Who We Are

Our Staff

Laurie Seeman

Laurie Seeman

Founder/Director, Lead Artist/Educator

Laurie Seeman is an artist, naturalist and educator renowned for her pioneering work in the field of place-based art and environmental education. With founding Strawtown Studio in 2002 she combined her 20 years of experience as an artist, curator and creative entrepreneur with a passion for environmental stewardship and social justice. She also draws from experience in filmmaking and communications, ongoing study of the natural and ecological sciences with leading regional experts, and time with indigenous peoples.

Through Strawtown Studio, Laurie trains educators in methods of mentoring youth outdoors, and the principles behind engaging in nature, art and science discovery. Her hope is for more children to experience all the joys that come from being more creative and nature-connected.

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From her work with children outdoors along the waterways, Laurie has become a voice for the environment and a leader in regional water advocacy. She is the Founder of the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance, member of the Rockland Water Coalition, and Board Member of the Rockland County Task Force on Water Resources Management.

In 2019 Laurie received the NYS Assembly Woman of Distinction Award. In 2018 she received the Rockland County Executive Outstanding Environmental Leadership Award, and in 2012 the Nyack Center Women of Leadership and Vision Award. Additional awards for organizations she leads include: the EPA Environmental Champion Award, 2015; NY State Assembly Citation, 2015; and The Hudson River Stewardship Award, 2011.

Laurie’s efforts have resulted in raising a generation of youth knowledgeable about their surroundings, and forming citizen and government partnerships for change, bettering the health and well-being of our environment and communities.

Laurie Seeman

Founder/Director, Lead Artist/Educator

Laurie Seeman is an artist, naturalist and educator renowned for her pioneering work in the field of place-based art and environmental education. With founding Strawtown Studio in 2002 she combined her 20 years of experience as an artist, curator and creative entrepreneur with a passion for environmental stewardship and social justice. She also draws from experience in filmmaking and communications, ongoing study of the natural and ecological sciences with leading regional experts, and time with indigenous peoples.

Through Strawtown Studio, Laurie trains educators in methods of mentoring youth outdoors, and the principles behind engaging in nature, art and science discovery. Her hope is for more children to experience all the joys that come from being more creative and nature-connected.

Read More

From her work with children outdoors along the waterways, Laurie has become a voice for the environment and a leader in regional water advocacy. She is the Founder of the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance, member of the Rockland Water Coalition, and Board Member of the Rockland County Task Force on Water Resources Management.

In 2019 Laurie received the NYS Assembly Woman of Distinction Award. In 2018 she received the Rockland County Executive Outstanding Environmental Leadership Award, and in 2012 the Nyack Center Women of Leadership and Vision Award. Additional awards for organizations she leads include: the EPA Environmental Champion Award, 2015; NY State Assembly Citation, 2015; and The Hudson River Stewardship Award, 2011.

Laurie’s efforts have resulted in raising a generation of youth knowledgeable about their surroundings, and forming citizen and government partnerships for change, bettering the health and well-being of our environment and communities.

Joanna Dickey

Joanna Dickey

Program Director, Lead Artist / Educator

Joanna Dickey is a visual artist who joined Strawtown Studio as Summer Staff in 2003. She has been co-leading the programs and organizational development of Strawtown since it became a not-for-profit. Joanna has a fine arts degree with concentrations in painting and printmaking. As an artist and naturalist she loves guiding youth to explore the natural world in creative ways. She is trained in botanical study and excels in teaching art skills related to nature.

Joanna has over 10 years of experience curating and installing local and regional art exhibitions. She has collaborated on many projects, including murals, printmaking, and environmental art. In 2008, she co-founded and served as Secretary of the Garner Arts Creekside Plant Committee, which formed to ensure sustainable restoration of the banks of the Minisceongo Creek, that runs through the complex. Since 2010, she has trained in aquatic science monitoring and has co-led citizen science projects on local waterways.

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Joanna has studied nature, environment, and wilderness skills with Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School, Practical Primitive, the Nature Institute, and NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. She brings a wealth of skills to the team, such as program development, graphic design, administration, and grant writing. In 2009 Joanna received the “40 Under 40 Award” from the Rockland Economic Corp for her community leadership. She is a member of the Minisceongo Creek Watershed Alliance, and is currently studying Permaculture Design.

Joanna Dickey

Program Director, Lead Artist / Educator


Joanna Dickey is a visual artist who joined Strawtown Studio as Summer Staff in 2003. She has been co-leading the programs and organizational development of Strawtown since it became a not-for-profit. Joanna has a fine arts degree with concentrations in painting and printmaking. As an artist and naturalist she loves guiding youth to explore the natural world in creative ways. She is trained in botanical study and excels in teaching art skills related to nature.

