Our Staff and Founders

Founders

Anna Bradley, Founder, Development Director, and Volunteer Coordinator
Anna grew up in Eastern Oregon and spent her summers and weekends fishing, camping, and wandering the hills with her family. In 2006 she graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelors degree in Archaeology and nowhere to go. She spent time directing plays and choirs, tutoring children, working as a Program Director for Boys & Girls Club, and volunteering with local organizations such as Nearby Nature. However, nature was always calling her back. She began to study wilderness survival and nature awareness skills and soon found the link between her dreams and her passion to understand ancient ways. Anna has studied wilderness survival at Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School, and the Kamana Naturalist Training Program. Anna loves to throw around a sling, study herbalism, and play in the wilds. She has worked very closely with children and adults alike using a teaching method that encourages curiosity, motivation, and fun. Anna loves integrating music and theatre into her teaching and is currently working on writing and recording her music. Anna has been studying ethnobotany and herbalism for over 10 years and is currently the Clinical Director with the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She can be found leading plant walks at events such as the Wildflower Festival and logs her time in nature with her blog Feral Botanicals

Matt Bradley, Founder and Executive Director
Matt grew up in the southern Willamette Valley and was always conspicuously curious about the natural world. He began with an interest in hiking that evolved first into backpacking and then wilderness survival and eventually all manner of outdoor and wilderness skills. Matt specializes in ultralight backpacking and has hiked over 2000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. In 2004 he discovered Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants which spurred him in to a love of plants and all of their uses. You can often find him with his nose to the ground looking at (or perhaps tasting) something green. Matt has been trained at Tom Brown’s Tracker School and has completed Level 2 of the Kamana Naturalist Training Program but most of his experience comes from just being outside and passionately wanting to learn more about our natural world and our place in it. After working various jobs including being a National Park Ranger and helping REI coordinate their community outreach programs Matt has found his calling as a wilderness educator. Matt holds a Level II certification in Track and Sign Identification from Cybertracker International.

Rees Maxwell, Founder and Executive Director
Rees Maxwell enjoyed hiking and canoeing during his childhood years, before getting pulled into the tech world of Silicon Valley. Thankfully he moved to the Northwest later in his college years and rediscovered the wonder of the wilds. He has attempted to walk in both worlds ever since. Rees founded Whole Earth Nature School with Matt and Anna Bradley in 2009 after graduating from Wilderness Awareness School’s Anake Outdoor School program. He had taught in their Roots & Wings preschool program as well as their summer camps, and once back in Eugene looked for a local place where his own kids could go to camp learning advanced skills like friction fire-making, shelter building, tracking, understanding the five voices of the birds, etc. and really get their hands dirty in the process. He’d previously taught children at local nature programs Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and Nearby Nature and, while loving what they provide, saw an opportunity to bring a different style of nature education to children. Prior to co-creating Whole Earth Nature School, he brought this new “environmental immersion” style of nature connection to teens at the Network Charter School where he continues to periodically teach. Rees and his wife Matty Maxwell also founded a nature program for preschoolers called Dancing Sol in 2007, and continue to connect young kids in nature five days a week throughout the school year. (See http://dancingsol.com for more details on their nature preschool program.) When Rees isn’t outside teaching kids, or spending time with his own family, he can be found inside on his computer designing flyers and posters and creating nature-related children’s book, etc. all with the goal of inspiring more kids to get outside, immersed in nature!


Staff

Soma Bhargo, Instructor
Soma grew up in the big city of Los Angeles, dreaming of giant evergreens, mossy logs and wild, rocky rivers. She moved to Eugene in 2004 and jumped into the forest with both feet. She completed a 2 year Wildcrafting and Herbalism Apprenticeship program at Columbine’s School of Botanical Studies in 2006 and has since taken courses in Mushroom Biology and Environmental Education at the U of O. After dreaming of wolves, she began to study tracking with Wilderness Awareness School and later at Tracker’s Earth in Portland, where she completed a 9-month weekend immersion course. She’s been a nature guide at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and led old growth ecology walks for the McGowan Creek Science Project. She has also been a summer camp instructor at Northwest Youth Corps and Tracker’s Earth. During the course of her wanders she’s picked up some useful wilderness survival skills too. Soma is always looking to grow her understanding of the interconnected web of nature, and loves to share what she’s learned with children and adults alike. When not exploring wild places, you can find Soma working as a massage therapist and yoga teacher, crafting, or playing in the garden.

