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Our Conservation Education Team

**Join our Team**
We are currently seeking applications for a Conservation Education Specialist to join our team at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, Pennsylvania.  Click here for additional information

Ben Porkolab – Ben grew up spending most of his time hunting, fishing, and exploring the outdoors. He earned a scholarship to attend the Safari Club International’s Wildlife Leadership School in Jackson Hole Wyoming while in high school. During this time he attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania and obtained his Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education. Ben student taught at McKeever Environmental Learning Center and absolutely loved his experience there. Upon college graduation, Ben taught elementary school for two years in the bush country of Alaska and then taught one year in Nevada. He then chose to return to his family and his roots in the hills of Pennsylvania, and took a teaching position in nearby Cameron County where he taught for the past 19 years. While there Ben was very involved in many conservation education programs. Some of those were Trout in the Classroom, a pheasant egg hatching program, a con-ed program with the Cameron County Conservation District, working with 4H, programs with the local gardening club, working closely with the Cameron County Outdoor Youth Association and National Archery in the Schools Program. He is also trained in Project Wild, Project Wet, Project Learning Tree, Go Teach Snowshoeing and Wild About Elk. Ben has also taught Hunter-Trapper Education with the PA Game Commission for the past ten years. Now living in St. Marys, Ben continues to find himself in the woods, and on the rivers and streams.

Victoria Challingsworth – Victoria graduated Thiel College with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. While at university she was awarded a Scholarship through the Vira I. Heinz Foundation for Women in Global Leadership. She used that scholarship to study Agricultural Engineering at the University of Buenos Aires. Also, while at university Victoria interned with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in their Environmental Law Department. After graduating Victoria interned as a Backcountry Steward Intern for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. She has extensive training in public education and outreach and also worked with DEC foresters to layout, construct and rehabilitate trails in the Adirondack State Park. Knowledge of ARC GIS mapping is also a valuable tool that Victoria puts to use in her work at the Center. Victoria has been part of our education team for more than a year now. Since joining the KECA family she has helped to educate thousands of students and guests. She has also furthered her own education by attending workshops and is now a certified educator for Project Wild, Project Wet, Wonders of Wetlands, Wild about Elk, Wild about Bears, and GO Teach.

Mandy Marconi -Mandy graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in Earth Sciences, Minor in Natural Resources, and an Associate in Science in Wildlife Technology. Mandy is the Northcentral Environmental Education ecialist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission with the responsibility of providing educational outreach throughout the Northcentral Region, including at the Elk Country Visitor Center. She has co-developed the Woodring Farm Interpretive Hiking Trail, the Game Commission Elk Information Radio Station, as well as the production of educational videos and materials. Mandy is a facilitator for Project WILD, Project Learning Tree, and Project WET. She has completed training as a NAI Certified Interpretive Guide, Hunter Education Instructor, National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Instructor, Growing up WILD, Project WILD, Pennsylvania Songbirds, Pennsylvania Biodiversity, Pennsylvania Land Choices, and Watershed Education. She also graduated from the American Wilderness Leadership School.

KECA Conservation Education Volunteers

KECA has so many volunteers who make a difference in our organization. The conservation Education Department has several volunteers who help make field trips and education programs a success.