Our Team

GALS Leaders 2020

Jackie Gerson is a co-founder of GALS and will be a trip leader for the third time this summer. She loves to hike, camp, bike, canoe, kayak, or just spend time reading a good book outside. Jackie has a Masters degree in environmental engineering and is currently earning her PhD in ecology. She studies contamination of the environment by human activities and has been fortunate to travel to both Peru and Senegal for her research.

Eleanor King is a North Carolina native who grew up hiking and camping with her family in the NC mountains. As of May 2020, she will have graduated with a BS in Environment & Sustainability with a minor in Politics from Catawba College. She is currently preparing to pursue a master’s degree in Conservation Science and Policy, where she will be continuing to research community-based conservation and environmental ethics in places like Madagascar. In her free time, she loves hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, and photography.

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Anna Nordseth is a tree enthusiast, lover of hot weather, and a professional at excitedly pointing out cute dogs to friends who have already seen them. She is pursuing a PhD in Ecology at Duke, studying the role of primates in tropical forest regrowth. Her love for the outdoors began at a young age hiking in Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains and tripping over every stick and rock on the trail. Over the years, her studies of natural science and her travels around the US and abroad have turned outdoor hobbies into a professional passion focused on environmental conservation. Despite her disposition towards tripping, Anna spends her days in the office daydreaming about rock climbing, running, cycling, or simply basking in the sun.

Lea Selby graduated from the University of Missouri in her hometown, Columbia, Missouri, with Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Sciences and Secondary Science Education. She enjoyed teaching 6-12th grade life science courses before deciding to pursue her Master’s of Environmental Management to expand her skills in community engagement in wildlife conservation. In addition to community outreach, Lea is interested in the cultural drivers of environmental behaviors across the world, particularly in rural areas.

Allison Stroman is a huge outdoor buff and loves to hike, bike, camp, paddleboard, run, and just be outside in nature. Allison didn’t grow up camping with her family, so when I started in high school it was all new to her. But she has been hooked ever since! Allison is originally from Wisconsin and still misses it there – especially all the snow. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Math and a Master of Education in Math Education, both from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is in her fourth year teaching high school math and works at South Iredell High School.

Kriddie Whitmore is a Durham native who graduated from Riverside Highschool. She holds degrees in Geology and Biology from Guilford College in Greensboro and a Master’s degree in Forestry from Virginia Tech. Currently, she is working as a Research Assistant at UNC Chapel Hill where she studies rivers that flow through the city of Durham and rivers in the wilds of Ecuador. She is also a Chemistry Instructor at a small Durham high school. Kriddie is always eager to explore the outdoors all sorts of different ways whether it be backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing or biking. She can’t wait to explore the forests of North Carolina with GALS this Summer.

GALS Team Members

Banks began the first inception of Frog Hollow in 1998 as a very tiny side business. In 2006 he re-envisioned the business to become his full time work. Banks has worked as an outdoor guide, instructor, and environmentalist since the late 80s, doing work such as the Adventure Director for Camp Frederick in OH facilitating team-building workshops through low and high ropes courses, and river trips, and Stewardship Coordinator for the Triangle Land Conservancy managing land and volunteers. He is an Eagle Scout, a trained American Canoe Association (ACA) Kayak Instructor, and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). His personal travels include numerous larger expeditions, highlights of these include: thru-hiking the AT, climbing Mt. Rainier, traversing the Baja, trekking the Annapurna’s in Nepal, and kayaking the Grand Canyon.

Luke Dollar is a National Geographic Explorer and a wildlife biologist with more than 25 years’ experience coordinating conservation, research, educational, and development programs. Dollar’s scientific research focuses on carnivores ranging from big cats to Madagascar’s largest carnivore, the fosa (Cryptoprocta ferox), and satellite analyses of their habitat. More than 50 percent of his overall efforts are concentrated on grassroots education and sustainable employment programs for local people sharing space with Africa’s predators. Dollar’s efforts have not only yielded a trove of data on carnivore biology and behavior, but his programs have led to the development of scholastic and sustainable business programs benefiting thousands of local subsistence farmers and their children.  He served as Program Director of National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative from 2009 to 2017 and is currently Bashore Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Environment and Sustainability at Catawba College and Adjunct Professor in the Nicholas School at Duke University.

Kelly Flanigan is Department Coordinator and Adjunct Professor of Environment and Sustainability at Catawba College.  Flanigan completed her Undergraduate in Environmental Studies at the University of Kansas with a focus on conservation and geography. She completed Service Learning, Geographic Information Science, and Geospatial Specialist Certificates. She completed her Masters of Science in Environmental Studies at Ohio University. Flanigan’s thesis is an occupancy study of small mammals and quantification of habitat loss in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar. She has placed an emphasis on the elusive carnivore, the Eupleres major, also known as the Western Falanouc. Flanigan hopes that her thesis research will assist with management strategies and educating resident communities in the park about their impacts on the surrounding ecosystem they depend on in order to work toward more sustainable development.

Jackie Gerson is a co-founder of GALS and will be a trip leader for the third time this summer. She loves to hike, camp, bike, canoe, kayak, or just spend time reading a good book outside. Jackie has a Masters degree in environmental engineering and is currently earning her PhD in ecology. She studies contamination of the environment by human activities and has been fortunate to travel to both Peru and Senegal for her research.

Emily Levy is a PhD student in the Biology Department at Duke University. Before coming to Duke, she was an AmeriCorps Intern and Field Instructor at Teton Science Schools. Emily studies behavior, physiology, and ecology of wild baboons. When she’s not studying baboons, Emily is usually outside, baking cookies, or cuddling with her dog.

Daiana Mendoza is a GALS alumni from the Summer of 2017. She will be graduating from Harnett Central High School this Spring, and majoring in public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Fall. She currently serves as a GALS intern, helping run social media, newsletters, and the website.

Mercedes Quesada-Embid is an interdisciplinary scholar with research and teaching interests spanning the social and natural sciences, as well as the humanities. Her interests gravitate toward and explore an array of eco-egalitarian concerns, in particular, the role of socio-ecological resilience as it relates to local and global sustainability efforts. Key to this work is an understanding of communication strategies. The political sphere that revolves around legislative and social change requires strategic listening and communication skills, an organized vision for long-term impact, and an ability to support and mobilize concerned citizens in a transparent, effective, and relevant way.

Natasha Teasley is a Durham native. She has a BS from Western Carolina University with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management, Outdoor Leadership and Instruction concentration, and is a member and alumni of the Wilderness Education Association. Natasha has guided caving, hiking, backpacking, canoe and kayak trips through the southeast. She joined the Frog Hollow Outdoors team in 2004 and now serves as the operations manager. When she isn’t in the office or on trips with Frog Hollow she enjoys hiking and trail running, snow skiing, attending music festivals, and playing dress up with and throwing sticks for her rescue pit bull, Dove.

Emily Ury is a GALS co-founder and outdoor enthusiast. She began leading backpacking trips in the Northeast while attending Williams College (‘13). Emily is an ecosystem ecologist and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree studying the effects of sea level rise and salinization on the coastal wetlands of North Carolina. She is particularly interested in understanding how restoration and environmental management can be used to mitigate the negative effects of climate change to preserve native habitats and ecosystem services.  When she’s not in the swamp conducting her research, Emily enjoys spending time in the mountains or on the water on her paddle board.

Lisa Wear is a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator and serves as the Director of Horizons Unlimited Science and Technology Center for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.