Trainers Network

Volunteer facilitators lead two-thirds of Pop Ed workshops. We're always looking for passionate educators to join us!

Trainer Spotlight

Howard Aprill

Howard Aprill is a Naturalist at Wehr Nature Center with Milwaukee County Parks in Wisconsin where he conducts environmental education and interpretation programs for all ages. Howard joined the Trainer’s Network in 2013 and has been enthusiastically presenting Population Education workshops ever since. In 2019, he was honored as Master Front-line Interpreter by the National Association for Interpretation (NAI).

After starting as a Fisheries and Wildlife Management major in college, Howard became “increasingly interested in the human dimensions of wildlife management and our relationships with natural resources.” Howard was inspired to join the PopEd Trainer’s Network after coming across the activity, Population Circle, while at work. He began using it in his nature center programming right away, and it continues to be his favorite PopEd lesson – he shares it at every workshop he presents! Howard has reflected, “When I started out world population was coming up on 6 billion. The lesson plan is now updated to reflect a global population of 8 billion.”

Lynda Deschambault headshot, smiling, trees in background

Lynda Deschambault

Lynda Deschambault is currently the Executive Director of the Contra Costa County Climate Leaders, a program she founded in 2007 that provides outreach tools and assistance to local government decision-makers to address climate change. She has more than 37 years of experience as an Environmental Scientist and Educator, and has worked on environmental analysis, community outreach, inspections, enforcement, pollution prevention and environmental cleanup. Lynda often focuses her efforts on working with schools, tribes and environmental justice communities.

Lynda is a veteran PopEd trainer, having joined the Trainers Network in 2001. Some of her favorite lessons include Earth: The Apple of Our Eye and People on the Move. She also likes Mining for Chocolate, saying “that one really hits home for me. Can you do it without damaging the cookie and what’s around it? Can you put the cookie back together again? I worked for the EPA for 20 years managing mountain top removal mining sites. We can’t mine the resources this way without it crumbling away, and in the lesson, you can’t take resources out without the cookie crumbling.”

Holli Gonzalez

Holli Gonzalez is the Science Instructional Specialist for the Bakersfield City School District in Bakersfield, CA and a 17-year veteran science teacher. She also works as an adjunct lecturer at California State University, Bakersfield, where she has conducted a number of Population Education workshops with her pre-service students since joining the trainer’s network in 2016. Holli is a NASA Solar System Ambassador and a current PhD candidate in Global STEM Education from Texas Tech University.

Holli’s favorite PopEd activities include Mining for Chocolate and Earth: The Apple of Our Eye, which she describes as a “big eye-opener” for her pre-service students. She conducts a PopEd workshop with her students every semester and appreciates the way her students are always excited about using PopEd resources in their own classrooms.

Tawn Hauptli

Dr. Tawn Hauptli is a faculty member in the Education Studies Department at Mesa Community College in Mesa, AZ. She transitioned to working in higher education in 2001 after years working as both a preschool teacher and high school English teacher. She is a strong advocate of multicultural education and diversity, serving as the inaugural chair of the Human Relations Commission from 2001 to 2003 and earning the Mesa Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Spirit of Unity Educator of the Year Award in 2014.

Tawn joined the trainer’s network in 2017 after attending a workshop and appreciating the learning opportunities that it provided. Since then, she has facilitated workshops at many different college campuses and conferences. Her favorite activity to present is Panther Hunt, which she says participants always enjoy, and recently enjoyed facilitating Take A Stand for the first time, saying it “generated a lot of discussion, and allowed the attendees to process ways they might encounter issues with the topic.” Her most memorable moment as a PopEd facilitator was presenting a workshop at Arizona State University, West and discovering that the host professor was an old colleague of Tawn’s husband. The workshop went well, and “it was so much fun to share the content with a friend of many years.”

Khodi Kaviani

Dr. Khodi Kaviani is an Associate Professor of Education at Central Washington University. He is particularly interested in how ideology and education intersect, Middle Eastern politics, and ancient Iranian culture. Khodi first joined the trainer’s network in 2014 after attending a three-day workshop on Bainbridge Island in Washington State; he was impressed by the way PopEd’s activities raise awareness about how people impact the environment.

Khodi has facilitated a wide variety of workshops for PopEd and has worked with pre-service and in-service teachers across a breadth of subject areas. His favorite lessons include Earth: The Apple of Our Eye, Mining for Chocolate, and Eco-Ethics. One of his favorite moments as a trainer was doing the lesson Waste A-Weigh, where food scraps are collected and weighed after each day’s lunch. By the third day, the group’s food waste had been reduced to the bare minimum. Khodi recalls the activity as a fond memory: “What a beautiful lesson!”

Robin Koerber

Robin Koerber is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Missouri State University, where she also coordinates the Internship Academy that places education students in year-long teaching internships. Robin is a former kindergarten teacher. She’s been in the PopEd Trainers’ Network since 2017 and has facilitated nearly 30 workshops since then.

Robin’s favorite activity to share in workshops is Who Polluted the River? She says, “It’s not easy to choose but I always enjoy facilitating the Who Polluted the River lesson. It clearly demonstrates how everyone shares in being a part of the problem, but we can also consciously work to be a part of the solution by taking care of our waterways.”