Kylan Carlson, Instructor
Ky grew up exploring every inch of his backyard forest with nothing but a wooden sword and a backpack that weighed as much as he did. His imagination-fueled adventures, and well-packed backpack, were legendary. Blessed with the ability to travel outside of the country at an early age, Ky fell in love with nature all around the world. He has spent most of his life since exploring the outdoors with the same youthful drive. The Boy Scouts became part of his life as a further excuse to be outside. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout after many years and lots of hard work. He is an Anthropology major at the University of Oregon due to his fascination with different cultures and ways of life. His love of the outdoors and learning led him to fall in love Whole Earth Nature School. Although he has traveled the world, nowhere else has the ability to learn and grow in the wild been cherished as much as at Whole Earth. You can catch this adventurer outside learning and teaching with the same enthusiasm year round. If you have ten minutes, ask Ky what’s in his backpack. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Paul Catino, Instructor and Archery Specialist
Paul is a bowyer, an ecologist, and an educator. He has been an outdoor enthusiast his whole life, and began working as an instructor in 2013. He has taught programs in wilderness skills, gardening, bow making and more for several different organizations. Paul is an avid bow maker and spends most of his free time shaping wood into beautiful and functional bows. He enjoys craftsmanship, exploring the backcountry, wooden archery things, and old trees. Paul is most inspired by the everyday phenomena that occurs in the natural world, and by a personal responsibility to maintain and pass on traditional skills and wisdom.

Ben Dixon, Instructor
Born in the flatlands of Wisconsin, Ben was raised in and around a garden. This exposure to plants kindled a relationship with nature that blossomed into a magnificent flower as Ben reached adulthood. At the age of 14 Ben took his first cross county trip with his brother to the mountains of Northern California to visit an intentional community. After 38 days of hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking, rafting, and homesteading Ben was certain he wanted to spend as much time as possible in the woods. At the age of 16 Ben and his brother started an urban farming business in the inner city of Milwaukee to delve deeper into the realm of large scale food production. After a couple years of business and a few more road trips Ben decided to move to the wild state of Oregon with his brother to live closer to the wilderness.

Lucas Dixon, Instructor
Lucas’ love of the outdoors began at a young age. He grew up in the dirty hands of his gardening, do-it-yourself grandparents, spending much of his time in the dirt. At 17, Lucas took his first solo trip to Smokey Mountain National Park in Tennessee. By 19, Lucas has his gear and a van and began traveling the country. He has camped, backpacked, and lived among some of the country’s most remote places. In these travels, Lucas visited many intentional/primitive communities, learning all the way. This drive to commune with nature and live simply has led Lucas to a life filled with adventure and a vast arsenal of earth skills to share. Today, Lucas is 24 and lives among mountains of Oregon’s coast where he continues on his path of life, love and communion with our mother, Earth.

Nicole Ferer, Instructor
Nicole grew up in the San Francisco Peninsula and spent her childhood in suburbia, although she spent most summers in Big Trees, California camping and hiking with her family. As she grew up, she longed for more natural influences, so she decided to move to Eugene, Oregon to attend college. As she explored the Willamette Valley’s natural history and herself, she discovered her passion for social, educational and environmental change, which led her to study General Social Sciences with a concentration in Globalization, Environment and Policy. Through her studies, she discovered the Environmental Leadership Program and began working on the Restoring Connections team to create and implement a place-based, experiential environmental education curriculum in hopes of reconnecting students to their local environment by getting them outside and immersed in the natural world. Once she graduates in Spring 2018, Nicole plans on attending the University of Oregon Teach master’s program in hopes of working in an alternative, environmental-based school or program after participating in an Americorps Program. Nicole has found her passion exploring local natural history in relation to human civilization and relaying her knowledge to students in an interactive and engaging way. When she is not in class or adventuring, Nicole enjoys doing ceramics, making pots for her plants and kitchenware, cooking, and biking. Additionally, she spends a lot of her time outdoor rock climbing and bouldering, although she resorts to climbing in the gym during the rainy seasons.

