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Patti Platt, ​Manager of Business and Development

Patti joined the Briar Bush staff as the new, part-time receptionist in October 2000, and became the full-time office manager in the spring of 2003. She attended Drexel University majoring in Accounting. Patti is married to Mark Platt who is a small business owner in the home theater industry in Hatboro. They reside in Willow Grove with their 3 children Taylor, Kyle and Tess. Working at Briar Bush runs in the Platt family! Taylor logged many hours at Briar Bush as a center-aide and summer camp instructor, and Kyle worked as a center-aide as well. Before returning to the workforce, Patti kept herself busy volunteering at her children's schools. She has held the position of President in the Home and School Association and continues to chair numerous committees. In her free time, Patti enjoys reading a good book and relaxing on the beach.

Melissa Eldridge, Director of Public Programs

Melissa holds a B.S. in Recreation Management and minors in Biology and Environmental Studies from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the full-time education staff in 2014, Melissa had worked at Briar Bush for two summers as a Camp Counselor. Now as the Director of Public Programs, Melissa is responsible for developing and updating programs for families, senior adults, Scouts, and individuals with disabilities. She's enjoyed developing the well-received SAGE Sessions program for senior adults and the Family Nature Night program for children with autism spectrum disorder. Melissa also directs the Summer Camp program and leads some camps herself. In 2016, she received the Daisy S. Klinedinst Memorial Award for her continued dedication to expanding her involvement with environmental education in Pennsylvania from the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators. Melissa considers herself a naturally curious person and a life-long learner who enjoys spending time in nature hiking, camping, kayaking, and exploring. She resides in Blue Bell with her husband, Scott.

Mark Fallon, Senior Naturalist and Educator

Mark came to Briar Bush in January, 2003. He holds a BA in Zoology and French from Connecticut College. From the coasts and mountains of New England to the Rockies of Wyoming to the Delaware River, Mark has spent his professional life teaching, coaching and interpreting in the outdoors. As Senior Naturalist, Mark answers the public's questions about nature, teaches programs, and works with volunteers, among other responsibilities. In his role as Land Manager, Mark has developed a thorough knowledge of native and invasive exotics plants and horticulture. He has managed such projects as the Nature Playscape, Members' Grove and Pond restoration. Originally from Massachusetts, Mark now lives with his family in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia.

Katie Fisk, Animal Curator and Educator

Katie has been with Briar Bush since 2009. She received her BS in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and an MS degree in Environmental Education and Interpretation from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Her background consists of work with both people and animals through organizations such as the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and various bird research groups. At Briar Bush, Katie loves the variety of teaching audiences of all ages and caring for the animal ambassador collection along with an amazing group of dedicated volunteers.  When not working, you might find her hiking, kayaking, working in her native garden, or volunteering at the Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Clinic.

Karen Foster, Development and Event Coordinator and Educator

Karen joined the Briar Bush team in 2016 as the weekend educator. She has a B.S. in Ecology and brought with her a combination of experiences in outdoor education, after-school and summer camp programming, curriculum development, and environmental research. Karen began collecting these experiences at Churchville Nature Center leading hikes and Lenape programs followed by time in the high desert of Las Cruces, New Mexico as part of the USDA’s environmental research program. Since then, Karen has worked with the Fairmount Park Commission, at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, and on a research team at Philly U. Karen enjoys working with Briar Bush's friendly and knowledgeable staff, and has loved being a part of her local nature center, as she believes that the key to creating a healthy environment begins in your own backyard.

Laurel Fraser, Registrar

Laurel came on board the Briar Bush Nature Center staff as the registrar in September 2018. A recent Glenside resident, she lives with her daughter and grandson. A veteran and retired federal employee, she is very active in the community, supporting and volunteering with the GYAC, Copper Beech Elementary School, Weldon Fire Company, and BBNC.

Ehren Gross, Education Manager

An experienced educator, Ehren has been in the field of Environmental Education since 2002. Before Briar Bush, he worked in various National Parks as a Park Ranger giving talks, leading guided hikes and developing Enviro Education programs for the public. He is most comfortable in front of an audience performing live animal shows or in-classroom demonstrations. Ehren has his Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from West Virginia Wesleyan College, and recently obtained a Masters in Environmental Education from Arcadia University. In his free time he loves reading nature stories, astronomy, and bush crafting. Ehren lives in Abington with his wife, daughter, family dog and colony of bees.

Heidi Malizia, Educator and Feather Our Nest Team Member

Heidi holds a degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in environmental science from Penn State University. Prior to Briar Bush, Heidi taught 3rd grade for two years in a formal education setting. She loved teaching, but missed the outdoors.  After completing an internship at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, she was hired as the Outreach Coordinator at Great Valley Nature Center where she lead programs for all ages, and developed the Head Start into Nature Program. In addition, she ran their annual auction, taught summer camp and outdoor school programs, facilitated team building exercises, ran teacher workshops, and lead adventure trips to kayaking, camping and hiking destinations. Heidi began her journey at Briar Bush in 2009 as a part-time weekend educator, but she can be found on the property leading the Magic Mornings and Nature Pioneer preschool programs. She also travels to all 25 Montgomery County Head Starts and 14 Pre-K Counts programs twice a year, and leads adventure summer camps. Most recently, Heidi became part of the Feather Our Nest Auction and Gala development team. In her spare time, Heidi loves to be outdoors kayaking, hiking and going on adventures with her husband, three daughters and her dog.

Sabrina Rowe, Volunteer Coordinator and Educator

Sabrina holds a B.S. in Geography with a concentration in Environmental Studies and a minor in Earth Sciences from Millersville University. She fondly remembers attending Briar Bush Summer Camp during her childhood, and returned in February of 2019 as the public programs intern. Showing dedication and skill, she was hired as a camp counselor for the 2019 season. At the end of summer, Sabrina accepted the positions of Volunteer Coordinator, receptionist, and part-time educator handling Briar Bush's birthday and weekend programs. Sabrina enjoys taking on many different roles here at Briar Bush and helping out others whenever she can. Some of her favorite things to do are animal shows and helping out with summer camp planning. She loves spending time out in nature doing many things but especially hiking, walking along the beach, and going fishing.  Sabrina strongly believes that one of the best ways to help the environment is to educate children and teach them to love it too. 

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© Copyright Briar Bush Nature Center, 2020 | 1212 Edge Hill Road, Abington, PA 19001 | (215) 887-6603

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