About Us

Cory Ertel, Marie VanDalfsen, Jonathan Ventura, Lindsey J. Dostart, Andrea Johnson, Laura Tilman


Andrea Johnson
 Sponsored by Arlington Rotary

Andrea Johnson is a small animal veterinarian from Arlington, Washington.  She has been an associate veterinarian for 4 years and is thankful for her career.  Andrea was born and raised in western Washington.  She grew up on a hobby farm with her two brothers, actively involved with raising dairy goats and other farm animals.

After graduating from high school in 2001 she moved across the state to attend college at Washington State University.  Andrea obtained a bachelor’s of science degree in animal science in 2005 and then a doctorate of veterinary medicine (DVM) in 2008.   While in veterinary school Andrea served as her class president and was actively involved with the small ruminant club.  Shortly after graduating, she married Eric and they moved to the Arlington area where she worked as a large animal veterinarian for 1 yr while Eric started his career as a firefighter/paramedic.  Following her large animal position she transitioned to small animal medicine at Family Pet Medical and Surgery and has been a part of the 2 doctor practice since.  Andrea thoroughly enjoys practicing as a veterinarian both in medicine and surgery.   Her favorite part is interacting with owners and their pets to enhance the human animal bond.

Andrea and Eric have now started their own small farm which includes their two Labrador retrievers Hudson and Molly, cats, goats, alpacas and chickens.  They do not have children yet but plan on starting their own family in the near future.  In Andrea’s free time she enjoys being outdoors gardening, camping with friends/family, fishing or running with her dogs.  On rainy days, which occur often in western Washington, she enjoys quilting, crafting, cooking, watching football and shopping for antiques.   While in Germany Andrea hopes to spend some time site seeing as well as visiting farmers markets with locally produced goods and crafts.  She would also like to experience outdoor scenery such as gardens, hikes or other viewpoints unique to the region.

During the GSE experience Andrea looks forward to working with veterinary professionals and observing how German veterinary clinics operate.  Andrea is excited to discuss clinical cases, comparing ideas and experiences. She hopes to see a variety of veterinary clinics and spend time with veterinarians as they see appointments, interact with clients, work up cases and perform surgeries.  On a personal level Andrea is anxious to experience the culture, cuisine and sites Germany has to offer.

Andrea is very excited to be a member of the Group Study Exchange traveling to Germany.   She has never traveled outside of the United States/Canada and looks forward to her first trip abroad.



Cory Ertel
Sponsored by Anacortes Rotary

Cory is a Community Services Manager with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) in Burlington, Washington, USA. In this role, Cory works to build and strengthen community partnerships, improve communication and information sharing, and enhance PSE’s presence and support in Skagit County. Cory is involved with various local community organizations and causes, including groups focused on economic development, environmental preservation, emergency preparedness, human services, energy efficiency, and land use.

Cory was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed playing baseball throughout his youth, including being Capitan of his High School Varsity team. Cory went to college in the small rural town of Ellensburg where he graduated with honors from Central Washington University with degrees in Political Science and History.

Cory and his wife Naomi have been married 5 years and have two young children, Natalie (born in 2008) and Wyatt (born in 2011). Cory enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends, camping, golfing, playing backyard lawn games and watching sports.

Cory views the Group Study Exchange program as a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the 2012 Exchange in Germany, a global leader in the production and consumption of renewable energy, is particularly fitting. Cory’s company, PSE, has an existing partnership with German-based Siemens, a global powerhouse in electrical engineering and the renewable energy sector. The partnership has enabled PSE to expand its production of renewable energy through a new Wind Power Generation Facility in southeastern Washington State. Cory is looking forward to visiting and learning from German energy companies such as Siemens, as well as from major German utilities such as E. ON, the holding company for one of the world’s largest investor owned energy service providers, based in Düsseldorf.

The opportunity to observe and network with professionals in similar lines of work (employees of energy companies and utilities within the Community/Government Relations Departments), would be most relevant and beneficial for Cory’s professional development. Cory is interested to learn how these companies support and give back to the communities in which they operate. Cory also hopes to observe and learn about cutting-edge renewable energy technologies being developed and utilized in Germany, and desires to better understand the German political climate which seems to be so supportive of a rapid shift towards more renewable energy production.

