Meet the Staff

 

Kevin McCauley

Executive Director

Growing up near the ocean in Massachusetts and later the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia forged Kevin’s love of nature and the outdoors. The wonders of the natural world have always fascinated him. That’s why, after a career in IT, he was drawn to the Preserve. Nancy Jones’ inspirational work to create a greenspace from scratch, and then turn it into a rich learning and research center, was hard to resist.

Kevin's 14 year journey- from volunteer to Board member and finally staff- allowed him to witness the incredible growth of the Preserve. 

Now, he is working to continue the mission to create a place where personal experiences with nature inspire others to appreciate and preserve the wonders of our world right in our own back yard.

kevinm@bhnp.org  |  404.946.6394, ext. 3

 

Lauren Reynolds

Education Co-director

An Atlanta native, Lauren has grown up playing and exploring the rivers and woods of Georgia. As a teen, she worked at High Meadows Camp in Roswell where she fell in love with gardening, exploring, and learning with children in the outdoors.

She took that passion and graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Outdoor Experiential Education in 2011. During which, she was a back country instructor for high school students and was an active member of several leadership teams for camps and outdoor education programs in Georgia, North Carolina, and New Zealand. She also learned how to incorporate environmental education into daily classroom learning and after school programming during her 6 years of teaching k-4th grades in Asheville, NC and in Atlanta. She returned to her first love of teaching in the outdoors when she joined the team at Blue Heron in September of 2016. When she's not teaching, Lauren loves reading, watching movies and going backpacking with her husband, Ben.

laurenr@bhnp.org  |  404.946.6394, ext. 1

 
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NICOLE THURSTON

Education Co-Director

Nicole Thurston is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, where she spent most of her childhood playing outside. She received her B.A. Hons. in Anthropology from Saint Mary’s University, in Halifax. Her focus was archaeology, and she spent 6 years traveling the United States and Canada doing archaeological fieldwork. She received her masters degree in Museum Education from the University of Leicester, England in 2004.  

After spending a few years at home raising two curious minds, she returned to work as a lead teacher at a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool before training further as a naturalist. She is a GA Master Naturalist, a Southern Appalachian Naturalist, as well as a Certified Interpretive Guide.

Nicole is very passionate about environmental education through emergent curriculum and is happy to be part of the Blue Heron team. When not spreading her joy for all things outdoors, Nicole can usually be found hiking and camping with her family, or putting on her sneakers to go for a run.

nicolet@bhnp.org | 404.946.6394, ext. 1

 
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Brooke Vacovsky

Project and Operations Manager

Originally from Baltimore, MD, Brooke graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from Georgia Tech in December of 2015. In her breaks between lectures, programming assignments and job searches, she was developing her true passions in extracurricular activities. She was the volunteer coordinator for two years in an organization called HackGT, which organizes the southeast’s largest coding competitions. She was also an active member on the board of the Georgia Tech Equestrian Club for three years, as well as a student assistant for the Georgia Tech Urban Honey Bee Project.

She became a certified beekeeper in May of 2015 and started her own honey bee hive installation company called Southeast Beescapes. Brooke is thrilled to be a part of the Blue Heron team, hoping that her array of experiences can offer new ideas and insights to what is already a successful and inspiring nature preserve. 

brookev@bhnp.org  |  404.946.6394, ext. 2

 

Sally Eppstein

Art Director

Sally was raised in Augusta, Georgia but her first real education was moving to New York City and going to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  Living in the city and being exposed to so much diversity with all the different nationalities and so many art museums was a huge part of her education. She majored in jewelry where she did both design and studio work.  After Sally completed the associate program, she moved back to her hometown to complete her B.F.A. at Augusta College (now Augusta State University).

After receiving her B.F.A, Sally taught art for 10 years to kindergartners through high school students in both public and private schools. While teaching she continued her art practice by selling jewelry and paintings throughout the southeast.

The biggest influence in Sally's art has always been nature. Her latest series of paintings has focused on different feathers of song birds, birds of prey, and waterfowl. As part of her Artist-in-residence at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve she made an eight foot tall stainless steel feather sculpture. Sally sees feathers as being so fragile just as she sees our environment which has inspired her to be come a big tree activist.

Sally was inspired to start to do sculpture when she saw the Art on the Beltline and it is amazing how many skills that she had learned from her jewelry training have translated for her large totems.

Other achievements are getting into Vermont Studio Center, being awarded the first Artist-in-residence at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, being awarded an Emerging Artist Award for the Gasparilla Festival in Tampa, FL and being a part of Art Leaders of Metro Atlanta with Atlanta Regional Commission 2016.

sallye@bhnp.org  |  404.946.6394, ext. 5

 
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Miranda Swaim

Communications and Marketing Director

Miranda graduated with her B.S. in Communication Studies from Georgia Southern University in 2017. As a student, she worked with the Center for Sustainability while pursuing her personal passion for a low-waste lifestyle.

Miranda is proud to work for Blue Heron- a unique nature preserve focused on native ecosystems and urban ecology. In her free time, she loves to photograph and hike all across the country from the North Georgia Mountains to the west coast Rockies and the Chisos mountains of the Chihuahuan desert.

mirandas@bhnp.org | 404.946.6394, ext. 4

 

Interns

Marcy Scott

Marcy Scott is currently performing an aquatic life survey of the two creeks that run through the Blue Heron Nature Preserve: Nancy Creek and Mill Creek.

Through her efforts we hope to discover not only what type of fish, amphibians, and insects call these creeks their homes, but also to explore ways in which we can improve their quality of life, and appeal to a more diverse range of aquatic species.