Environmental Education

Center for Environmental Education

Daniel Novak
Program Coordinator



I count myself fortunate for being involved in environmental education all my life. Living and experiencing the beauty of the Hudson Valley and Catskill mountains with my family and friends shaped my early experiences and I have spent most of my professional career trying to facilitate children finding the beauty and connections in the world around them. After experiences in marine ecological and botanical research, I officially moved into the world of environmental education as an Ecology Education Fellow with Americorps while still at the Institute for Ecosystem Studies.

Soon thereafter I applied to become a certified teacher through NYC Teaching Fellows and began teaching science in NYC. My passion (and that of my students) included finding the ecology in our urban setting, and the parks, street cracks, roof tops, and intermittent gardens of NYC and beyond became our extended classroom. I transitioned into a school leader position while at the Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering and continued to facilitate student experiences directly and by training and empowering my fellow educators in how to safely get their students outside and into the world of literacy, math, social studies, science and more that existed in the environment right around them. I transitioned to a school leadership position at Westlake HS in Thornwood and am forever thankful for my experience with a community with such deep values and a leadership team and faculty who are the model of professionalism, caring and excellence. I continued my explicit interest in environmental education and leadership by helping found Hudson Valley H2O, a non-profit with the vision of bringing people to the water for play, for fun, and for learning. When the opportunity arose to work with PNW BOCES and lead the Center for Environmental Education I felt that my passion and experience found a home. I look forward to many years to come of assisting schools and community members in finding their connections with each other and nature through our environmental education offerings.

Catherine Leist
Program Assistant

I am originally from Kent Lakes, New York and grew up with the Madden Center right in my back yard. I am also a proud graduate of Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES New Visions Environmental Science and Sustainability. During my time with New Visions, I attended class at TeaTown Lake Reservation in Ossining, NY where I volunteered time helping to create "Wildflower Woods" a native plant meadow within the reservation.

After realizing my passion for the environment and community outreach, I attended Paul Smith's College of Liberal Arts and Science located in the Northern Region of the Adirondack State Park of New York. During my time at Paul Smith's I acquired a B.S. in Natural Resource Management and Policy with a minor in Natural Resource Sustainability and spent my summers working for Summer Camps, NYS Parks and Recreation, as well as in Cold Spring, NY as an Organic Vegetable Farming apprentice. Prior to becoming Program Assistant, I worked in Scarsdale, NY in Marketing/Sustainability Education. In my spare time I am an avid hiker and constant explorer of New York!

Colin Remick

Hello my name is Colin Remick and I had the pleasure of joining the Center For Environmental Education in early 2016 as an Assistant Naturalist.  In May of 2015 I graduated from The University of Kansas with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Comparative Geography. Being in Kansas gave me a chance to study and explore the prairie lands of the Midwest.

Following my graduation I had the pleasure of working as an Outdoor Education Instructor at a camp on Cape Cod, allowing me to explore a whole new environment, but most importantly work with students of a variety of ages and levels of experience in the great outdoors.  Many of these students never had the chance to take their classroom teachings out into the real world to do hands-on interact with nature.

As a kid myself I grew up in Scouting, receiving my Eagle Scout rank in 2010. Scouting instilled in me a lifelong dedication to conservation, outdoorsman ship, respect for animals and a desire to foster a more mature understanding of nature in myself and my peers.  Having grown up camping and spending a lot of time outdoors I look forward to continuing to investigate the many different parts of the natural world and sharing these experiences with young people in both our school programs and summer camp. I look forward to the opportunity to bring the lessons and materials available in this position to the classroom and beyond to help bridge the gap between students and the natural world.

Beth Thompson

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Thompson, and I joined the Center for Environmental Education in the middle of 2017. I grew up in New Jersey and spent a lot of time exploring the outdoors. Thanks to that exploration and some great teachers along the way, I attended and graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a degree in Environmental Studies.

Since graduating, I have traveled across the country introducing students to nature in many different ways. In Minnesota and New Jersey, I taught field trips and summer camps in a variety of habitats--even on the water on a historic oyster schooner! In California and Ohio, I got to spend more time with students as they came out for overnight trips, where we went outside for hours on end to learn about a variety of topics and discover what is out there. I am excited to be a part of the CEE team and to encourage more students to find nature interesting! 

Sean Mormino

Hello! My name is Sean Mormino! I am originally from Mentor, OH and graduated with my degree in Botany from Miami University in 2015. As a kid, I grew up near Lake Erie, so the water has always been a special place for me. I enjoy kayaking, boating, hiking, and camping. I am loving New York so far, and I am looking forward to the adventures I will be able to have here.

During my career as an Environmental Educator, I have traveled across the country working with kids of all ages to educate them about the world around us. I have worked in Ohio, Washington, Georgia, and now New York. If my time in all of these different places has taught me anything, it is that there are so many fascinating places to see in this country. I am proud that I am able to get students engaged in the natural world. It is exciting for me to join a group that is dedicated to teaching our next generation about the beauty and importance of this earth. 

Iris Niwinsky
Senior Office Assistant

Hi, my name is Iris Niwinsky. This is my sixth year with BOCES and I am thrilled to be a member of the Environmental Education team. Before coming to BOCES, I worked for 8 years as an office assistant and a Kindergarten Teacher Aide at Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua.

I am based at our Yorktown campus and am available to answer any questions you may have regarding the many programs offered by the Center for Environmental Education. I process all state aid reimbursement for environmental field

trips and in-school consultants, so please call me with any questions regarding the aid process and filling out the forms.

I have lived in Amawalk for the past 30 years with my husband, George, and my children, Elana and Paul. My children think it is appropriate that I’m working in environmental education since I was always sending them outside to explore.

I am excited to be a part of this quality program that provides an important service to children of our region. I look forward to the upcoming school year and to working with our great team!