About Us

Our passionate and highly qualified team uses experiential, community-based, ecology lessons and activities to facilitate students’ learning about natural systems. As a result, young people develop a respectful relationship with nature and their community, and build life and career skills which allows them to make positive changes for a sustainable, restorative future.

 

Staff, Volunteers & Interns

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Angel Breault

Angel at Canyon de Chelly

Angel grew up in Tucson and spent most of his weekends as a kid at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum learning, exploring, and as a Junior Docent helping people fall in love with the splendor of desert. Angel has worked and traveled throughout the Americas and Europe, directing educational programs, instructing courses, and documenting stories for organizations such as the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tamwood Camps International (Vancouver, Canada), Las Mulas Achibueno (Linares, Chile), and the Arizona Trail Association.  His photographs have been featured in Arizona Highways. Angel is Wilderness First Responder and CPR certified. He is currently completing his degree in Sustainable Development with a focus social justice and policy. Angel is passionate about his desert home and of the ecological and cultural communities it holds. When he is not working, Angel is rock climbing, hangin’ with his pup, or eating tacos.

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Suzanne Dhruv

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SUZANNE DHRUV, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Suzanne is a native Tucsonan and has established deep, strong roots in the Sonoran Desert Region. Her passion to reconnect children with the natural world is fueled by a lifetime of playing, living, learning and teaching within a dynamic, colorful, and detailed landscape. In an effort to develop authentic, engaging, and educational opportunities in nature for adolescents, Suzanne achieved a Prescott College Master of Arts degree in Environmental Studies, investigating youths’ implicit theories of the natural world and their experiences within. This graduate research project builds upon Suzanne’s academic and professional foundation. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and has over ten years professional experience that includes directing, designing and instructing environmental education programs for all ages. Her experiences with local nonprofit organizations foster an ability to collaborate with community organizations, educators, and parents in an effort to enhance learning opportunities for adolescents and children throughout the Tucson area. Suzanne is also trained in Wilderness First Responder and in First Aid/CPR.

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Magda Mankel

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MAGDA MANKEL, COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR

Magda was born in Nogales, Arizona and raised in Tucson. From a young age, Magda was encouraged to connect with the natural world and quickly developed a love and respect for the Sonoran Desert and its deep history on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Between 2015-16, Magda worked with the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail to coordinate projects that sought to engage Tucson’s Mexican-American population with the Anza Trail’s natural and cultural resources. She is currently completing her doctoral degree in Anthropology through the University of Maryland, College Park. Magda strives to connect her passions for cultural heritage, human history, and the natural environment to opportunities that engage diverse audiences and allow individuals to experience the natural and cultural resources that make their communities unique.

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Eric Dhruv

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ERIC DHRUV, PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Eric began his love affair with the Sonoran Desert and Tucson, Arizona while earning a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Arizona. The romance and desire for immersion in the natural world led to several years of field work in such places as Arizona, Alaska and Papua New Guinea. Eric was employed by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as an environmental educator and interpretive manager working with community members of all ages. Eric went on to earn an M.A. from Prescott College in Place-Based Education and enjoyed a position as Sustainability Director and professional naturalist at Miraval Resort in Catalina, Arizona. He also served as Associate Faculty for the Liberal Arts, Adult Degree Program at Prescott College Tucson Center before becoming full time Program Director of ITE. He is LEED accredited and a member of the Southern Arizona branch of the US Green Building Council. Eric’s passion for sharing the intrinsic bond between nature and humanity has generated many wonderful opportunities to “get the word out” en mass on TV and radio as well as one on one and in small groups with youth over many years in both urban and back country settings. Eric is also trained in Wilderness First Responder and in First Aid/CPR.

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Jake Meyers

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Jake is a University of Arizona Masters of Development Practice graduate student interested in climate change adaptation and sustainable development. He is from Pennsylvania and earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Jake has worked across Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America in several wildlife conservation and youth environmental education projects during his undergraduate career and as a Peace Corps volunteer and Fulbright research fellow. His experiences include the study of eco-tourism in the Galapagos Islands, conducting great white shark behavior research in South Africa, investigating how different religions influence environmental perspectives in Southeast Asia, conducting an investigation into wildfires with the Ministry of Environment and Wildlife Conservation Society in Cambodia, and leading environmental youth education programs in Benin, West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer.  Jake enjoys competitive swimming and photography in his free time, and is excited to share his passion and excitement of environmental stewardship with ITE.

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Lena Porell

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Lena is a graduate student at the University of Arizona, pursuing her Masters in Environmental Planning. Before moving to Tucson, Lena grew up near Boston, Massachusetts and graduated with her Bachelors in International Development and Education from American University. After graduation, Lena served in the Peace Corps in Namibia as an English-Second Language Teacher for two years. During her Peace Corps service, Lena was the founding member of multiple youth programs that focused on empowerment, leadership, project management, community service and permagardening. She enjoys hiking, yoga, running and gardening in her spare time.

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Chrissy Maes

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Chrissy is a senior at the University of Arizona and will graduate with her B.A. in Global Political Economy and Institutions. She fell in love with the Southwest when she moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Prescott, Arizona four years ago. Her introduction to the region took form in a 3-week backpacking trip in Central Arizona, and she has been happy to call Arizona her home ever since. Chrissy has worked with students of all ages in several different capacities; in the classroom, at summer camps, a challenge course facility, and on campus. She is excited to engage with students and Tucson community members through her responsibilities at ITE. Chrissy enjoys watching movies, trying new foods, and spending time outdoors.