Instructor Biographies

Linda Adams
BA, MS Western Illinois University. Over 30 years teaching experience in language arts/science/ math/gifted education. Presently teaching junior high science & math at St. Mary’s in Metamora. Recognized for teaching excellence in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Recognized for teaching excellence in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachera. Linda was a 2006 recipient of 25 Women in Leadership Award for the Peoria area.

Sharon Bladholm of Opal Glass Studios
Sharon Bladholm has pursued her artistic vision through the steady acquisition and command of a variety of disciplines, including cast glass, bronze, and ceramic in the sculptural realm, as well as stained glass, printmaking and works on paper. The recurring theme in Bladholm’s work is the interface of people with the natural world, integrating the sciences of anthropology with biology and botany from the plant world. She has participated on expeditions with the Field Museum and Conservation International to the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon, documenting the life ways of the Yanomami people through her art, and exploring conservation of endangered plant and animal species in isolated communities.

She has run Opal Glass Studios since 1983 and continues to complete many important commissions and show her work in galleries and museums, as well as creating public art such as installations at the Garfield Park Conservatory and Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux, France, as well as

Suite Home Chicago, Amazon Rising for Shedd Aquarium,and a Cool Globe sponsored by the Chicago Botanical Garden. Last year she completed sculptural works in glass and bronze for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

This year she is working on another public art piece for Openlands new Lakeshore Preserve based on soil creatures!

She will return this November to the Peruvian Amazon to create new works of art for the Andes to Amazon Biodiversity Program.

Phone: 773-638-3500

Tom Brown III
Tom has been a practitioner and teacher of primitive technology, tracking and nature observation since he has been able to walk. Trained from birth by his father, Tom Brown Jr., founder of the world-renowned Tracker School.

For several years he spent time wandering the United States in search of adventurous challenges and in practice of his skills throughout the national forests as well as cities and suburbia. Upon returning to the Tracker School in 2003 he educated thousands of students from all over the world until his leaving the school in late 2009. Tommy has now combined his naturalist and life experiences by starting his own school in the Cincinnati area while also traveling abroad, In the hopes of educating people in the ways of our ancestors and passing down the skills that were at the forefront of their lives.

Douglas DePauw
BS, ISU, Art Ed & Studio Art. Doug is a second generation, professional fine arts printmaker. Studied & apprenticed with his father, Master Printer Robert DePauw. Doug has his own studio near Metamora, IL.

Greg DePauw
BS ISU Art Ed & Studio Art. Greg operates his own art studio, and is executive director of the Art Rod Foundation, in which he teaches art and promotes a “Can Do” attitude. His artwork is exhibited locally and nationally. In 2002 Greg was the first ever recipient of the prestigious “Chronicles of Courage Artistic Award”. Greg has been an artist in residence in Central Illinois Schools and art agencies for 29 years. Learn more about Greg at and www.

Mark DuBois
Mark earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree from the University of Kansas. He is an associate professor at Illinois Central College and a research affiliate with the Illinois Natural History Survey. He has published nearly 60 papers and chapters in books dealing with the biology and classification of ants and has taught several classes on insects at Art + Science in the Woods. Mark always shares his enthusiasm with students about “the little things which run the world.”

Chad Dunn
Chad is a multipercussionist, drum set player and instrument maker. He has performed with an array of artists and is in considerable demand as a recording musician. He founded and was director of the University of Illinois Brazilian Percussion Ensemble and continues to lecture on Brazilian traditional and influenced drumming styles. Chad is currently exploring improvisational music with The Nu Orbit Ensemble, performing Brazilian Samba and Bossa Nova music with Desifanado, and collaborating with China’s premier erhu player, Yang Ying.

Ella Brown Dunn
Born and raised in Illinois. Graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelors in Fine Arts/ Ceramics. Experience includes workshops and artist in residency programs for preschool through high school students. She resides in Champaign, IL where she creates and displays at “Boneyard Pottery” – a studio that has been in existence for 25 years.

Brian “Fox” Ellis
Brian is an internationally renowned storyteller, actor and author. He has published seven books and is the artistic director for Prairie Folklore Theater. Since 1980, he has been traveling the world collecting and telling tales with an emphasis on earth wisdom and Native American folklore. Learn more about fox @ www.

