Meet our 2022 crew
Every summer, hundreds of students from all over the world descend on the Cosmosphere— and an amazing team of enthusiastic, caring, amazing individuals guide them along their incredible journeys.
Our 2022 crew consists of 40 camp staff from all over the region and some international staff from Rwanda, Nigeria, Spain, India and Indonesia. It's going to be a great summer!
Aaron Herb currently lives in Manhattan, KS. He earned his degree in Secondary Math Education from Emporia State University and is getting ready for his third year as a math teacher. He will be directing the Mission: Astro Lab and Mission: Lunar Trek camps for the very first time. Aaron hopes to encourage students to pursue opportunities in STEM and to become lifelong learners, and he is mostly looking forward to seeing campers get involved in the several fun and engaging activities that are part of the camps. A fun fact about Aaron is he thrives on creativity and is an avid singer, songwriter, gamer, and home cook. One of his favorite hobbies is to cook and try recipes from around the world.
Alayanna Markley is from Raymore, Missouri. She’s a sophomore at Johnson County Community College, majoring in Nursing. She will be a counselor for Astro Lab and Lunar Trek. This is her first year at the Cosmosphere. As a child she was a Girl Scout and attended and ran many camps. She hopes to inspire children to pursue careers in STEM. A fun fact about Alayanna is that she enjoys creating music! She loves to play guitar, piano, and sing. If she ever had the chance to go to Mars, she’d bring an mp3 player, a piano, and a typewriter.
Cara Hubenett is from McPherson, Kansas. She’s an incoming freshman at Oklahoma State University and plans to major in Mechanical Engineering. She will be a counselor for day camps such as Lunar Base, Solar/Lunar, Starship Earth, and Alien Adventure. Cara has been a part of Cosmosphere camps as a camper for 5 years and this is her first year as a counselor. She is passionate about helping young kids, especially girls, discover their love for STEM and inspiring them to pursue their curiosity. She’s looking forward to being a part of Mission Control this summer. A fun fact about Cara: she’s a wrestler! She joined McPherson’s wrestling team the year Kansas sanctioned girls wrestling in 2020. Although injuries took her out of the sport, she still stayed involved by managing the team her senior year of high school. The three things she’d take with her to Mars are an espresso machine, a good mattress, and her favorite pair of Air Force sneakers.
Chuck McClary is from Hesston, Kansas and, for the most part, has worked in the Cosmosphere’s education department since 2014. He has a degree in history and an interest in aviation. These two things drew him strongly to the SR-71 in the Cosmosphere’s lobby. Since joining the Cosmosphere staff, he’s become not just an aviation nerd, but a space nerd as well. In his spare time, Chuck enjoys photography, playing the guitar, and fishing. Not all at the same time, though. Chuck will be shooting photo and video for Cosmosphere Camp.
Dayne Locke lives in Augusta Kansas but goes to school at Fort Hays State University. This will be his second year at Fort Hays. This is Dayne's first year as a camp counselor at the Cosmosphere and he is working the Mars Academy camp. He believes that space and physics are fascinating topics and wishes to share this fascination with others, which is why he wanted to work at the cosmosphere as a camp counselor. He is looking forward to meeting new people and gaining new experiences. A fun fact about Dayne is that he loves the outdoors and skiing. The three things he would take to mars include a Guitar Hero set up, lots of Cheez-its, and some pictures of his friends and family.
Eden Craig is from Peculiar, Missouri. She just finished her Associates of Arts at Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City, and will be attending Wichita State University in the fall for Earth and Space Science Education. She will be a counselor on Mission: Astro Lab and Mission: Lunar Trek. This is her second summer as a counselor, but ninth summer coming to the Cosmosphere, as she attended camps as a camper starting with Mars Academy in 2013 all the way through Extreme Flight in 2020. Eden loves to be able to share her love of all things space with campers and students that she works with, and hopes to make every camp as awesome and inspiring as it was when she was a camper. A few fun facts about Eden are that she loves to create--whether it be through making art or building Lego sets; she has been to 46 out of the 50 states, with only Washington, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Alaska left to go; and she was the drive coach for her high school FRC team, which she's is still involved with today as a mentor.
