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SMNHC Volunteers

Meet the dedicated SMNHC volunteers who give of their time and effort to assist with and teach our programs. If you are interested in volunteering, visit our Get Involved page for more information.

Staff and volunteers on ramp next to buildings







Daniel Bush 

Daniel, volunteer instructor at the SMNHC.

Daniel has been a volunteer at the SMNHC since March 2000. He is a New Mexico native and loves to work with kids. He enjoys camping, hiking, and visiting train museums. Daniel teaches our ecology field program and outreach programs, and he has helped SMNHC staff with various trail and construction projects. Over the years, Daniel has become an integral part of the staff here at the Center and we appreciate all of his many efforts.

Dave Weaver

Dave, volunteer at the SMNHC

"Volunteers Mike and Dave were outstanding. Thanks for all you do."

Dave has been a volunteer at the Center since 2011. He is a retired physical anthropologist who started his career in Arizona and New Mexico as an archaeologist and has worked all over the world while a Professor of Anthropology and Comparative Medicine at Wake Forest University. Dave has worked on various projects at the SMNHC, including trail maintenance, construction, cleaning and preparing animal skeletons, and public presentations. He particularly enjoys going out with the school groups and assisting with public events. Dave has spent years as a U.S. Forest Service volunteer and volunteers at Animal Humane in Albuquerque as well.

Michael Cox

Volunteer Michael standing in front of some juniper trees and smiling at the camera

"Mike did a fantastic job allowing students to explore and supporting their learning."

"Mike, our instructor, was wonderful. He was patient with the students and encouraged them to participate and think. He managed our time extremely well."

Michael came to us through the Bernalillo County Open Space Master Naturalist Program in 2012. He is a native New Mexican who grew up hiking in the Sandias and now enjoys introducing children to the mountain. He teaches our Ecology Field Program and outreach programs, and also helps out with the Sandia Mountain Bear Collaborative. Michael researched and wrote a history of the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, which can also be found under the "About" tab on this website.

Bev Riley

Bev, volunteer at the SMNHC.

Bev has been volunteering at the Center since Fall 2016, coming weekly to assist with our educational programming, during the school year and even in the winter.

In addition to the SMNHC, she also volunteers at Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico, where she's taken in and dropper-fed baby birds and cared for injured or orphaned wildlife that are brought to them. Here she is pictured with a resident barn owl.

Bev has 30 years of teaching experience with APS and CNM.

Ken Nicholson

Ken, volunteer at the SMNHC.

Ken has volunteered with us since 2016.

Ken was born and raised on the east coast of central Florida and enjoyed the outdoors, sailing on the intra-coastal waterway or body-surfing in the nearby ocean. After graduating from Florida State University, he became an Air Force officer addressing electronic warfare, defense suppression, special operations, and aerial reconnaissance during his twenty-two year career. He spent the next 18 years teaching defensive tactics to active duty MC-130H aircrews during their training at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Now, Ken is enjoying the outdoors again as a volunteer with the Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM), maintaining and building hiking trails and picnic areas in the local forest. He mans the FOSM Visitor Center at the top of the Sandia Crest, informing visitors of the local hiking trails. He also assists the local Air Force and Marine JROTC detachments at the local high schools. Ken volunteers regularly and assists our instructors as he can.

Katie Ziegweid

Katie grew up in Seattle, fascinated by marine invertebrates seen at low tides. She obtained her MS in Entomology in Tucson and fell in love with the southwest. After 21 years working in healthcare IT, Katie completed the Bernalillo County Master Naturalist program and began volunteering at the SMNHC in 2021.

Katie's interests include hiking, backpacking, cycling, and searching for fossils, ruins, and petroglyphs. She also has done and continues to do volunteer trail maintenance, working with various groups in AZ and NM.

Terri DeBacker

Terri is a volunteer at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

Terri grew up in Nebraska, where she first began hiking, cycling, camping, and spending quality time with sandhill cranes.

During her 28-year career as a Professor of educational psychology at the University of Oklahoma, Terri often traveled to New Mexico for outdoor pursuits and quickly became enchanted with the Land of Enchantment.

Upon retirement, Terri moved to Albuquerque. She loves watching students’ reactions to their time in the Sandia Mountains. Terri has been volunteering at SMNHC since 2022.

Monica Arguello

Monica Arguello is a volunteer at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

Monica is a retired educator who spent 25 years teaching and leading in Los Lunas Schools. Throughout her career, she held positions as a 5th grade teacher, assistant principal, and principal. One of her most memorable moments as a teacher was when she organized a Science Camp for her class and other 5th grade classes. This 3-day and 2-night adventure took place at Ghost Ranch in Northern NM, and it allowed her students to experience nature in a way that they never had before. Monica always believed that it was important to expose her students to nature, which is why she enlisted the help of personnel from the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center to facilitate their activities. Her volunteering for SMNHC was one of her goals after retiring to help them as they helped her students. She accomplished it beginning in 2022!

Monica's passion for nature and education led her to volunteer for organizations such as Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area. There, she helps to lead tours for students of various grade levels, teaching them about the basic elements of ecosystems. As a result, she recently completed a Master Naturalist class and is now an Interim Master Naturalist.

When she's not volunteering, Monica loves to hike with friends in the mountains of NM. In fact, her family even hiked the Inca trail in Peru together in 2015. She also enjoys riding her ATV in Carson National Forest and on her family ranch in Black Lake, NM.

Susan Gregory

Susan Gregory is a volunteer with the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

Susan began volunteering with SMNHC after retiring as an engineer in September 2023.

Susan’s career was diverse, first working as an avionics technician in the United States Air Force, then as a television broadcast engineer, an aerospace manufacturing manager, an environmental and energy consultant, and finally as a satellite systems engineer.

In addition to volunteering with SMNHC, Susan works with Friends of the Sandia Mountains building and maintaining trails. She is an avid hiker, mountain biker and long-distance cyclist. Susan also supports New Mexico animal humane organizations and is involved with rhino conservation efforts in South Africa. She is passionate about environmental conservation and is excited to be learning and working as a volunteer with SMNHC.

Al Youberg

Al Youberg, pictured here holding a snake, is a volunteer at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

Al came to SMNHC via the 2023 Bernalillo County Master Naturalist Program. Al has lived in New Mexico for 57 years, and in the East Mountains for the last 22 years.

Originally, Al's intent was to teach high school biology and he was pursuing that career when the Air Traffic Controllers Strike in 1981 presented an employment opportunity. He spent the next 26 years working for the FAA. Now retired, he has returned to his first love of nature and teaching young people to enjoy and be a responsible part of it.

Elizabeth (Beth) Kassay-Padilla

Beth Kasey is a volunteer as of 2023 at the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center.

Beth lives in the East Mountains, and the Sandia Mountains bring her joy everyday! She is a retired Art Teacher from Albuquerque Public Schools. As an APS parent and teacher, the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center has long been a favorite place of hers. She was fortunate enough during her last few years with APS to tag along with fifth grade classes and watch their excitement and wonder as they experienced the mountain trails. She would incorporate an art project back in her classroom, asking students to be a Cartographer and create map art based on their day in the Sandias. It was one of her favorite art projects to do with with her fifth grade students.

As part of her retirement, Beth had no problem figuring out where she planned to volunteer. Not only is art and art making a passion of hers, she also loves hiking, being outdoors, and spending time in our National Parks. She does her best to keep our natural environments and their ecosystems healthy. Beth hopes to share that love with all the students who come and spend a day at the SMNHC. They are our future forest friends.