Shigo taught wonder (1)
Alex Shigo, our mentor and father of New Tree School and The Naturalist School. NTS/TNS was born at Shigo’s cottage on Mendum’s Pond in New Hampshire in 2004. Alex passed away in 2006. We miss him.
Sarah Berkeley is an Assistant Professor of Art at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Mindfulness and ethical action are at the core of her art, teaching and life practices, which take place outdoors as much as possible. She is an active naturalist as well, and teaches workshops on making wild art.

jason 2

Jason Andersen holds a master of science degree from UNO and is devoted to conservation of native prairie species and communities.

michelle biodrosky

Michelle Biodrowski holds a master of science degree from UNO and is passionate about environmental education and preserving native ecosystems.

Katie Thompson

Katie Thompson is a graduate student at ISU in lichenology and loves to share her passion for fungi and lives to be outdoors.

chad on badger ridge

Chad Graeve is Natural Resources Specialist for Pottawattamie County and has given his life to the care and restoration of wild places.


Lindsay Brown is a graduate student in Biology and Ecology at UNO and is deeply committed to avian conservation. Her research focus is on landscape features that predict the occurrence of upland shorebird in agricultural areas during migration.


Joseph Phillips is a Ph.D. candidate at University of Wisconsin and Lake Myvatn Research Station in Iceland, where he studies aquatic food webs and population dynamics.

Michele Desmarais_headshot

Michele Marie Desmarais, Ph.D., is a Canadian scholar and poet of Métis, Dakota and European descent.  She is the Director of Medical Humanities and co-founder and Director of SPHRS (Spirituality, Public Health, Religious Studies) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Desmarais is the author of Changing Minds: Mind, Consciousness and Identity in Patanjali’s Yoga-sutra and Cognitive Neuroscience.


Dr. Ted Burk is Professor of Entomology, Animal Behavior, and Behavioral Ecology at Creighton University. He leads frequent field sessions at HNC and throughout the region.


Robert Smith is a naturalist, nature photographer, tree planter, native seed collector, saunterer, and long-time member of New Tree School and The Naturalist School.

Matt Low

Matt Low teaches English at Creighton University. His research and writing interests include prairie restoration, sustainable agriculture, narrative theory, and the intersection of religion and the environment.

Mark and that tree.

Mark Hirsch is a nature photographer, photojournalist, and author of That Tree. Mark travels throughout the country giving workshops and displaying his photography. He lives in Platteville, Wisconsin.


Craig Maier is a tallgrass prairie ecologist and coordinator of the Tallgrass Prairie Oak Savanna Fire Science Consortium based in Madison, Wisconsin. Craig has worked for a variety of conservation organizations including The Nature Conservancy and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Neal Ratzlaff

Neal Ratzlaff is a naturalist and field guide author. Neal is a retired radiologist with a lifelong interest in natural history.

Nick Salick

Nick Salick is an avian biologist who has worked as a field scientist across the continent. He currently works as a biologist for Pheasants Forever.

Kevin Smith at New Tree School

Kevin T. Smith is Supervisory Plant Pathologist at the U.S. Forest Service Northeast Research Station. Kevin witnessed the birth of New Tree School in New Hampshire and taught our first workshops. He is our mentor and long-time friend of Hitchcock Nature Center.

David Sutherland

David Sutherland is Professor Emeritas of biology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is co-author of The Flora of Nebraska and specializes in plant systematics. He has educated generations of biologists and naturalists.


Genevieve N. Williams is an MFA candidate at University of Nebraska, where she received an Academy of American Poets Prize. She facilitates Omaha Writers Group, a weekly writing workshop open to the public, is a teaching artist for Nebraska Writers Collective, and works as a writing consultant for Metropolitan Community College. Genevieve believes an active engagement with the natural world both in our writing and also our lives is vital as we face threats as global as climate change and as local as the defunding of state parks.

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Jack Phillips is a naturalist, nature writer, consultant, and principal of New Tree School.