About Quarry Hill

Quarry Hill Nature Center is seated in the City of Rochester's Quarry Hill Park. The 329 acre park features 8+ miles of paved and hiking trails, a pond, and a historical sandstone cave carved in 1882. In the winter months, cross country skis and snowshoes are available for rent to use in the park. The Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center staff the nature center building which houses live animals and  an admission free Exploration Hall. Year-round classes, day camps, trips, and recreation activities are  offered by the Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center professional staff. Please visit the Programs & Events section for more information.




Pam Meyer
Pam Meyer  
Pam Meyer
Still adding to her childhood agate collection.

Executive Director
I grew up in Plymouth, MN where I got an early start in science spending endless hours agate hunting in my neighbors river rock driveway and summers exploring neighborhood ponds for crayfish and turtles. Being outdoors was an ethic, a way of life in our family. We even had a neighborhood club of kids known as Boundary Waters Club! 

Pursuing my passion for nature and science lead me to the University of Minnesota-Duluth where I received a degree in Earth and Space Sciences and Environmental and Outdoor Education with a minor in Geology. I also hold a current Minnesota teaching license for sciences grades 5-12. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to teach in a diversity of nature and science centers from LA County Outdoor School of Science in Malibu to Massachusetts Audubon's Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on Martha's Vineyard to all the way up north at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, MN. I've been coast to coast and still feel Quarry Hill stands  unparalleled in its field with a fantastic staff and awesome natural resources right in town!

Favorite Animal: Monarch butterfly because their life cycle and annual migration is fascinating.

Favorite Minnesota State Park: Any of the parks along the North Shore of Lake Superior because I can agate hunt there!

If I could be a tree, I'd be a Weeping Willow because I love how graceful their branches are when they blow in the breeze.

Brooke Hilger
Brooke Hilger  
Brooke Hilger
always creating!

Naturalist/Animal Care Lead

I was born in Missouri and moved a few times while growing up landing here in Minnesota around 4th grade. Since then I have always considered Minnesota home and have enjoyed getting to know all the plants and animals that reside here. I grew up with a love of the outdoors. My family wasn’t big into camping or traveling, but most of my favorite childhood memories were made in my backyard or local parks. I have 8 pets; two dogs, five cats and one bunny.

I went to school at Luther College and received my Biology and Arts degree in the spring of 2017. Right after school, I became a para in my hometown school in Stewartville. The summer following, I applied for a summer camp position at Quarry Hill and later transitioned to a permanent naturalist position in the fall of 2018. Throughout my time here I have had a few different roles. I have always been a part of our program staff, but initially also helped care for the animals. When the pandemic hit my role here quickly shifted to Digital editor, as we pivoted from in-person learning to online learning. Now that we have students and families back in the nature center, I continue to teach, manage our Instagram account and work on the digital content we produce and I have taken on animal care once again. I have learned so much and continue to learn here at Quarry Hill.

When I was a kid, I enjoyed playing with all the local neighborhood kids outside. It has always been a treat for me to come up with and engage kids in activities centered around nature, such as fort building, critter home creations, or simply biking or rollerblading through the city parks.

Favorite Animal – at least in Minnesota, is the American Toad. These animals are so charismatic and can be found just about anywhere in the summer. I can remember finding them as kids creating spaces for them to thrive in our backyard. They were also the most entertaining for me to watch when I cared for the animals.

Favorite Minnesota State Park: Whitewater, because it is the park I have been to and know the most

Favorite Food: beef sticks. Any day is bound to be a good day if you begin it with a beef stick.

Favorite Quote: In the rising and setting of the sun, you will remember him the rest of your days – Kirk Payne (in a sympathy card I received from the staff after my father’s passing)

Jenna Daire
Jenna Daire
It’s not a buffalo!

Teacher & Naturalist

I grew up near the National Forests of Central Montana where I developed a love of all things outdoors. My childhood vacations were spent camping, hiking, and fishing in and around mountain country. As I have grown, I have found that I prefer to keep my feet on land and hike an area to better explore it, but I appreciate the beauty of our Minnesota lakes, rivers and streams.  I have a goal of visiting all of our National Parks, and I am over a third of the way there! Earning Junior Ranger badges, participating in ranger programs and experiencing some of our nations most treasured areas is always a thrill.

