Rich, Teresa and the painted turtle that greeted them upon arriving at Three Otters on opening day.
Meet Rich & Teresa
It's the tale of one unique concept, two devoted dreamers, and those three little otters...
In the 1990s, while pursuing her masters and PhD in Public and Community Health Education at the University of Maryland, Teresa wrote a business plan about opening a wellness retreat center in West Virginia.The Center, as outlined in her paper, offered a place for busy people to recharge. As an avid outdoors woman and a firm believer that time in nature improves health, it was only fitting that the retreat center would be located in the wilderness. Now, two decades later, after marrying Rich, having a family and starting a health research & evaluation business together, the two have seen that plan turn into a reality. The end result: Three Otters Eco Retreat.
Teresa and Rich met as graduate students at the University of Maryland and have been married for 20 years. Rich spent two decades as a teacher, coach, athletic director and middle school principal. Teresa was also a coach, teacher and athletic director for several years, but spent most of her twenties as a student, researcher and instructor at the University of Maryland.
In 2011, Teresa returned to school to complete a one year graduate certificate in Ecotherapy at JFK University. Teresa also spent a year offering free weekly Science Friday lessons to young children in the neighborhood to give them opportunities to explore nature. The Ecotherapy program, combined with her natural talent for photography and drawing, provided a solid underpinning to develop many of the wilderness and art workshop concepts for Three Otters.
While completing her coursework in Ecotherapy, Teresa began searching for the perfect location to open an eco retreat. No stranger to Great Cacapon, WV, a place where she and her family spend their summers and weekends, Teresa found herself looking in the wilds of West Virginia. Her search led her to an expansive, pristine piece of land on the banks of the Potomac. With its wide open fields, fertile soil, endless trails and majestic riverfront, it seemed the ideal area for their retreat center. A few days later, Teresa returned with Rich, who immediately fell in love with the site as well. After three years of planning, designing and building, Three Otters opened in Spring 2014.
Their joy is sharing the wonder and awe of nature and seeing bright smiles on young faces as trepidation turns into confidence and unknowing into knowledge. For those who spend little time in nature, a weekend float trip or fall hike can be a transformational experience, and they hear people - young and old - share those memories for months to come. Oh, and those three otters? Teresa and a friend happened upon them while hiking along the C & O Canal during one of their first visits to the property. If you're lucky enough, you too will spot the otters playing in the canal or along the Potomac.
In their free time, Rich, Teresa, their children, Zach and Casey, and their faithful black lab, Tucker (who can often be seen playing in the woods and fields at Three Otters), head to West Virginia or travel to state and national parks to take in as much nature as they can before the kids start off at college.