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Environmental Policy and Information Center (EPIC)

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Our Staff

Dr. Jennifer (Niki) Wayner:  Assistant Field School Director

Dr. Niki Wayner was raised in Alabaster, Alabama.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Sciences from Auburn University.  After graduating, she became the Raptor Director for the McDowell Environmental Center.  After several years, Dr. Wayner returned to Auburn and received her Master of Agriculture degree in Animal Breeding and Quantitative Genetics and then a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.  Dr. Wayner had practiced small animal medicine in Fort Payne, Alabama for ten years prior to her arrival at the Little River Canyon Center.  She was involved in numerous aspects of the community and continues this involvement to this day.  In 2016, she returned to her love of teaching and began working as the Assistant Director for JSU Field Schools at the Little River Canyon Center.

Email:  jwayner@jsu.edu
Phone:  (256)845-3548

Najeda (Jade) Patolo: Education Program Associate

Jade Patolo is the Education Program Associate for the EPIC and Field School Program.  Ms. Patolo has a professional background in international development, environmental education, health education, and research.  After receiving her master's degree in Geography from Texas State University, Ms. Patolo worked extensively in water-related policy and citizen science through the statewide Texas Stream Team program.  In Alabama, she continues to work in resource management and outreach through a bottom-up approach to ecosystem valuation in the community.  Ms. Patolo is the co-founder fo the Jacksonville River Monitors chapter of the Alabama Water Watch and enjoys spending her free time volunteering with various organizations.  She is former Peace Corps Volunteer and comes to the EPIC team from Honolulu, Hawaii where she was Deputy Director of Business Operations for the Pacific Gateway Center working in agriculture, food services for rural entrepreneurs, and labor trafficking Victims.  

During her Peace Corps service in Belize for the Rural Family Health Program, Ms. Patolo taught bilingual classes (Spanish/English) in health and agriculture in formal and informal settings.  At the university level, she has also given courses in Geography as a lecturer at Jacksonville State University.  Ms. Patolo also has experience as a coastal community resilience consultant for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Mexican and U.S. gulf coast states.  She enjoys working with children, travel, learning, meeting new people, food rock climbing, and absolutely anything to do with water.

Niki Wayner_Staff page

Freddy Mederos:  Coordinator, Conservation, & Facilities

Freddy Mederos was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and made Northeast Alabama his home in 2002.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources from Jacksonville State University.  In 2014, he began working at the Little River Canyon Center as the Coordinator of Conservation and Facilities.  Freddy can be found at the Canyon Center at all times.

Email:  federos@jsu.edu 
Phone:  (256)845-3548
Anna Lindsey: Coordinator, Canyon Center Sales and Services

Anna Lindsey is a native of Northeast Alabama where she was born and raised on a cotton farm in Cherokee County.  She is a graduate of Auburn University where she studied Agriculture Business and Economics.  Soon after graduation, Anna began her career at the Little River Canyon Center as the Sales and Services Coordinator.  After five years with Jacksonville State University, Anna is now the Sales and Services Manager.  The successful start-up of the Canyon Center Gift Shop is one of Anna's proudest achievements.  Sales at the gift shop continue to increase year after year.  In addition to the expansion of the gift shop, event bookings have increased.  Some of the many events held at the Canyon Center include:  educational programs, weddings, workshops, and concerts.  Anna looks forward to continued growth and development at the Canyon Center.  Anna's favorite aspect of her job is diversity and anticipation of what each day will bring.  

Email:  lindsey@jsu.edu
Phone:  (256)845-7213
Anna

Steve White: Maintenance

Steve White has done a bit of everything, but for years, he managed Walmart's working indoors, under high pressure, with high volume retail sales and staff management responsibilities.  Now he is at the Canyon Center under nearly opposite circumstances.  Steve surrounds himself by nature and people who seek it out by visiting the Canyon.  Steve helps to keep the building orderly and presentable while always taking time to assist visitors.  A perpetual student of natural history he also volunteers for the National Park Service.  

Email:  swhite11@jsu.edu
Phone:  (256) 845-3548
Bill Garland: Research Assistant

Bill is a wildlife biologist and outdoor photographer. He retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with over 35 years of experience in wildlife biology and environmental science. He has worked for environmental consulting companies, the timber industry, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a BS in Wildlife Biology and a MS in Biology. He maintains full accreditation as a Certified Wildlife Biologist from the Wildlife Society. Though his position at JSU's EPIC, he is researching both biological and historical aspects of the mountain longleaf ecosystem. He has concentrated his efforts on the northern region of Alabama and northeastern Georgia. He is particularly interested in conservation biology issues related to forested landscapes.

 Sheila Hurtt: Gift Shop

A native to the region, Sheila has a fascinating background working in the world of corporate insurance until her early retirement.  Sheilia now works at the Canyon Center and volunteers much of her time to the National Park Service.  You can find her arranging beautiful and unusual gift selections in the Canyon Center Gift Shop or at the front desk, assisting school groups, international visitors and wedding parties.  Shiela began her work at the Canyon Center in February 2011.

Cheryl Tucker: Gift Shop

Cheryl Tucker was raised in Sand Rock, Alabama.  After attending Gadsden State Community College she was employed with TDS Telecom for 31 years.  She can now be found helping out at JSU's Little River Canyon Center's Gift Shop.

Tiffany A. Morgan: Secretary ll

An Atlanta, Georgia native, spent most of her summers in Alabama and fell in love with the rolling hills and forest.  Tiffany moved to Jacksonville, Alabama in the Summer of 1996.  After an exciting career as a salon manager at one of Atlanta's prestigious salons, Tiffany took a hiatus from the big city and moved to Jacksonville, Alabama.  In 2006, she started a career in JSU's Mail Center.  After a successful 6 year stay with the Mail Center, Tiffany, wanting to become more involved with the University's policy and administration, she decided to take on the role as Secretary ll in JSU's Environmental Policy & Information Center.

Email:  tamorgan@jsu.edu
Phone:  (256) 782-8010
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