Much of Cory’s family ancestry traces back to Germany. In fact, 2012 is the 100-year anniversary of the year Cory’s German great grandparents immigrated to the United States. Visiting Germany has been a lifelong dream for Cory and he is delighted at the prospect of experiencing German culture first-hand from locals; including enjoying traditional German cuisine, visiting cultural and historical sites, listening to classical German music, exploring the natural outdoors, attending German sporting events, and beginning the process of learning the German language.

Cory is thrilled to be part of the District 5050 Group Study Exchange Team Germany.


Jonathan Ventura
Sponsored by Arlington Rotary

Jonathan Ventura is a 13-year veteran of law enforcement, having served the last 11-years of his career with the City of Arlington Police Department in Washington State. Jonathan has risen through the ranks of the Arlington Police Department, where he currently serves as a Detective Sergeant and Tactical EMT(Emergency Medical Technician) supervising the Major Crimes Unit which investigates homicide, robbery, sexual assault, crimes against children, narcotics and counterfeiting.  Jonathan holds a bachelor’s degree in Police Science from Columbia and is a military veteran with over 10-years combined active and reserve duty military experience with the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.

Jonathan and his wife Stacie live in Arlington, Washington with their two young children, Thomas and Mikayla. Jonathan’s wife Stacie is a renowned K-9 trainer/handler that competes nationally in AKC Obedience and Dog Agility Trials with the couple owning three Champion titled dogs of their own.

In his free time, Jonathan enjoys scuba diving, traveling, hunting, fishing, reading books and watching movies. Jonathan has personally traveled within the United States, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Australia and the Middle East.

If given the opportunity to visit Germany, Jonathan would like to learn as much as possible about how its government provides its citizens Public Safety (Police/Fire/EMS) Services. Jonathan has a particular interest in how Criminal Investigations are conducted and what resources are available to Investigators as compared with their counterparts in the United States.

Jonathan is pleased and honored by the opportunity to represent his profession, community, country and Rotary District 5050 as a Group Study Exchange Team member.


Laura Tilman
Sponsored by Marysville Rotary

Laura Tilman was born in Colorado, but grew up in Arlington, WA with her parents and younger sister.  She received her AA/AS degree from Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri, a BA from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon and her Masters in Library Science from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.  She was thrilled to find a job that allowed her to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Laura currently works as the Teen Librarian at the Marysville Branch of the Sno-Isle Libraries.  She is an avid reader of teen fiction and her favorite authors include Shannon Hale, John Green, Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling.  One of her favorite aspects of her job is promoting reading for pleasure and talking about books with teens.  She also appreciates the opportunity to be creative and plan entertaining teen programs.

Laura is a member of the Marysville Community Coalition, Marysville Kids Matter, and partners with local school districts and other community organizations.  She also belongs to The P.E.O. Sistershood, a group that supports educational opportunities for women.

While in college, Laura studied abroad for a semester in Vienna and later returned to Austria to work for a yearas an English Language Assistant at the Gymnasium and Handelsakademie in Mattersburg (Burgenland). During her time in Austria, Laura enjoyed traveling to Hungary, Croatia, The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, and The Netherlands.  She also had the opportunity to visit relatives living in Thailand, which was a welcome break from the cold Austrian winter.

In her spare time, Laura enjoys playing the piano, cross stitch, watching musical theater, playing board games and reading. While in Germany, she is hopes to take in some cultural experiences such as theater, opera and music concerts.

Laura is excited to learn about public and school libraries in Germany.  She is especially interested in discovering how they are reaching out to youth, promoting reading for pleasure and teaching information literacy.  If possible, Laura would love to visit youth centers and teen programs outside of libraries.  She would appreciate an opportunity to talk to groups of teens about what they’re reading and their experiences with libraries.  She is looking forward to discovering what series, authors, and title are particularly popular in Germany and sharing this information with teens in Marysville.


