Who We Are

Our Staff

Laurie Seeman

Laurie Seeman

Founder/Director, Lead Artist/Educator

Laurie is passionate about deepening relationships with the natural world. In 2002, she founded Strawtown Studio and has since introduced thousands of children to learning through creative, hands-on art and science exploration in nature. Along her path from contemporary art advisor and curator in NYC, to nature-educator in the Hudson Valley, Laurie pioneered an innovative approach to learning—bringing her creative expertise and artistic lens to the field of nature-connected education. To her practice, 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.

Her strong relationships with children and the natural world influenced Laurie to rise as a leader in regional water advocacy, collaborating with leading science centers, environmental organizations, citizens, and governments to build partnerships for change. She is the founder of the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance, co-leader of the Rockland Water Coalition, and a board member of the Rockland Task Force on Water Resources Management. Laurie brings artful thinking into advocacy, and advocacy into teaching.

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Through Strawtown Studio, Laurie is also training educators on methods of mentoring youth outdoors, and the principles behind setting the stage for engaging art, science, and place-based education. Her hope is for more children to experience the joys that come from being more creative and nature-connected.

  • Education: Degree in Communications, FIT; Cornell Cooperative Extension for Non-Profits, Non-profit Leadership Training; NY State DEC aquatic citizen science trainings; Pfeiffer Center’s Biodynamic Agriculture Program; Hudson Riverkeeper Organization, watchdog training, water sampling training; The New York Open Center Sound and Music Institute, Integrative Sound and Music Training; and NY School of Tai Chi Chuan, certified teacher.
  • Awards include: NYS Assembly, Woman of Distinction Award, 2019, Rockland County Executive’s Environmental Leadership Award, 2018; Rockland County Distinguished Citizen, 2014, 2011; Nyack Center, Woman of Leadership and Vision, 2012; Town of Clarkstown, Environmental Excellence Award, 2011.

 Laurie’s work in Sparkill Creek water quality advocacy.

 

Laurie Seeman

Founder/Director, Lead Artist/Educator

Laurie is passionate about deepening relationships with the natural world. In 2002, she founded Strawtown Studio and has since introduced thousands of children to learning through creative, hands-on art and science exploration in nature. Along her path from contemporary art advisor and curator in NYC, to nature-educator in the Hudson Valley, Laurie pioneered an innovative approach to learning—bringing her creative expertise and artistic lens to the field of nature-connected education. To her practice, 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.

Her strong relationships with children and the natural world influenced Laurie to rise as a leader in regional water advocacy, collaborating with leading science centers, environmental organizations, citizens, and governments to build partnerships for change. She is the founder of the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance, co-leader of the Rockland Water Coalition, and a board member of the Rockland Task Force on Water Resources Management. Laurie brings artful thinking into advocacy, and advocacy into teaching. 

Through Strawtown Studio, Laurie is also training educators on methods of mentoring youth outdoors, and the principles behind setting the stage for engaging art, science, and place-based education. Her hope is for more children to experience the joys that come from being more creative and nature-connected.

Read More

Education: Degree in Communications, FIT; Cornell Cooperative Extension for Non-Profits, Non-profit Leadership Training; NY State DEC aquatic citizen science trainings; Pfeiffer Center’s Biodynamic Agriculture Program; Hudson Riverkeeper Organization, watchdog training, water sampling training; The New York Open Center Sound and Music Institute, Integrative Sound and Music Training; and NY School of Tai Chi Chuan, certified teacher.

Awards include: NYS Assembly, Woman of Distinction Award, 2019, Rockland County Executive’s Environmental Leadership Award, 2018; Rockland County Distinguished Citizen, 2014, 2011; Nyack Center, Woman of Leadership and Vision, 2012; Town of Clarkstown, Environmental Excellence Award, 2011.

Laurie’s work in Sparkill Creek water quality advocacy.

Joanna Dickey

Joanna Dickey

Program Director, Lead Artist / Educator

Joanna joined Strawtown as Summer Art Staff in 2003 and has been co-developing and leading programs ever since. As an artist and naturalist she loves guiding children to explore the natural world in creative ways. Joanna has a degree in Fine Art, with concentrations in painting and printmaking. She formerly apprenticed with a master painter, where she collaborated on fine art, murals, and decorative paintings. She has studied nature and wilderness skills with Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School, Practical Primitive, the Nature Institute, and NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program. Joanna is passionate about native plants and wildflowers, photographing them and learning about their edible and medicinal properties. She also enjoys hiking, kayaking, cooking and reading in her hammock. In 2009 Joanna received the “40 Under 40 Award” from the Rockland Economic Development Corporation. She is a member of the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance.

Joanna Dickey

Program Director, Lead Artist / Educator


Joanna joined Strawtown as Summer Art Staff in 2003 and has been co-developing and leading programs ever since. As an artist and naturalist she loves guiding children to explore the natural world in creative ways. Joanna has a degree in Fine Art, with concentrations in painting and printmaking. She formerly apprenticed with a master painter, where she collaborated on fine art, murals, and decorative paintings. She has studied nature and wilderness skills with Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School, Practical Primitive, the Nature Institute, and NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program. Joanna is passionate about native plants and wildflowers, photographing them and learning about their edible and medicinal properties. She also enjoys hiking, kayaking, cooking and reading in her hammock. In 2009 Joanna received the “40 Under 40 Award” from the Rockland Economic Development Corporation. She is a member of the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance.

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.

Grace Kocubinski

Grace Kocubinski

Environmental Educator

Grace is a recent graduate of Saint Joseph’s University where she studied biology, environmental science and minored in chemistry. She worked for Westchester County as an environmental educator within the parks system, where she enjoyed leading groups through nature and helping them to discover their connection with the natural world. Additionally, Grace loves practicing and teaching yoga and doing improv comedy. She is so excited to be joining Strawtown!

Grace Kocubinski

Environmental Educator

Grace is a recent graduate of Saint Joseph’s University where she studied biology, environmental science and minored in chemistry. She worked for Westchester County as an environmental educator within the parks system, where she enjoyed leading groups through nature and helping them to discover their connection with the natural world. Additionally, Grace loves practicing and teaching yoga and doing improv comedy. She is so excited to join Strawtown!

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 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 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.

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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