Lyt Wood, Camp Director
Lyt Wood has been a professional arborist, forester and educator in natural history subjects since 1974. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Forestry and Wildlife Management. From 1974 to 1981, he worked as County Forester with the Virginia Division of Forestry promoting forest management practices on private land in Madison and Rappahannock Counties.
Since 1981 he has worked on various projects related to agriculture, tree care and natural history education: editor of the newsletter of the Virginia Association of Biological Farmers; manager of a 30-acre apple and peach orchard and 60 honeybee hives; educational and other support for the Nature Camp at Vesuvius, Virginia; and assistance with mapping and other projects for The Nature Conservancy. In the 1980’s he worked with the Piedmont Environmental Council’s Education Committee to establish a regional educational program, of which PEC’s Natural History Day Camps were a part.
In 1986 he helped to establish Rapp Nature Camp which, under his direction, is still open to children each summer at his property on the Hazel River south of Sperryville. He is semi-retired as sole proprietor of Tree Works, specializing in all kinds of tree care. His personal interests include gardening and small-scale farming, wildlife watching, Goethean science, Waldorf education, songwriting and traditional music.
Rachel Bynum, Associate Director
Rachel Bynum is joining Rappahannock Nature Camp as Associate Director this summer to step into the Camp Director position in October. Rachel has lived in Rappahannock County since 1999 and runs Waterpenny Farm with her husband, Eric Plaksin. She graduated from Carleton College in 1995, majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Natural History. After college, she worked for four years as an outdoor environmental educator at facilities ranging from nature centers to summer camps to residential outdoor learning centers. She moved to Sperryville after a year working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as an educator at Clagett Farm.
In Rappahannock County, Rachel has been involved with environmental and arts community organizations in various ways, and she currently serves on the Rappahannock County School Board. She has enjoyed working with kids in the RAAC (Rappahannock Association for Arts in the Community) Theatre, as well as leading hands-on lessons in the schools both as a parent and as a volunteer with RappFLOW (Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of our Watersheds). She has helped to lead special events like an annual Watershed Field Day, a Kids Butterfly Count at Waterpenny Farm sponsored by the Master Naturalists, and the annual Rappahannock Plant Sale, to name a few. These connections will keep camp open to additional community collaboration.
Rachel sees Rapp Nature Camp as vital to Rappahannock County’s community identity. She values the range of both focused and playful activities in the camp repertoire. Camp can hone campers’ authentic observation skills and help them to learn to express themselves and harmonize with one another and the natural world. She sees that kids are naturally talented at observation and enthusiasm for nature and appreciates the child-centered and discovery-based approach that Camp fosters.
As a mother of two campers, she sees that having kids at Camp rekindles a spirit of wonder, excitement, and connection to nature, both in campers and in the adults around them. She believes that positive and healthy experiences in nature should be accessible to all, and provide grounding for happiness, purpose, and success later in life.
Kat Habib, Assistant Director
Kat Habib is a Rapp Nature Camp neighbor who, before becoming Assistant Director in 2015, would annually look across the river during the camp session while on her walk, wondering what the campers were up to. She is delighted to be on this side of Singing Creek.
Kat has made her home in Rappahannock since 2012, a life-long dream that began during her childhood over the mountain in Warren County. Growing up on a farm with an environmental scientist mother (a colleague of Lyt’s), soil quality and gardening, seine nets and river critters, art and song, were all part of every day conversation; she enjoys both remembering and sharing this with campers. Kat received a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art + Design, where she managed the ceramics studio for several years and taught in the Pre-College summer program. From 2014-19, she worked as a college and career guide with Headwaters Foundation. She continues her relationship with Rappahannock school community by substitute teaching and serving on the Headwaters Board. Now a ceramic artist and florist, Kat is both an artist and an educator, each feeding the other within her. Much of her artistic inspiration comes from nature and observation. She especially likes birds, trees, walks in the woods and hearing from children what they see that adults may not.
Nina Anderson, Assistant Director
Nina Anderson has been an elementary teacher for nearly 20 years and is currently working on a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction through George Mason. She lives with her husband and Jenkins, “the best dog ever” in Old Town Warrenton. Nina has two adult daughters who are also “Earth Enthusiasts”.
Nina has been a life-long nature lover and has embraced the opportunity to participate in Rapp Nature Camp. As a youth, she attended Nature Camp in Vesuvius, VA. She is an avid hiker, runner, and reader. Rapp Nature Camp is another opportunity to be actively engaged with youth and the great outdoors.
Rob Bannister, Administrative Director
After retiring from a career in financial consulting, Rob Bannister relocated to Hazel River country. At the end of each day in his new woodland home, the flicker of fireflies and the chorus of katydids transported Rob to his childhood years in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. A sense of wonder with nature was critical to his formative years, so Rob was delighted to join the staff of an organization, right in his own backyard, that immerses children in nature.
As Administrative Director, Rob draws on experiences from his professional and personal life. Rob was a Managing Director with Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors and Chief Financial Officer with Jeffrey A. Parker & Associates. Rob has an MBA in Finance from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and an MA in International Economics and Latin America Studies from the Johns Hopkins University. He also completed the University of Miami’s Executive Certified Financial Planner program. As a Maryland Master Naturalist, Rob has served as a volunteer educator with the Audubon Naturalist Society’s elementary school programs. As a volunteer for Junior Achievement of Greater Washington, Rob also teaches financial literacy to eight graders and high school students. Rob currently serves on the board of directors of the Washington Ringing Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, whose members ring the tower bells at Washington National Cathedral and the Old Post Office Tower. As such, Rob teaches the ancient art of change ringing to young people and the young at heart.
Agustin Garcia Prieto, Camp Medic and Counsellor
Agustin Garcia Prieto is a recent graduate of Rappahannock County High School (RCHS). During his time there, he was an active member of the Band, Theatre, and Scholastic Bowl programs while taking Dual Enrollment courses through Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC). He was also involved in community service projects with the Rappahannock Food Pantry during his time at RCHS.
Agustin has a passion for patient care and medicine, so he is now attending LFCC virtually with the goal of transferring to a university to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and becoming a Registered Nurse. He has also been volunteering at Sperryville Volunteer Rescue Squad (SVRS) for over a year. Through SVRS, he became a certified and licensed emergency medical technician-basic (EMT-B). He regularly runs calls with the squad as a healthcare provider and loves every minute of it. His role as an EMT includes exposure to patients with simple to complex medical or traumatic conditions both in the adult and pediatric populations.
Gus is also an avid birder and nature lover. He loves to hike and cannot imagine a better place to pursue these hobbies in than Sperryville, Virginia.