EarthWorks Learning Guides & Leadership Team Profiles

Our Guides

From Education to Ecology



EarthWorks programs are lead by highly trained, diversely practiced guides, with over 20 years of combined experience in developing environmental and educational programs. Learn more about our guides in the profiles below.


ashley steinkamp forest guide

Ashley Steinkamp

Program Development
Ashley is an active community member who gives much of her time to social justice initiatives involving gender equality, human trafficking, and sustainable development. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, a minor in Fine Arts, and a certificate of completion from the Women’s Leadership Academy at Alfred University, she dedicated several years of her career to marketing for startups and emerging technology companies. During this time she worked with individuals based in European, Middle Eastern, and African countries, and with organizations including the United Nations, to share innovative technologies to advance development in developing countries and remote areas of the world.


As part of her dedication to continued learning, Ashley is pursuing education through the SDG Academy and EarthWorks Guides. In her free time, Ashley likes to travel, read, craft, and explore the wonders of nature.


Rose Richter forest guide

Rose Richter

Lead Learning Guide
Rose is a recent biology graduate from the University of Rochester where she was a recipient of the de Kiewiet Research Fellowship. She conducted research in molecular genetics focusing on the transfer of bacterial genes to invasive pest insects. In the summers, she worked at a nature center in her home state of NJ, serving as an environmental educator and introducing students to natural history. Through these experiences, she has developed a substantial scientific understanding of the environment and a passion for environmental education.


Additionally, Rose is passionate about living sustainably and has lived in several sustainable living communities and coops, serving as President. More recently she has developed an interest in environmental humanities and is excited by this new perspective of using art and literature as a lens to understand our world, our environment, the interactions between the two. She hopes to further pursue this interest through a graduate degree in the future, though in the meantime shares her interests in and knowledge of the natural world with children as a guide with EarthWorks.


Alex Suzba forest guide

Alex Szuba

Learning Guide
Alex is a recent graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).  Last summer he worked as a summer staff at Primitive Pursuits in Ithaca NY, leading children ages 6-14 into the wooded property and mentored them in a variety of hard and soft skills, team building, and games. Before graduating from  SUNY-ESF he was the club president for Roots and Pursuits, a club the focuses on traditional ecological knowledge and skills such as primitive skills, and wilderness and survival skills.

Alex has led many workshops in the past such as bow making and hide tanning and tries to regularly practice skills to become proficient with, including fire by friction, shelter building, stalking, camouflage, tracking, plant id and uses, foraging, and archery.


ashley fantigrossi forest guide

Niki Whilden

Learning Guide
Niki holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management from Rochester Institute of Technology. After graduating, she worked for an environmental engineering firm, but decided to follow her true love-working hands-on with people and animals, preferably outdoors! Prior to Earthworks, Niki was employed by Heritage Christian Services (HCS), working with adults and children with disabilities. During twelve years with HCS she worked in a variety of settings including residential and day habilitation sites such as Mendon Ponds Nature Center and Heritage Christian Stables. Niki is a PATH Certified Advanced level Therapeutic Riding Instructor with many years of teaching able-bodied and therapeutic riding lessons to a wide range of children and adults.


Niki is a long-term and very active volunteer and leader of Monroe County 4-H. She currently is the leader of the largest club in Monroe County, where her responsibilities include teaching children a wide array of project areas, including community service, animal care, agriculture, nature, and photography. Niki has extensive experience with a wide range of children earned by a long list of volunteer duties for her daughters’ schools and various community activities. She is an avid animal lover and equestrian. In her free time, you will often find her exploring local parks- most likely with some combination of her 2 daughters, 2 rescue dogs or on the back of a horse. Niki is excited to be a part of encouraging even the youngest kids to get outside, learn something new and to get their hands dirty!


David Rutherford forest guide

Keaton Jenkins

Learning Guide
Keaton is a graduate of the Rochester City School District’s East High School, and became an entrepreneur in 2014 after co-founding Beat the Odds Clothing – a mission-driven retail company that encourages people to face and conquer adversity through clothing.


Keaton is currently attending prep courses to acquire his School Age Care Credentials. He is an active member of the community who has conducted community basketball tournaments, back-to-school fundraisers and continues to benefit youth in the Rochester community through the experiential education programs offered by EarthWorks. In addition to his great passion for working with youth, and in youth development, Keaton enjoys traveling, clothing design, and sports.



lindsay cray forest guide

Lindsay Cray


After completing a graduate fellowship with the National Science Foundation’s GK12 program, Lindsay earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and Risk Assessment from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). With her education and a decade of teaching experience both nationally and internationally, Lindsay has built a unique skill set for effectively working with under-served youth and families in the outdoors. Having spent nearly 14 years traveling throughout the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia, she has taught children from every walk of life, helping to build resiliency and advocating for equity and sustainability.


Lindsay is a wilderness survival instructor at Rochester Institute of Technology, a licensed NYS Hiking and Camping Guide, and holds a certified in wilderness first aid. She has incorporated her cross-cultural experiences and environmental knowledge into designing programs at venues such as Golden State YMCA in California and the Gandhi Institute for Non Violence in Rochester. Her teaching expertise also includes an adjunct position with SUNY ESF teaching Global Environment and the Evolution of Human Culture, and a diversity of inquiry-based programs in earth science, environmental science, teambuilding and wilderness skills for various organizations throughout her career. Lindsay’s own environmental research has received funding from sources such as the National Science Foundation, Research Foundation, and the Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation. She has co-authored two publications on integrating science into high-school classrooms.