I joined the Quarry Hill staff in 2000 and have filled many roles in my time at Quarry Hill.  I especially enjoy teaching young children and being a part of events like Fall Festival and Creatures of the Night.

Favorite Animal: Bison, because they are an integral part of the history of North America, massively beautiful, and their scientific name is Bison Bison.

Favorite MN State Park: Temperance River - my family has camped there annually for years. We enjoy the trip up the north shore and the beautiful setting that the park provides for tent camping.

Hobbies: Volunteering in the community and canning fruits and veggies. A current favorite recipe is Ginger Pear Lime preserves!


Jill Danielsen
Jill Danielsen  
Jill Danielsen
Heats and cools her home with geothermal energy.

Volunteer & Program Coordinator/Naturalist
When I was a kid, I 'lived' outside. Growing up on a farm, I followed my Dad everywhere - everything outside was interesting to me. I walked the woods with my science teacher mom, spent hours with farm animals, played in the dirt and planted with my Dad. My farm and backyard were my playground. Later my playground expanded when I studied wildlife biology and became involved in wildlife research. Once I spent 70 days in a tent researching wetlands - bird, plants, and leeches baited and trapped with chicken livers. Today, I am back living on the farm I grew up on and spend my days at Quarry Hill planning environmental education experiences for others.

A big part of my work at Quarry Hill is coordinating the many volunteers that help with classes and park maintenance. It's fantastic to everyday be sharing the work of bringing the wonders of nature to others.

Favorite Minnesota State Park: Tettegouche because of it's fantastic views, hiking and scenery.

If I could be a tree, I'd be a Burr Oak because of their resilience, strength, beauty, and character all together in one. Each burr oak feels like an individual with stories to tell.

Random Fact: I once kept a loon chick in my bathtub for a week until reuniting it with Mom.

Jenny Doty
Jenny Doty  
Jenny Doty
Favorite season is "Minnesota!"

Office Manager

I was born and raised in Rochester but spent every weekend, Memorial Day through Labor Day, camping with my family along the Mississippi River.  

I remember visiting the Nature Center on a school trip when it was just one big room with a concrete floor and some taxidermy. I’m so proud of all the folks through the years whose hard work made the Nature Center into the amazing resource it is now. 

Today, I manage the front office of the Nature Center. I welcome visitors and help them find the many wonderful programs and places Quarry Hill has to offer. Each year I schedule field trips for over 7,000 students from Rochester Public Schools to come out, twice, for their class field trips.

Favorite Animal: Blackburnian warbler because it was the first bird that amazed me and started my journey as a birder.

Favorite Minnesota State Park: Frontenac State Park because of its great views of the river and great birding during migration. Habitats vary within the park so you can see many different species in one visit.

My favorite Season: Minnesota. I would not want to live where I knew what weather to expect! I love the changing seasons. 

Fun Fact: My grandpa was one of the farmers for the Rochester State Hospital in the 1940’s - 1960’s. His silo still stands but I challenge you to find it!

Photo: blackburnian warbler by Linnea Halvorson

Carrie Nelson
Carrie Nelson  
Carrie Nelson
Still playing in the mud.

Rocks, mud, bugs, mud, crayfish, and more mud were some of my favorite things growing up here in Rochester. When not playing around our backyard and by the Zumbro River, the need for nature was taken care of with our school trips to Quarry Hill. It was here that I first saw how to combine the things I enjoyed the most, nature and learning. After college, I joined AmeriCorps and was placed at Quarry Hill. When my AmeriCorps term ended, I became a full time Quarry Hill staff member.

Today I enjoy working with the many school classes and public programs through out the year. I spend summers at Quarry Hill leading Crazy Crayfish, Nature Explorations, Geology Rocks and other camps. Sometimes I even visit some of my childhood haunts (like the Zumbro River) with summer campers!

Favorite Animal: Any animal not trying to eat me for obvious reasons.

