Meet the Seattle Aquarium camp staff!

2014 Seattle Aquarium Marine Summer Camp Staff

April Troka

April Troka—Camp Coordinator

Born and raised along the beautiful beaches and high up in the mountain ranges in California, I always loved the great outdoors. I remember lots of beach walks, camping trips, hikes through the woods, road trips along the coastline on Highway 1 and exploring the backyard for animals and plants with family and friends throughout my younger years. I especially cannot remember a time when I wasn’t captivated by the look and sound of crashing ocean waves and watching the sun go down beyond them. However, it wasn’t until I was a whole 5 years old that I finally learned there were animals who lived beneath the surface of the water I always looked out over. They weren’t just on land? I had to know more! Thanks to Mrs. Gammick, my kindergarten teacher: she was the first one that taught me about many an ocean animal. After my mom realized my extreme curiosity for the ocean wasn’t just a phase she let me know that jobs related to the oceans and the animals existed too. I was in shock I could get paid to do something I loved. Many people always encouraged my growing passion for the oceans as a kid and I’m more than sure that’s what shaped my desire to inspire kids to follow all their dreams, ocean related or not. I hope you all have a wonderful summer at camp with us!

Genny Arredondo

Genny Arredondo—Lead Instructor

Hi, I'm Genny Arredondo! I'm passionate about working with youth and excited to be returning as a Camp Lead this summer. I have a degree in marine biology from Western Washington University and have organized and implemented marine science programs for many organizations, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Bellingham Marine Life Center, and the YMCA's Camp Orkila. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, kayaking, gardening and photography.

Jenn Whitsett

Jenn Whitsett—Lead Instructor

Hi there! My name is Jenn Whitsett and I am excited to be a camp lead instructor for the 2014 summer camp season! Originally from the Pacific Northwest, I studied marine biology at Oregon State University. After a few years conducting research in the field of intertidal ecology, I moved to Seattle and discovered my passion for science education. I have been a marine science educator at the Seattle Aquarium for eight years and every day is still as fulfilling as the next. I have a deep love for the marine environment and a passion for the Puget Sound ecosystem. As a scientist turned educator with an avid love for boats, I am thrilled with the themes of my camps this year and look forward to meeting the next generation of ocean stewards!

Kara Joe

Kara Joe—Lead Instructor

My name is Kara Joe and this is my first year teaching at the Seattle Aquarium. I received my undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Washington. After that, I spent five years teaching English and science abroad in China. I really enjoy teaching and marine sciences and I'm very excited to start Marine Summer Camp this year!

Jean Mernaugh

Jean Mernaugh—Camp Counselor

Hi there, I'm Jean Mernaugh! I was raised in Tacoma and headed north to Seattle where I got my BS in zoology from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!). After stints driving tour buses in Alaska and giving guided walks for the Forest Service in the rain forest of Quinault, WA, I was a research technologist in a lipid research lab at the UW for 20 years. In the meantime, I started volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium in 1990. I have never grown tired of feeding seals, sea otters and diving birds. For the past four years, I have been working in the Aquarium's education department teaching classes to our youngest learners. It's a great job as well as being very rewarding!

Melody Upton

Melody Upton—Lead Instructor

Hello there! My name is Melody Upton. This is my first time being a part of the camp team and I am very excited to be a camp lead instructor this season. I have just graduated from Western Washington University with my biology degree and love working with children. I have also been very fortunate to work for the School & Family Programs of the Seattle Aquarium this spring. I originally fell in love with marine life when I first moved to Puget Sound seven years ago from Belgium. I am looking forward to sharing my passion and enthusiasm for our wonderful marine environments with all the campers!

Vanessa Woo

Vanessa Woo—Camp Counselor

Hello! I'm Vanessa Woo and I’m thrilled to be a 2014 camp counselor. I am entering my fourth year at Western Washington University, where I’m studying environmental studies and receiving my teaching certificate in elementary education. I am passionate about developing my knowledge about the marine environment and spreading awareness to others. One day I will have a classroom of my own where I plan to make nature a part of my daily lesson plans. I discovered my love for the marine environment by snorkeling in Hawaii and constantly going to the beach with my family in Edmonds. When I’m not at the Aquarium, you can find me playing tennis, petting my dog and tending to my hamster.