This is Ellie Labes's first year teaching at Cosmosphere space camps, but her sixth year teaching. She currently works as a K-6 music teacher at Hutchinson STEM Magnet School at Allen. Ellie received her Associate's degree from Butler Community College, her Bachelor's degree from Wichita State University, and an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) endorsement from McPherson College, as well as a Certificate in Kodaly Music Education from Wichita State University. She lives in Hutchinson, Kansas, but is originally from the Minneapolis, KS area. This summer, she really looks forward to connecting with the campers and her fellow camp staff, as well as doing all the cool space stuff she has always dreamed of doing. Her favorite part of teaching and working with kids is getting to see the lightbulb go on when someone finally "gets it" and understands a concept or has a breakthrough with something they have been working on. Ellie loves to sing and quote movies, so watch out, because she may just burst into song or start quoting a movie with little provocation!
Emily Green is from Stafford, Kansas. She's a sophomore at Bethany College, majoring in Health and Physical Education. This will be her first summer at Cosmosphere Camps and she will be a counselor for the day camps this summer. Emily hopes to bring a fun and energetic personality, so that the campers have the best week ever at camp! She's most looking forward to helping with all the very cool science activities this summer. A fun fact about Emily: She currently plays college basketball, she has been on a cruise ship and she can perform card tricks. The three things she would take with her to Mars would be her phone, her bible, and a deck of cards.
Emma Vogel is from Hutchinson, Kansas. She is a sophomore at Kansas State University studying Biological Systems Engineering with an emphasis in the environment. She will be a counselor for Gear Up, Upward Bound, Merits of Space and Mars Academy. This is her second year counseling at the Cosmosphere and she attended many of the camps as a child. She is super excited to share her love of space and engineering to her campers. She is looking to a super fun summer! A fun fact about Emma: she can play the tuba!
Emma Yutzy is from Hutchinson, KS. She just graduated with her Bachelors in Elementary Education with a Special Education minor. She will be Director for Mission Moonshot and Mission Martian Base. This will be her 5th year working at the Cosmosphere, her third year as a Director. She was a counselor for 2 years before that and a camper for 2 years before that! She loves getting to know new campers and seeing old ones come back. She is most excited to see old campers returning and to help new campers have such a great time that they want to come back! Fun fact about Emma: she grew up overseas and speaks 4 languages! Three things she would take to Mars would be her Bible, her guitar, and her family (that counts as one thing right?!)c
Esther Omilabu is a 20-year-old international student at Wichita State University from Nigeria. She is currently major in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in chemistry. She is a counselor for Mission: Mars Academy this summer and this is her first year at the Cosmosphere summer camp. Esther has always loved and cared for kids from those that are infants to those that are in highschool, so she was so excited that she could be a part of a program that dealt with kids and impacted knowledge on thier lives. She hopes to encourage and motivate kids to reach for the stars and to impact knew knowledge in terms of exploring new areas in the aviation field. She's looking forward to being a part of the missions in the mission control and capsule. She loves to dance and read the news. Three things she would bring on Mars would be, a blanket, water, and a bible.
Ferriol Caballe i Vila is from Girona, Spain. He is a freshman at Sterling College, double majoring in Math and Aerospace Engineering. He will be a counselor for Mission: Moon Shot and Martian Base camps this summer in his first summer at the Cosmosphere Camps. Ferriol has always enjoyed looking at the night sky and discovering the secrets it hides, which has led to his interest in working at the Cosmosphere. From this summer camp, he hopes to gain lots of knowledge which he can transfer to the students. He is most looking forward to Martian missions. Fun fact about Ferriol: he built a telescope out of wood and two mirrors, which has allowed him to observe the Solar System's planets under the Spanish night sky. On a journey to Mars, he would take a tennis ball, a funny picture of his family, and the book "The Martian" just in case.
Guthry Pfister is from Hutchinson, Kansas and is an upcoming sophomore as Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS. He is majoring in Computer Science and will be a counselor for camps such as Moon Shot, Gear Up, and Starship Earth. This is Guthry’s third summer as a counselor and is excited for another year as one. He hopes to teach and excite kids into thinking about their futures, as well as have fun in the moment. He is most looking forward to seeing all the campers again this year and how they deal with the new missions! Fun Fact: Guthry’s secret talent is that he can fold his tongue over into a clover!