Ivan Erchak
Ivan is the co-director of Ndakinna Wilderness Adventures in Saratogo Springs, NY, where he also serves as a senior instructor dedicated to providing professional instruction in ecology, animal tracking, and wilderness survival. He is a geologist from the University of New Mexico and has spent his life traveling and learning from indigenous people around the world. Recent adventures have taken him to Namibia, where he tracked with the Ju’hoansi (Bushmen) through the Kalahari. Featured this year on Court TV’s “The Chase”. Ivan spends his hours in the woods and writing an outdoors column for a local newspaper.

Brett Root Ericksen
Brett has studied for 12 years at the Tom Brown Jr. Tracker/Wilderness School, and has taken Mentoring courses at the Jon Young Wilderness Awareness School. He is a graduate of the SOLO Wilderness Emergency Medicine School in Conway, NH. He is a Certified Wilderness EMT, and has completed 425 hours at the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies, Boulder, CO. Brett is the site manager for Blue Heron Farm and conservation projects & director of ASAP.

Merrill Foster
Ph.D. Harvard University. A professor who discusses his subject as enthusiastically with an 8 year old as with his college students. Dr. Foster’s classes are always popular and fill up fast. He is a professor of Geology at Bradley University.

Shelley Fritz
Shelley holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in education from Illinois State University. She taught junior high science for 10 years as a special education teacher, and she directed her district’s gifted and talented program. She has taught preschool science classes through a local art center as well as education courses at ICC and Bradley University. Shelley now volunteers regularly to teach art and science lessons in early elementary classrooms.

Liz Greene
Phillips Exeter Academy, BA, International Relations, Skidmore College & Trinity College, Dublin IRE. Liz works intensively with individuals and groups to develop their goals and transform their lives. She is devoted to the training and study of Aikido. This Japanese martial art has deeply affected her own work. Liz attempts to create every piece of work, and every moment, as if it were her last. Liz uses her artwork as a catalyst for enlarging mental & spiritual experience. For the past 15 years, her work has been shown throughout the United States.

Ann Hagemann
Ann is a professional actress with many state and film credits. She recently finished the independent feature film Sand Prairie, a western, released in the spring of 2007. She also starred in Stalling and Hit the Ground Running. She has worked with Josh Hartnett in Wicker Park and Tom Hanks in The Road to Perdition. Some of her favorite stage roles include: the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Peter in Peter Pan, Guinevere in Camelot, and Mrs. Anna in The King and I. With a degree in musical theater, Ann enjoys passing her knowledge on to students in her studio teaching piano, voice, and acting.

Dellvenna Hambling
BS, MS Indiana University -Dellvenna has completed 16 classes with Tom Brown’s Tracking, Nature and Wilderness Survival School, and has also completed the Tracker School Caretaker Program. In addition she is trained as a Wilderness First Responder by SOLO. She is a licensed science teacher and also the co-founder of Common Heritage Skills, a small company that teaches wilderness survival and outdoor skills.

Steve Hambling
BA Northland College, MS Indiana University – Steve has worked most recently as a Co-Director of the Concentric Rings Program for The Children of the Earth Foundation. He has also worked as a camp counselor and Head of the Nature Program at YMCA Camp Eberhart. He has completed 16 classes with Tom Brown’s Tracking, Nature and Wilderness Survival School, and has also completed the Tracker School’s Instructor Training Program, as well as the Tracker School Caretaker Program. He is also a certified Wilderness First Responder trained by SOLO.

Perrin Henrick
Growing up in New england. artist Perrin Hendrick cultivated a love for both the wild places of the rural northeast landscape and painting and drawing those places. A deep connection to the natural world has strongly shaped his approach to painting, both in terms of landscape and the human figure. Influences which include aboriginal painting, expressionist painting, and urban graffiti, have inspired works which take on a dreamlike quality and speak of both the fleeting moment and the eternal, the sacred and the profane. His works are shown throughout the Northeast.

Douglas Holmes
AA, Illinois Central College. Professional herpetologist with the Peoria Glen Oak Zoo. Doug works to promote understanding and appreciation for all species of amphibians and reptiles – those endangered as well as the common ones that hole up in our gardens and backyards.

David Kennell
BS Illinois State University, Information Technology; Web Emphasis; IT Analyst, Caterpillar, Inc.

Vern Killion
21 years (Retired) as director of Engineering Nebraska Rural Radio Association KNEB/KWPN. Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer for 47 years. Previous positions include: Broadcast and sales Manager Andrew Corporation, Upland, CA. Involved in planning, construction, and deployment of TV& RF radio station transmitting facilities for ABC, CBS, group owners and international facilities in Iran, Yugoslavia, Poland, South Africa, South America, Australia, and Taiwan. Currently FCC appointed State Emergency Communications Chairman (EAS), Board Member Heartland Amateur Radio Association. Hold FCC Commerical license PG-9-8192. Extra Class Amateur Radio Operators license W5UYF.

