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Lake Katherine
In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.


Gareth Blakesley, Lake Katherine's Director & Chief Naturalist, served as a field supervisor for a restoration ecology firm before coming to Lake Katherine. Prior to his field experience, Gareth spent nearly four years employed as a Biology Laboratory Supervisor & Aquatic Invertebrate Specialist at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Gareth received a Master's Degree in Tourism and Conservation from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England and a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology from the University of Wales in Aberystwyth, Wales.

Bridget Provost is Lake Katherine's Coordinator of Business Operations and a graduate of Moraine Valley Community College. Bridget worked in accounting for both a large construction company and the regional distribution center of Dunkin Donuts. Bridget also managed operations for an area McDonalds.


Marian Sinkus, Lake Katherine's Environmental Educator/Naturalist, has served as the program coordinator for Lake Katherine for over ten years. During her tenure, the number of schools participating in field trips doubled, and as a result three times as many students have experienced Lake Katherine. Marian also developed the field trip tour guide volunteer program and created a number of new programs, including a new "Little Explorers" program for preschoolers and their parents. Marian received a Bachelor's Degree in Biology from Governors State University.

Sara Barnas, Lake Katherine’s Naturalist, joined us from the Wildlife Habitat Council where she provided over 6 years of technical advice and guidance to community groups and corporations. Starting as a Regional Biologist and then moving up to Manager of Conservation Planning she helped various organizations install ecological restoration projects, create corporate strategies and wildlife management plans, and build partnerships with local entities. Sara holds a degree in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan and regularly volunteers with local conservation groups.

Shamim Graff is Lake Katherine's Interpretive Educator. In this role she coordinates volunteer activities and develops educational displays. She has a Master of Arts in Zoology from Miami University, focused on community engagement in conservation, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Aurora University.  She is also a Certified Interpretive Guide and has experience in both oral and written interpretation.


Charlotte Ward is Lake Katherine's Marketing Coordinator; she has been with us since November of 2014. She has a BA in Journalism from the University of Teesside in Middlesbrough, England. Charlotte is also a ghostwriter and has previously worked for newspapers and magazines in London & Sydney.


In addition to the outstanding full-time professional staff at Lake Katherine, our committed part-time staff includes Business Aides Maggie Misch and Chantal Karge, Welcome Desk staff Therese Janus, Myra Zenke and Mary Law, Naturalists Brenda George and Barb Killelea, & Natural Resources Aides Dick Thomas and Jake Hynes. Our rental facilities are staffed by Joan Solle, Laura Shaw, Bridget Julian, Melanie Monroe and Laurie Drenth. Also assisting with our facility rentals and canoe/kayak rentals are Gus Diaz, Tyler Minogue and Matt Donahue.


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© 2019 Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens | Palos Heights, IL. All Rights Reserved.
Lake Katherine is owned and supported by the City of Palos Heights and managed by Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens.
Design and Development by J Rudny, LLC.