Staff Bios

Ron LawrenzRon Lawrenz
Ron's ethic and interest in nature was first kindled as a child in the dune country along the southeast shores of Lake Michigan. He attended Michigan State University and in 1970 and graduated with a B.S. in Limnology and Fisheries Biology. He was subsequently accepted into graduate school at Central Michigan University where he earned a M.S. in Aquatic Ecology (Biology) in 1975. While in graduate school, Ron was appointed the first Director of the CMU Elk River Aquatic Ecology Field Lab. He moved to Minnesota in 1975 where he was subsequently employed for 14 years as a Research Scientist and Director of the Surveys and Review Unit for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In 1989 he accepted the position as the first Director of the St. Croix Watershed Research Station, a new environmental research facility owned and operated by the Science Museum of Minnesota. In 1999, Ron accepted a promotion to become Head of the Science Division for the Museum in St. Paul. In 2006 he was appointed as the third Director of the Lee and Rose Nature Center. Ron has over 32 years experience in field research and directing natural history based programs. His special interests include paleoecology, aquatic ecosystems, geology, and promoting the development of a public appreciation for nature.

Julie GrecianJulie Grecian
Assistant Director
Julie began working at Warner Nature Center in 2005 after moving to Minnesota from Chicago, Illinois. She earned a bachelor's degree in Public Policy/Environmental Science and Management from Indiana University and a master's degree in Environmental Studies from University of Illinois at Springfield. Julie brings a variety of experiences from the environmental policy and education fields to Warner Nature Center, including state and local government, international non-profits, nature centers, science museums, and environmental corporations. Julie coordinates all education programs at the nature center, including the volunteer and internship programs. Julie enjoys spending time reading, kayaking, birding and traveling with her husband and children.

Kathy FesteKathy Feste
Interpretive Naturalist/Exhibits Coordinator
Kathy has been a naturalist at Warner Nature Center since 1995. She has a B.S. in Natural Resource Management/Environmental Education and Interpretation from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Kathy worked as a park ranger for the National Park Service for 13 years before coming to Warner Nature Center. At Warner, she devotes part of her time to teaching environmental education classes and part of her time to exhibit design and development, and computer graphic design projects. Kathy's special areas of interest include kayaking, wilderness skills, backpacking, block printing, and mosaics.

Paul SmithsonPaul Smithson
Interpretive Naturalist/Avian Coordinator
Paul has over 10 years of experience working in outdoor and environmental education settings, he started at Warner Nature Center in September 2004. Between stints as an educator at Camp Olson YMCA, Wolf Ridge ELC, Fort Edmonton Park, and Quarry Hill Nature Center he has also worked as a biological technician on projects ranging from songbird surveys in the jack pine forests of WI, to root analysis of prairie plants in Alberta, Canada. At Warner, Paul is responsible for the bird banding program, raptor program and the natural history collection that Warner houses in the Trailside Museum. During the school year, Paul focuses on teaching and his avian duties. During the summer he teaches summer camps.

Krista BillerbeckKrista Billerbeck
Outreach Naturalist
Krista joined the Warner community in 2013. Prior to being the Outreach Naturalist and Natural History Instructor at Warner, she worked for Three Rivers Park District for four years. Krista also gained experience at Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Wisconsin and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. She graduated with degrees in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies from St. Olaf College. Krista enjoys bringing natural history instruction into classrooms and community events around the area, as well as working with children in the fantastic natural resources found at Warner.

Kelly AmothKelly Amoth
Interpretive Naturalist/Collections Coordinator
After graduating from the University of Georgia with degrees in English and Ecology, Kelly began her foray into environmental education teaching at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in central Georgia. Feeling the need to experience a real winter, she decided to move to north of the 45th parallel and become a graduate naturalist at Wolf Ridge ELC. The first northern Minnesota winter was an adventure and solidified her passion for teaching outside, no matter the climate. Kelly spent a year at Carpenter Nature Center working as a member of AmeriCorps. She then returned to the North Shore for a second year at Wolf Ridge. With three Minnesota winters under her belt, she is really looking forward to cross country ski season. If not having adventures geocaching, or watching college football during the fall, you'll be likely to find Kelly knitting or running, but never both at once as it is too dangerous. Kelly is really excited about joining the Warner team and having the opportunity to work with the raptors and continue teaching!

Kat WoodKat Wood
Program Coordinator
Kat joined the staff of Warner Nature Center in the fall of 2018. After graduating with a Biology degree from the University of the Cumberlands, KY, she explored the field of environmental education through internships in South Carolina and Minnesota. After completing a Master’s degree in Forestry from the University of West Virginia, Kat worked on an organic CSA farm and as a substitute teacher while earning a teaching license in life sciences from St. Catherine’s University, MN. After teaching middle and high school science in the classroom, Kat is excited to be back at a nature center, working to make the experience of natural beauty and connectedness possible for kids of all ages. Some favorite projects she likes to work on and learn more about involve urban gardening, wild edibles, and food preservation.

Kelly VanBoovenAnn Kirn
Volunteer Coordinator
Ann has over twenty years of experience creating direct to consumer communications, and developing and executing sales and marketing strategy. She has worked for UCare Minnesota, UnitedHealthcare, and Center for Diagnostic Imaging. A lifelong volunteer, Ann has created and managed all-volunteer events. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College. Her childhood was spent growing up the hardwood forests of eastern Dakota County, Minnesota, and taking canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Ann enjoys the changing seasons of the midwest, often while hiking, kayaking, bicycling, and bird-watching. Ann is passionate about helping others connect with nature and in her role supporting volunteers and the naturalist team.

Mick KellyMick Kelly
Mick has worked at Warner for 7 years. He previously retired from Deluxe Check Printers where he worked for 29 years. Mick is married with 4 kids and 9 grandkids. He enjoys all outdoor activities.




Geoff UrbanGeoff Urban
Natural History Instructor
Geoff began his outdoor career right here at Warner in the summer of 1989 as the animal caretaker/groundskeeper after completing his B.S. in Renewable Natural Resources from the University of Arizona. He has worked on a part-time basis almost every year since, teaching mostly during the summer program at the nature center. He has also developed and taught programs for the Girl Scouts and the Edina Public Schools. During the school year, Geoff can be found leading groups for the Saint Paul Public Schools program at Valley Branch. Fishing is a past time favorite, along with playing sports (especially hockey) with his son.