rockk’s ability to use humor in the face of new challenges will help him succeed in his bright future.

Omavi Minder

Phillip O. Berry High School Class of 2017

Omavi has a way with words, and whether he’s rapping or making profound statements on the human condition, his wisdom is refreshingly mature for someone of his age. He is mindful, goal-oriented and intentional about creating his path to higher education.


Janice Tucker

Student Advocacy Coordinator Studio 345

A gifted artist and painter, Tucker loves the art of nature and enjoys watching students discover that in their own way. She has an unyielding dedication to the safety and comfort of youth. Tucker believes that providing students with the opportunity to explore in nature is vital to our future.

Dean Zoch

Program Coordinator ASC Education

Dean has a strong love of nature and hiking which provides an outstanding example for the Journeys ambassadors. He provides a wealth of biological and ecological knowledge, and his impressive skills in lapidary, silk work, photography, and painting teach students about the intersection of the Arts and Sciences.

Nicole Driscoll

Teaching Artist Studio 345

A gifted photographer and reliable mentor, Nicole provides opportunities for Journeys students to capture their stories through unique photographs. She is an inspiring role model for the students and provides an honest, humorous, and engaging experience for all who work with her.

The Crew

Stephen Deaver

Editor Nature Matters (2016) & Spiral Bound (2014)

Stephen has been a professional editor for over a decade. He's crafted documentaries about a legendary artist, a changing education system, and students on the front-line of tragedy. He's even received two Emmy nominations for his work.

Chris Blunk

Producer Nature Matters (2016) & Spiral Bound (2014)

For ten years Chris has produced narrative, documentary, and commercial projects for your entertainment and enlightenment. He has produced content for cable, theatrical releases, and internet everywhere.

Nathan Towns

Sound Nature Matters (2016) & Spiral Bound (2014)

Nathan Towns is a sound mixer and film composer who has worked under some of the biggest names in the film music industry, including Hans Zimmer, Christopher Young, Henry Jackman, and Christopher Lennertz. He has composed scores of films for a variety of genres.

Jeremy Osbern

Director of Photography Nature Matters (2016) & Spiral Bound (2014)

Jeremy Osbern has shot projects that have played at film festivals like Sundance, Slamdance, and Berlin, and have been sold for distribution all over the world. He has worked with some of the top names in the film business, including George Clooney, Lady Gaga, Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis, and David Mamet.

Michael Buchanan

Writer Nature Matters (2016) & Spiral Bound (2014)

Michael Buchanan is a renowned screenwriter, author, and producer, known best for his book and film The Fat Boy Chronicles. Michael speaks nationally at schools, utilizing both of these works in anti-bullying curriculum. Michael has been teaching and coaching for over 30 years and has written other documentary works including Spiral Bound, Last Bullet and Boxes.

Barbara Ann Temple, Ph.D.

Director, Writer, & Executive Producer Nature Matters (2016) WRITER & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Spiral Bound (2014)

Barbara Ann has spent over three decades advocating for high-quality arts infusion and social justice in PreK-12 classrooms. Her passion for equity in education drives her passion for creating collaborative advocacy documentaries centered on children and youth. The Arts & Science Council (ASC) has produced two cultural education documentaries: Spiral Bound (2014) advocates for ensuring arts in education for all students every day, and Nature Matters (2016) advocates for the importance of ensuring children and youth engage with the natural world. Both film projects illustrate why making the arts, sciences, and history central to PreK-12 Education is key in preparing our students to be successful, contributing citizens in their respective communities.