Ostergren Named Acting Executive Director at Merry Lea

The search committee for a new executive director of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College has invited David Ostergren, Ph.D., to serve as acting executive director for July and August 2019.

A search for a permanent executive director was in process throughout the spring of 2019 and did not result in a hire. The Merry Lea Board of Directors and Academic Dean Ann Vendrely are working on interim plans for the fall and determining appropriate timing for launching another search process. 

“The Merry Lea Team has a supportive team culture and the gifts necessary to manage an interim period with internal leadership,” Vendrely said. “The Search Committee is confident that they will be able to step into transitional roles as needed.”  

Ostergren is presently the director of the Master of Arts in Environmental Education at Merry Lea. He holds a Ph.D. in forest resources science from West Virginia University and master’s degrees in political science and outdoor education. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Ostergren teaches courses in policy, environmental education and peacemaking. 

“I see my job as one of steady progress and maintenance,” Ostergren said. “We will continue to thoughtfully improve our programs, provide extraordinary education, graciously host our guests, expand carefully, manage the land with deep care, and maintain the vehicles and facilities in a professional and excellent manner.”

“I appreciate Dave’s commitment to the mission of Merry Lea and the value he places on relationships with each Merry Lea team member,” said outgoing Executive Director Luke Gascho. “Dave understands the breadth and depth of who we are and has the ability to lead a group in good processes.” Gascho is retiring, effective June 30, after serving in that role for 22 years.