Cody Gulewich, Instructor
Cody was born on a 30 acre farm in Myrtle Creek Oregon. At the age of seven he moved from southern Oregon to Orange County California. These two very different locations helped to shape his love and philosophical perspective of the natural world. Through these locations Cody learned about the complex relationships that people often have with nature.
The beauty and perfect balance of nature inspires Cody to share his love of ecosystems with others. In 1999 Cody moved to Arcata California where he attended Humboldt State University. In 2003 Cody received his BS in Environmental Science with a focus in Ethics. He spent the next three years working with kids for the City of Eureka’s department of Recreation. There he discovered his passion for teaching. In 2007 Cody spent the year teaching Water science at Milk Creek Outdoor School and leading education trips for the Portland Audubon Society. These two experiences were the most influential in his life and showed him the true passion and hard work that it takes to be a teacher.

In 2009 Cody returned to school at the University of Oregon, becoming a Certified Science Teacher and earning his Masters in Curriculum Development. Cody taught 8th grade at Cascade Middle School for two years and has been teaching Physical and Earth science at Willamette High School since 2011. Teaching for Cody is all about wonder and discovery. Without people looking through wonder filled eyes, we would never see the true Energy that connects us all.

Mallory Glaser, Instructor
Mallory is fond of creepy crawly creatures, and most things that grow. She grew up in the hot desert climate of southern California, and loves to swim and feel the sun on her skin. She currently takes her time listening to birds, especially her 13 chickens, and the robin family that comes to visit her garden each morning. Mallory has been working and playing with kids for many years, teaching music, gardening, cooking, nature awareness, and communication skills first at the Brooklyn Music Factory in NYC, and now at Child’s Way Charter School in Dorena, Oregon. She lives with her husband, Robert, on a communal homestead outside of Cottage Grove, where she cultivates her love of madrone trees, raises chickens, grows food, and works at restoring Calico creek. Mallory loves to explore the watery beauty of the Willamette Valley and the Cascade Mountains, and she is especially filled with wonder when she considers the abundance of wild plant foods and medicines that the forest has to offer us.

Kaity Heflin, Instructor
Kaity Heflin grew up climbing trees and playing in the farmlands of the midwest. She spent summers visiting a wide variety of national parks throughout the Western United States with her family. They explored new lands through hiking and backpacking, biking a hundred miles a day, surfing, rock climbing, and mountain biking. While biking on a hot summer day it was rare that they passed up a swim hole or an ice cream stand. Kaity is a Scientist and a Naturalist. She understands the world on a molecular level, and enjoys sharing awesome facts with the kids when an opportunity arises. Inspired by the personal growth she experienced after receiving a scholarship to Outward Bound at age 16, Kaity went on to seek a way to connect children to nature while teaching useful skills. She volunteered at organizations such as Nearby Nature and Big Brother Big Sister, and worked as a Wilderness Therapy Instructor in the backcountry with teenagers. She appreciates the way that nature grounds people and helps us get in touch with our true selves. Running in the woods and spending time in nature nourishes her soul, and she seeks to help others feel more connected and whole through spending time in nature.

Alex Holdaway, Intstructor
Alex spent his childhood catching fish, frogs, snakes, turtles, and lizards in the wilderness of Greece. As a young adult, he frequently returned to the Greek forests and mountains to follow the trails of majestic bears, wild boar, wolves, and jackals, often experiencing close encounters that sparked his intense passion for tracking.
In 2009, he attended a nine-month wilderness immersion program with Alderleaf Wilderness College, where he studied bushcraft, ornithology, tracking, and nature awareness. During the program, he earned a Level II certification in Track and Sign Identification from Cyber Tracker International. Soon after, he moved to Portland and attended another nine-month wilderness immersion program, this time with Trackers Earth. For the next five years, Alex spent his time leading outdoor programs for children at Trackers Earth, and mentoring high schoolers and sixth-graders at Outdoor School in Vernonia, Oregon. This is his third year living in Eugene, and he is incredibly grateful to have found the Whole Earth community. Learning ancestral skills and sharing them with others are some of his greatest passions, in addition to nature photography, wood sculpting, bowmaking, fletching, and fiber arts. Nowadays, you’ll most likely find him in the woods with his camera around his neck, eagerly following the freshest animal trail. If you ever want to find Alex, just follow the trail of woodchips.

