Mentoring students outdoors to foster confidence, resilience, and kinship with nature.
Whole Earth Nature School is about more than developing outdoor skills, we are about developing thriving human beings. Through the pathway of nature connection and wilderness skills, our students are given the support they need to flourish. Our outstanding staff ensure lots of personal support and attention goes to each and every student. Through fire making, students learn patience, resilience, and safety. Through hiding, they learn stillness, observation and awareness. Through wildcrafting, they learn caretaking, pattern recognition, and self-sufficiency. Through group play and challenges, they learn leadership, respect, and confidence. Whole Earth Nature School is a place where each student is given the right balance of freedom and support to be their best self.
We are committed to Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion:We believe that access to nature is a human right and recognize that structural inequities impact participation in outdoor experiences. Through staff training, student financial support, and culturally responsive curriculum, we commit to providing greater access to inclusive nature experiences so that everyone can benefit from the healing power of nature.
Make a difference in our community by sharing your nature connection with kids. Plus you can learn new outdoor skills and games. We have a variety of schedules and commitment levels available, depending on your experience and schedule. Training is provided.
Rees "Flicker" Maxwell
Co-Founder, Executive Director, Graphic Designer
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!
- Primitive wilderness skills practitioner
- Interpersonal Mediator
Anna "Larch" Bradley
Co-Founder, Development Director, and Volunteer Coordinator
Anna primarily works behind the scenes building relationships with our supporters, donors, and volunteers to interconnect our community with Whole Earth’s core mission.
Anna has a BA from the University of Oregon in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology. She began studying herbalism and botany in 2011 with the Columbine’s School of Botanical Studies where she is now the acting Clinical Director. Over the past 10 years she is studied naturalist and survival skills through the Tracker School and Wilderness Awareness School’s Kamana Studies Program.
Anna is most at home when in nature. Her childhood was spent outdoors in Eastern Oregon wandering the forests berry picking, mushrooming, wood cutting, and listening to the voices of nature guide her. Today she leads nature and plant walks privately and with other organizations such as Mount Pisgah and Mountain Rose Herbs.
Anna weaves nature connection closely with music, improv, and healthy life-styles. She is passionate about bringing humans closer to their natural connections to encourage positive emotional, mental, and physical relationships with the environment, humans, and ourselves.
Read her blog http://feralbotanicals.wordpress.com/ and listen to her music https://www.pitchwood.band/ here.
- Respected herbalist and healer
- Talented musician and songwriter
- Primitive wilderness skills practitioner
Matt "Wren" Bradley
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Operations
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 III certification in Track and Sign Identification from Cybertracker International.
- Primitive wilderness skills practicioner
- Wildlife tracker
- Long-distance hiker
- Self-taught naturalist
- Wilderness First-Responder
Alicia "Foxfire" Kristen
Programs Manager, 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.
- Magic-maker & curriculum writer
- University-, Montessori- & permaculture-trained educator
- Scholar of natural and cultural history (here and in Costa Rica)
- Systems Wizard
- Renaissance Woman
- Game Designer
Sarah "Redbud" Kelly
Director of Coyote Outdoor School
Sarah lived most of her life in the urban expanse of Houston, Texas. Growing up, she balanced her time exploring the edge habitats surrounding her house with time inside pursuing performing arts and reading about fantastical worlds. The bayous and woods where she played helped her cultivate an appreciation for nature; though hers was a complex relationship with place, experiencing feelings of love, connection, and loss. She saw the fireflies slowly disappear over time and oil bubble up from discarded car parts in Mustang bayou. Sarah learned about climate change, habitat loss, and other forms of environmental destruction while living in a place where freeways are more valuable than fireflies and oil and gas profits trump clean air and a stable climate.
Motivated by the urgency to address global environmental issues, Sarah started to working on sustainability projects while pursuing her undergraduate degree in Communications at the University of Houston. She later became the first Sustainability Manager for her alma mater and directed campus sustainability initiatives. Sarah left Houston to pursue her master’s degree in Environmental Arts & Humanities at Oregon State University where she studied environmental justice, place-based education, and ecological ethics. During graduate school, she coordinated educational programming and research for the H.J. Andrews Forest Discovery Trail — a mixed discipline arts, science and humanities field trip program.
Sarah offers learners opportunities to cultivate relationships with nature on their own terms by engaging in sensory awareness, self-reflection, and empathetic activities. She is committed to ensuring that every student at Coyote Outdoor School has a sense of belonging, feels welcome in our Coyote community, and supported in their immersive outdoor learning experiences. