Our Staff and Educators
Kevin McCauley, Executive Director
Growing up on the 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 and as an active part of my community, he was drawn to the Preserve. Nancy Jones’ inspirational work first to create a greenspace from scratch and then to turn it into a rich learning and research center was hard to resist. Starting first as a volunteer 12 years ago, then as a Board member and most recently on staff he has seen it grow. And now he is working to continue the mission to create a place where those personal experiences with nature inspire others to appreciate and preserve the wonders of our world right in our own back yard.
Amy Zvonar, Education Director
Amy Zvonar is a Georgia native and a graduate of Agnes Scott College with a Bachelor’s degree in biology. Her passion for environmental education began with a college internship at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Since then, she has taught on whale watching boats in the Gulf of Maine, the beaches of St. Simons Island, GA, the coast of Long Island Sound, and the streets, city parks, and classrooms of New Haven, CT. Amy earned her Master’s of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she focused on how to improve environmental education experiences for young children in urban environments. After seven years in the Northeast, she is excited to return to Georgia and continue her work in environmental education.
Amy, her husband, and their quirky dog, Solon, currently reside in Athens, where her husband is pursuing a PhD in Education from the University of Georgia. They enjoy bird-watching and hiking and are excited to enjoy all the nature Georgia has to offer!
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.
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.
Maddalena Alvarez, Communications and Marketing Coordinator
From just north of the perimeter, Maddalena Alvarez grew up in East Cobb, but later fell in love with the city of Atlanta as soon as she attended Georgia State University. She will receive her Bachelor's degree in english with a concentration in Rhetoric and Composition in summer 2017. Most of her high school and collegiate years were spent on the Chattahoochee River as a rower, and she developed an ever-long appreciation for nature. She is also passionate about communicating with people on issues regarding physical and mental health, the environment, and political issues.
Lauren Reynolds, Environmental Educator
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
Linda Reed, Environmental Educator
Linda began her Environmental Education career when her daughters were in elementary school. They grew up loving the outdoors through hiking, camping and horseback riding. Linda grew up needing to be outdoors, in any weather.
Her earliest memories as a child are of being outdoors discovering plants and animals, and climbing trees. Linda enjoyed the freedom of riding her horse in the woods, and in the woodlands near the Chattahoochee River. Being a native Atlantan, she has seen the changes that come with city growth, and the shrinking natural areas around the city.
A graduate of Berry College with a BS in Animal Sciences, with emphasis on Biology and Chemistry, Linda had plenty of opportunities to be outside. She had the opportunity to study at the Gulf Coast Research Lab, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. She continues her training with the DNR, particularly with the Outdoor Wildlife Leadership School, in which they study Georgia ecosystems in the field, and is certified in many programs through the DNR and Forestry Commission. Linda began writing grants and teaching outdoors in the early 90’s, when she realized that fewer and fewer children were having ample quality time outdoors in Nature, and has taught through several Environmental centers around the city, including a wonderful summer along the Atlanta Beltline Arboretum, with Trees Atlanta.
Linda's love and respect for the outdoors, and learning how to protect and respect wild areas, reaches into her teaching. Whether adults or children, she see the benefits of time in Nature, and strives to share with Girl and Boy Scouts, Campers, Students and other explorers. In particular, teaching in and around the city has shown her that city people sure do love being outside! Please come join her at the Preserve!
Christy Baker Knight, Environmental Educator
A naturalist illustrator and instructor for over twenty years, Christy works as an Art and Environmental Educator for Blue Heron. She earned a B.A. with Distinction in Art from the Colorado College and worked as an Exhibit Designer for Fernbank Museum of Natural History, launching the Museum from the Science Center with a team of accomplished artists, scientists and educators. Christy then began creating illustrations and product design at fieldandstudio.com for clients such as Chronicle Books, The Nature Conservancy and the Humboldt Field Research Institute. She was also awarded commissions to produce murals for several public libraries and private residences in Georgia while exhibiting and selling her botanical paintings nationally. Christy instructs a wide audience of all ages and abilities in drawing and painting techniques of natural history subjects and for over a decade has run the popular Paint Box Mystery Classes and Camps, helping our kids be kids by slowing down, connecting with nature and tapping into creativity. She enjoys writing environmental fiction as @talkingflowers on Wattpad, going on outdoor adventures with her family, and running on the river trails with a rescue dog who rescued her back.
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.