PVCA - New Environmental Education Coordinator

Hi my name is Jim Flanagan and I am the newly hired Environmental Education Coordinator. I would like to share with you a little bit about myself.

Three weeks after I was born, I was already boating with my family on the Allegheny River in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, wearing a handmade life vest and smiling.  I guess you can say I was raised on the water and in nature and have been hooked ever since.  

Growing up in Pittsburgh I remember playing in the woods behind our house, fishing with my Dad, and spending nearly every weekend on the Allegheny River exploring the water and its environs.   I remember looking for tiny toads, playing in the surf of boats and barges as they traveled the river and sitting around the campfires on the beach.
These images have stayed with me as I grew up and moved from place to place.  I was fortunate enough to spend my teen years on the west side of Cleveland near Lake Erie, attended college in southern Ohio at Miami University to study business marketing (BS 1990), and stumbled into Environmental Education after graduation.
My first job after graduation was at an overnight camp that ran programs for school children K-7 in the spring and fall and I loved it.  Realizing I could not spend my post graduate life working only two seasons, I decided on obtaining a graduate degree in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Montana (MA 1997).  During these studies I was drawn to people’s interactions with their environment and have worked in education exploring these interconnections ever since.
Oddly enough, my interest in anthropology led me to New York City to further pursue my education in Anthropology, but soon found myself working at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx managing the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden and training high school students and other volunteers to teach hands-on plant science to visitors of all ages.  Even though I eventually left this position to become a stay-at- home dad, the opportunity to work with the staff and visitors taught me valuable lessons about how people interact and experience the environment around them.  This opportunity will play a key role in helping me determine what PVCA needs to do in order to get Penns Valley students and the community at large to continue to explore their wonderful and diverse surroundings.
For the past 10 years I have continued to work in education and with the environment at the  South Mountain YMCA, Montclair State University (adjunct professor) and locally at Shaver’s Creek, Stone Valley, Millbrook Marsh and even a couple of volunteer days at Muddy Paws.  I am eager to continue exploring my passion for inspiring people to engage meaningfully with their environment as the Environmental Education Coordinator and steward for the PVCA.  I look forward to working with the Penns Valley students and community and I am excited to share the beautiful Upper Penns Creek Watershed with my family living in Boalsburg, which along with my loving and supportive wife Stephanie includes two nature-loving children (11 and 8), a lazy cat and a dog who loves to hike.     

Thanks for reading

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