Contact staff in the office at: 815/964-6666

Kerry Leigh

Executive Director

Jill Kennay

Assistant Director

Kim Johnsen

Director of Marketing and Membership

Zach Grycan

Director of Stewardship

Jessica Formea

Administrative Assistant

Tyler Pellegrini

Restoration Ecologist

Laura Helmich

Laura Helmich

Stewardship Technician

Kent Wolfe

Facilities Maintenance Coordinator

2021 Summer Staff

AmeriCorps Members


Courtney Abate Bio

I graduated from Finger Lakes Community College (New York) in May of 2019 with an AAS in Natural Resources Conservation. This summer I hope to gain a better understanding of ecosystems that are diverse and new to me and experience working in land management. My goal following the AmeriCorps program is to utilize the knowledge and experiences I have gained to help me decide whether I will be continuing my education into a Bachelor’s degree or finding full time employment. The time I spent exploring outside when I was young inspired me to go to school for Natural Resources conservation. Studying botany and conservation techniques while earning my degree helped to further my inspiration to conserve and protect nature so that the wild can always be around for further generations.

Summer Macheel

I am from West Bend, Wisconsin but recently moved to Milwaukee. I am currently a rising sophomore at UW-Milwaukee at Waukesha County. I am pursuing a degree in environmental science while working to complete my general education credits. After I get my associate’s degree I hope to transfer to UW-Stevens Point and further my education. I would like to explore more fields within environmental science, I am deciding between majoring in water, soil, or mycology. Through the AmeriCorps program, I am gaining resume-building work experience and skills to apply to this field. I have known since I was nine years old that I wanted to work outside and I thank my mom for encouraging this passion of mine by taking me hiking, kayaking, camping, and fishing.

Rockford Promise Scholars – Interns

Kasey Aucutt

I graduated from Guilford High School in 2021 and plan to study in the field of biology. I have always enjoyed science and environmental classes in high school. Having an opportunity to get hands-on experience through NLI is very exciting! The internship allows me to discover some of the aspects of the environmental conservation field. I plan to go to Rock Valley College in the fall and then transfer to a 4 year school.

Camila Rivera

I graduated in the summer of 2020 from Rockford East High School. My mom has always had a strong passion for plants and it has had a strong impact on my interests. I’m interested in learning more about environmental conservation through the NLI internship because it is a perfect learning opportunity near my home and my college. The NLI internship will also help me become more familiar with native flora and fauna of Northern Illinois. Currently I’m looking where to transfer after Rock Valley College and plan on continuing my education with environmental engineering and chemical engineering.
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