Michael Holmes, Instructor
Michael Holmes grew up between Eugene Oregon, Vancouver B.C., Germany and New York City. Michael spent a period of time living in a remote village in Northern India at 12,500ft above sea level on the Tibetan Plateau. He lived with a local family, harvesting barley, milking yaks and learning the customs of their ancient culture. Michael has worked as a private contractor surveying forest for the BLM and Forest service in Oregon and has dedicated himself to Volunteer opportunities. Michael holds a degree in Place Based Environmental education from Prescott College and has also attended wilderness survival school taught by the acclaimed author and survivalist Tom Brown Jr. Over the years Michael has taken sixteen classes from Tom Brown Jr. and has spent six months living close within Tom’s community, as head intern at the school. As an intern he lived on site in a primitive shelter and lit a fire by friction each night to heat it. He was also fire keeper at many of the ceremonies held in camp. As an equally shaping experience Michael has participated in six vision quests, and has experience surviving alone, with nothing but a pocket knife in the wilderness. Today Michael has a continuing passion for nature, farming, and simple living, and is also pursuing his passions as a rock climbing athlete. He delights in spending time teaching survival skills and testing his own techniques through survival experiences.

Grace Honeywell, Instructor
Grace was born and raised in Ashland, Oregon where the thick, stunning forests of the clashing Siskiyou and Cascade mountains made up her backyard and being among the towering cedars and gnarled oaks (sometimes literally — Grace describes herself as an avid tree climber) was like home away from home. From a very young age Grace was involved in outdoor education summer camps (like the one her mom was the director and co-founder of one for four years) wilderness adventure pursuits and many weekends and summer getaways spent camping with her family. During her middle school years Grace had the opportunity to attended the John Muir school which was a magnet school in Ashland focused on environmental science and the arts. In the summers as she got older Grace attended camps and interned with the Coyote Trails organization and continued to develop her love for the natural world around her. Throughout her life Grace has had the ability to interact, play and learn in so many ways from the outdoors and that has fostered in her a deep passion and dedication to creating that opportunity for others. Grace is particularly drawn to the subjects of naturalism, environmental science, conservationism, adventurism and curiosity. She loves to listen to and play music. Grace believes that there are few things better than a spontaneous dance party and few things that can’t be solved by her mama’s homemade pie. Grace is a passionate backpacker and explorer. She recently graduated with a degree in International Studies and Human Rights from the University of Oregon and is looking for a future that involves outdoor education, women empowerment and leadership development, human rights protection, travel and a life of adventure!

India John, Instructor
India was born and raised in the great state of Tennessee, spending most waking moments playing in her neighborhood creek, catching crawdads and snakes. Her early passion of collecting rocks shaped like continents led to an Environmental Geology degree from Beloit College in Wisconsin. India’s passion for the outdoors soon found itself being expressed through leading 2-week long trips into the wilderness with teens all over New England. Knowing she couldn’t go to a desk job after that experience, she stayed in the Catskills of NY teaching Environmental Education for 2 seasons, before returning to leading trips with teens for a second summer. India knew she was in love with teaching youth about the outdoors, and she wanted the next challenge: teaching about Marine Biology. This desire brought her to the West Coast, “for just a year.” Three years later, India is still in the Pacific Northwest, with no immediate intention of leaving. She is currently serving an AmeriCorps term as a teacher at Twin Rivers Charter School, where she is co-teaching a class about Oceans.

Jordan Lindstrom-Demant, Instructor
Jordan Lindstrom-Demant has been working professionally with children for over 10 years in summer camps, day cares, after school programs and most notably for a children’s entertainment company singing and face painting dressed as fairytale characters.
Jordan is a nature enthusiast and care taker and is so happy to have the opportunity to educate children in and about the natural environment.
In her spare time Jordan is a dedicated yogi practicing for over 9 years. You can find her locally teaching kundalini yoga and workshops combining therapeutic art and yoga.

Terance MacKenzie, Instructor, Head Ogreseer
Terance was raised in Coburg, Oregon. He graduated from the Northwest Youth Corps Outdoor high school. While with the Youth Corps he worked with crews on a variety of conservation projects all over Oregon and Washington building trails plus restoring habitat for animals and plants. His family taught him to love the forest and everything in it while helping him learn how to identify plants and mushrooms, how to hunt and fish and most important how to have fun and get muddy. He has been a counselor for a number of youth programs including: City of Eugene’s Safety Town, Sempervirens Outdoor School located in the California Redwoods and Portland based Trackers Northwest.

