Hidden away in Southern Illinois is one of Nature's masterpieces.
Welcome to our 'Meet the Board' page where you can get to know our current board members. Learn more about the dedicated volunteers who focus on protecting your Cache River Watershed, below!
Tony Gerard grew up outside Joppa, Illinois. He attended Shawnee college before transferring to Morehead State University in Kentucky where he received a Bachelor's degree in Biology with a minor in Earth Science. He then taught high school in the great corn desert of central Illinois for five years before returning to southern Illinois to attend SIU at Carbondale. He received a Master's degree in Zoology, then got hired as a science instructor at Shawnee College and he's been there ever since.
From an early age Tony has always loved the outdoors. One of his many current hobbies includes nature photography. Reptiles and amphibians are of special interest, and along with fellow board member Lori Armstrong he often presents public educational programs using live critters. History, especially the 18th century frontier, is another interest. Tony also enjoys working in films and tv. Look for him in many History Channel reruns and the movie "Last of the Mohicans" - although you have to look really fast to see him!
Rob Betts currently serves as the Director of Communications & Public Relations for Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Illinois. Additionally, Rob is an ordained minister & public speaker presently serving in interim positions at congregations located throughout the Tri-State Region. Rob has served as the emcee for local pageants as an avid public speaker and conducted numerous television and radio interviews. Rob also currently serves as an adjunct instructor for various communications courses. Rob's love for the local community, the outdoors, and the region of southern Illinois are evident in his advocacy and promotion of the area. Rob also produces a video series for Shawnee Community College called Science in Seconds. The series focuses on Shawnee College Field Biology Instructor Tony Gerard's local adventures sharing interesting facts about local flora and fauna in the ongoing YouTube series.
Rob has served on various boards, including The Bald Knob Cross of Peace, and as a Veterans Advocate for over nine years. He was born and raised in southern Illinois (Alexander County) and currently lives just across the river in Paducah, Kentucky. Rob is a United States Navy Veteran who, after serving, began pursuing his education locally at Shawnee Community College and completed his Master of Public Relations Management Degree from the University of Maryland.
Rob is married to the love of his life, Sarah. Together they have three children Allie, 24; Brady, 20; and Abbie Grace, 16; and one Boston Terrier, Melvin.
I am a retired teacher with B.A. and M.A. degrees from Michigan State University. Growing up on a farm in Michigan, I have been interested in outdoor activities all my life. Gardening, birding, watching butterflies, and hiking are some of my hobbies. I am also a Master Naturalist.
Friends of the Cache River Watershed: Membership Chairman, Pollinator Garden Chairman, and Newsletter Editor
Metropolis Garden Club President
Garden Clubs of Illinois, District VII: Bees, Birds, & Butterflies Chairman
Founding Member of the Massac Nature Study Society
Shawnee Chapter of the Illinois Audubon Society Member
Kimberly Rohling (Former Board Member, Active Volunteer)
Kimberly Rohling works for University of Illinois Extension as the Energy and Environmental Stewardship Extension Program Coordinator in Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Union and Pulaski counties. Kim earned her Professional Science Master's in Zoology degree with a concentration in Wildlife Administration and Management from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2019. Her research focused on the demography, home range, and habitat selection of state-threatened ornate box turtles.
Kim fell in love with the Cache while working several seasonal positions with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as a Conservation Education Representative and a Conservation Worker. Prior to working with IDNR, she served as a Land of Lincoln/Southern 7 AmeriCorps Member at Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge where she enjoyed assisting with swamp ecology canoe tours, biological surveys, and bottomland forest restoration work. She earned her Bachelor’s degrees in Oceanography and Environmental Studies from Eckerd College in 2008.
Kim currently volunteers her time as a University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist focusing on citizen science projects and environmental education opportunities within the Cache River Watershed. She has been assisting the Friends of the Cache River Watershed since 2018 with secretary duties, stocking the Friends of the Cache store, event planning, newsletter article contributor and Facebook administrator. Be sure head over there and give us a like!
Shawn Gossman is better known as Hiking with Shawn which is a YouTube and social media persona that he created when he started filming and shooting photography around his hiking, biking and outdoor adventures in and around the Shawnee National Forest. Shawn is an advocate of tourism and conservancy gripping onto the Natural Resources in southern Illinois is what can save southern Illinois. Shawn joined the Friends because he believes in making the Shawnee National Forest better for everyone who wants to enjoy it.
Shawn is also a board member of the River to River Trail Society and Friends of the Cache River Watershed. Shawn was born and raised in southern Illinois and currently lives in the country around the Pope-Massac county border. Shawn is a double master degree holder with an MBA and a Master of Emergency Management & Public Health. Shawn is a QA specialist for a medium voltage cable manufacturing company.
Jonathan Voelz grew up outside of Chicago in a small railroad town where he was active in environmental workshops and spearheaded a move to preserve a wetland area. While the wetland area wasn’t a total success the effort led to the discovery of an undisturbed prairie area nearby that has been preserved.
At SIU he majored in both Forest Recreation Resource Management and Outdoor Recreation and competed in the sport of Orienteering. After graduation he returned to the Chicago Area and became a ranger with the county forest preserve district until returning to graduate school to get a Master’s in Geography which included an internship with a bi-county soil and water conservation district were he prepared land use reports for board approval.
Sharon Voelz was born and raised in Saline County and went to SIU majoring in Retail Management. She participated in Orienteering and has always enjoyed being outside with her family as well as cooking, sewing projects and reading. After graduation she moved to the Chicago area where she worked in retail management and as the traffic manager of a local radio station.
She returned to southernmost Illinois with Jonathan where she operated a home daycare business for several years before returning to the world of outside work. She was employed by Shawnee Development Council in various positions including Johnson County, Coordinator, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act case manager, and Assistant to the agency director until her retirement.