Haden Green was born and raised in Hutchinson, Kansas. He will be a sophomore at Western Colorado University majoring in Mechanical Engineering. This will be his first summer as a camp counselor! Haden attended camps and frequently visited the Cosmosphere throughout his childhood. He credits the Cosmosphere for sparking his love of space and his passion for making. Haden wants to share his passion with the campers and hopes to inspire them to achieve their goals! He is most excited to see the new simulators and help the campers on their missions! One fun fact about Haden is that he will be captain for his school's esports team this coming fall. If he could bring three things to Mars they would be his computer, potatoes and a gun! (for the space bears)
Haley Pfeifer is from Ellsworth, Kansas. She is a graduate from the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University and a freshman at the University of Kansas, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. She will be a counselor for Mars Academy this summer and this will be her second summer with Cosmosphere Camps. Haley loves sharing her passion for learning and space and is most excited to help campers step out of their comfort zones and try something new! Three things Haley would take to Mars: a plant, her cat, and something to listen to music with.
Jessi Conner is from South Hutchinson, Kansas! She is a freshman at Hutchinson Community College, majoring in secondary education of social sciences. She will be a counselor for Mars Academy this summer and this will be her first summer with the Cosmosphere! She is very excited for this summer because she loves working with kids and helping them to learn about the things they are interested in! She is looking forward to meeting everybody and experiencing a summer with the Cosmosphere for the first time. A fun fact about Jessi is that she is an avid reader, specifically magical realism and Young Adult fantasy novels. The three things she would take with her to Mars are a book, her cat, and an iPod!
Jillian Ross-Mason is from Canton, KS. She’s a senior at Wichita State University, majoring in Biology with hopes to one day pursue a career in Astrobiology. She will be a counselor for Mission: Astro Lab and Lunar Trek camps this summer, and this will be her second summer at the Cosmosphere, where she enjoys making new friends and learning about other branches of science! She is most looking forward to SCUBA and missions. A fun fact about Jillian: She was terrified of airplanes until last summer when she had the opportunity to fly a small plane with one of the Mission: Lunar Trek camps! The three things she’d take to Mars would be her ukulele, a hammock, and her dog Zeus.
JoAnna Strecker is from Hutchinson, KS, and this is her fifth summer camp. She is the Vice President of Education at the Cosmosphere which means Cosmosphere Camps are one of her main focuses. She loves it when she see Directors or Counselors take an activity and pour their heart and soul into it. The Cosmosphere always has the best people working with their campers which is one of the reasons that they have such a great camp season. Camp is where a lot of campers find their inspiration and that is because of the wonderful people found on this page. She is most looking forward to the new Martian Base camp this year. Campers will build a Mars Settlement underground at Strataca, the underground salt museum in Hutchinson, KS. Where else in the world could a person have an experience like this one? A fun fact about JoAnna is that she loves to create greeting cards for her friends and family.
Jordyn Baker is from Hutchinson, Kansas. She is a para at Morgan Elementary. She will be a director for the Day Camps and this will be her first year on the Cosmosphere staff. Jordyn will be attending Hutchinson Community College in the fall majoring in General Studies and her goal is to go into education. On journey to Mars, she would take her cat, a chess board, and Dippin' Dots.
Jorge Calleros is from St. John, Kansas. He graduated from McPherson College with a Bachelor's of Science degree in the Spring of 2021 and majored in Physical Education with a teaching licensure. Jorge spent the 2021-2022 school year as a substitute teacher for the USD 308 school district. This is his first year being a director at the Cosmosphere Camps. He is excited to be able to work with other counselors, directors, and kids this summer. In addition to getting to know the people he will be working with, he can't wait to teach the students about space! A fun fact about Jorge is while he was at McPherson College, he also played basketball. If Jorge were to go on a journey to Mars, and he could only take three things, he would take his wife, Sabrina, his dog Ridge, and his phone so he can take pictures of his journey on Mars.