BrieAnn Mulvaney

BrieAnn Mulvaney—Camp Assistant

Hello! I am BrieAnn Mulvaney, the summer camp assistant. Currently, I am studying elementary education at Hawaii Pacific University and plan to eventually have a career working with children. I have always had a strong passion for the ocean and marine animals. I started at the Seattle Aquarium as a high school teen volunteer and loved it. This is my fourth year working with the Aquarium Marine Summer Camps. I am very excited to be back and for everything that is planned for this summer!

Megan Sherman

Megan Sherman—Lead Instructor

Hi there! My name is Megan Sherman and I am thrilled to be returning to the Seattle Aquarium’s Marine Summer Camps as a lead counselor. My love for the ocean and all of its creatures stemmed from many summers spending time at the shore while growing up in New Jersey. Prior to the Aquarium, I was fortunate to be a field instructor at IslandWood: A School in the Woods. At IslandWood, I had the opportunity to lead, teach and work extensively with 4th, 5th and 6th graders on interactive, experiential learning experiences outdoors. I have also been fortunate to develop and lead programming at the Kids Discovery Science Museum (KiDiMu), and be an assistant Pre-K teacher at Epiphany School. As a recent recipient of a master’s degree in teaching and curriculum with a focus in science education, I am beyond excited to share my passion for marine life and science with my students this summer!

Ellie Canade

Ellie Canade—Camp Counselor

My name is Ellie Canade and I am excited to be a camp counselor for my second summer at the Seattle Aquarium. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and moved to Seattle for school. While studying in UW’s program on the environment, I found a love for marine science. I started volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium in the fall of 2012, and since I graduated UW in 2013 I have been working as a marine educator both at the Aquarium and elsewhere. I have a particular interest in invertebrates and algae and I love to explore tide pools. I love summer camp and have been a camp counselor for four years in a wilderness tripping camp in Wisconsin. I’m looking forward to meeting all of our campers this season!

Kassandra Leicester

Kassandra Leicester—Camp Counselor

Hello! My name is Kassandra Leicester. I have always loved marine animals—I used to go to the beach as a little kid and look for crabs. I started at the Aquarium as a high school volunteer in 2010. I also volunteered with Puget Sound: We Love You, a youth campaign geared toward promoting love for the Puget Sound. I am currently working on my associate degree in elementary education at Shoreline Community College and I intend to transfer to the University of Washington. I have worked with the Marine Summer Camps for a total of four years: two years as a youth volunteer and then two years as a counselor. I am excited to be back for another amazing summer!

Jasmine Prat

Jasmine Prat—Camp Counselor

Hello, my name is Jasmine Prat, and I am thrilled to be starting my first year camp counseling for the Aquarium’s Marine Summer Camps! When not educating children about marine life in super fun ways, I am an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara being educated about marine life in super fun ways. I am currently interested in pursuing a career researching biological responses to global climate change in the marine environment. However, I have always had a passion for outreach and education, and so future career possibilities are widespread! I began working at the Seattle Aquarium as a volunteer in 2010, and did work in both the youth interpretation program and in the development of the Puget Sound (P.S.) We Love You Campaign. I was very young when I first began loving the marine environment, and as a camp counselor, I hope to foster a similar love, appreciation and understanding of our marine world in the campers!

Sean Walters

Sean Walters—Lead Instructor

Hey, I'm Sean Walters! I was born and raised here in the Pacific Northwest and have always loved being by the waters of the Puget Sound. I studied biology and fisheries at the University of Washington, instilling in me a better understanding of the natural world. After graduating, I decided to join the Peace Corps and ended up in the beautiful islands of Fiji where I did a bit of environmental education and coral reef restoration. Not long after my return to Seattle I joined EarthCorps and worked on an international crew doing environmental restoration projects all over Western Washington. Last summer I taught camps at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center, honing my education skills. Since then I have served as a marine educator with Salish Sea Expeditions, teaching marine science out at sea on a sailboat as well as in classrooms. Now I am ready for an awesome summer with the Aquarium camps and am excited to inspire all those campers!