Meet our past 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.
Angie Hammersmith is from Hutchinson, Kansas. She has over 20 years experience teaching in the classroom. She has taught all grades from second to seventh. She is currently a STEM Educator at the Cosmosphere. This is her second summer working summer camp. This year she will be the director of the day camps. Angie loves working with elementary students because of their enthusiasm for learning and exploring. She is really looking forward to all the new hands-on activities that are planned this summer in the four different day camps. A fun fact about Angie is she enjoys playing the piano.
Bret Kirkland is from Wichita, KS. He has been involved in Cosmosphere Camps since 2004 as a counselor and director and is ten years into teaching middle school science. On a trip to Mars, Bret would take knowledge, perseverance, and wisdom.
Canyon Skare is from Lincoln, Nebraska. He's a Junior English and Psychology double major at the University of Nebraska Lincoln with minors in Music Technology and Film Studies. This will be Canyon's ninth summer at the Cosmosphere, his third as a counselor in addition to six as a camper. Canyon's passion for all things space and the incredible stories that surround it continue to draw him back to the Cosmosphere and inspire him to keep sharing the Cosmo camp experience with a new generation of campers. A few fun facts about Canyon: he enjoys running, disc golf, and dogs and plays drums for the band Parking Lot Party!
Carson Lee is from Pratt, Kansas. He attends the University of Notre Dame and is a rising senior planning to graduate with a BS in Science-Business with a minor in theology. This is his forth summer working on the camp team and will be working this summer as a director for the Mission: Moon Shot camp. Carson attended camps as a kid and has greatly enjoyed his time at the cosmosphere. He plans to go on to medical school and get an MD after undergraduate school. Carson also enjoys playing disc golf and playing his ukulele.
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.
Eden Craig is from Raymore, Missouri. She just finished her freshman year at Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City. She is getting her Associate's of Arts degree at MCCKC and has plans to transfer to a four year university for a Bachelor's in either Art Education or Science Education. She will be a counselor for Mission: Astro Lab, Mission: Lunar Trek, and Mission: Martian Base. This is her first summer as a counselor, but she attended camps at the Cosmosphere beginning with Mars Academy all the way through Aviation Challenge and couldn't wait to become a counselor. She wants to help young students have the amazing experiences she had as a camper and to share her love of learning about space with them. Eden most looks forward to the missions in the simulator, which were always her favorite part of camp. A couple fun facts about Eden: She's a talented artist, especially with drawing, and she's been to forty-six of the fifty states, with only Lousiana, Washington, Wisconsin, and Alaska left to visit.
Emma Vogel is from here in Hutchinson, Kansas. She is an incoming freshman at Kansas State University, majoring in Industrial Engineering. She will be a counselor for the day camps, Lunar Base, Solar System, Alien Adventure, and Starship Earth and this will be her first summer at Cosmosphere Camps. Emma attended camps as a child and highly enjoyed and wants to inspire to get involved in space exploration. Coming from a small school, she is passionate about getting all children exposed to equal opportunities in STEM. she is looking forward to getting to know the campers and my fellow staff. A fun fact about Emma: she has been in over 13 theatre productions.
Emma Yutzy is from Hutchinson, KS. She is completing her last year at Sterling College, while also working as a para-educator at Morgan Elementary and working at the Cosmosphere on the weekends. She has been working with the Cosmosphere for four years—two years as a counselor and two years as a director. She was a camper for two years before she became a counselor and was encouraged by her camp director to apply as a counselor, which she did. She loves working with children and inspiring them to reach for their dreams while also helping them learn new things. She is most looking forward to seeing returning campers and directing a brand new camp! Fun fact about Emma: She grew up overseas, returning to live in the US in 2018 and she still loves to travel.
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!
Haley Pfeifer is from Ellsworth, Kansas. She’s a senior at the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University and is planning on majoring in Aerospace Engineering after graduating. She will be a first year counselor for many of the Young Explorer Day Camps this summer, such as Alien Adventure, Solar System, Lunar Base, and Starship Earth. She believes the camps are a wonderful opportunity to help inspire other young students who have a passion for learning. She’s most looking forward to exploring more about how humans survive in space with the Lunar Base camp this summer. A fun fact about Haley: She has 15 plants and her favorite is her Pothos named Dr. Noodle.
