Our Volunteers

Behind Gizmo Garden is an energetic group of volunteers striving to bring excellence in technology education to the students of Midcoast Maine.  Pictured is the 2017 Water Park team.  Many of these folks will be back for the 2018 Dancing Drones, though the final line-up will vary.

Front Row:

Rachael Schuster.  Rachael attended Gizmo Garden in 2015 and 2016 as a student and returned in 2017 as a staff member. Rachael is a junior at Lincoln Academy and has had leading acting and singing roles in local theater productions.

Nolen Michael.  Nolen attended Gizmo Garden in 2015 and 2016 as a student and returned in 2017 as a staff member. He is a Junior at Lincoln Academy and is active on the debate team and in sports including lacrosse and soccer.

Finn Dworkin.  Finn, a senior at Lincoln Academy, was a student at 2015’s Gizmo Garden and returned in 2016 & 2017 as a student staff member. He represented Maine at the National Academy of Future Scientists and Engineers congress.

"Gizmo Mike" Lee.  Damariscotta resident Mike Lee is Skidompha Library’s Gizmo Educator/Coordinator. “Gizmo Mike” earned his PhD in physics at the University of Glasgow and moved to Maine with his wife, satellite oceanographer Cath Mitchell of Bigelow Labs. When he’s not creating gizmos, Mike loves to hike and play Ultimate Frisbee.

Second Row:

Paula Schuster.  Nobleboro resident and Gizmo parent Paula Schuster teaches at Nobleboro Central School. She was recognized by the Maine Education Association as an “Inspiring Educator” for her innovative program that brings “Senior Buddies” into the school to partner with students.

Judy Silver, Gizmo Garden's Program Director.  Nobleboro resident Judy Silver has a bachelor’s degree in physics from UNC-CH. She worked as a semiconductor marketing manager and sales engineer at Cognex Corp. before retiring to drive the carpool and find the lost library books.

Bill Bausch.  Damariscotta resident Bill Bausch earned his aeronautical engineering degree from Princeton. He worked in acoustics at Sikorsky Aircraft, and in information technology. Now retired, Bill enjoys singing with the Second Congregational Church choir and with Tapestry Singers. He is active in environmental stewardship organizations and serves on the boards of his church and of Skidompha Library. Bill enjoys time with his family and his two ungrateful cats.

Jamie McGhee.  Jamie McGhee has a passion for motivating people. He has been teaching electronics and programming at Southern Maine Community College for 12 years. In addition to teaching at SMCC, he has taught merchant marines at Maine Maritime Academy, solar photovoltaic installers and designers, BIW electricians and facility managers. Jamie has a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio University. He has two kids and two grandkids and lives in Newcastle, Maine. He enjoys the solitude of the woods and running.

Third Row:

Ken Andersen.  Jefferson resident Ken Andersen has a degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and an MBA from Harvard. He is retired from being a Sr. VP at Instron, a manufacturer of materials testing equipment. Ken is active in the Second Congregational Church, Newcastle.

Carole Blanton.  Carole uses her music experience, including singing with the Second Congregational Church choir, to help Gizmo Garden students select sheet music that they'd like to program their gizmos to beep out.  She also is the grandmother of two Gizmo Gardeners.

Nan Tischbein.  Alna resident Nan Tischbein has a degree in Biology from Bucknell University and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University. She has spent 35 years cleaning up hazardous wastes sites and industrial properties, first for the US EPA as a Superfund Contractor and then for two different consulting engineering firms, Langan Environmental Services in NJ and Woodard & Curran in ME. She also has help many clients through the complex process of figuring out who pays for these cleanups. She now consults on a part time basis. Non-work related activities have included running a small family farm that has produced maple syrup, Christmas trees, hay, bees/honey, Scottish highland beef cattle, llamas, timber and firewood. She spent 12 years on the Alna School committee and has volunteered at the Second Congregational Church at Newcastle.

Maggie Conger.  New Harbor resident Maggie Conger has a degree in economics and raised a family. She has been active at Saint Patrick’s church, including serving as Treasurer of the Shamrocks group.  At Gizmo Garden, Maggie provides lunches and snacks.

Bob Conger.  New Harbor resident Bob Conger is helping us create gizmos for a second year. He is an actuary (past president of the Casualty Actuarial Society) and consultant with Towers Watson, but volunteers much of his time helping people in developing countries to manage risk and grow businesses. He also has volunteered extensively in the local area, having served on the board of Heartwood Theater, Habitat for Humanity, the Ecumenical Food Pantry, the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club, and Saint Patrick’s church.


Lonnie Andersen.  Jefferson resident Lonnie Andersen has a degree from Wellesley College in economics and is a nurse graduating from the Mass General Hospital program. She has helped solder materials onto circuit boards and kept the books for a small company. Now retired, she volunteers at the Second Congregational Church, Newcastle, the Bunker Hill Ladies Aid, and as a Master Gardener at the GSBS gardening program. She also delights in keeping track of her 3 children and her 5 grandchildren.

Bill Silver, Gizmo Garden's Technical Director.  Nobleboro resident Bill Silver has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from MIT. He is a co-founder and senior fellow of Cognex Corp., which makes machine vision systems, and is a research associate in the computer science department at Bowdoin College. He has about six dozen patents, evidence that he’s seriously afflicted with gizmo fever. Bill is active in the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club.

Pete Blanton.  Pete Blanton earned a Master’s degree in biochemistry and an MBA from the University of Iowa and spent most of his career with Baxter International Healthcare selling cardiac monitors and valves. Now retired in Walpole, Pete has enjoyed raising oysters in the Damariscotta River, restoring an old Corvette, and teaching his grandchildren about Maine’s outdoor wonderland.

Bob Topper.  Walpole resident Bob Topper is a retired professional engineer with over 25 years experience in engineering and management. He holds a MSE in applied physics specializing in fluid mechanics and heat transfer. He is a past president of the Getting Division of AB Electrolux and past vice president of Engineering at Frigidaire Commercial products. He and his wife Juanita live in Walpole, where Bob enjoys restoring antique boats and cars.  He is a past president of the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club.

Juanita Topper.  Juanita Topper spent her working career with the New Jersey State Court system. In 2002 she and her husband purchased the Maine Stay Inn in Camden Maine which they enjoyed operating until 2008. She now resides in Walpole. She is happy gardening, decorating and volunteering for the Miles Hospital Thrift Shop where she is also a member of the Miles Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Board. At Gizmo Garden, Juanita will be helping to provide lunches and snacks.

Not Pictured:

Katie Rethman.  Katie Rethman is a Gizmo Garden alumna parent. She volunteers as Treasurer for the Coastal Kids Preschool in Damariscotta and serves on the boards of Skidompha Library and Wawenock Golf Club in Walpole. Katie received her undergraduate degree in Economics from Skidmore College and her Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Prior to becoming a Domestic Engineer for her two children, she was a lobbyist, managed regulatory finance and developed regulatory policy for large telecommunications providers.