Favorite Minnesota State Park: Carly State Park because it's a lot like Whitewater, but not as busy.

Hobbies: When not at the Nature Center, I enjoy biking, hiking, camping, canoeing, skiing, reading, orienteering, and spending time with family.

Lori Forstie
Lori Forstie  
Lori Forstie
Knits in nature

Public Relations & Outreach Coordinator

Beginning my work at Quarry Hill has been a “blast from the past”. Not only is it bringing back memories of visiting the park as a child, but I have also re-connected with some of my former science teachers who still visit Quarry Hill with their students today. Their dedication to helping students experience science and nature “hands-on” is inspiring. After leaving Rochester for a number of years, my husband and I moved back to Rochester to raise our three children. We knew that exploring nature and time outdoors were an important part of growing up and a way to balance the overload that kids sometimes face today. We began to take advantage of the many opportunities at Quarry Hill and to this day consider it one of the best places in town to hang out! I am a naturally curious person and spend my free time gardening, knitting and skiing. I enjoy discovering nature through the eyes of the Quarry Hill naturalists and many visitors we see each day.

Favorite Minnesota State Park: Carly State Park. Walking through the forest among the bed of wild flowers transports you into another world.

Joe Melmer
Joe Melmer  
Joe Melmer
Can design, build, or fix ANYTHING!

Facilities Manager
I grew up in rural South Dakota where I developed a love of the outdoors. This interest in the outdoors influenced my choice of college study, geology; I also have acquired an MS in management. I have been blessed with a variety of exciting previous work experiences; including solar power plants, nuclear facilities, space shuttle, construction, farms, facilities and welding. I love working at Quarry Hill, it would be my choice as the best work environment and the staff would be included with my best coworkers.

Favorite MN State Park: Custer State Park in South Dakota!

Hobbies: Woodworking and reading

Favorite Book: Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Travis Meyer
Travis Meyer  
Travis Meyer

Naturalist/ Teacher

I grew up in Rochester, even attending classes at Quarry Hill during elementary school. I left Rochester for about 9 years for college, grad school, and various environmental education teaching jobs around the country. I was happy to return in 2005 when I became a full time teacher here at Quarry Hill. I have since moved to part time helping with the facilities and maintenance of the Nature Center, while being a full-time dad of two and husband. I enjoy contributing to a positive visitor experience and supporting the rest of the staff in the mission of Quarry Hill.

Favorite Animal: My current favorite animal is the beaver for its amazing abilities of working with wood and shaping its surroundings. Its role in the history of MN is also fascinating.

Favorite Minnesota State Park: Any North Shore Park because of the rugged trails, views and wild spaces.

Hobbies: Hunting - for agates, fossils, and deer.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS Click to expand

  • Peggy Edwards, President Education Specialist, Mayo Clinic (Retired)
  • Tracy Will, Vice President Senior Communications Specialist, Mayo Clinic
  • George Penokie, Treasurer Avago Technologies, Sr. Storage Architect (Retired)
  • Ray Goldstein, Secretary PhD Ornithologist; Non-Profit Board Management Consultant (Retired)
  • Jason Dinsmore Director of Conservation Partnerships, National Wildlife Federation, Great Lakes Region
  • Hans Hollander Middle School Teacher, Rochester Public Schools
  • Catharine Richert Jones Correspondent, Minnesota Public Radio
  • Mary McKie Veterinarian, Northern Valley Animal Clinic
  • Mike Nigbur Park and Forestry Division Head, City of Rochester
  • Jon Turk Captain, Rochester Police Department
  • Mike Willard Human Resource Director, IBM (Retired)

Opening eyes and minds through natural science discovery.





Quarry Hill is a premier environmental learning destination. The Nature Center opened in 1973 as a cooperative effort between the Rochester Park Department and the Rochester Public School District. In September 1990, work was completed on a major addition to the existing nature center, effectively tripling the main floor area and enabling Quarry Hill to meet the increasing needs of both the general public and school. 

Check out a timeline of Quaryy Hills history of events



Check out all our available employment options currently available at Quarry Hill:

View Employment


Nature for All



Learn of Ways
You can Give