The search committee for Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College has named Dr. Jason Martin as Merry Lea’s new executive director. He brings over 10 years of programmatic leadership across environmental services and environmental education programs.

For the past four years Martin has served as senior project manager and ecologist for Kleenco Maintenance and Construction in Alexandria, Ind. This involved managing multiple teams and projects across the United States mid-west for wetland mitigation and green infrastructure construction. His experience in teaching collegiate courses and directing the NestWatch citizen science and education program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will translate well to Merry Lea.

“Jason has a passion for environmental education and Merry Lea,” says Goshen College Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean Dr. Ann Vendrely. “It is clear that he has provided environmental education to diverse audiences and will be a great ambassador for Merry Lea and Goshen College.”

Martin will begin his tenure at Merry Lea on July 1. He follows David Ostergren, who served as interim executive director after Luke Gascho retired in summer of 2019. A search for a permanent executive director in early 2019 did not result in a hire. The process began again in fall of 2019 by a new search committee comprised of previous and new members.

The search committee included representatives from Goshen College administration and faculty, Merry Lea Board of Directors, Merry Lea staff and the community at-large. Representing Merry Lea staff was Coordinator of Residential Undergraduate Programs Tom Hartzell. Both Vendrely and Hartzell commend how effectively and positively the team worked together, reinforcing partnerships in the process.

Also on the search committee was Colleen Banta, a representative from the Merry Lea board and community. She remarks how Martin is well-qualified in his management style, experience and educational background, but he also shows “an excitement, true appreciation and commitment for Merry Lea,” she says.

Martin is a 1998 graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey, where he majored in biology. He received a master’s degree in natural resources and environmental science from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Florida. He currently resides in Warsaw, Ind. with his wife Suzanne, a 1995 Goshen College graduate.

“Whether working with kids on a trail, helping undergraduates excel in a classroom or pitching the benefits of rain gardens to corporate executives, he has demonstrated aptitude and dedication to teaching others about the natural world,” says Hartzell.

“He clearly demonstrated an authentic desire to know and understand the place, the organization, and the staff,” continues Hartzell. “I’m excited to see what the next chapter holds, as authored by Jason Martin.”

In July, Ostergren will return to his previous position as director of the graduate program in environmental education at Merry Lea.

Welcome to the Merry Lea team, Jason! We’re excited to see what the next chapter holds.