Who We Are
Board of Directors
Joseph Billesbach Co-chair – Owner, Platte Valley Agronomics
Lindsey Stout Co-chair – Physician Assistant, Hastings Internal Medicine
Jessica Allen-Pickett, Secretary – Instructor of Teacher Education, Hastings College
Will Vrooman, CPA, EA Treasurer – Owner: Vrooman Tax Prep
Mark DeDiana, CPA – Senior Accountant, Lutz
Dr. Stephanie Furrer, Associate Professor of Psychology, Hastings College
Jan Herbek – Educator, Morton/Watson Elementary Schools
Rich Olson – Owner, Olson Farms
Tim Overmiller –Veterinarian, Animal Clinic of Hastings
Kayla Perry – Instructional Facilitator, Longfellow Elementary School
Ryan Samuelson – Auctioneer and Broker, Ruhter Auction & Realty
Amy Sandeen, Executive Director
Amy grew up in Hastings, then worked with nonprofits in St. Paul/Minneapolis for eighteen years before moving back to her roots in 2008 to help establish Prairie Loft. Amy's professional background is in experiential education and nonprofit management. She has worked with schools, nonprofits, outdoor education centers, and wilderness programs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. Amy serves as Humanities Nebraska Council Chair and is an adjunct instructor with Hastings College. She works with local groups to enhance strategic planning, community culture, inclusive approaches, and leadership skills. Amy is also a musician and photographer and loves sharing outdoor experiences with others.
Lorna Zajack, Connections Coordinator
Lorna joined the Prairie Loft team in 2013. Originally from New York, she honed her customer service, marketing and business development skills over 13 years in the private sector in NYC, Boston, DC and San Diego. Lorna leads the coordination and implementation of private events, summer camps and other programs. Additionally, Lorna plays an integral role in event planning, teaching, program design, strategic planning, volunteer and vendor management. She is a fitness instructor at the YMCA, head coach of Girls on the Run, and a volunteer in Hastings Public Schools. Outside of the office, you will find Lorna at a park or on a running track with her husband and daughter!
Maria Kavan, Lead Educator
Maria joined the Prairie Loft team in 2018. She works as an educator and event host and helps plan and facilitate field trips, summer camps, and other educational programs. Maria was born and raised in Lawrence, Nebraska, attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and earned dual endorsements in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. She has 8 years of elementary teaching experience and 3 years of preschool teaching experience. She has 3 young boys and a wonderful husband who all share her passion for the outdoors. Maria has a love for hiking and camping and also enjoys fishing, crafting and spending time with her family. She is passionate about education of any form and the growth of the young mind.
Nichole Bryant, Program Guide
Nichole joined the Prairie Loft team in 2018. Nichole’s duties include planning and helping with Prairie Loft events for all ages as well. When she is not tuning and servicing pianos around South Central Nebraska, she works as an educator and event host and helps plan and facilitate field trips, summer camps, and other educational programs. Nichole’s husband and four amazing kids are also very involved in Prairie Loft activities.
Joelle Derner, Program Guide
Joelle joined Prairie Loft in 2019. She works as a program guide to help educate children of all ages. Joelle is originally from St. Paul, Nebraska and is currently working towards an exercise science degree at Hastings College. Joelle loves camping, hiking, arts and crafts, being around friends/family, and learning something new every day on the job. If you don’t find Joelle at Prairie Loft she is probably creating art in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center at Hastings College!
MaKenzie Sommerfeld, Program Guide
Born and raised here in Hastings, Kenzie joined the Prairie Loft team as a Program Guide in 2019. She helps out with all the different kinds of events at Prairie Loft, including field trips, private events, and our annual events. Kenzie loves the fact that by working at Prairie Loft, she gets to learn new things every day. She is a full-time student studying psychology at Hastings College, and has a wonderful husband and two beautiful young children who love to be involved with Prairie Loft as much as possible!