Grace Miller, Instructor
Grace’s passion for the outdoors was fostered from a young age, during adventures with her family in the Swiss Alps and in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Her journey as an outdoor educator began in 2009, when she began teaching nature connection to sixth-graders in Vernonia, Oregon at Outdoor School. After witnessing the amazing transformation that she and the children both underwent during their nature immersion, she began to understand the necessity of maintaining a close connection to the natural world. Grace moved to Eugene in 2012 to study psychology at the University of Oregon, but soon began to feel a strong pull back to the mossy forests of Vernonia. She left UO to frolic in the woods at Outdoor School once more, then continued to dive into the world of ecology and earth skills. She taught nature camps at Trackers Earth in Portland, then ventured to the mountains of Greece where she spent her days tracking wild boar and wolves, and falling deeper in love with nature.
With renewed ambition, and a strong desire to synthesize her passions for education and ecological preservation, Grace returned to UO in 2014. Three years later, she graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Studies, and plans on pursuing a graduate degree in Wildlife Science at Oregon State University in the near future.
When she isn’t practicing archery or throwing knives in the forest, you’ll find her in the Mt. Pisgah area, restoring native habitats with the Friends of Buford Park.

Alicia “Foxfire” Kristen, Program Coordinator, Instructor
Crawling through wineberry brambles, Alicia prayed her natural camouflage would keep her hidden under the gibbous moon’s light. She had made it to the other team’s side in search of their “flag”: a green glow stick hidden in the bushes. Her blood raced, her senses were on high alert, and every single plant or log around her seemed a conspirator in her quest. She finally grasped the green glow she had seen from afar… only to have it crumble into rotten wood fibers. This strange species, foxfire, filled her with a powerful sense of awe and curiosity.

Like her namesake, Alicia “Foxfire” Kristen strives to help her students appreciate the beauty of the world around them and develop a lifelong love of learning. She helps students see both the magic and mechanics of the natural world. She created the Wildkin™ game to engage every student in leading and supporting the group through their individual passions. As an anthropologist and folklorist, she imbues her programs with songs, ceremony, crafts, and traditions old and new. She loves to create imaginary spells based on plants’ scientific names, build fairy villages, brachiate through the trees, create art from nature, and take students on epic and challenging adventures.

Foxfire was called to move to Eugene from Appalachia, where she trained as a mentor at Living Earth School. She is certified in Permaculture Education through the Mother Earth School and in the Art of Mentoring through the Wilderness Awareness School. She has trained with the folks at 8 Shields PDX, Jon Young, and Tom Brown. She trained in Montessori education with the folks at Heartmoor Farm Education Center. She mentored four teams of the UO Environmental Leadership Program in outdoor curriculum development. She has a B.A. in anthropology, M.S. in environmental education, M.S. in folklore programming.

Foxfire loves program development. She is currently working on Outdoor School, Fox Den, the Acorn Homeschool Program, FOREST for Whole Earth Nature School, as well as Voyager Walks for pre-schools and Wildkin™ as a tool for all educators to bring awe, curiosity, and community to their students.

Rob Lee, Kitchen Manager
Rob is proudly from a family of large musicians and artists in Duluth, Minnesota. Thanks to his wonderful parents and many great mentors, he is a student of life and a trained and experienced musician as well as an excited and inspired teacher of music around the area. Thanks to more recent mentors, met and read (—particularly New York permaculture teachers Claudia Joseph and Andrew Faust, local permaculturists Abel Kloster and Tao Orion, Oregon tracker/teacher Mark Wienert, Jon Young’s Kamana Program, and in the many beautiful stories and guides of Tom Brown, Jr, he is obsessed with the Art of Mentoring and passing on Deep Nature Connection and regenerative & resilient design to young humans in the region, especially at Child’s Way Charter School in Culp Creek, OR and here at Whole Earth.

Rob digs life as a human be-ing where he’s continuing to become a husband, son, brother, teacher, student, musician, martial artist, steward, and wild man. And as a human do-ing, he’s growing more and more into really teaching, laughing, cooking, eating, learning, speaking, playing, performing, wandering, giving, receiving and Connecting. He gratefully is and does alongside his incredible wife, Mallory.

