Meet the Staff

The Environmental Education Team

Jacque Bazelow
Animal Care Assistant & Environmental Educator
Raised in the foothills of the Shawangunk Ridge, there were only two places I could be found as a child - exploring the forest and spying on the local fauna or reading a book. Truth be told, more often than not you would actually find me curled up in a tree accomplishing a little bit of both. From the bears that traversed our yard at dusk, to the deer that took sanctuary in our gardens, I was raised on the belief that I shared their world as much as they did mine. This is a philosophy I have carried with me throughout my life and into my teaching career.
The appreciation that I developed for the wildlife around me as a child only grew over time, and when I joined the New Canaan Nature Center in 2012, I was given the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge with those who want to explore the mystery that is nature. I strongly believe there is nothing more important than helping a child to grow a love of our natural world that they will carry with them always. I strive to find that purpose within each day.

Bill Flynn
Director of Animal Care & Environmental Educator
I was born and raised on the mighty Mississippi River in Bettendorf, Iowa, and enjoyed all the natural wonders the Midwest had to offer. I discovered my passion for nature as a child fishing the Boundary Waters, going to summer camp in Northern Minnesota, and playing in the woods next to my house instead of being glued to the television.
I earned a degree in Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I furthered my love for the outdoors. I love to travel and see new places, and have thus enjoyed living and teaching in Ohio, Southern California, and Connecticut. My travels and love of travel are a direct reflection of my educational philosophy: Experience is everything! You will never fully understand a person, place or concept until you experience it. I joined the Nature Center in 2010 and whenever possible I love to be out in the natural world and sharing it with others.

Chris Hendershot
Director of Education Programs & Environmental Educator
I was born and raised on a small family farm in upstate New York and, as with a farm family, I learned 2 things: work hard and get outside! Every day my brothers and I explored our woods, fields, and ponds (swimming where we shouldn't!). That belief still is with me today (except the swimming part). As an adult I love to hike, fish, and play outside with my son and hope he will catch the same feeling and work ethic.
I graduated from SUNY Cortland with a degree in recreation education and minored in outdoor/environmental education. This experience allowed me to spend time working in the Catskills, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. Originally I wanted to teach in a traditional setting, but found using the outdoors as my classroom gave me so many more choices. I have been fortunate to speak at various environmental conferences about my work with nature-based alternative high school programs and my most recent achievement has been to begin my Master Naturalist training through Cornell University (Almost done!).
My most current passion has been biodiversity studies relating to forests and water quality. Studying the relationships of tree and plant species, diversity of the many species, and how they are related to keeping water healthy for all of us has really opened my eyes to the continuous connections in nature and the fact that we have so much to learn! I really look forward to sharing nature with you!

Derick Hips
Lead Environmental Educator & Birthday Coordinator
I was born in Chepachet, RI in a small house in the woods. Right out my back door was a new world to discover each and every day of my childhood. Whether it was chasing squirrels, digging snow tunnels, or building tree houses, we were always looking for adventure in the natural world. As life progressed, my love for nature continued to grow. After studying Biology at Francis Marion, I decided to work as a counselor at a YMCA Summer Camp in the mountains of North Carolina. It was through this position that I not only reconnected to nature, but found my love for working with children as well.
Through my summer camp position I was introduced to Environmental Education. I worked for 2 years at YMCA Camp Harrison as an environmental educator and ropes course instructor. In 2007, I moved back to the Northeast and worked at Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskills of NY as a full time Environmental Educator for five years. Now that I am here at the New Canaan Nature Center, I have the opportunity to spread my knowledge, love of nature, and energy to children and adults alike. Filling the role as Birthday Coordinator is the best because I am presented with the opportunity to reconnect whole families and their friends to the natural world. I am so excited to be here and be part of this great community!

Michelle Hips
Director of Community Engagement & Environmental Educator
Born and raised on the north shore of Long Island, NY, nature has always been an essential part of my life. Whether I was stealing string beans from my father's garden, frolicking in the ocean waves while pretending to be a dolphin, or embarking on epically adventurous vacations with my family, the great outdoors has always seemed beckon me: "Come and play!" This was probably why, as a young girl, it was my dream to grow up to be either A) a pet store owner or B) Pocahontas. While today I can sadly say that I have become neither, it is clear that my childhood interest in all things nature has continued into adulthood.
As a result, I spent a semester studying sustainable development in Costa Rica while pursuing a bachelor's degree in International Studies from Fairfield University. Since graduating, I have been extremely lucky to discover my true passion for environmental education, most recently working at a residential YMCA in the Catskills of NY before coming to the Nature Center in 2012.
One of my favorite things about working in this field is being able to provide quality outdoor and experiential opportunities for people of all ages. And here, as the Visitor Experience Manager and an Environmental Educator, I can do just that every day by encouraging preschoolers to jump in puddles, handling owls for live bird of prey programs and planning for our next big public events, to name just a few aspects of my multi-faceted job. In short, a day at the Nature Center is always like another new adventure…and I love that!