Prior to working as a Team and Leadership Facilitator at Cornell University, Lindsay most recently held the position of Education Director for a non-profit land trust in central California where she was tasked with bridging the education gap for the non-English-speaking youth of migrant farm worker families. In this capacity, she created education programs for over 2,000 underprivileged youth and developed Mentored to Mastered, a youth alternative education program for juveniles with criminal backgrounds, connecting them with professionals who provided mentoring. Lindsay does spend time teaching in the classroom, however, she would much rather see herself and her students outdoors, immersed in a world of sensory and experiential education. Her goal in developing the Earthworks is to make simple but long-lasting, positive impacts on those with whom she works.


nick brown forest guide

Nick Brown

Co-Founder, Farm-to-School Educator
Nick Brown holds a B.A in Business Administration from Keystone College and a graduate degree in Natural Resource Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He is a conservationist by trade, and his focus has been on public land use management. With over 9 years of experience in landscaping, habitat restoration, land use planning, plant nursery operations, and plant propagation – as well as 6 years of business administration experience. Nick brings a dynamic skill set that allows for sound finance and budget management when planning and implementing conservation and land management projects.


Nick is passionate and knowledgeable about native plants, sustainable land use, wild edible identification, and environmental stewardship. He endeavors to take an innovative approach to all of his projects and ideas. His goal in developing the Earthworks is to empower people of all ages to be proactive in making the world around them better for themselves and their neighbors.



DJ Kitzel

Wilderness Skills Instructor
One of the first instructors to join our team back in 2014, D.J. Kitzel is a long-time environmental educator with a love for the outdoors that started as a boy in the woods and on the waters of his native Irondequoit. He has been leading adventures for Pack, Paddle, Ski for 28 years and most recently completed 400 miles of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in July of 2017. Since then his outdoor experiences have led him to a season in Yellowstone Park, a dude ranch in Wyoming, trail work for the Appalachian Mountain Club, a thru-hike of the A.T., backpacking trips in Ireland, and a homestead outside Naples, N.Y. D.J. holds a Masters Degree with a focus on adolescent development and teaches at The Canandaigua Academic and Career Center, program of Canandaigua City Schools which provides an alternative educational setting for students in grades 7-12. D.J. is also a certified Wilderness First Responder and licensed New York State Guide, and considers himself a perpetual student of wilderness skills. D.J. believes strongly in the value and mission of Earthworks to serve communities in the Rochester area.



Edgar Brown Instructor Primitive Tools and Crafts

Edgar Brown

Primitive Tools and Crafts Instructor
Edgar Brown received his BFA in Furniture Design and Master in Art Education from RIT. A resident of Naples, NY, he has been teaching art at the middle and high school level for the last ten years. Edgar has been a member of the Genesee Valley Flintknapping Association for over 20 years and takes his love for geology and education with him wherever he teaches stone tool crafting. With EarthWorks, Edgar teaches nature observation and wilderness skills to youth and adult groups but specializes in workshops on stone tools such as projectile points, blades, drills, and scrapers as well as introducing the traditional and contemporary toolkits, types of rock, fracture mechanics. This will be Edgar’s third season with EarthWorks Institute and he is excited to continue passing down this traditional knowledge of our ancestors to anyone who wants to learn!



Angela Cannon Cruthers Instructor Herbals and Wilderness Skills

Angela Cannon Cruthers

Herbals and Wilderness Skills Instructor
Angela (aka. Angie) Cannon is an environmental educator and author who teaches at Finger Lake Community College in both the conservation and humanities departments, at The Forest School for Cumming Nature Center, and with SummerWrite through Writer’s and Books. She holds degrees in science and education and publishes articles on nature and parenting as well as short stories. Her fiction has appeared in Stone Canoe and LadyBug and her true stories have appeared in the anthologies A Mile In Her Boots: Women Who Work in the Wild (Solas Hous, 2006) and The Ultimate Bird Lover (2010). Angie’s experience also extends into working in horticulture, herbal education, biology, wilderness skills, poetry and creative writing. As an amateur herbalist and wildcrafter, a NYS certified guide, a writer, and educator for deepening our awareness and relationship with nature, Angie has been leading popular EarthWorks summer programs for more than two years.


Mary Coburn forest guide

Mary Coburn

Licensed Mental Health Counselor & Nature Therapist
Mary is a holistic psychotherapist with a Ph.D. in psychotherapy from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA. and a Master of Science in Counselor Education from Alfred University.   Her work focuses on promoting growth and healing through the facilitation of awareness of the mind, body, spirit connection which, has taken place in a variety of settings: through graduate student teaching, in workshops, and in individual psychotherapy.


Until retirement, Mary served as a Global faculty member at Sofia University (formerly The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) in the Spiritual Psychology Masters specialization. Today her workshops and work with Earthworks focus on self-awareness through creative expression/movement and mindfulness in nature. Her individual client and volunteer work encompass nature therapy, talk therapy and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (for which she is also a certified instructor), a mind/body approach to wellness and wholeness. Aside from her work in therapy, Mary has also been a lifelong hiker-member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, has a deep spiritual connection to nature and has joined EarthWorks as a guide to “help others fall in love with our amazing earth and let it help heal them.”