Kaitlyn Livas is from small town Atwood, Kansas. She recently started up her small business selling her jewelry/clothing designs, and other creative work! This fall she will study environmental science at Hutchinson Community College in hopes of expanding her knowledge to run a sustainable business. Kaitlyn has big aspirations to make a change in today's hectic world and encourages others around her to do the same! She is very passionate about working with kids this summer and hopes to make a positive and effective impact on their young brains, challenging them to always look at obstacles with many different perspectives/ideas. In Kaitlyns free time you can find her at local parks or the downtown area cleaning up litter with her friends! She is working towards the bigger picture everyday and hopes she will have impacted many lives throughout her lifetime. When Kaitlyn goes to Mars she will absolutely have to bring her journal, sewing machine (to make cool space gear), and her kitty Ava Bava!
Kavya Verma is from India. She is an international student at Wichita State University majoring in Computer Science. She will be a counselor for Mission: Lunar Trek and Astro Lab. She used to teach underprivileged children in remote villages back in her high school and helped over 30 kids to learn and explore. A fun fact about Kavya: she loves playing Basketball and has been a captain of her high school team for four years. As well as she loves playing video games like CS:GO. She also has a very sweet tooth. The three things she’d take to space would be a truck load of chocolates, her laptop and her favourite perfume by Chanel.
Keegan Fischer is from Olathe, Kansas. He's a sophomore at Virginia Tech, intending to major in Chemical Engineering. Keegan will be a counselor for the first time this summer for Mission: Moon Shot and Mission: Martian Base. He attended several of the Cosmosphere camps when he was younger and loved the teamwork along with all of the activities. Keegan's really looking forward to helping make that kind of environment a reality for all of the campers this summer. He loves to be active and has been playing soccer since he was 8 years old.
Lee Wellman is from Holton, Kansas. He is a sophomore at Hutchinson Community College majoring in Pre-engineering. He will be a counselor for Mission Lunar Trek and Astro Lab camps this summer. This will be his first summer with the Cosmosphere. He is very passionate about teaching kids how to be innovative, he hopes with this knowledge kids will be able to be unique and effective in coming up with solutions to problems they may encounter in the future. Lee is most looking forward to flying drones with the campers. A fun fact about Lee: He plays the Tuba. Three things Lee would take on a journey to Mars is, his dog Maggie, his guitar and his collection of Star Wars figurines.
Lilly Barnes is from Hutchinson, Kansas. She’s a cosmetologist working at Hair About U. She will be a counselor for Mission: Moon Shot and Martian Base camps and this will be her 4th summer at Cosmosphere Camps. Lilly did not attend any camps as a child but is always excited for her summers at the Cosmosphere as a counselor. She always looks forward to camps because she hopes to inspire the young students to learn and achieve their goals. The three things she’d take to Mars would be Dr. Pepper, a camera, and her cat Cleo.
Lina Ishimwe is from Rwanda, Kigali. She's majoring as a sophomore at Wichita state University, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. She will be a counselor at the Cosmosphere Camps. Lina is excited to work as a counselor for the first time! She hopes to inspire young students to chase their dreams and help them learn new things. She's really looking forward to missions in the new simulator this summer. A fun fact about Lina: She has a passion for aviation and aspires to be a pilot one day!
Mark Hunter is from McPherson Kansas. In January of 2020 he began a full time mission with the Cosmosphere as the Scouts Program Manager where he worked with the programs for all youth oriented groups and he is now the overall Education Coordinator. He first attended the Cosmosphere back when Dr. Goddard's Lab was the Planetarium. Mark has Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Philosophy degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, along with Mathematics and Education from McPherson College. He has been on scout camp staff as a counselor or director since the late 1970's and is excited to finally be involved with a camp that concentrates on an engineering background. If this mission is extended to a journey to Mars, Mark would want to take his wife, some games they both enjoy playing (it is a long trip there and not much social life once you get there), and some music they would both listen to. Mark is also the Cosmosphere's Education Coordinator.
Mark is from Tonkawa, Oklahoma but has been in Hutchinson for three years. He is an analytical chemist by day and does camp support by night. He has been helping with camps for two years. A fun fact about Mark is he has two dogs named after dwarf planets; Ceres and Eris!
