Home Summer 2017 Schedule Registration Instructors Contact Information


The instructors with Nature Discovery for Kids are senior teachers with many years experience in elementary education, primarily in the Albuquerque Public Schools. All have extensive experience in both classroom and field nature instruction through this and other programs.

Cindy Chapman 2012


Cindy Chapman
Cindy Chapman was an elementary classroom teacher and instructional coach for over 35 years. Specializing in mathematics education, she served on the Board of Directors of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and won the 1995 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching. She has had Bosque Education and Project Wild training. Since completing RGNC volunteer training in 2010, Cindy has enjoyed learning about and sharing nature with people of all ages.



Julie McVay
Julie McVay started teaching at the RGNC in 1988. She has a BA and an MA from UNM, and started teaching with APS in 1970. She taught grades K-4. Julie retired in 2010, and completed the RGNC Volunteer Training (for the second time!) in 2011.

She has taken Project Wild, Bosque Education, and other classes.

She was awarded Environmental Teacher of the Year in 1994.


Julie closeup 2010
Therese with kids 2013


Therese McGrath
Therese McGrath recently retired from APS after 30 years, working with children in grades K-6. Helping young children become strategic readers was her calling while employed for APS. She holds a BS and MA in Education from the University of New Mexico with an emphasis in Science and Reading.

Therese came to the Rio Grande Nature Center after completing her Volunteer Training in the winter of 2010. Included in her nature education endeavors are Project Wild, Bosque Education, and others.

She enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, nature walks, golfing, and indoor activities like yoga and reading.



Diane MacAlpine
Diane MacAlpine was an elementary/middle school classroom teacher for over 35 years. She received the Environmental Teacher Award in 1996.

Diane retired in 2015 and recently completed the RGNC volunteer training. She enjoys outdoor activities and bringing her love of nature to children.


Diane MacAlpine 2017
Sharon closeup 2012


Sharon Byington
Sharon Byington organized the first Nature Discovery classes during the summer of 1986, and was program director and lead instructor from then through 2015. She now acts as an advisor to the program.

Sharon retired after 28 years teaching with APS. She taught grades 1–5 as well as remedial reading classes. She has a MA in elementary education with an emphasis in biology and is a certified reading specialist.

Her nature education includes classes with Audubon (in Torrey Creek, Wyoming), UNM, Project Wild, the Bosque Education program, and others.