Lindsey J. Dostart
Sponsored by Burlington Rotary

Lindsey Dostart is from Mount Vernon, Washington, a part of the Skagit Valley in the Pacific Northwest known for its annual tulip festival.  She has lived in other states including Oregon, California, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.  Lindsey grew up with two brothers, one older and one younger, and remains close to her family.  After graduating from Mount Vernon High School in 2003 she pursued a career in Marketing before deciding to return to school for her degree in Graphic Design.  Lindsey currently attends Skagit Valley Community College where she is finishing a degree in Multimedia Interactive Technology.  As the Community Education Coordinator at United General Hospital she plans community health events and classes, creates multi-media advertising, and manages public relations.

Lindsey also owns her own graphic design business.   She enjoys meeting with new clients to design logos, newsletters, brochures and signage.  She volunteers her time for local non-profit organizations to help them market their services.  She is pursuing photography and hopes to build her experience of portraiture and landscape to expand her small business.  In 2011 she completed a 9-month leadership program and also attended a week long seminar on women in leadership through the University of Washington.

Lindsey is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys hiking and snow shoeing the North Cascade Mountains, cycling, rock climbing, creating jewelry, quilting and making organic soap.    She enjoys art of different mediums, philosophy, and poetry.  She is an advocate for women’s rights and domestic violence prevention in her community and hopes to learn more about the political field.

While visiting Germany she wants to learn about the culture and everyday lifestyle of the German people.  She would like to learn about public relations and non-profits of the country and meet people with similar interests.  Lindsey would like to take in the history and art of Germany and hopes to find time to enjoy the scenery.  She has never traveled outside of North America and looks forward to her first experience traveling abroad.


 Marie van Dalfsen, GSE Team Leader
Sponsored by Abbotsford-Matsqui Rotary

Marie van Dalfsen is the team leader for the District 5050 Group Study Exchange. District 5050 is part Canadian and American including parts of the province of British Columbia and Washington State. She has been a Rotarian since 1993.

Marie is a past president of the Rotary Club of Abbotsford-Matsqui  and of Rotary Club of Abbotsford-Sumas (Canada) and has served in all executive capacities except secretary and treasurer. Marie is a multiple Paul Harris fellow and a sustaining member of the Rotary Foundation.

Marie was raised in a small company town in north western British Columbia before moving to the Vancouver region as a teenager. Marie attended the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver earning a Bachelor’s of Arts (History & Education) and a Masters of Education (Curriculum Development). Marie earned her Doctorate of Educational Leadership degree in 2000 and her research focused on developing programs for at-risk youth. Marie worked as a high school teacher in the Surrey British Columbia school district teaching a variety of subjects and worked with high risk youth before becoming a vice principal of a high school in Abbotsford in 1993. Marie became an elementary school principal in 2000 and has served as principal at three different high needs inner city elementary schools in Abbotsford, B.C.  Marie is looking forward to learning how Germany’s educational system is structured and how it meets the changing needs of its students and how it works with the business community and public agencies to support learning.

Marie and her husband Bert have been married for 31 years and live in Abbotsford. Bert is a Professional Engineer specializing in agriculture. They have a daughter Elizabeth (28) who is married, has a young son, Zachary and is pregnant with her second son, and she is a high school teacher. Their son Nick (27) recently graduated from law school and is currently an article student with a large Vancouver law firm.

For relaxation Marie enjoys walking, cooking, reading, and shopping. Marie has recently taken up sea kayaking along British Columbia’s beautiful shoreline in a wooden kayak made for her by her husband Bert. Marie is an avid quilter and needle crafter and she is looking forward to learning more about German textile crafts during her vocational experiences or cultural experiences in Germany.

Marie’s family has hosted GSE teams from Australia, South Africa, Norway, Finland, Mexico, and Argentina. The family has hosted fifteen Rotary students over the years and Marie’s daughter Elizabeth went on the Rotary Overseas Summer Exchange and a yearlong Rotary Youth Exchange as well. Marie’s family has also hosted numerous other students through judo and school–they have enjoyed sharing their home and family with both GSE team members and exchange students. Marie is looking forward to forging new Rotary friendships during this GSE experience.

Marie has traveled personally within Canada and the United States and overseas to Egypt, Israel, and England, France, Greece, and the Netherlands. While Marie has never been to Germany she is very excited to learn more about Germany’s history, culture and historical sites. Marie is an enthusiastic fan of castles and medieval history.

Marie is very excited to be traveling to Germany and District 1870 as the leader of a Group Study Exchange Team.



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