Ecological Literacy Immersion Program | Teachers | Omega

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This is a partial faculty list. Check back soon for additional 2016 teachers. 

Robert “Skip” Backus is chief executive officer of Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). He helped lay the foundation for Omega’s environmental and conservation initiatives, including campus recycling and composting, sustainable purchasing and support of local agriculture, water conservation, and 100% sourcing of campus electricity from wind and solar technology.  
Laura Weiland, assistant director of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), seeks creative ways to bring people together to find innovative solutions while also learning from each other. Her interests and studies span from farming and permaculture to sustainable development, community development, and eco-social design.  
Connor Stedman is an agroforester, ecological designer, and wilderness educator based in the Hudson River Valley. We are excited to have him join us as lead faculty during ELIP 2016! He has spent the last decade supporting students of all ages to build deep connections with the natural world as their ecological home. Connor now works with AppleSeed Permaculture and the Greenhorns to envision and design new patterns of regenerative land stewardship. He holds an M.S. in Ecological Planning from the University of Vermont.  
Abrah Jordan Dresdale is certified in Permaculture Design and holds a Master’s degree in Sustainable Landscape Design and Planning from the Conway School. Abrah lives in rural and culturally vibrant Western Massachusetts where she teaches courses on permaculture, food systems, and Jewish agricultural traditions at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Greenfield Community College, and Brandeis University Summer High School Programs.
Lois Guarino, Omega’s chief operations officer, created Omega’s People and Culture department. Her focus is on developing every aspect of the campus as a meaningful part of a learning community while exploring the concept of compassionate service at work as a spiritual development path. She is also an artist and writer and teaches classes on leadership, work/life balance, and the creative process.  
Tama Jackson, is the lead naturalist, tracker, and soil biologist on all design projects at AppleSeed Permaculture. Tama was certified as a permaculture designer at the Regenerative Design Institute, as a Non-Violent Communication leader and trainer at BayNVC, and organizes eco-social and regenerative agriculture events, including the 2012 Carbon Farming Course and the annual Northeast Permaculture Convergence.  
Ken Kuter is the Audio/Visual Manager in the Production department of Omega Institute. He spearheads Omega's composting initiative combining the waste streams of the kitchen, garden and grounds to educate and demonstrate on-site composting at a residential scale. He received his education from Master Composter Brian Hennessey and has consulted on farm and garden scale compost design throughout the U.S.   
Shabazz Jackson and Josephine Papagni are interested in building community capacity, addressing the social changes required to implement new behaviors towards consumption and waste. Based on permaculture principles, they have been able to achieve a dramatic reduction to waste streams, while enabling sustainable land management and food systems.  
Pete A. Muñoz, PE, LEED AP, cofounder of the eco­design organization SEEDS and senior engineer at Biohabitats, is a certified wastewater treatment plant operator. His areas of expertise include wastewater management, constructed wetlands, ecological design, and climate change solutions.  
Steve Gabriel is an ecologist, educator, author, and forest farmer who has lived most of his life in the Finger Lakes region of New York. He cofounded the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute and currently works for cooperative extension in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell, focused on permaculture and agroforestry research and education.  
Ken Greene started the Hudson Valley Seed Library in 2004 while working as a librarian at the Gardiner Public Library, in Gardiner, New York. Having developed a strong interest in preserving heirloom seed varieties, he decided to add them to the library catalog so that patrons could "check them out," growing them in their home gardens, and then "return" saved seed at the end of the season.   
Dina Falconi is a clinical herbalist with a strong focus on food activism and nutritional healing. An avid gardener, wildcrafter, and permaculturalist, Falconi has been teaching classes about the use of herbs for food, medicine, and pleasure (including wild food foraging and cooking) for more than 20 years.   
Ricky Baruc and Deb Habib, EdD, are founders of SeedsOfSolidarity, a visionary solar-powered farm and education center in Massachusetts that provides people of all ages with the inspiration and practical tools to use renewable energy and grow food in their own communities. Baruc and Habib share their 30 years’ of real-life experience growing food, while building a resilient community and a thriving relationship.   
Eric Toensmeier has studied permaculture and useful plants for over two decades. He is the award-winning author of Perennial Vegetables, and the coauthor of Edible Forest Gardens and Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City. He is also an appointed lecturer at Yale University, and an international trainer, presenting around the world.   
Sarah Urech serves as program manager of the Omega Women's Leadership Center. She is a Licensed Master's Social Worker and Certified Practitioner of Pyschodrama, Group Psychotherapy, and Sociometry.   
Ned Sullivan is president of Scenic Hudson, a nonprofit that works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. He is a former commissioner of Maine's Department of Environmental Protection and deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.   

Ethan Roland Solaviev, MS, is an international expert on edible landscaping, permaculture, and homesteading based in the Hudson River Valley of New York. His firm, AppleSeed Permaculture, has designed more than 2000 acres of permaculture landscapes, and manages a multistate installation team each year. Ethan joins the Omega team as the lead teacher in Omega's 2015 Ecological Literacy Immersion Program (ELIP). 


Dyami Solaviev is the principal, lead designer, and install manager at AppleSeed Permaculture. An educator and passionate permaculture designer based in the Hudson River Valley, she holds degrees in nature­based mentoring and in eco­social design from Gaia University, and is an instructor of Permaculture Design Courses from Vermont to the Virgin Islands. 

 Please note: Teachers and schedule are subject to change.