Mary Smith, is from Wichita, KS. She is a full time STEM Educator at the Cosmosphere. She has been at the museum full time since September 2021 however was part of the education team back in 2006-2007. She is very excited to be back and to be part of summer camps again. She is looking forward to spending the summer with all the directors, counselors and campers who share the same love for space and science. In her free time, she loves photography, crafts and making things, as well as spending time with her husband and their replica Jurassic Park Explorer. Mary is also a STEM Educator at the Cosmosphere.
Nick Atanasio spent most of his life in Virginia, but now lives in Hutchinson working full-time for the Cosmosphere. He's loved the Cosmosphere since visiting at a young age and attending four years of camps, followed by three years of camp counseling before joining the staff full-time as the LaunchLearning Project Manager. He says that he especially loves camps because they provide young learners the chance to leave behind the worries of their normal life and come to a place where they can just be kids and have fun. They can learn, not just about space but about life skills, and grow as people. And as a former camper, he remembers how it's the most fun time of your whole summer. Nick writes in his spare time and hopes to one day sell screenplays about space and weird sci-fi concepts, sometimes in the same story!
Oswaldo Christopher is from Indonesia. He is a freshman at Hesston College, majoring in Computer Science. He likes to learn about the Space, and the Astronomy as he has a dream to be an Astronaut one day. He would like to inspire the children if the Space adventure is fun and have many new interesting things to learn. A fun fact about Oswaldo: he loves robotics and likes to assemble robots. The three things he will take to Mars would be a soccer ball, a camera, and a plant.
Parker Wise is from Topeka, Kansas. He's a sophomore at the University of Kansas. He is majoring in Physics and Astronomy. He will be a counselor for Moon Shot and Martian Base. This is Parker's first year working at the Cosmosphere. Parker has a background of working at summer camps since 2017. He is very excited to be able to inspire campers to pursue science in their future. A fun fact about parker is that he likes wacky socks.
Persephone Oak spent a sizable amount of their childhood in Hutchinson, Kansas, but later moved up to Lenexa, where they now live while pursuing a degree in anthropology (with an emphasis on linguistics) from Johnson County Community College and University of Missouri Kansas City, as well as pursuing interests in foreign relations as the president of their college's Model United Nations organization. Persephone loves science (and astronomy) to their core, though linguistics will always be their passion. They will be a counselor for the Mars Academy camps this summer and this will be their first year as a counselor, but not their first year at the Cosmosphere. Persephone attended multiple camps as a child, inspiring them to later become a counselor - to them, teaching about space as a counselor at this camp is the best way to spend the summer. A fun fact about Persephone: They read 86 books in 2021. The three things Persephone would take on a trip to Mars would be their favorite Dungeons and Dragons book, their giant fluffy blanket, and their dog Fig (if they can't also sneak their other two dogs onboard!).
Shay Weigel is from Lee's Summit, Missouri. She will be a senior at Wichita State University this coming fall majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in mathematics. She will be a counselor for the day camps. This is her first summer as a counselor here at the Cosmosphere, but she has previous camp experience elsewhere. She is excited to help the campers find/grow their passions in STEM and learning in general. A fun fact about Shay: She used to do archery for 7 years and played the violin for 9 years. She is so excited for this summer and can't wait to meet the campers!
Sherry Treece was born and raised in Hutchinson Kansas. During the day time during school Sherry can be found deep in the shelves of her Middle School Library. Sherry is also a full time college student at Fort Hays State University with the major of Sociology In the evenings Sherry can more than likely be found in a gym with volleyball. Sherry is a volleyball official, coach and both of her daughters play volleyball. This will be Sherry's 6th summer as a Camp Director at the Cosmosphere. Sherry will be directing Mars Academy. Sherry's son had such an amazing time when he attended the former 101 and 201 camps that she wanted to get in on the action. She hopes to foster the love of Space and Science in campers. Three things that I would like to take to Mars would be books, journals and a camera to document the experience.
Stefan is also the Content Specialist at the Cosmosphere.