Jeremy Benson
Camp Director
Program Specialist
Jeremy Benson is director of NIU STEAM summer camps. Jeremy has experience as assistant director, lead instructor and overnight supervisor of NIU STEAM camps. During the academic year, he also presents our STEM demonstrations, and hands-on exploration programs to students all over northern Illinois. He's a certified physics teacher in the state of Illinois and has been a full-time STEM Educator with NIU since 2011. He’s a master of designing fun and content-rich camp programs and loves to build things, especially if they include some electronics or rocket motors.
Pati Sievert
Director STEM Outreach
Program Specialist
Pati Sievert is director of NIU STEM Outreach and exercises a guiding hand on our STEAM camps. Pati started Science Camp at NIU in 2002 with 14 campers and served as camp director until Jeremy took on the role. She and her team have expanded the program to now provide dozens of sessions for hundreds of campers each summer. She holds a master’s degree in physics education and a bachelor’s degree in applied design, which has been invaluable in helping to create engaging, creative camp sessions. She has many years of experience working with young people in schools, camps, outreach programming and as a high school physics teacher. You may not see her at camp daily, but if there is paint or dye involved, she’s likely to show up with her gloves and apron to lead the lesson.
Sam Watt
Assistant Camp Director
Program Specialist
Sam began his career with STEM Outreach as a camp counselor in 2011. He has risen through the ranks to full time STEM Educator and Assistant Camp Director. Along the way, he has designed several of our camp sessions, taught high school physics in Illinois and taught STEM classes in Beijing. He’s an NIU alum who has earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s degree in educational technology. As assistant camp director he works closely with Jeremy, the instructors and counselors to make sure all the sessions are running smoothly. He has a smile for everyone - just don’t pull out your cell phone at a meal where they are not allowed - he’ll be there.
K.C. Sauer
Program Director
K.C. Sauer has a life-long passion for all earth sciences, especially weather, climate and geography. Education has also been part of K.C.’s life since he was 12 and began coaching bowling to other youth bowlers. It was only natural for him to combine science and education when choosing a career. K.C. has spent his time in various aspects of education, including middle school science, special education and advocacy for students receiving special education services. He is very excited to be part of a fantastic group of NIU STEM professionals, and he’s looking forward to helping the program reach more learners.
Ann Shult
Program Director
For Ann, nature is more than her job, it’s her passion. When not designing lesson plans, you can find her outdoors bird watching, hiking, camping, taking pictures of flowers and insects, gardening or reading about science. After 26 years in the classroom teaching biology and human anatomy & physiology, Ann joined NIU STEM Outreach in 2020. She earned her MS Ed. from Northern Illinois University in outdoor teacher education and her MAT from Miami (OH) University in biological sciences. Her emphasis is developing lessons involving inquiry-based learning.
Wade Duerkes
Program Director
Digital Photography Camp
Wade Duerkes received a BFA and MFA in Photography from Northern Illinois University in 1999 and 2006 respectively. During his 20-year career he has worked as a university photographer, educator and freelance photographer.
Troy Doetch, Jr
Program Director
Creative Writing Camp
Troy Doetch Jr. is a dedicated teaching professional and writer. He holds a Master of Arts in English from Northern Illinois University, where he published in the Northern Star as a writer and editor and taught in the First-Year Composition Program. Troy is certified by the Illinois State Board of Education to teach English, Social Science and English as a Second Language. Currently, he teaches English and Public Speaking at North Boone High School. Troy has worked with us for five years on the Creative Writing Camp.
Gillian King-Cargile
Program Director
STEM Read Camp
Gillian King-Cargile is the founder and director of Northern Illinois University’s STEM Read (, which introduces readers to the science behind popular fiction. She is also the author of several books and stories for adults and children, including the Stuffed Bunny Science Adventure Series (The Toy and the Twister, The Toy and the Tide Pool, The Toy and the Test Drive). Her books tell fun, fast-paced stories that incorporate STEM concepts aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. If she’s not preparing one of our amazing STEM Read field trips or camp experiences you may find her interviewing creative authors and STEM professionals as the host of the STEM Read Podcast on NPR.
Becky Griffith
Program Director
Video Game Design, Coding and Esports Camps
Becky Griffith has taught video game design camps and workshops for the past eight years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s in fine arts from NIU, where she focused on fiber art, drawing, painting, video and installations. Becky loves teaching video game design camps, and she encourages students to embrace their creativity through storytelling, art and coding. Her favorite game is Minecraft.
Hollie Rodriguez
Program Director
Hollie Rodriguez is a STEAM Educator with NIU STEAM and a published author. Rodriguez began working for NIU STEAM in 2015 as a student worker. Since graduating from the university's English program in 2017, Rodriguez has come on as a full-time NIU STEAM associate. In her day-to-day responsibilities, Hollie operates and evaluates NIU STEAM'S social media channels, as well as the STEM Read Blog. At large community events, she can often be found live-tweeting and snapping photos for future media campaigns. When not working on public-facing promotion, Carmack also assists with STEM Read field trips, lesson plans and professional development.
Faculty Consultants
Program Specialists
Experienced faculty in engineering, multiple sciences, the liberal arts, technology and health sciences contribute to camp in multiple ways, from instruction and lab visits to consulting on lessons. Campers will see more of them in instructional roles in the high school camps.