Meet the Team

 
Willa Leannah, 4K Nature Preschool Teacher

wleannah@sheboygancountyymca.org

Willa started working for Camp Y-Koda and the YMCA in 2018, as our first Nature 4K Preschool Teacher at Maywood Environmental Park. As a child she attended YMCA camps and grew a passion for being in the great outdoors, which she currently gets to do in this role. Willa has a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from the UW-Milwaukee, a Bachelor's Degree in Education from the UW-Oshkosh and is DPI certified. She was previously a teacher at Kindercare Learning Center and Preschool, and experienced being a Field Trip Coordinator at the Above and Beyond Children's Museum. Her very first real teaching experience was in a one-room school in India. Willa's favorite activity with her students is putting down a big quilt, laying down and watching the wind in the trees. There is nothing better for Willa than instilling an appreciation and adoration for nature in little ones. In her free time she draws illustrations, plays music on her viola (and guitar), and taking her dog on long walks! 

 
Sarah Dezwarte, Director of Education

sdezwarte@sheboygancountyymca.org 

Sarah has a degree in Biology and Elementary Education, a graduate certificate in Leadership in Natural Resources from the UW-Stevens Point, and a Master's Degree in Educational Policy and Community Engagement from the UW-Milwaukee. She recently started a Ph. D. program in Education, where she plans to focus her research on the growing gap between children and nature. Sarah has a love for Lake Michigan and the learning opportunities it provides.  She has studied Great Lakes Ecology aboard the R/V Lake Guardian on Lake Superior and aboard the S/V Denis Sulivan on Lake Michigan.  In addition she has a strong passion for citizen science.  She believes the key to stewardship is involving the community in hands-on, real-life science.  Sarah has engaged the public in data-collection on the Sheboygan River Area of Concern for the past 10 years. When not working Sarah enjoys running, cycling, working out, hiking and spending time with her husband, Todd and her two children Ellison, Ethan and her yellow Labrador, Maggie. Her favorite Wisconsin animal is the Grey Fox.  She finds this secretive member of the canine family fascinating because they can climb trees, either to search for prey, sleep, or to escape from predators. They have strong, hooked claws that are unique among canines. This is her 15th year working full-time at Camp Y-Koda. She enjoys her position at camp because she likes working with children and loves teaching about the natural world. 

 
Mackinzi Beaty, Naturalist

mbeaty@sheboygancountyymca.org 

Mackinzi is an Environmental Education Specialist, the Maywood Summer Camp Director and Nature School Naturalist with Camp Y-Koda. Mackinzi has been working at camp since 2015. Before coming to camp she worked for the Wisconsin DNR as a Naturalist and Outdoor Educator. She has earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She enjoys working at camp because she loves being able to share her passion for nature with students and campers. Mackinzi hopes to create an appreciation for our environment and encourages nature exploration at any age. Mackinzi has many outdoor interests including kayaking, camping and hiking with her husband and two dogs. She also has many creative hobbies like woodworking, painting, and nature photography.

 
Mary Gross, Naturalist

mgross@sheboygancountyymca.org

Mary joined Camp Y-Koda as an outdoor educator in 2008.  Mary is also one of the Naturalists that support Camp Y-Koda’s Nature School.   Mary graduated from Indiana University with a Secondary Education degree and a Master’s degree in Biology and Natural Resources from Ball State University.   Prior to coming to Camp Y-Koda she taught high school Biology and served as a Naturalist in the Indiana State Park system.  Her favorite part of working at Camp Y-Koda is listening to all the camper’s questions about the plants and animals at camp.  She especially likes “stumpers” that make her go home and research the answer!  Mary loves to spend time with her family around the campfire.  Her hobbies include camping, hiking, beekeeping, candle making, and gardening.   Her favorite Wisconsin animal is the Northern Amber Bumblebee because they are BIG, beautiful, pollinators!