About Us

Dedicated and passionate describes the Ironwood Tree Experience, Board of Directors to a tee. To ensure proper oversight and support of the ITE mission, the Board of Directors are required to meet quarterly in July, November, and March. In addition to quarterly meetings, Board of Directors Chair Board Committees and meet regularly as is necessary.

BOD quarterly meeting dates and times are posted via the ITE website prior to each quarter meeting.

BOD committees include: 1. Human Resources and Finances; 2. Youth Programming; 3. Development and Marketing; and 4. Governance. Non board members are selected to join BOD committees.

ITE Board of Directors

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Steve Buckley

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STEVE BUCKLEY brings a deep critical awareness of the literature of place-based educational experience along with a broad ecological science background to his work with Ironwood Tree Experience. Steve was farm manager for a small start-up organic farm near Patagonia, AZ, where previously he had worked with Native Seeds/SEARCH on a 60-acre farm. He works professionally as a botanist and has worked on wild land and agricultural restoration projects throughout the southwestern United States. Steve’s passion for all things planted and flowering is evident in his work organizing local food systems through Slow Food USA and his work with agro-ecological restoration techniques. He has taught place-based classes at Northern Arizona University and holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing along with a Master of Liberal Studies focusing on Ecology. Steve is always looking to add to his awareness of how to live in place and live ecologically.

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Deb Hilbert

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DEB HILBERT is a registered dietitian who is dedicated to bringing nutrition awareness into the lives of people everywhere. Deb’s commitment to sharing her knowledge of healthful living has taken her to Guyana, South America, where she and her family offered aide to local people. She most recently helped to plan the National Health for Humanity conference in Tucson, in February of 2006. Deb has worked in a variety of settings including a hospital, a college, community health, long-term care, worksite health, and currently, Miraval Life in Balance Resort. She is a member of many organizations centered on healthful living, including Health for Humanity, American Dietetic Association, Southern Arizona Dietetic Association, Hunger & Environmental Practice Group, Advisory Board for Commit to Fit Program of Northwest Medical Center, and ITE board member since spring of ’06. Deb shared in the excitement of Ironwood Tree Experience by remembering her early connection to nature, chasing lightning bugs in New Jersey and at age 12, watching the Perseid meteor showers in the Adirondack Mountains. Currently, Deb is hoping to link her love of nature to her love of nutrition in becoming an expert on sustainable cuisine.

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Ruth Marblestone

Ruth in Dragoon AZ

RUTH MARBLESTONE struggled in the traditional academic system until she participated in the SouthWest Field Studies Program her sophomore year at Earlham College. This semester-long survival wilderness program/mobile classroom began Ruth’s love of the desert southwest and introduced her to ‘experiential’ learning. The immersion style of education enabled Ruth to feel success academically. She was living what she was learning and loving it! Ruth began to feel a sense of responsibility that extended not only to herself, but to the natural environment and to the health of her peers. Her self-confidence began to emerge and she developed skills that have stayed with her. Understanding and appreciation of her learning style motivated her to finish college and earning a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography and combined Media at California College of The Arts in San Francisco. Ruth works to make experiential learning opportunities available to youth as an art educator. Ruth has collaborated with Tucson artists, the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department and participated in an Art Intervention Project that provided alternatives to vandalism and graffiti. She also coordinated First Exposures: Youth Opportunities Through Photography at SF Camerawork gallery in San Francisco. Currently Ruth coordinates the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation’s Art In Reality Program; a free arts program for Tucson’s youth ages 13-21. Ruth is thrilled to participate as an ITE executive committee member and is committed to work to ensure that Tucson’s young people have opportunities to gain experiential knowledge of the southwestern deserts. Ruth lives in Tucson with her husband Rafael, their son Ving and cat Esperanza (ESB!)

