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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 came to Briar Bush in September 2009 from Tampa, Florida, where she conducted environmental education programs for organizations such as Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Hillsborough County Public Schools and Lettuce Lake County Park, where she was known as "The Nature Geek."  A graduate of Colorado State University with a BS in wildlife biology, She received her BS in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and a MS degree in Environmental Education and Interpretation from the University of Wisconsin Steven's Point. At Briar Bush, Katie loves the variety of writing and conducting programs, designing exhibits, and developing the after school program.  When not working, you might find her hiking, kayaking, or working in her native garden, her backyard oasis.

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, environmental research, after-school and summer camp programming, and curriculum development. 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. Karen’s experiences since then have included work with the Fairmount Park Commission, at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, and on a research team at Philly U. Karen has enjoyed 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.

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

Heidi began as a part-time educator in 2009, running weekend birthday parties and jumping in to help with nature hikes and animal programs. Recently, as her children entered school, she took on additional education responsibilities including teaching the ACORN program at Overlook Elementary and leading story time on weekends. Heidi hopes to help Briar Bush expand its reach into local pre-schools, nursery schools and day care centers by offering new and exciting programs.

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.

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© Copyright Briar Bush Nature Center, 2019 | 1212 Edge Hill Road, Abington, PA 19001 | (215) 887-6603

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