Meet the Blue Heron Team

Melody Harclerode, FAIA

Melody Harclerode, FAIA

Executive Director

Melody started her career as an architect in 2001 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. She has taught students about architecture, sustainability, and site design for the Atlanta Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Atlanta) using Reggio Emilia since 2010.

In 2015, she created and led Reggio Emilia-inspired programs at the Arabia Alliance as the Director of Programs. Melody was elevated as an AIA Fellow in 2018 for her national K-12 design education initiatives, design advocacy, and writings. She was honored with the AIA Atlanta Ivan Allen Award in 2019.

Her passion for environmentalism and educational programming grew over the years and she is thrilled to be the Executive Director at the Blue Heron.

Contact: 404.946.6394 Ext 0

Denise Cardin

Denise Cardin

Conservation & Operations Director

Denise learned very early in her childhood the value of green spaces in an urban setting as she skipped through the Grunewald forest in Berlin Germany. Only to have that sustainability bug further embedded attending Audubon camps in Massachusetts and building her first basic hot water solar panel.

Fast forward to a young adult, she went into the Navy and then landed a Field Engineer position with IBM, followed by Project Engineering for UPS in computer hardware and later an Environmental Facilities Auditor, responsible for reporting, compliance and process improvements energy costs.

She later became a successful retail business owner, but returned to project management at the Woodruff Arts Center. With the spirit of volunteerism, she has been involved in assisting non-profits towards greening their business. Denise earned her bachelor’s from Oglethorpe University. In her spare time she enjoys many of the local trails with her friends and pups, painting, and loves gardening.

Contact: 404.946.6394 Ext 2

Andrew Lester

Andrew Lester

Director of Education

As a lifelong resident of Georgia, Andrew’s love for the environment began at an early age. He graduated from Young Harris College in 2013 with a B.S. in Outdoor Leadership, focused on experiential education and began teaching Environmental Education with Georgia 4-H in 2014.

Andrew continued to work in both formal and informal educational settings, while simultaneously pursuing his M.S. in Environmental Education from Montreat College, which he completed in 2019. He has been fortunate to share his knowledge and passion for the environment with children from schools across the Southeast; believing positive experiences, as well as accessibility to the community can aid in creating the next generation of environmental stewards.

In his free time, Andrew enjoys creating digital art, hiking and playing the guitar. He is excited to begin his next chapter as the Director of Education Programs with Blue Heron Nature Preserve!

Contact: 404.946.6394 Ext 3
educationprograms@bhnp.org

Jackie Encinas

Jackie Encinas

Education Programs Coordinator

While attending the University of North Georgia—where she earned her B.S. in biology—Jackie‘s interest in exploring Georgia’s diverse landscapes began. After graduation, she found her calling in environmental outreach by serving with AmeriCorps and the U.S. National Park Service as an environmental educator to youth summer camps. Jackie went on to teach environmental education at local nature centers and schools and continues to educate others and raise awareness about water quality in the state.

Jackie is passionate about helping others become stewards of the environment, working with community members of all ages to appreciate and conserve their natural surroundings. Jackie is currently pursuing her master‘s degree from Clemson University’s Wildlife and Fisheries Resources program. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and traveling.

Contact: 404.946.6394 Ext 3
educationprograms@bhnp.org

Claire Laurenz

Claire Laurenz

Education Programs Coordinator

Native to Michigan, Claire graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education. Prior to joining the Preserve, Claire taught Earth education throughout the United States, bicycle toured across North America and conducted agriculture research in the Indian Himalayan Region.

Claire is committed to showing others how to pause and reconnect with their natural selves, others and the outdoors. She works to foster relationships, generate good and encourage healthy lifestyles. Blue Heron gives Claire the opportunity to do what she does best- play, learn and explore with others.

In the future, Claire plans to become scuba dive certified and teach environmental education in a whole new arena- under the sea. She hopes that by living her dreams others will be empowered to do the same.

Contact: 404.946.6394 Ext 3
educationprograms@bhnp.org

Sally Byers

Sally Byers

Environmental Educator

Born and raised in Indiana, Sally developed a love for the outdoors from an early age. She earned her B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Purdue University with a mission: to nurture positive relationships between people and nature, and increase environmental literacy within urban communities.

Sally is a devoted naturalist and has worked in a variety of settings to provide nature programs for people of all ages. She emphasizes place-based learning to connect individuals with the natural spaces in their communities, and to promote local green initiatives. She is passionate about Blue Heron’s mission and looks forward to helping youth create lifelong memories outdoors.

As an avid animal lover, in the future Sally plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Anthrozoology, to study the complex relationships between humans and wildlife, and engage broader audiences in conservation efforts.

Contact: 404.946.6394 Ext 3
educationprograms@bhnp.org