Meet the Staff

Chelsea Raiche

Executive Director

Chelsea has been with Friends of the Rainforest since 2013 and has filled a variety of roles in that time.  She graduated from Drury University and has over 15 years of experience working with non-profits in different capacities.  Chelsea has served locally on the Ecological Restoration Corps and in AmeriCorps Emergency Response Team where she engaged in conservation, disaster relief, and wildfire fighting.  She has a lifelong passion for ecology, conservation, and Costa Rica and is excited to share that enthusiasm with you.



Melissa Hoener

Development Coordinator

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 this position with our organization. She is eager to spread the word.




Carrie Wilson Herndon

Education & Outreach Coordinator

Carrie earned her undergraduate and Masters degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying Biology and Chemistry. Carrie began her journey in education by teaching in the STEM field in both public and private schools at the K-12 level. Carrie has presented at multiple conferences and has received awards recognizing her innovative teaching methods and lessons including the Illinois STEM teacher of the year (2016), the National Science Teacher’s Association Vernier Award for Innovative Use of Technology, (2017), and  the Heartlands Conservancy Green leaf Award for engaging individuals with nature. Carrie feels that,”the more we engage today’s youth with nature, the more educated our youth will be in regards to appreciating and understanding the beauty of nature. Individuals that can appreciate and understand the intricacies of nature are less likely to view nature as something to be exploited.”