Joanna has over 10 years of experience curating and installing local and regional art exhibitions. She has collaborated on many projects, including murals, printmaking, and environmental art. In 2008, she co-founded and served as Secretary of the Garner Arts Creekside Plant Committee, which formed to ensure sustainable restoration of the banks of the Minisceongo Creek, that runs through the complex. Since 2010, she has trained in aquatic science monitoring and has co-led citizen science projects on local waterways.

Read More

Joanna has studied nature, environment, and wilderness skills with Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School, Practical Primitive, the Nature Institute, and NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. She brings a wealth of skills to the team, such as program development, graphic design, administration, and grant writing. In 2009 Joanna received the “40 Under 40 Award” from the Rockland Economic Corp for her community leadership. She is a member of the Minisceongo Creek Watershed Alliance, and is currently studying Permaculture Design.

Ali Davis

Ali Davis

Artist/Educator, Media Content Manager

Ali came to Strawtown in 2013 as an intern and is now developing and leading programs. She has a Master’s degree in Applied Community Change focused on Conservation, along with a Bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in Psychology, with minors in Art and Education. Ali’s experience in the field includes working as a teaching assistant with children at Earthwork Wilderness Program in Massachusetts, and many years of experience trekking around the world, working on community service projects. She is currently a board member of the Peabody Preserve Outdoor Classroom in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

Ali Davis

Artist/Educator, Media Content Manager


Ali came to Strawtown in 2013 as an intern and is now developing and leading programs. She has a Master’s degree in Applied Community Change focused on Conservation, along with a Bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in Psychology, with minors in Art and Education. Ali’s experience in the field includes working as a teaching assistant with children at Earthwork Wilderness Program in Massachusetts, and many years of experience trekking around the world, working on community service projects. She is currently a board member of the Peabody Preserve Outdoor Classroom in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

Kris Hillen

Kris Hillen

Lead Administrator

Kris joined Strawtown in the Spring of 2018.  She comes to us with such varied experiences from administration at a private pre-school, to management at NYC’s Open Center. She moved to the Hudson Valley 10 years ago and loves its natural landscape and culture. Kris brings her experience working in the local community to Strawtown’s continued development as a community-minded program. She is the mother of two beautiful children.

Kris Hillen

Lead Administrator


Kris joined Strawtown in the Spring of 2018.  She comes to us with such varied experiences from administration at a private pre-school, to management at NYC’s Open Center. She moved to the Hudson Valley 10 years ago and loves its natural landscape and culture. Kris brings her experience working in the local community to Strawtown’s continued development as a community-minded program. She is the mother of two beautiful children.

Lorraine Marden

Lorraine Marden

Artist/Educator

Growing up in Vermont, Lorraine has always felt a deep connection to the natural world. She is a lifelong art maker and loves to work with children in deepening their connection to nature through art and science.  It was through the experience of helping Laurie Seeman to launch a hiking club that she began to understand the urgency and importance in helping to connect all ages with the natural world. Lorraine has her undergraduate degree in Communications with a concentration in art, and a masters degree in Special education.  During the school year she is a teacher at a small private progressive school.  If asked of her favorite way to spend a day, doing art with children in nature would be her answer any season of the year.

Lorraine Marden

Artist/Educator


Growing up in Vermont, Lorraine has always felt a deep connection to the natural world. She is a lifelong art maker and loves to work with children in deepening their connection to nature through art and science.  It was through the experience of helping Laurie Seeman to launch a hiking club that she began to understand the urgency and importance in helping to connect all ages with the natural world. Lorraine has her undergraduate degree in Communications with a concentration in art, and a masters degree in Special education.  During the school year she is a teacher at a small private progressive school.  If asked of her favorite way to spend a day, doing art with children in nature would be her answer any season of the year.

Natalie Russell

Natalie Russell

Artist/Educator

Natalie has more than 20 years of experience working with children, Pre-K to grade 12 as well as adults.  She enjoys teaching and developing interdisciplinary art curricula for a wide range of settings.  The foundation of her educational experience is rooted in Fine Art.  She brings a treasure trove of unique workshops and lessons to Strawtown in: drawing, painting, sculpture, culture, literature and poetry.  The intersection of science, nature, and art form the cornerstone of her own artwork and her art education practice.  She has a Masters degree from New York University.  

Natalie Russell

Artist/Educator

Natalie has more than 20 years of experience working with children, Pre-K to grade 12 as well as adults.  She enjoys teaching and developing interdisciplinary art curricula for a wide range of settings.  The foundation of her educational experience is rooted in Fine Art.  She brings a treasure trove of unique workshops and lessons to Strawtown in: drawing, painting, sculpture, culture, literature and poetry.  The intersection of science, nature, and art form the cornerstone of her own artwork and her art education practice.  She has a Masters degree from New York University.  

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of Strawtown over the years. You have individually and collectively made so many contributions that have touched many lives and helped to build our community!

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