Anita Lewis

Anita Lewis is a sixth grade social studies teacher at Westbrook Intermediate School in Friendswood, TX. She has been a Texas educator for over 25 years and is a current PhD candidate at the University of Houston in Professional Leadership. Anita found PopEd when she was in search of content and resources to support her new role as a middle school social studies teacher. She was so thrilled with the activities, information, and resources that she immediately signed up to be a trainer. Since joining the network in 2016, she has been an enthusiastic and passionate PopEd workshop facilitator.

Anita enjoys sharing PopEd resources with other educators at local, district, regional, state and national social studies conferences. Her ultimate goal is to actively engage the teachers the same way they should actively engage their students in developing an awareness of population issues and impact. Her favorite activities encourage movement and active discussion, including People on the Move, Eco-Ethics, and Take a Stand.

Judy Maima Skeele

Dr. Judy Maima Skeele is a Professor of Child Development & Education at San Jacinto College in Houston, TX, as well as the President of TERJA, a non-profit that creates learning and growth opportunities for marginalized youth worldwide. Through TERJA’s signature program, students in the U.S. and Kenya (Judy’s home country) partner to tell digital stories about themselves and their communities.

Judy’s interest in global citizenship had her inviting PopEd into her classroom in 2011, and in 2014, Judy joined the Trainer’s Network. She says, “It was clear to me that Population Education was making a significant impact on my students’ understanding of global issues.”

Eliezer Nieves-Rodriguez

Eliezer Nieves-Rodriguez is a Geography Professor at the University of Puerto Rico and an Education Specialist at the San Juan Bay Estuary. He first came to PopEd after attending a session at the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) conference and in his words, “the rest was history.”

Eliezer quickly saw the relevance of PopEd lessons for his human geography pre-service courses. In fact, his most memorable PopEd experience has been seeing his students use PopEd materials in their own classrooms. He also enjoys sharing PopEd through the NGO he works for, Estuario de la Bahía de San Juan, where he trains educators on PopEd lessons that will help them teach about the relationship between people, water, watersheds and conservation. He shared that, “the activities facilitate constructivist teaching and help us educators and interpreters to inspire about important issues that occur in our cities, natural areas and communities.”

Kate Silvis headshot, smiling, black background

Kate Silvis

Dr. Kate Silvis is a Professor and Chair of Education at La Roche University in Pittsburgh, where she has taught since 2006. Prior to working in higher education, Kate taught K-8 grades in Ohio and Pennsylvania public schools. Kate has been a key figure in facilitating PopEd’s Act48 programming in Pennsylvania. (Act 48 is a Pennsylvania law requiring teachers to earn professional development credits every five years). She has served both as a facilitator of PopEd’s Act 48 workshops and helped PopEd strategize how to expand Act 48 programming throughout the state.

Kate first connected with PopEd when staff offered to facilitate a workshop in her Social Studies and Science methods class. She reflects, “I had seen other people do these interactive activities and it looked like fun – I wanted to do it myself.” Kate also appreciates that PopEd lessons have a connection to children’s literature, knowing that elementary teachers enjoy using children’s books in the classroom.

Shirley Smith

Shirley Smith is a retired university professor with 46 years of experience in the field of education, including serving as an elementary, middle school, and gifted education teacher and a curriculum specialist. She has served as a PopEd trainer for 8 years and has facilitated over a dozen workshops. Shirley shared that being a trainer with PopEd, “enables me to keep in touch with former colleagues and give back to the profession. As a trainer, I especially enjoy working with pre-service teachers because they are so enthusiastic and appreciate receiving resources and lesson plans that are aligned with state standards. They give me hope in the future of our teaching profession!”

Her favorite PopEd lesson plan is Power of the Pyramids. Shirley appreciates that “ math students are able to display data in a new and interesting way, and the follow-up questions help students expand their global awareness.”

Scott Townsend

Dr. Scott Townsend is a professor of science education at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. Since joining the network in 2010, Scott has presented over 60 workshops for pre-service educators at EKU as well as at conferences including the Kentucky Science Teachers Association and the Kentucky Association for Gifted Education.

Scott’s favorite PopEd lesson is Who Polluted the Potomac?, which he facilitates with his elementary science methods students each semester. Scott says: “I constantly receive emails or get tagged on social media of my former students (some from several years ago), now elementary teachers, doing the activity with their students. I recently had a student who did it with her 5th graders, and extended the lesson into an engineering activity in which the students had to create a water filter to clean the water from the tank. It obviously makes me very proud, as a science teacher educator, to see activities we did in my classroom being implemented in theirs.”

Cristina Valentino

Cristina Valentino has a broad teaching background, having served as a university professor, a K-12 teacher, and a principal in a K-12 school. She became part of the PopEd Trainer’s Network in 2007 and has since facilitated several workshops in the Florida area, including teacher pre-service classes at Jacksonville University as well as at a TEACH conference.

Cristina appreciates how the PopEd curriculum and workshops help participants think outside the box and incorporate new activities into their teaching. Equally important, the curriculum opens up the students’ mind to important issues concerning population: “It prepares our teachers with activities that make our students K-12 more critical thinkers about what is going on in the world right now.” Cristina’s favorite activities to facilitate include Earth: Apple of Our Eye and Panther Hunt.