Current Team Members

Kirk Acharya | Program Coordinator 

Kirk is originally from Charlevoix, now part of the area he serves with CAKE CISMA. Before joining as Coordinator in 2020, Kirk worked as a research fellow for Rocky Mountain National Park looking at visitor impacts on natural areas. He graduated from the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability with a Master of Science in Conservation Ecology, focused on the interactions between trees in Michigan forests. Kirk is very passionate about ecosystem restoration and public engagement through community science.

When not thinking about ecology, Kirk enjoys any human-powered adventure from biking, to running, climbing, paddling, and cross-country skiing. He also loves cooking and dabbling in watercolors or pottery.


Ed DeRosha | Field Crew Leader 

Ed is life-long resident of northern Michigan, a devoted dad and an environmental advocate. He earned degrees in advertising and social science/education at MSU and, after many years, resumed his formal education in preparation to work for environmental concerns by earning a bachelors in freshwater science at Western Michigan University’s remote program at the Northwestern Michigan College campus in Traverse City. A rewarding summer internship with the Elk-Skegemog Lakes Association further stimulated his passion for protecting the unique watershed of this area. Ed lives on Skegemog Point, where he enjoys cooking, writing bad poetry, and viewing wildlife from his house and kayak.  



Katherine Gray | Field Crew

Kathrine grew up in Petoskey, an area that inspired her love for ecology. She is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, with a Bachelor of Science in Plant & Environmental Biology. While at MSU, she worked as a research assistant for MSU’s Forest Carbon and Climate Program focused on helping understanding and implementation of climate-smart forest management. She enjoys engaging with the public and spent much of her time at MSU as a K-12 science/reading tutor and a representative of the College of Natural Science in student government.


In her free time, Kathrine likes to go skiing, canoeing, and hiking with friends. She also loves painting, going to art museums, and has recently started learning more about film photography.



Wade Foster | Field Crew

Wade is from Marshall Michigan and is currently working toward his degree in Natural Resource Management at Grand Valley State University. Though not from Northern Michigan, he is excited to spend his summer protecting and giving back to the environment that he and his family have enjoyed nearly every summer. Wade’s love for the outdoors leads him to find any excuse to get outside, whether it’s camping, hiking, biking, or even running. In his free time he enjoys theatre, playing guitar, reading, and spending time with friends and family.



Liz LaScala | Beaver Island Intern

Hello! My name is Liz LaScala, I am working for CAKE CISMA this summer as an Invasive Species Intern on Beaver Island. I grew up in the town of Lisle located in northern Illinois and moved to Michigan for college. I am going to be a Senior this fall at Central Michigan University and I am obtaining a major in biology with a concentration in ecology, evolution, and conservation. I am also working towards a minor in outdoor education. In the future I hope to work in conservation outreach and management. It is a dream of mine to hold a position with the National Park Service. My free time usually consists of hiking, camping, rock-climbing, or any outdoor activity I have access to. I am excited to fight the invasive species battle this summer and get some hands-on experience through this internship.  



Hunter Torolski | Beaver Island Intern

I'm going into my senior year at Central Michigan University. My major is biology with a concentration in ecology, evolution, and conservation. I grew up in southeastern Michigan in a town called Canton. I've always been passionate about the environment and enjoy hiking, swimming, fishing, and boating. After graduation, I plan to pursue a master's degree in conservation biology or ecology. 



Past Team Members

Cindy Mom | Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Technician

Cindy is from southeast Michigan, but knows this part of the mitten from her nine years on the stewardship staff at Little Traverse Conservancy. Since 2013, she’s lived in a tiny coastal Alaskan town called Seldovia, and has worked a variety of seasonal jobs, using them as an opportunity to explore remote areas of Alaska. Her favorite places include seabirds, shorebirds, tundra and ocean environments, and islands (basically anyplace hard to get to and with really bad weather). One of her more recent gigs was as an Invasive Plants Technician for Kenai Peninsula CISMA, so working for CAKE CISMA seems pretty natural. Cindy enjoys birding, botanizing, vegetable gardening, backcountry skiing, reading and writing, and messing around in boats.