July 27, 2012

Touch of Nature director finalists to visit campus

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Four finalists for the position of director of Touch of Nature Environmental Center will visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale beginning Aug. 1 for interviews and presentations to the campus community.

The candidates are Michael A. Carter, Matthew Miller, David C. Shiley and Sally J. Wright.  Each candidate will discuss “Opportunities and Challenges for Touch of Nature Environmental Center” during open presentations.  There will be a question and answer time at the conclusion of each presentation for faculty, staff and students.

Wright’s presentation and open forum are set for 11:15 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Aug. 1, at the University Museum Auditorium.

Wright is associate director of recreational sports programs for SIU Carbondale’s Recreational Sports and Services.  Her responsibilities include administration and management of all recreational sports programs, youth summer day camps and special events, and budget management.  She also handles hiring and supervising staff as well as conducting staff evaluations and curriculum development.  Wright joined the University in June 2004 as assistant director of recreational sports, and served as the interim director in 2007. 

Wright previously served as superintendent of recreation for the Carbondale Park District, preparing and managing a $500,000 annual budget, hiring and supervising staff and developing and instituting programs while managing the facilities and handling marketing and public relations functions.

Her previous employment includes time as productive activities coordinator and case manager for the Center for Comprehensive Services in Carbondale and as coordinator of rehabilitation services and recreation coordinator at Rehabilitation and Vocational Education Inc. in Anna.  Also, she worked as a lecturer and a graduate assistant in the University’s recreation department and in a number of other positions with the Carbondale Park District, including as supervisor for the Learning Enrichment Activities Program, area coordinator for Area 15 Southern Illinois Special Olympics and recreation supervisor. 

She earned her master’s degree in recreation administration at SIU Carbondale in 1988 and also holds a 1985 bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. 

Shiley’s open forum and presentation will be 11:15 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Aug. 2, at the University Museum Auditorium. 

Shiley has served as an extension educator for the University of Illinois Extension since 1992.  He was natural resources management educator at the Champaign Extension Center from 1992 to June 2011, at which time he became a local food systems and small farms educator at Arthur.  His responsibilities include presenting educational programming, assisting with website development and maintenance, webinar and other agricultural training activities, conducting fishing clinics and making other special presentations, teaching, developing curriculum and demonstrations, and preparing media releases.

Shiley was previously camp manager/program director for the F-H Memorial Camp at the University of Illinois Extension in Monticello.  His experience also includes work as a teaching assistant in SIU Carbondale’s forestry department and as a lab and field assistant for an Illinois Natural History Survey.  He provided park aid/interpretation for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Rend Lake as well.

Shiley is a double alumnus of SIU Carbondale, earning his master’s degree in 1981 and his bachelor’s degree in 1979, both in forestry-outdoor recreation resource management.  He also has completed additional coursework in natural resources environmental management at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.

The presentation and forum for Carter will be 1:15-2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the University Museum Auditorium.

Carter has more than 20 years experience in conservation education administration in a variety of arenas.  He served as tribal deputy manager for the 25,000-acre national wildlife refuge complex National Bison Range U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services/Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes from 2008 to 2010.  In that position he directed visitor services with an annual attendance of about 150,000 people, supervised biological programs and maintenance and handled other administrative and supervisory duties including budget development and capital purchases.

Prior to that, Carter served two years as CEO for the Tucson Zoological Society, the 10,000-member fundraising branch of Reid Park Zoo, where he developed and implemented a $12.5 million capital campaign involving government and private funding to construct a conservation learning center and Africa habitat. 

His previous experience also includes time as executive director of ZooMontana and Botanical Gardens in Billings, Mont., vice president of southwest operations, national director of field operations and northeast regional field director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Missoula, Mont.  He was also regional fish and wildlife manager for the Illinois Department of Conservation in Benton for almost 10 years and is a former high school biology teacher and coach and community college instructor. 

Carter earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. 

The final presentation and forum, for Miller, are set for 11:15 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the University Museum Auditorium.

Miller is director of the Living River Environmental Center, a 440-acre residential environmental education and conference facility in Brierfield, Ala.  Hired in 2009 to oversee development of the center, he has been involved in developing the business plan, budget and curriculum, as well as conducting a botanical site inventory and establishing the center as a host institution for Alabama’s Project WET and a destination on the Alabama Birding Trail.

He previously served for eight years as conservation program manager for The Nature Conservancy in Tupelo, Miss., establishing a new field office and conservation program for an 18-county region.  His employment experience also includes time as executive director at both the Indiana Dunes Environmental Learning Center in Chesterton, Ind., and the Crows Neck Environmental Education Center in Tishomingo, Miss.   Miller worked as assistant director of the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Townsend, Tenn., and as an environmental educator for Pine Mountain Settlement School in Bledsoe, Ky.  He has extensive experience as a consultant as well.

Miller earned his master’s degree in environmental studies in 1992 at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and his bachelor’s degree in recreation administration/natural resource management in 1981 at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.  He also holds an associate degree in recreation from Danville Area Community College in Danville, Ill.

Each candidate’s curriculum vitae is available online at http://pvcaa.siu.edu/searches.html