Bri Martinez, Instructor
Bri Martinez grew up in Kirkland, Washington where she fondly remembers summer months with her sister making shoes out of rhododendron leaves and vines, constructing forts out of garden stakes and beach towels, and running through the sprinkler. In junior high and high school, she spent most of her time indoors playing volleyball and basketball. But then when she turned 19 she became a counselor for a summer camp on Orcas Island and rediscovered the wonders of the wild. She spent five summers working as a camp counselor, a Counselor-in-Training Director, a kayak guide, and a rock climbing guide, as well as being an outdoor school instructor and wilderness therapy guide. Along the way she became more and more enchanted with all the lessons she could learn from the plants and animals, sun and moon, earth and water. She spent a month in Colorado doing an ancient skills internship where she tanned her first deer hide and built her first bow. Bri also attended the Coyote Mentoring program at the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA and aspires to do the Anake program there some day soon. She currently studies herbalism through a correspondence course with Rosemary Gladstar and enjoys making herbal potions to cure ailments, or simply develop close relationships with plant friends. In her free time, she likes to go on walks, runs, or hikes and loves rock climbing and backpacking. She is interested in developing all these skills and learning many more!

Sasha McArthur, Instructor
Sasha spent many years growing up on an old farm near Eugene. Through the guidance and encouragement from her mother and grandmother she learned a lot about homesteading and life that was more connected to the world around us. She learned the different stages of gardening and saw the process of her food going from seed to table. The main heat source for the farmhouse was the fireplace, so she learned how to build a fires and tend it safely. Be it snow, wind, rain or shine, Sasha spent hours outside in the surrounding woods climbing trees, in the greenhouse eating strawberries, or in the orchard making tunnels in the grass. Sasha was first introduced to Whole Earth Nature School when she was seven or eight years old. She participated in the after school Coyote Kids programs for a few years before completing a one year apprenticeship program in 2011-2012. This program helped Sasha apply skills in a more organized way and helped her understand the learning process in regards to nature connection. Around the same time she started volunteering extensively at Whole Earth Nature School summer nature camps where she had the opportunity to grow and develop her mentoring abilities. Through years of volunteer teaching and mentoring Sasha has developed a keen ability to support and mentor young campers to be their best selves. As the first Whole Earth student to become an instructor she hopes that her path will be an inspiration to all the campers she works with.

Kathy Mezger, Instructor
Kathy grew up in the Santa Clara Valley (now known as Silicon Valley) in California, but in those days the west valley was full of creeks and orchards. She spent long hours communing with the natural world and at a young age realized the importance of maintaining a connection with nature. She and her family lived in Eastern Oregon for eleven years and and the wildness of the place gave her the opportunity to pass on her love of nature to her daughters Anna and Caitlin.

Kathy has always worked in the educational field and incorporates nature awareness into her teaching. The Coyote teaching resonates with her because it encourages curiosity and motivation, and allows children to discover for themselves. Kathy also incorporates herbalism and medicinal plant identification into her instruction, as well as music. She considers working for Whole Earth Nature School a dream job. How often does one get to run around the woods all summer interacting with children?

Molly Murtha, Instructor
Molly was born and raised in small town South Dakota in a family of seven. Her whole life, she has been passionate about the environment, ingrained with an intrinsic wonder and fascination of the world around her. She grew up outdoors—playing, camping, hiking, biking, swimming, paddling, and bouldering. Her preferred state has always been outside, and she’d happily take a sleeping mat and a tent over a bed and a roof any day. At Iowa State University, she earned a degree in Landscape Architecture and a secondary major in Environmental Studies, as well as a first degree black belt in judo. Her studies afforded her the opportunity to traverse, explore and study the landscapes, flora, micro-cultures and bioregions of the central United States from the headwaters of the Mississippi down to the Gulf of Mexico, in addition to spending a semester studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan. Her collegiate career fed her love of both plants and people, inspiring her to seek out opportunities to connect others with nature through working in prairie management, as well as pairing with the women’s prison in Iowa where she was able to work alongside women offenders, collaborating to adapt gardening practices to the prison environment. Her education and experiences have focused her aspiration to protect and advocate for the natural world. Since graduating, two terms with the Minnesota Conservation Corps have equipped her with a broad array of experiences leading youth outdoors as well as solidifying her passion to educate youth about the environment through exploration and engaged observation of the natural world by means such as hands-on projects to better the environment. She loves to spend her time creating through both music and art: singing and songwriting, playing guitar, sketching, and painting. She is passionate about learning, being active, and taking every opportunity to explore the outdoors by any means possible.

