A professional furniture craftsman and owner of Joy in Wood Furniture Makers since 1979, Rich has a passion for selfless service and a deep appreciation for the natural world. He is President and Founding Director of Amazing Earthfest, a nonprofit organization founded in 2009, producing an annual educational, arts and outdoor adventure festival celebrating National and State Parks, Forests, Monuments and Public Lands of the American West. To help conserve the matchless cultural, scientific, wildlife and recreational resources on federal lands in southern Utah, he served on the Board of Trustees for Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, friends group for the National Monument, from 2008 through 2017. He and his wife Debra relocated to Kanab, Utah, from Maine in 2007 to live an active outdoor lifestyle, discover and enjoy America’s public lands, and contribute to the culture and emerging identity of their chosen community. Rich is founder and President of the Stellar Vista Observatory, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation of a public educational astronomical observatory in Kanab. To preserve the exceptional natural darkness in his chosen community and beyond, Rich led a successful community effort to write and enact a comprehensive night sky friendly outdoor lighting ordinance, adopted by the City of Kanab in 2017, to become the 3rd city in the state of Utah to codify preservation for its starry sky resources.
Debra Csenge writes, paints, and gardens in Kanab, Utah. She left her former home in Maine in 2007, and now hikes the trails of southern Utah. She holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art which she received as a “non-conventional” student in 2004 at the University of Maine in Portland/Gorham. She has worked as a self-employed furnituremaker and upholsterer, for the outdoor company LL Bean in Freeport, Maine, and as a library assistant at Kanab City Library. She now thoroughly enjoys her retirement. She is the owner-director of the Adobe Studio and Gallery in Kanab, and is a member of Willow Wind Poets, a branch of the Utah State Poetry Society.
Laura was elected to the Amazing Earthfest secretary position in 2020 following her involvement with the festival in 2019. She grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs then moved to central Pennsylvania where their love of nature blossomed.
In 2016, Laura and her husband, Josh, moved to Utah for Laura’s job as a mental health clinician on a residential treatment ranch for teen girls. Laura left this position and worked for a short time in Cat World at Best Friends animal sanctuary before deciding to convert their newly-purchased home in Kanab into a traditional bed and breakfast, the Stewart Woolley House Bed and Breakfast.
In September 2021, they returned to central Pennsylvania where they both continue to volunteer with Amazing Earthfest on the technological aspects of the festival. Laura served as assistant director and coordinated the 2022 festival while simultaneously returning to her work as a community mental health therapist.
Laura has also been involved in several non-profit organizations in the past, including secretary and flutist for the Danville Community Band (Pennsylvania), volunteer with Ashburn’s Animals rescue (Pennsylvania), and organizer for the Keep Kanab Unspoiled citizens group (Kanab) to stop the proposed frac sand mine.
In her free time, Laura enjoys doing puzzles and playing games, hiking and camping, playing with and walking her cats (yes, on leashes), and reading about and watching true crime documentaries with her husband.
Josh began his involvement with Amazing Earthfest by bringing his knowledge of bootstrapping small tech organizations to the Amazing Earthfest team. Utilizing open source software he was able to slash the tech budget while expanding the team’s digital capabilities. Since then he has been elected treasurer and also does bookkeeping.
When not staring into a screen Josh can often be found wandering and exploring the forests of Pennsylvania, trapping and observing ancient light in his telescope, looking for meaning and fulfillment, and hanging out with Ted
Steve graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1967, with a degree in mechanical engineering. His career encompassed roles in mechanical design, project/systems management, and departmental management. The core of his business experiences were within the transport refrigeration, plastics processing machinery, and supercomputer industries. From his youth, Steve has always had a love for exploring, respecting, and caring for the wonders of nature. His passion for protecting Mother Nature accelerated the more he witnessed the abuse bestowed upon her, and he became more active in speaking out and taking action. Soon after moving to Kanab in 2011, Steve’s hiking and hands-on educational experiences within the high country desert of America’s southwest further broadened his understanding and appreciation of our planet’s delicate ecological web. With that he quickly became involved as a volunteer for Amazing Earthfest, eventually serving on the Board as Treasurer. Steve and his wife Jeanne returned to their Wisconsin roots in 2018, where he has become involved in assisting and promoting environmental causes within west central Wisconsin. Steve continues to serve on the board of directors for Amazing Earthfest.
Born in Kanab, Utah (1936), the youngest of 8 children, descendants from American settlers in what became Boston, 1620, and immigrant pioneers to Utah, 1850. Her father, Woodruff Rust, and grandfather, Will Rust, built the Kaibab Lodge (V-T Ranch), 10 miles, from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, in their endeavor to mix tourism and nature – a love of the Earth that would influence Maida’s dedication to dance and the environment in years to come. Maida has been a member of the AE Board since the early founding. She earned her BA in dance and theatre at Brigham Young University and her MA in dance at the University of Utah. As Founding Artistic Director, Maida has created a significant body of work for the internationally recognized Maida Withers Dance Construction Company (1974) – over 100 dances of breadth and vision www.maidadance.com. Maida and the Company have collaborated on projects and toured to over 20 countries. Maida began creating dances about the environment in 1980. She added the United Nation’s Earth Summit, Eco ’92, with 100 artists for ecology. Her dances, interactive works driven by social and political consciousness, have featured loudspeakers, laser beams, wireless cameras, cyber worlds, video installations, video feedback, always with original music created and performed live. Maida is a distinguished professor at The George Washington University in Washington, DC where she has created and directed BA, MFA and MA programs in dance. She is the mother of four adult children and two Russian grandchildren.
Sylvia completed her Masters in Business Administration from North Carolina State University. She currently enjoys managing social media for Kanab City Library and works for Best Friends Animal Society. Sylvia loves sustainability and travel and has her own website: ecotravelersguide.com
Jim and his wife bought their Kanab, Utah home in 2008, and have lived in Kanab since 2018. From 1997-2015, he was a retired sole-proprietor of an audio recording and high speed duplicating company, which maintained access to thousands of cataloged CDs and maintained state-of-the-art recording equipment. In 2009, he purchased, maintained, and repaired homes, and managed his own rental properties in St, Louis, Missouri. Jim volunteers with the Kane County Share/Care and St. Christopher’s Catholic church, both in Kanab. Jim enjoys all the environmental, cultural, and social opportunities that southern Utah and the surrounding area has to offer.
Marybeth and her husband developed a passion for exploring and appreciating the wonders of nature, especially in southern Utah, after buying their second home in Kanab in 2008. For the next decade, they explored many canyons, arches, and dry creek beds in Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado and subsequently ‘‘fell in love’ with the southwest. In 2018, they made the move to live in Kanab full-time.
Prior to her retirement in 2015, Marybeth lived in St. Louis, Missouri, as an Associate Chief Nurse of Surgery at St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She had been involved with numerous non-profits for years, including serving as a board member of the Hilljack House (a home for at-risk adults) and the St. Vincent de Paul Society in St. Louis. She has served as president and secretary of the local St. Christopher’ Catholic Church Parish Council in Kanab, Utah.
Since 2019, Marybeth has volunteered at the Kane County Share/Care, and during the 4th of July and Christmas parades. She has also been a Kane County board member, as co-chair to the Kane Community Coalition for Suicide Prevention and Underage drinking, a co-chair to the annual Family Dinner night feeding, and serves as the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) BBQ Organizer in Kanab, UT for seven years.