Jay Thompson is from Wichita, Kansas and attends Wichita State University as a Junior in Aerospace Engineering. He will be a counselor for the Astro Lab and Martian Base camps. This will be his second year as a counselor, which follows his eleven summers as a camper! Jay loves inspiring and engaging others in STEM to get involved and discover. Three things Jay would take to Mars: a Sudoku book, beanies, and a life supply of Cheez-Its!
Jillian Ross-Mason is from Newton, Kansas. She’s a junior at Wichita State University, aiming for a career in Astrobiology. She will be a counselor for Astro Lab, Lunar Trek, and Martian Base camps this summer and this is her first year as a counselor. Jillian has attended summer camps for over ten years and loves the atmosphere and the friends she’s made there. She hopes to motivate young students to pursue their academic and personal goals, no matter how big! She’s most looking forward to learning about all of the cool stuff the Cosmosphere has to offer and making new friends. A fun fact about Jillian: her best friend is her 100 pound puppy, Zeus, and her favorite place she’s visited is Rome.
JoAnna Strecker is from Hutchinson, KS, and this is her fourth summer camp. She is the Director 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.
Lilly Barnes is from Pratt, Kansas. She’s a licensed Cosmetologist and is going to school at Hutchinson Community College to receive her associates degree. She will be a counselor for Mission: Moon Shot and Scouts camps this summer and this is her third summer at Cosmosphere Camps. She hopes to inspire young children and help them achieve their goals in life. She’s most looking forward to having fun with missions in our newest simulator. Three things I would take on a trip to Mars would be Dr. Pepper, my cat, and my laptop for movies.
Louisa Angeline is a student from Wichita State University pursuing Aerospace Engineering. This is her first time being a counselor for Merits I, Merits II, and Mars Academy camps. Although she just joined Cosmosphere Camps this year, she has worked with multiple summer camps for kids in the past. She's passionate about inspiring young students to be knowledgeable and also encourages interest in STEM careers. She has always enjoyed watching young students understanding new concepts during Summer camps and can't wait to watch their approach to solve problems! Fun fact: She's from Indonesia and her dream is to be able to travel around the world!
Madison is from Pratt Kansas. She just graduated with an associates in science from Pratt this spring, she plans on attending Emporia State University in the fall to continue her educational career and major in Elementary Education while minoring in Psychology. This is Madison’s third year being apart of the camp staff at the Cosmosphere! She is very excited for the summer and to see what brilliant minds come through the Cosmosphere this year! Fun fact: Madison has a 2 year old Border Collie and loves animals!
Maggie Brown is from Hutchinson, Kansas. She is a senior at Wichita State University where she is getting an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. This is her fifth summer working with Cosmosphere Camps. She will be a director for Astro Lab and a counselor on Lunar Trek and Martian Base. Maggie is so excited to share her love and passion for space exploration with campers. She is looking forward to another fun summer at the Cosmosphere and seeing more missions in the new simulator. A fun fact about Maggie: she was recently recognized as an Outstanding Undergraduate Student at Wichita State University for her involvement and leadership on campus.
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 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!
Matt Harding is from Wichita, Kansas. He will be a junior at the University of Kansas where he studies mechanical engineering. Matt is excited to work at camp because he will get the chance to foster interest in STEM and Space with young kids. Some interesting things about Matt: he has been to the Florida Keys to go SCUBA diving and he can juggle. Three things he would bring to Mars are: a set of dumbbells, his Xbox, and a toothbrush.
Melissae Stiles lives in Concordia, Kansas where she teaches sixth grade science. She received her Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of Montana and her Master's Degree in Education from Emporia State University. She will be directing the camps: AstroLab and Lunar Trek. This will be Melissae's tenth summer directing camps. Before this, she had a long history of attending events at the Cosmosphere from teacher workshops to astronaut visits. Working the summer programs combines her passion for space science and engineering with her love of working with youth and helping to inspire their passions.
