Our Staff

Emily oversees day-to-day operations for the organization, including managing the finance accounts, website and social media accounts, e-mails, memberships, sales, scheduling outreach events, grant writing, agency agreements, facilitating partnerships with other local organizations, attending meetings of various groups related to the Shawnee National Forest and the community, and providing educational programming for children and families. When not working, you can find Emily hiking, trail running, camping, or just enjoying the outdoors with her family and friends.

Joan manages many day-to-day operations for the organization, including reporting on finances, promoting events, managing memberships, and much more – she basically keeps us functioning as smoothly as possible. She’s the best!

Pat York has been an active Friends of the Shawnee National Forest board member since January of 2014 and became treasurer in July. Pat retired from the Forest Service in November 2013 with 29 years experience working in six States on four National Forests, one research station, in one regional office and on a national enterprise team. She finished her full-time career on the Shawnee National Forest as Recreation Program Manager, however she is still active on an Inter-Agency Incident Management Team. Prior to working with the Forest Service, Pat was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, Central America. Pat obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from Purdue University and her Master of Science degree in Forestry (with an emphasis on outdoor recreation) from Southern Illinois University. As a retiree, Pat is active in her music hobbies teaching voice, singing in a women’s jazz trio and conducting rhythm and harmony workshops. She is also an active volunteer as Master Naturalist Trainee and member of several organizations involved in environmental support and education. With two boys in college, Pat enjoys retirement at her home in the woods near Carbondale

Susan Logue is a life-long resident of southern Illinois, living in the woods south of Carbondale. She received a bachelor of science degree in photography and museum studies from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Susan retired from SIU in 2012 after working there for over 34 years. For years she was responsible for library preservation, digital imaging, and web development for Morris Library. She was associate dean of the library for 7 years. When she retired, she was associate provost for academic administration, a position she held for 5 years. She also spent 3 years working as a paralegal assistant at a local law firm. She was a camp counselor for several years, working with the Girl Scouts and Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

Susan's interest in the Shawnee National Forest came at an early age. Her mother taught her how to identify edible plants in the forest as well as how to identify various species of native and endangered plants in the area. She also has been active in camping, hiking, kayaking, and backpacking since childhood. Susan also has a passion for nature photography. Her most recent outdoor adventures include several backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail as well as eco-tourism trips to Belize, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos Islands. Because of the benefits she received from her experiences in the Shawnee and other natural areas, she has a desire to do her part to encourage individuals to explore the benefits and rewards of spending time in nature, and to help preserve the treasure that is the Shawnee National Forest.

Chris Long – President
Long Forestry Consultation
VMC - the Vegetation Management Company
www.linkedin.com/in/chrislong99

Chris graduated from SIU in 1999 with a bachelor degree in business and a focus in entrepreneurship. He gained 4 years of corporate experience at MH Equipment Company in Peoria, IL, in the fields of accounting and safety and loss, and returned to southern Illinois in 2007 Chris to start his own company, Long Forestry Consultation LLC. In 2012 he returned to SIU to pursue an MBA. It was during this time that he worked at the Small Business Development Center consulting local entrepreneurs, served as President of the Graduate Business Association, was a founding member of the Graduate Saluki Investment Fund, participated in Toastmasters International, and sat on the Graduate Professional Student Council. Today Chris is back at Long Forestry Consultation and has started a second company called VMC - the Vegetation Management Company, which serves industrial and infrastructure clients with vegetation management services.

In his free time Chris spends time with his wife Caroll and their 2 children, tends to the family garden, and tries to catch a good movie with Caroll every once in a while.

Lucia Meijer lives in Cobden, and is a recent arrival in Southern Illinois. Inspired by her participation in the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist Program, Lucia has joined the Friends of Shawnee National Forest in the hope that she can give something back to the community that has done so much to protect the natural beauty and vitality of Southern Illinois. Lucia has decades of programming and administrative experience in governmental, non-profit, and volunteer organizations. Her work experience has focused on innovative training, education, assessment and treatment programming for agencies and professionals working with offender and substance-abusing populations.

Beginning in Chicago, Lucia worked as director of The Uptown Community Clinic where she learned about acupuncture as a treatment for narcotic addiction from Michael Smith, and then as training coordinator for TASC (Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime, now known as Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities) where she introduced a brief risk intervention for incarcerated individuals at risk for HIV infection. Lucia and her family moved to Seattle in the mid-80's where she managed a variety of government agencies for the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health and the Seattle-King County Department of Adult Detention including the King County Assessment Center for chemical-dependent individuals seeking state-funded treatment; the MOMS Project (a residential chemical dependency treatment facility for pregnant and parenting women); and the North Rehabilitation Facility (a 291-bed adult detention facility providing chemical dependency, educational, work and other rehabilitative programming). The North Rehabilitation Facility became the first correctional institution in North America to hold 10-day intensive Vipassana meditation courses for inmates (see "Mindfulness Meditation and Substance use in an Incarcerated Population" Bowen, Sarah et al. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 2006, Vol. 20, No. 3, 343–347).