Oba William King
“The Poetic Storyteller”. A favored presenter at educational, community and church events throughout the midwest. Graduated from Western Stage Conservatory for Theater Arts in Salinas, CA. A passionate performer, Oba has created community arts programs, after school workshops and participated in school and community based artist residency programs in Chicago for the past 10 years. Oba encourages students to make positive contributions to society by building self-image, self-esteem and communication skills. Learn more about Oba at

Mike Kirshnar
Mike is a professional skateboard artist who has done board graphics for “Element”, “Toy Machine”, and “Baker”. Mike does art for “Obey” and has worked with “Shepard Fairie”, world famous street artist.

Kathy Knapp
Kathy received her BSN from Illinois Wesleyan University. She is a trainer for the Girls Scouts Kickapoo Council. She is a member of Origami USA and the British Origami Society. She has taught origami to children and adults for 15 years. Kathy is a long time volunteer and supporter of the Sun Foundation.

Deborah Lee-Quinn
Graduated from ISU and has taught elementary and pre-kindergarten for over 20 years. Currently teaching pre-kindergarten in Metamora.

Tom McElroy
Tom McElroy will be teaching the ASAP course in wilderness survival. In his adult life Tom has studied indigenous/huntergatherer cultures & taught these skills to a myriad of students throughout the country. During his early 20’s he was an instructor at the world-renowned Tracker School, from there he went on to obtain a double major from Rutgers University in Anthropology and Geography. Currently, he is pursuing a Masters degree in Policy and Human Rights of Indigenous cultures while also traveling to remote areas, learning from isolated tribal groups. Tom is an avid surfer, climber, potter, photographer, wilderness survivalist and tracker.

Jim Morrissette
BA, University of Illinois. Jim has extensive experience as both a professional videographer & technical consultant. He has been the director of photography on numerous productions including: two episodes of “Discovering Women” for WBGH Boston, and “Shadow Over Tibet”. a documentary featuring the Dalai Lama. He was the principal videographer on the highly acclaimed Frontline documentary “The Farmer’s Wife”. Jim serves as a teacher and technical consultant for numerous community based organizations, museums, and universities. Specifically, he documents many of the new exhibits for the Museum of Science & Industry and Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. As an associate of Kartemquin Films for the last 23 years, Jim has worked on many productions including “The New Americans” and the Oscar nominated film “Hoop Dreams.”

Kelsey Noack Meyers
Kelsey holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Southern Illinois University and has completed a master’s degree in historical archaeology at the College of William & Mary.  She is currently a Doctoral student at the University of Indiana. Some of her favorite archaeological projects that she has worked on include Cahokia, Illinois, and Jamestown, Virginia. She specialized in contact period colonial archaeology in eastern North America. She has been both a student and a teaching assistant for Art + Science in the Woods.

Courtney Samway
Courtney has pursued a passion for primitive skills for 7 years and trained under several outdoor survival schools across the nation; including a yearlong understudy at the Tom Brown Tracker School and an apprenticeship with Ed Wentzler. She has taught survival workshops for kids and adults alike, and has worked as an instructor for The Children of the Earth Foundation. Now living in the mountains of Idaho.

Dennis Sparr
BS, Eastern Illinois University. Dennis is a teacher and outdoor enthusiast who has been working for conservation practice in Putnam County since 1977. He is on the Putnam County Conservation Board of Trustees and is a member of the Hennepin Wetlands Initiative Committee. He is also Launch Supervisor for the Marshall-Putnam 4H fair.

Dr. Michael Wiant
Director of Dickson Mounds Museum, Anthropologist and Archeologist. His skills and research center on Native American material culture, archaeology, and a bit of Holocene landscape history, especially as it relates to the location of ancient Native American sites and changes in environment during the Holocene and how it may have affected people living off the land. His research includes the history of the Illinois River valley…specifically events that shaped the valley such as the valley being created initially by the Mississippi River and later colossal ice age floods.

Edward Willi
BS, Southern Illinois University. An industrial technologist interested in primitive technologies. A student of the famous tracker Tom Brown, Ed has participated in seminars that not only teach wilderness skills, but also the philosophy of the interconnectedness of all life. He is taking classes to become a certified Hatha Yoga instructor by the end of January 2006. Ed is an enthusiastic teacher and a long time favorite at Art and Science in the Woods.