Nick Atanasio, the Cosmosphere's newest STEM Educator, moved to Hutchinson a month ago from Baltimore, Maryland, in order to work at the Cosmosphere. Nick graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia in 2019 with degrees in Cinema and Public Relations. He hopes to one day write science fiction movies, a dream inspired by four years of Cosmosphere camps from 2008 to 2011, and three previous summers as a counselor in 2015, 2019, and 2020. Nick loves the Cosmosphere's large collection and chronological museum gallery and loves teaching kids about space history and how its relevant to today's world. He's most looking forward to Martian Base, the newest camp, and its underground settlement mission! A fun fact about Nick is that, in 2018, he couldn't be a counselor because he was working in the Payroll Department of the feature film, Wonder Woman 1984 (and got his name in the credits!)
Octavio Pacheco is 23 years old and lives in Wichita, Kansas. Octavio is a junior at Wichita State University working towards a Physics degree. Octavio's biggest dream is to become a NASA astonaut some day. Summer of 2021 will be Octavio's first time as a Camp Counselor at the Cosmosphere. Octavio is very passionate about space and science. A fun fact about Octavio is that he met former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez down in Mexico and had a little lunch with him.
Robert Ross is from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and is a senior at Wichita State University studying aerospace engineering. Robert Attended Cosmosphere space camps 201 through 501, and this will be his 3rd summer working as a camp counselor. Robert is a private pilot, and wants to inspire campers to pursue their dreams in aviation and space exploration. A fun fact about Robert: He is a member of the Wichita State Rocket Club, and enjoys building high power rockets. Robert is currently building his level 2 high power certification rocket, which will fly up to 11,000 feet!
Sabrina Nicacio Gomes is from São Paulo, Brazil. She is a sophomore at Hutchinson Community College with aspirations to become an Aerospace Engineer. This will be Sabrina's first summer at Cosmosphere Camps and she will be a counselor for various missions. Sabrina's passion for aerospace began on her seventh birthday when she was invited to travel in the cockpit of an airplane with the pilot and copilot. That passion has only grown and she hopes to share it with the young campers she will be working with. She's mostly looking forward to learn as much as she can from the Cosmosphere staff and campers. A fun fact about Bri: She spent a year as a professional dancer for an award winning dance company in Brazil and she is an internationally certified STEM tutor.
Sandhya Ravikumar is from Lawrence, KS. She is studying aerospace engineering and physics at the University of Kansas and will be a counselor for Mission: Moon Shot and Mission: Martian Base. Sandhya didn't attend space camps as a child, so she can't wait to experience the excitement of the Cosmosphere as a first-time counselor! She's looking forward to sharing her love for aviation and space, and is excited to foster the curiosity of the next generation of students. Here's a fun fact about Sandhya: she has travelled to over a dozen countries and speaks five languages!
Sherry Treece is 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. In the evenings Sherry can more than likely be found in a gym with volleyball. Sherry is a volleyball official and both of her daughters play volleyball. This will be Sherry's 4th summer as a Camp Director at the Cosmosphere. Sherry will be directing Mars Academy, Merits I and Merits II. 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.
Stephen Strecker is from Tonkawa, Oklahoma, and is a senior at Wichita State University studying aerospace engineering. He also has a bachelor’s in physics from Oklahoma State University. Stephen will be a director for the Mars Academy and Merits of Space camps. This will be his third summer as a director at Cosmosphere Camps. Stephen hopes that he can encourage and inspire campers to pursue a career in STEM and he is most looking forward to working with the campers this summer. A fun fact about Stephen is that he has been to 13 countries across four continents.
Tarun Bandemegala is originally from India. He’s currently a graduate student at Wichita State in the Biomedical Engineering program. He will be a counselor for Mission: Mars Academy and Merits this summer and is his first Summer at Cosmosphere Camps. While he has never attended camps, he’s been on Analog Astronaut missions multiple times. He is passionate about sharing the wonders of space technologies especially about the life support systems. Sharing the fun facts about largest collection of Russian spacesuits and the Apollo 13 command module at the Cosmosphere is what he’s looking forward to the most. Fun fact about Tarun: He loves traveling and is planning to drive around the world in 100 days by 2025.