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Meet the Board

Maggie Eisenberger Board Chair/Travel Director

Maggie Eisenberger has a Master’s Degree in Tropical Ecology from the Whitney R Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (Her research was on the biotic and abiotic effects of opening a hiking trail in the rainforest. She spent 4 months in the Darien Region of Panama and managed the field research station at Cana.) She is a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm and looks forward to hiking, bird-spotting, and adventuring with fellow travelers. She has given dozens of talks on rainforests to a wide range of groups, including public and private schools (pre-K-12), senior citizen groups, church youth groups, the St. Louis Audubon Society, and many conferences. She served 6 years on the board of directors of Save The Rainforest and served 18 years on the steering committee of St. Louis Rainforest Advocates. She has 30 years of teaching experience (pre-K – 12th) and is retired teacher of high school science and math. She has received several teaching awards, including the St. Louis Zoo’s Teacher of the Year Award.

James Crain

James (Jim) Crain is a retired engineer, inventor, and small business owner. He's an alumnus of the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana). He currently manages a small family real estate business. Jim's been impressed by the work that Friends of the Rainforest is doing to conserve rain forests because of the importance of those in maintaining bio-diversity and in regulating climate. And he particularly likes the citizen-action that's been the driving force for creating land trusts that protect rain forests.

Melissa Hoener

Melissa received her Bachelor of Science in Biology through the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1995. Her passion for science and education led her to obtain a Master of Science in Education. She has over 10 years of experience teaching Biology and Anatomy at the High School and Community College levels. Visiting the rainforest in Costa Rica coupled with a passion for the environment, led Melissa to become the Development Coordinator with our organization. She is now working for Logan University and has continued to serve our mission by becoming a board member.

Chad Hoener

Chad spent time in Costa Rica and the rainforest in 1995 & 1998. Those trips provided a foundation of admiration and respect for the rainforest and sustainability. Throughout his career, he has championed recycling, sustainability, and eco-aware programs for both publicly traded and privately held companies. As a member of the board, he is able to combine his passion for the environment with the mission of the organization. He has a BS in Marketing and a MA in Education. Chad is a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones. 

David Robnak

David Robnak joined the board in 2012. He has previously gone on ecotours with his family to the rainforest in Belize, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands. He strongly feels that all rainforests need to be protected, and was glad to join the board to help the Rainforest.  David received a Bachelor's degree from Indiana University in Business,  with a minor in small business and entrepreneurship. He is president and owner of Central Paper Stock, a paper and plastics recycling company. Last year, Central Paper Stock recycled enough paper to save 1,263,000 trees and recycled over 3,000,000 pounds of scrap plastic. David lives in St. Louis with his family.

Alissa White

Alissa White was an econometrician at Southwestern Bell for 10 years before she began teaching elementary classes at Chesterfield Day School, a job she held for 22 years. Alissa holds an M.S. (Economics) from the University of Arizona. She currently works part-time, tutoring elementary students in mathematics. Having visited the Children's Eternal Rainforest, Alissa is passionate about helping preserve the forest and about educating others about the need to protect this special forest for the future.

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Honorary Board

In Memoriam: Co-Founders Rachel and Dwight Crandell

Rachel Crandell retired in June 2001 after teaching for 20 years at Principia Lower School in St Louis and 9 years running a nursery school on her family’s farm in Indiana. Rachel taught numerous seminars for teachers and gave hundreds of slide shows around the nation about tropical rainforests. She and her husband Dwight have 3 grown children and 3 grandchildren. On their Indiana farm, they grew all of their own food organically including goats, chickens, pigs, and horses (though they didn’t eat the horses). Rachel volunteered with Girl Scouts, 4-H, and was elected to the school board, and was active in the Christian Science church. She worked for the Smithsonian Institution and the Nation’s Capital Girl Scout Council as a Field Director the first year after receiving a BA from Principia College in English and Art History. Later, she received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Webster U in St Louis. She was a lifelong environmentalist and served as President of the St Louis Rain Forest Advocates, leading trips to the tropics (25 times since 1989) hoping to give folks a peek at conservation and the impact our lives at home have on distant endangered places — hoping to change habits and thinking. Rachel passed away on Sept 7, 2009.

