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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.
Greg Czekaj, Associate Director
Greg Czekaj is a Biology and Earth Science teacher at Rappahannock County High School, returning to the county from Charleston, South Carolina where he completed his B.S. in Marine Biology as well as a B.A. in Spanish. Greg is a Rappahannock local, having attended both Rappahannock County Public Schools and Wakefield Country Day School, and is very excited to have the opportunity to give back to the community that enriched and helped inspire his love for the natural world.
New to Rapp Nature Camp, Greg is excited to share some of the knowledge he has acquired throughout his travels which included navigating the South Carolina Low Country as a camping and sea kayaking expedition leader for Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) and serving as a Naturalist Interpreter in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in Awendaw, SC. He also served on the Education Team at the South Carolina Aquarium nonprofit organization. Greg’s special interests include all types of flora, fauna, and fungi as well as rocks, minerals, and soils to name a few! As Assistant Director, Greg looks forward to melding hands-on learning experiences with scientific knowledge in a way that inspires those around him to explore new topics, ask questions, and help provide the tools needed to seek out answers. Greg looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm with campers and adults alike, adding to the community of environmentally and globally conscious citizens.
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 this past summer. 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 in the summer of 2019. 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 as the CEO and Ringing Master 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.
Molly Swartwout, Counselor
Molly Swartwout attended and loved multiple nature camps as a young person in Ithaca, NY, sparking a lifelong love for playing outside and joyful memories of leading activities in nature. Her most recent employment, education and passion is in native plants and herbal medicine.
Robyn Murray, Camp Nurse
Robyn Murray is a Registered Nurse and the Healthcare Program Director at the Rapp Center for Education. Her passion for healthcare and serving the community can be traced back to her pre-professional days when she started her healthcare journey at the age of 12 as a Junior Squad member in Madison. She became a Licensed Practical Nurse and later a Registered Nurse working in emergency medicine with Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. In later years she worked in the operating room and in family medicine.
As Robyn gained knowledge in the healthcare setting, an opportunity arose to teach in Rappahannock. She has been with Rapp Center for Education for four years as the primary instructor and director. As such, her role is to provide residents of Rappahannock and nearby areas educational experiences that build a stronger community in healthcare by enhancing knowledge, employability, and quality of life.
Originally from Madison County, Robyn currently lives in Etlan with her husband and three children. Robyn’s family is very active, and in their free time they enjoy working on the farm, hiking, and spending time in the outdoors.