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Oakley Biesanz2013 Rising Alumni

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Oakley Biesanz develops interpretive nature programs, coordinates community volunteers, and is an active member of the Minnesota Naturalist Association. She is a driving force behind community garden programs, focusing on multicultural and multi-age educational initiatives.


Maplewood Nature Center, City of Maplewood

CEHD Degree

M.Ed., Science Education

What gets you excited about work?

Helping others get excited about nature, getting to know the community, and helping implement nature-protection projects that spiral into enthusiastic voluntary community action!

When you have free time, what do you do?

Gardening and daydreaming about gardens. Reading to my son.

Who has inspired you the most during your career?

Bill Holden was a veteran teacher I taught under for high school biology student teaching. He was wise, thoughtful, and dedicated. Over ten years later, I still think of the countless small and big concepts he taught me that semester. Bill gave me many strategies for never, ever giving up on a student- no matter the attitude you are getting!

What is a good book you would recommend to others?

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is a touching and funny read about a tough lady with little previous wilderness experience, who rose to the challenge of the long hike and discovered beauty and healing as she went.

What is a fun fact about you?

I love to dance: African, Salsa, Haitian, Merengue, Hip-hop, Ballroom, Zumba. Whatever dance you've got, I'll try it and have fun doing it!

What was the impact and benefit of your experience in CEHD?

It shaped who I am as an educator. Many outstanding instructors including Mark Minger and Leslie Flynn guided our cohort through the program. These instructors provided multiple perspectives, teaching demonstrations, technology solutions, and lots of hands-on activities that I continue to use today in my educational programs.