Dwight Crandell retired on June 30, 2001, after serving 15 years as Executive Vice President of the St. Louis Science Center and 5 years as Assistant Director and Executive Director of the Museum of Science and Natural History in St. Louis. He also spent 9 years on the staff of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indiana, 1 1/2 years at Mount Vernon (George Washington’s Home in Virginia), and 5 years in the United States Air Force. He was a member of Rotary International, American Association of Museums and AAM/ICOM, an Associate of the Monteverde Conservation League, and earned degrees of Bachelor of Arts (History and Education), Principia College, and Master of Arts (History Museum Studies), Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University College at Oneonta, NY. With his wife Rachel, he enjoyed traveling in Central and South America since 1990 and supporting educational/conservation activities in Belize, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Costa Rica as well as numerous conservation and cultural organizations within the United States. Dwight passed away on Feb 16, 2008.


Jeremy Crandell is the owner of St. Louise Studios, a collaborative workspace for artists, fabricators and entrepreneurs, located at the northern end of the West Oakland Industrial Arts Corridor. He has served on the Black Rock City LLC’s Art Department for the annual Burning Man event as well as the Black Rock Arts Foundation’s Advisory Council. Jeremy was a co-founder of Brightmail, Inc., the email protection platform, now owned by Symantec, the Director of Technology for Network for Good and a Senior Technical Producer at America Online. Earlier in his career, Jeremy worked for the Soviet/Russian Refugee program for the State Department and Immigration and Naturalization Service. Jeremy received a bachelor’s degree in Politics and Russian from Principia College.


Tom Newmark* was president and co-CEO of New Chapter, Inc., a certified organic provider of leading multivitamins and herbal formulations until his retirement in 2012. He is co-owner of Luna Nueva Extractos de Costa Rica that operates a model biodynamic and certified organic ginger and turmeric farm in the volcanic rainforest at the edge of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Tom is co-founder of Semillas Sagradas, a sanctuary for endangered medicinal herbs of the neo-tropics. He is on the board of Scientific Advisors for the organic Center for Education, on the board of Biodynamic Trade Association, a member of Organic Trade Association, the American Herbal Products Association, the American Botanical Council, the NNFA, the Society of Integrative oncology and the Bar Association of Missouri. Tom received his BA and his JD from Washington University and had twenty years experience as a trial lawyer. Tom has several patents and has authored numerous articles. His books include Beyond Aspirin and The Life Bridge.  Tom is currently collaborating with scientists at Columbia University on the first herbal clinical trial for the prevention of prostate cancer using proprietary formulation Zyflamend.


Dr. Peter H. Raven* has served as Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, and George Engelmann Professor of Botany, Washington University in St. Louis, since 1971 until his retirement in 2010.  He is now President Emeritus of the garden.  He has visited Costa Rica since 1966, and has served as a member of the Board and also President of the Organization for Tropical Studies. The Garden supports the work of Bill Haber at Monteverde and is currently producing the Manual Flora de Costa Rica, an account of all the plants of the country, in cooperation with INBio and the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica. The Garden’s staff of some 45 Ph.D. level scientists is conducting research throughout the tropics of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Dr. Raven is currently chairman of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, chair of the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society, and a member of the board of the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science. A native of California and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (A.B. 1957) and U.C.L.A. (Ph.D. 1960), Dr. Raven was a member of the faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University for nine years before coming to St. Louis. He is a member or foreign member of some two dozen academies of science around the world and served as Home Secretary of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences for 12 years.  


In Memoriam: Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy is President of the Heinz Center and currently the Chief Biodiversity Advisor and Lead Specialist for the Environment for the Latin American region for the World Bank. He is also the Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations Foundation and is a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. In the past, Tom worked as the Assistant Secretary for Environmental and External Affairs for the Smithsonian Institution, and as Executive Vice President of World Wildlife Fund-US. Tom conceived the idea for the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems project, originated the concept of debt-for-nature swaps, and is the founder of the public television series Nature. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. (biology) from Yale University. Tom is past president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, past chairman of the United States Man and Biosphere Program, and past president of the Society for Conservation Biology. In 1998, Brazil awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of Scientific Merit. In April 2001 he received the John & Alice Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. He serves on numerous scientific and conservation boards and advisory groups including the New York Botanical Garden, Committee for the National Institute for the Environment, Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Wildlife Preservation Trust, Resources for the Future, Woods Hole Research Center, and the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies.

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