Meet the Camp PAWS staff

Gary Wilbanks

Lead Humane Educator—Elementary Aged Youth

What is your education background?

Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and master’s degree in Reading Instruction.

How long have you worked with children?

37 years

What are your interests outside of work?

I enjoy walking my dog, spending time with my family, being active, and reading.

What are you looking forward to about camp this summer?

I am looking forward to meeting and teaching kids who are passionate about animal welfare.  I hope to see a lot of familiar faces and to meet many new campers.  I feel like we have an amazing camp planned and I am anxious to share it with you.

Alex Rodriguez

Humane Educator

What is your education background?

Bachelor’s degree in Sociology

How long have you worked with children?

7 years

What are your interests outside of work?

I love hanging out with my family and friends and taking care of my many animals!  I also like playing video games and doing yoga.

What are you looking forward to about camp this summer?

I am looking forward to the entire thing!  This will be my first summer working at Camp Paws.  I am so excited to meet all the different kids that will be attending, and I hope to make a positive impact on them and their view of animals.

Jen Barrett

Lead Humane Educator—Teens and Adults

What is your education background?

B.A. in Psychology

M.Sc. in Applied Animal Behavior and Animal Welfare

How long have you worked with children?

Approximately 10 years.  I’ve worked at summer camps, leadership camps, school age child care, and now here!

What are your interests outside of work?

Hanging out with my cats, gardening, crafting/sewing, and reading!

What are you looking forward to about camp this summer?

I’m excited to be more involved with Camp Purrs this summer! I love all the new projects, crafts, and lessons.

Tareasa Drewior

Humane Educator

What is your education background?

B.S. Wildlife Biology with an Environmental Studies minor.  I’ve also taken numerous courses on animal behavior.

How long have you worked with children?

I’ve worked at HSHV for 11 years with the most recent experience during the past year in the Humane Education department.

What are your interests outside of work?

Anything outdoors—hiking, fishing, biking, and swimming.  I also play on a kickball team in the summer.  Lounging/napping with my pets is another one of my favorite things to do.

What are you looking forward to about camp this summer?

The warm and sunny weather, spending more time outside, and getting to play lots of fun games with everyone.

Anna Choi

Humane Educator

What is your education background?

I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Health with a minor in Social Work.

How long have you worked with children?

I have worked with children in various summer camps, after school programs, and educational settings for 5 years.

What are your interests outside of work?

I enjoy reading, crafting, spending time outdoors, and finding places to try new foods!

What are you looking forward to about camp this summer?

I am super excited to meet and get to know all of the campers and share our love of nature and animals!

Kirsten Kendrick

Humane Educator

What is your education background?

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Bachelors of Art in Spanish.

How long have you worked with children?

6 years!

What are your interests outside of work?

I love playing with my pets (a rough collie and a black cat—so far!).  I love practicing and teaching Spanish, and I love watching movies with my family!

What are you looking forward to about camp this summer?

I am looking forward to helping kids learn about animals and animal welfare, and connecting with kids and animals!

Jessie Hitt

Director of Humane Education and Community Engagement

What is your education background?

B.A. in English

M.A. in Humane Education

How long have you worked with children?

I babysat as a teen, but I’ve had a career working with children for almost 8 years.

What are your interests outside of work?

Reading, visiting nature preserves, napping with my cats, and spending time with my family.

What are you looking forward to about camp this summer?

I’m looking forward to catching up with returning campers and getting to meet new ones!

Karen Patterson

Vice President of Humane Education and Volunteers

What is your education background?

I attended U of M for my undergrad (Go Blue!) and graduated with a B.A. and elementary teacher certification.  I have a M.Ed degree with a specialization in humane education and am also a Certified Humane Education Specialist.  I am also fully certified in First Aid and CPR (child and adult) and have completed the Mental Health First Responder training as well.

How long have you worked with children?

I have worked with children for over 25 years in a variety of settings!  I have been an elementary classroom teacher for 12 years, worked as a lead teacher at a preschool for 5 years and have worked in humane education at HSHV since 2011.

What are your interests outside of work?

When I am not at HSHV I love spending time with my son, taking my dog for long walks and being outdoors.  I enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, and eating anything with lots of chocolate in it!  I also love learning about animals and working with children, which are two of the best parts of my work at HSHV.

What are you looking forward to about camp this summer?

Camp is our busiest season that brings lots of fun, learning, and animal snuggles!  I am looking forward to seeing lots of new faces as well as welcoming back the many families who have been part of our camp program in years before.  We will have a great summer!