Sharon Yanik-Craig is the director of the Lackawanna College Environmental Education Center. She is a native of Scranton and is a graduate of Scranton High School and Pennsylvania State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in park management. She also earned a master’s degree in ecological teaching and learning from Lesley University, near Boston. She and her husband, Brian, have a son, Grayson, 4. They live in Roaring Brook Twp.
Meet Sharon Yanik-Craig …

Tell us a little about your work with the college?
I’ve been there since 2008, so I’m coming up on 10 years. We focus on community education and environmental education, and we offer programs to the community from Pre-K all the way up to senior citizens, and everything in between. Those are public programs. And we also offer programs and college credit courses to our college students at a higher level. And we offer certificate programs.

What do you enjoy about it?
It’s a very fulfilling job. My passion is environmental advocacy, and it’s nice to know I’m making a difference and an impact in our region. With the type of programs that we do, I work with thousands of individuals every year. We have a couple of thousand students that come in from regional schools, for their school field trips, we do pre-school programs with our local community, and our park ranger program is probably one of my largest accomplishments to date. We just graduated our first cohort of Conservation and Outdoor Resource students, which is a certificate program. Students come to us and take five undergraduate-level environmental courses: dendrology, ornithology, fresh water ecosystems, park management and wild life management. And those five courses help prepare them to be park rangers, as they are required by the Civil Service Commission in order to take the DCNR ranger trainee test. So we’re fulfilling that need in the community.

You’ve also been pretty involved in some community projects. Can you tell us a little about that?
Before our son was born, I was on the board and had served as vice president with the LRCA (Lackawanna River Conservation Association) for a number of years. They’re a nonprofit and their mission is conserving the Lackawanna River. The health of the Lackawanna River and the whole eco system is extremely important to me, and the work that the organization does, with the small staff that they have, is invaluable to our region.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Hiking. Hiking and exploring new places with my family and with my pup.

Favorite music?
I’m a lover of many genres, but my all-time favorite has to be Neil Young. His music resonates with my soul.

Favorite city?
Of all of the places I’ve been, it has to be Rome. You’re talking about a city that’s 3,000 years old. The culture, visiting the Vatican City, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps – it brings you back to another time.

Favorite place to vacation?
During our Northeast winter? Somewhere south. (Laughs)

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The four seasons and the fall foliage. There’s not a lot of places on Earth that get the vibrant climate that we do, because of our climate and our species of trees. And also, we have so many creative individuals in the area, from music to the visual and performing arts. There’s always something going on and there’s always something to do.

Favorite food?
I love Japanese, I love Thai, I love Indian … but if I had to pick one, I’d say Thai.

Favorite holiday?
Christmas. It brings warmth to the cold winters. And I love Christmas music. It’s nostalgic for me.

Favorite book or author?
Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.”

Favorite movie?
“The Usual Suspects” and “The Big Lebowski.”

Favorite TV show?
“Stranger Things,” “The Walking Dead” and “The OA.”

Guilty pleasure?
Probably binge watching “The Walking Dead.”

You mentioned your pup. What type of dog is he?
He’s a yellow Lab, named Blue. He’s six years old and he’s beautiful.

Biggest pet peeve?
Wastefulness. Because that’s an environmental problem.

Favorite quote or catchphrase?
“Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Have you had a moment in your life, or a time in your life, or a person on your life, that has really helped shape you and define you as a person?
Coleen O’Connell, the director for my master’s degree program. She was a force to be reckoned with. She was a compassionate soul and a fierce environmental advocate. She challenged me quite a bit, she rounded me out as a person, and expanded my mind.

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

Photos by Emma Black

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