Island Wildlife Chapter Leadership


Virginia Holman

Founder and Board Member

Author, magazine writer, and teacher Virginia Holman has published essays and articles in DoubleTake Magazine, Redbook, Prevention, Glamour, Self, O Magazine, More, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sierra, and elsewhere. Her work has been reprinted in Pushcart Prize series, broadcast on This American Life, and she's received fellowships and awards from the North Carolina Arts Council and The Carter Center. She also wrote a monthly column for Salt Magazine in Wilmington for seven years that focused on the natural world. Since moving to Carolina Beach in 2004, she’s grown to love its many natural resources. She has received a BCU 3 Star Kayaking Award and an ACA Level 3 Sea Kayaking Instructor award. She’s also taught writing at UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Wilmington, as well as to long-term pediatric and adult patients and their families at Duke University Medical Center. She serves with the Women's Impact Network of New Hanover County, as a member of the Eagles Island Task Force, and will begin a term on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees starting in July 2021. She and her husband have one grown son.


Karen Linehan

Board Member

Karen Linehan is an educator and lifelong naturalist with a deep love for the flora and fauna of North Carolina. A native of Raleigh, she grew up exploring the creeks and woodlands near her childhood home. These early years of immersion in the outdoors inspired Karen’s decision to become a natural science educator. From 1993-2003, Karen facilitated programs for the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in which she helped elementary students and teachers create wildlife habitats on their school grounds. She became a NC Certified Environmental Educator in 1999.  Karen joined the faculty at Friends School of Wilmington in 2003; she has taught second grade and is currently the school's Director of Environmental Education. She was selected as a 2014 Trailblazing Teacher by The Center for Green Schools. A writer and musician, Karen composes nature essays as well as songs about nature for children. She has a BA in Zoology from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University. Karen and her husband, Terry, live in Carolina Beach where they enjoy birding, biking, kayaking, and sailing. They have two grown daughters, Kelsey and Dylan.


Sandie Cecelski

Board Member

A retired New Hanover County School marine science teacher, Sandie is an alumna of both the University of Tennessee and the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Sandie has been a resident of Carolina Beach for over 34 years. She and her husband Richard own Carolina Ocean Studies, a hands-on marine environmental education company dedicated to providing experiential educational coastal boating cruises to school children throughout North Carolina. Sandie also volunteers with the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project and the Adopt-A-Beach program. Sandie is a backyard beekeeper, a member of the New Hanover County Beekeepers Association and a North Carolina certified beekeeper. She actively supports many environmental causes and has been a member of the North Carolina Coastal Federation for over 20 years.


Kathryn Sisler Waple

Board Member

Kathryn has always been at home outdoors.  Some of her earliest memories are of spending time in the woods with her grandfather and dad, exploring the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. When she is not roaming the woods, she can be found in her garden or at the beach. Kathryn has always wanted to be a teacher and has been working with people, plants, and the earth for the last ten years. She is currently Co-director of Nature Connect NC—an outdoor enrichment program for children and their parents. Kathryn is responsible for outdoor education programs, homeschool enrichment programs, internship programs, and staff training. She lives in Carolina Beach with her husband and daughter.

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Brooke Hazelwood

Board Member

Brooke Hazelwood is currently the Academy Director and Instructional Coach at the Career Readiness Academy of Finance in Wilmington, NC. She has been an educator for over 16 years who got her start in the Peace Corps-Burkina Faso '99-'01. She has taught a variety of classes on topics from Barrier Island Ecology to Global Interactions, a hybrid course of World History/Literature and Earth and Environmental Education. Innovation, experiential and interdisciplinary education and project-based learning have been her focus for the last 12 years. She began teaching Service Learning in the Spring of 2019. Brooke holds a Master of Arts in Teaching History from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her undergraduate degree is from James Madison University in Virginia where she studied anthropology and archaeology. She is a world traveler who lives in Carolina Beach with her husband and young son.

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Jessica Roach

Board Member

An aspiring botanist and academic, Jessica has a fierce passion for the natural world. This enthusiasm has led her down an educational and personal path focused on conservation biology. Currently a graduate student at UNC Wilmington, she is conducting a population genetics study of a federally listed plant endemic to the southeastern coastal plain region. During her undergraduate career, she worked with Venus flytraps and has propagated and promoted their conservation ever since. Jess has lived in Wilmington since 2007, and has come to appreciate and admire the incredible biodiversity this region has to offer. She has experience with North Carolina native plant education, best management practices planning and installation, and plant rescues in the tri-county area. She lives with her beloved pets and enjoys gardening, hiking, and traveling.