Charissa Newell, Instructor
Charissa grew up in Eugene, Oregon. Her family gave her a love for nature through hikes, outdoor activities, and summer camps. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Environmental Studies. Charissa, also known as Char, has been an instructor at Whole Earth Nature School’s summer camps and after-school programs for over four years. She has recently worked as an educational assistant at Prairie Mountain School and this last year began teaching at Dancing Sol, a nature-based early childhood program. She absolutely loves being outdoors with kids all day! Charissa has volunteered as a nature guide at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and has extensive hiking experience in the Pacific Northwest, at least 150 hikes so far! Her favorite parts of hiking are figuring out plant and insect species and learning about their amazing qualities, as well as discovering animal scat and tracks. Char also enjoys collecting previously deceased bugs, kayaking, gardening, crocheting, and jewelry making, as well as reading a good book with a cup of tea. She is so thankful for the opportunity to have amazing outdoor adventures with kids through all seasons of the year!

Zoe Newland, Instructor
Zoe was raised in Ashland, Oregon where her love of nature began at a young age. She spent many of her summer days hiking and camping in the beautiful Rogue Valley with her family. On weekends she could often be found exploring the woods with her dog Petey searching for cool rocks and gems to add to her vast collection. She took her love of the great outdoors to the University of Oregon where she got a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in geology. She spent two summers working at an organic farm outside of Ashland which strengthened her appreciation and love of the natural world. Before becoming a staff member, Zoe interned with Whole Earth Nature School in the summer of 2016 as a part of her environmental studies degree and found a passion for nature-based education. She is constantly inspired by the different ways in which people connect with nature and loves hearing about people’s outdoor experiences. Zoe loves rock climbing, gardening, kayaking, and camping with Petey.

Lydia Stolt, Instructor
Lydia Stolt grew up in the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon, in a family that loved the outdoors and appreciated all that nature had to offer. Her earliest memories are of hiking, back packing, kayaking and biking. Lydia’s passion for the outdoors was passed down to her from her father. From a young age, she was filled with wonder and curiosity, and as she grew up the magic blossomed.
Lydia realized as she got older, that she wanted to pass her love and excitement for the outdoors to young children. She discovered her enthusiasm for working with children in an outdoor setting. Lydia has spent many summers working and volunteering at different camps around Lane County; and has spent the last few years working in the rock climbing community, teaching climbing to young children.
While sharing her love for the outdoors with children and others, Lydia also saw the need to provide a safe experience for everyone. She has participated in SAR (Search and Rescue) training, survival weekends and is white water guide certified.

Beth Topper, Instructor
If Beth had a choice, she’d spend all day outside – her passion for being in the woods and going on hikes is borderline dangerous. Nature is where she receives much of her artistic inspiration. Beth loves to paint visual narratives & social commentary on reclaimed and found wood, and she has a knack for finding and enjoying beauty in just about anything. If you can’t find her outside, wait – did you check behind that tree over there? Her interest in working with youth was sparked from her empathetic heart and open mind to help guide future generations to gain awareness of the world around us. She aims to help kids learn from nature through hands on experience as well as plant the seed to want to protect it for generations to come.

Cameron Wick, Instructor
Cameron was born in Northeast Florida, and as a child enjoyed exploring the small stretch of pines following the creek in his backyard. Living on the Atlantic coast, he was often found swimming in the ocean or canoeing with his family along rivers and springs. After participating in the Indian Guides program at a young age with his father, he developed a strong interest in the outdoors. His love of nature continued to strengthen as an adult after working on organic farms and several trail crews with the SCA. In addition to working as a youth leader in Yosemite’s YCC summer program, Cameron spent 3 seasons teaching at an environmental education program on Catalina Island, known as CELP. A recent transplant to Oregon, Cam now enjoys spending much of his time hiking, biking, as well as teaching private music lessons and playing drums with his band.