Since 2002, Lucia has also served as a member of the North America Vipassana Prison Trust, an all-volunteer organization that provides 10-day meditation courses to inmates, and she has also served on the Board of the Illinois Vipassana Center, a meditation facility located in Pecatonica Illinois.

At a very young age, Tom Sadowski, became aware of the beauty the natural world has to offer. He was fortunate enough to have parents who took family vacations that were nature centric. His academic endeavors pursued a passionate respect of nature. He completed a Bachelors Degree in Ecology and a Masters Degree in Botany. This later degree was completed under the tutelage of a renowned taxonomist who introduced hundreds of students to the gems of Southern Illinois. Many were found in the Shawnee National Forest. Unable to find a career that afforded the luxury of being in nature while earning a living he pursued a career as a Forensic Scientist which provided the opportunity to put his academic training of the scientific method and reasoning to use. During his tenure as a Forensic Scientist, free time was spent experiencing the restorative powers that nature provides. As a retired person, he plans to spend even more time in nature with his wife, Shari, and to become a steward of nature.

Shari Sweeney-Sadowski is married to board member Tom Sadowski. She has lived in Southern Illinois for 24 years. She has 4 daughters, 2 stepsons and 6 grandchildren. Her love of the outdoors came naturally as she spent most of her childhood weekends camping with her family. Shari received a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education/Special Education from Lyons College in Batesville Ar, a Masters Degree in Teacher Leadership from SIU, and completed coursework towards a Masters Degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University. This past year she retired from teaching at Unity Point School in Carbondale, Il where she taught a multi-age (first/second) classroom for over 25 years. She was an organic farmer since about 1977 and retired from farming two years ago from her farm in Carbondale, Il (Greenridge Farm). Her hobbies are numerous but she loves gardening, hiking and kayaking in the beautiful Southern Illinois area. She also enjoys reading, knitting, crocheting, and traveling. Now that Shari is retired she plans to devote her life towards causes that address environmental and food security issues.

Christopher David Benda joined the Friends of the Shawnee National Forest Board of Directors in 2016. Chris works as a botanist for the Illinois Natural History Survey where his primary job is performing natural community assessments, vegetation sampling, and plant inventories. Chris moved to Illinois from California in 2004 and received a Master's Degree in Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign in 2007. He was the lead ecologist for the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory Update in southern Illinois from 2008-2012. Chris is currently president of the Illinois Native Plant Society and teaches the Flora of Southern Illinois at Southern Illinois University. He is an accomplished photographer and author of several publications about natural areas in Illinois. He is also known as Illinois Botanizer and can be reached through his website at: www.illinoisbotanizer.com.

Aur ‘da energy mon’ Beck is an energy efficiency advocate and is double NABCEP Certified with his company, Advanced Energy Solutions (www.AESsolar.com) installing solar since 1999. He is a founder and on the board of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (www.illinoisrenew.org). He has a weekly radio talk show,Your Community Spirit (www.YourCommunitySpirit.org), but he would like to be known mostly for Oil Addicts Anonymous International (a real 12 step program), www.IamanOilAddict.org.

Todd Carr has promoted the Shawnee National Forest as a tourism director from Hardin County, Illinois. He's written the book TRIGG'S OZARK TOURS AT SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST telling the story of how the Trigg Ozark Tours of the 1930s and 1940s were instrumental in the creation of the Shawnee National Forest. He helps coordinate the revival of the biannual Ozark Tours with the tourism officials from southeastern Illinois. Carr is Quality Director at the Hardin County General Hospital and serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations.

Amber Loos has been a Friends of the Shawnee National Forest board member since 2017. She is a native of northern Ohio, but has lived in Carbondale, IL for 9 years. She received her BA in Anthropology from Ohio University, a Masters in Library and Information Science from Kent State University, and a Masters in Public Health from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She is currently the Health Sciences Librarian at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is also working on a PhD in Health Education. Prior to working as a Librarian, Amber was an Americorps volunteer in Appalachian Ohio. Amber is interested in how nature impacts human health, as well as how we can live more mindfully with digital technologies. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and studying nature with her preschooler.