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Axhel Muñoz

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AXHEL MUÑOZ is a naturalist and dynamic environmental educator from the Sonoran Desert region. He has participated in a variety of projects as a research assistant ranging from pollination biology of an endangered species to intertidal plant-animal interactions. This provides him with a broad ecological perspective. In Puerto Rico he was involved in conservation research that led to the creation of the Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge. In California he co-founded the Rainforest Action Group at California State University, Fullerton. As vice-president and then president of the group he helped conservation projects in Costa Rica and Brazil and brought speakers such as Norman Myers and Daniel Janzen to the university. In Arizona he has worked for Oracle State Park, The Nature Conservancy, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as an environmental educator for kids of all ages. He has created many science-based environmental curriculum based on the Sonoran Desert Region as a model. He has taught students from kindergarten to university, as well as designed and taught teacher workshops. He enjoys camping, snorkeling, tide pooling, birding, dancing Salsa, playing guitar or bongos, and getting together with friends.

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Josh Schachter

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JOSH SCHACHTER is a photographer, visual/digital storyteller and teaching artist, who believes “images are a powerful means of sharing stories that foster personal and community transformation.” Josh Schachter first discovered this as a Master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he taught photography to 9-12 year-old, at-risk girls.” Their honest imagery and stories forever transformed my understanding of how urban youth experience nature” Josh Schachter has conducted artist residencies which have varied from teaching photography in Spanish to Mexican-American women creating an oral history book about success to helping young Indian performance artists visually explore their lives in New Delhi to teaching digital storytelling to native youth on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. For several years Josh was the Director of Photography at the Tucson-based nonprofit Voices Inc., where he mentored low-income teenagers in documentary photography and managed an after-school youth magazine program. When Josh is not teaching, he works to photograph social and environmental issues for nonprofit organizations throughout the US. Josh Schachters images have been published internationally in books, magazines, newspapers, films and web sites, in venues ranging from the New York Times to the Navajo Times.

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Netzin Steklis

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Netzin Gerald Steklis, has served the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International as the Director Scientific Information Resources and Affiliate Scientist for more than 15 years. She holds a double B.A. in Anthropology and Biology from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University. Netzin’s research experience on wild monkeys and apes in Central America and Africa includes field observations of howler monkey calls in Costa Rica, the behavioral ecology of wild chimpanzees in eastern Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), followed by research at the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda on the vocalizations and behavior of mountain gorillas. Further research focused on mountain gorilla life history; mountain gorilla population size and density, distribution and vital statistics; the application of GIS technology to mountain gorilla behavior and conservation; and biodiversity assessment and education. Her activities also include curriculum development for environmental education programs.

In addition to serving as an Executive Committee member for the Center for Children and Nature at Prescott College, Netzin’s current activities and interests are focused on youth environmental education, which includes scientific research, environmental ethics, and natural resource monitoring and stewardship; the comparative study of personality in equids and gorillas; and multi-media public outreach and publications.

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Dieter Steklis

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H. Dieter Steklis, earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1974 from the University of California, Berkeley.  He joined Rutgers University in 1974, serving as Professor of Anthropology until “retiring” in 2004 as Professor Emeritus of Primatology. Over the course of his scientific career, Steklis’ teaching, research and publications reflect multidisciplinary interests, including primate neurobiology and psychology, primate behavioral biology, primate conservation, and the evolution of human behavior.

Dieter joined the University of Arizona (South Campus) in 2005, where presently he serves as Professor and Program Director for Anthropology, with affiliated appointments on main campus as Professor of Psychology, Program in Ethology and Evolutionary Psychology, and Adjunct Professor of Family Studies and Human Development. His present research—done collaboratively with his primatologist wife Netzin G. Steklis— includes the comparative study of primate family systems, with a particular focus on mountain gorilla paternal behavior, mountain gorilla personality and life history, the nature of human-animal relationships, the evolution of human empathy, conscious awareness, and emotional regulation. Each July, Dieter and Netzin Steklis co-lead the Primate Studies Field School in Rwanda, Africa.

In addition to his academic career, Steklis held leadership positions with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Internationala non profit organization dedicated to gorilla research and conservation in Africa.