2019-2020 NESS SEA Americorps Program Members

Colleen Boken

Colleen (Connell) Boken, an educator and adventurer by trade, is originally from South Pasadena/Los Angeles California and recently graduated from Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA) with a degree in History and Art History Visual Culture Studies. Having grown up surrounded by the San Gabriel Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, with trips to 26 miles across the sea to the oceanscapes of Catalina Island, she has come to appreciate the relationship that the oceans have to history and the importance of connecting ocean science to the humanities. Having gotten the opportunity to travel around the US, with trips along the Columbia River, the LA River and the Rio Grande, water has been a critical part of her life. She loves hiking, biking, adventuring, and swimming. Outside of oceans, Colleen has curated a show on Queer Alumni Artists, interned and helped to organize an exhibition on Adam West, was president of Tabletop Games and was proudly a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, the first transwoman in the Greek system at Whitman. Her favorite book is Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr., and she hopes to spend more time before the mast teaching and helping students develop the same appreciation for the oceans that she has developed.

Sierra Chmela

Sierra attended college on the shores of Lake Michigan at Loyola University Chicago where she graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.A. in Environmental Policy. She also earned a minor in French and spent a summer living in Grenoble, France. Additionally, as a certified diver, she has explored the underwater environments of Hawaii and the Cayman Islands. After internships with the Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Conservancy, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, she is excited to spend the year helping students learn more about the natural world. When she’s not serving with NESS, Sierra likes to read, hike, camp, and eat pizza!

Colleen Dollard

Colleen grew up on the coast in Groton, CT. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in geography and maritime studies. During her senior year, she studied abroad with SEA Semester where she learned how to sail on a tall ship and studied coral reef ecosystems and environmental change along the Western coast of the Lesser Antilles. Colleen enjoys being outside, reading, cooking, and hanging out with her cat, Pooch. She is looking forward to gaining more sailing experience and sharing her passion for the marine environment and ocean stewardship with students.

Niki Heun

Niki is from Salt Lake City, Utah and has loved living on the East Coast. She attended Eckerd College and obtained her degree in Environmental Studies. During her four years, she was on the women’s golf team and traveled abroad to four different countries, including the Bahamas, Ecuador, Cuba, and Guatemala. After graduating, she accepted a position at Zion National Park as a Youth Program Intern in their education department. Following her time there, she moved to Las Vegas and started a position at Lake Mead National Recreation Area as an Interpretation and Education Technician. This is her first time in Connecticut and she’s excited to explore the surrounding area and work with kids. She looks forward to working with kids to help them foster a connection with the outdoors and sharing her experiences with others.

Elisha Midyette

Elisha graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a BS in Environmental Earth Science in May of 2019. She was the president of the Environmental Club while also volunteering with the Connecticut Audubon Society, handling raptors, and teaching small groups of children about the flora and fauna of the area. Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, she worked out on the Long Island Sound on multiple islands owned by Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge while also providing reports of the coastal bird surveys and restoration efforts she did to American Conservation Experience in 2018. Elisha also mapped conservation areas owned by the state of CT for DEEP using ArcGIS software for public use through an internship as an undergrad. During her sophomore year of college, she tested and monitored water at public swimming areas around the eastern part of CT for Eastern Highlands Health District. Elisha is MOCC certified, CPR/First Aid certified, and 40-hour Hazwopper certified. Elisha enjoys to kayak, swim, hike and powerboat, but is excited to gain more experience with sailing, paddle-boarding and inspiring kids to pursue their passion as well.

Sam Most

Sam was born and raised on the coast of Massachusetts. He spent his early life in the water and on boats through the summer and stomping through the woods in the winter. He has had the opportunity to study and explore the Atlantic Coast, both academically and personally, and has had the opportunity to experience many other parts of the U.S. and some places abroad as well, such as Ecuador, Belize, and Scotland. He recently graduated from Clark University with a degree in Environmental Science and Conservation Biology. Sam is passionate about all living things and wild places. In his spare time, he likes to exercise, hike, read, and sleep. He is looking forward to sharing his knowledge and passion about the marine ecosystems of New England with students in New London. Moreover, he is excited to explore, work with, and be a part of the New London community.

Sarah Royce

Sarah is a  Connecticut native, growing up in historical Norwich. She graduated at Three Rivers Community College with an Associates in Liberal Arts and Science with Cum Laude honors. Her goal is to become an occupational therapist working with special needs children in the school system. Past job experience has included working in schools through photography, being a substitute paraprofessional for elementary age, and running a dog kennel. When not participating with NESS she is a mother of a ten year old boy, one year old pup, and two cats.

Janeidy Villar

A recent graduate of Eastern CT State University, Janeidy received her degree in public health with a minor in healthcare informatics. She has been dedicated to serving underrepresented communities and individuals in need since she first started volunteering in high-school. Janeidy is from Waterbury, CT and grew up fishing with her father and older sister. From a young age, she developed a passion for boating and aquatic life. During her time at ECSU, Janeidy was involved in several different extracurriculars but one of her most memorable was hosting a radio show with her friends for a few semesters. She hopes to eventually pursue a career outdoors focused on the changing patterns of animals and their ecological environments. Throughout her last three years at camp, Janeidy was a lifeguard, where she enjoyed helping others learn how to swim, and learned some sign language thanks to her campers. In her free time, you can find her actively sweating in a zumba class, painting abstract art, or practicing the piano. She loves eating many kinds of chicken wings (just not the hottest of hot) and is intrigued by various wildlife species.