Junior Nature Camp Staff

The strength of Junior Nature Camp’s staff comes from their years of experience and varied backgrounds. Small group sessions are led by experts in their field including college professors, researchers, natural resource professionals, and professional interpreters. Former campers, now nature experts, return to serve as counselors and stay in the units with the campers. The Camper to Staff ratio never exceeds 5:1.

Jeff Altemus – Director

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Growing up in Michigan, Jeff was always interested in the outdoors — spending his free time on the lake, hiking in the woods or sloshing through a swamp. “Nature was all around us and it was ‘natural’ that I began to study it in earnest at a young age,” he recalls. Along with his twin brother Jon, birding and ornithology became his passion.

Jeff graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Geography and a master’s Degree in Education from West Virginia University. After working 33 years for West Virginia University he is temporarily retired, exploring North America with his family in an RV.

Jeff first attended Junior Nature Camp at the age of 11 years old. He progressed through the program as a C.I.T. and staff member until the age of 22. As a young man, Junior Nature Camp was the highlight of his year. Jeff states, “I could not wait for it to come each year and was very sad when it ended all too soon.”

In 2002, Jeff returned to Junior Nature Camp as director and has lead a resurgence and unprecedented growth in the program. While most campers remember him for flipping pancakes during breakfast, it is his leadership in connecting with past campers and attracting dynamic teachers that has cemented JNC well into its seventh decade. Jeff affirms, “I have always been interested in doing my part to take care of our natural environment and wanted to be in a position to make a difference. As Director of Junior Nature Camp, I am actively contributing to the nature education of young people. What better way to make a positive contribution to protecting our natural world?”

Lenny Muni – CIT Director

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Currently serving the Berea City School District, Lenny is the director of Camp Mi-Bro-Be, the district’s camping, nature and outdoor education program for 6th graders. Lenny also directs the School District’s planetarium. He is the current president of the Cleveland Astronomical Society.

In 1976, Lenny began attending Junior Nature Camp as the counselor in training director and has been C.I.T. director for more than 30 years. He also continues to be part of Oglebay’s Mountain Nature Camp staff, leading campfires and teaching astronomy. Lenny is an invited presenter for various nature organizations around the region including the Brooks Bird Club. His passion for teaching usually includes sessions on astronomy. Lenny is famous for his talented singing and guitar playing around the campfire.

Natasha Diamond – Program Director

Natasha DiamondNatasha’s love for nature and the great outdoors began at a young age on her family’s farm in Ohio. While in school, her focus became on raising awareness of the degradation of the environment around us. She is one of the founding members of the West Virginia University Student Sierra Coalition. Natasha went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Resources from WVU and a masters in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. She has worked for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center and in program and finance for the Mountaineer Area Council Boy Scouts of America.

The 2016 camping season will mark her 15th year of involvement with Junior Nature Camp. Natasha enjoys the opportunity to provide nature education to young people. It is her hope each camper finds something to take back to their lives — at home and at school — that will somehow change them and their small part of the world

Dave Sapienza – Naturalist

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Dave Sapienza first attended Junior Nature Camp in 1983 after the encouragement of his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Lenny Muni. Dave graduated from The Ohio State University in 1994 with a Bachelors degree in Environmental Interpretation, Communications and Education. He has worked as a Park Naturalist for Ohio State Parks since 1992 including Salt Fork State Park (1992-1994) and Lake Hope State Park (1994-present). In 1998, he was awarded the first Annual Bill Price Award for Interpretive Excellence in Ohio State Parks. In 2002, The Lake Hope Nature Center, which Dave directs, was voted the best in Ohio State Parks. He has also worked with Oglebay Institute as a R.E.A.P Assistant Director and a college intern and is a certified Ohio Peace Officer.

Annually, his creative morning programs are a highlight of the camp. Dave is a talented teacher, and his passion for exciting youth about the natural world leads to unique opportunities such as hand-feeding hummingbirds.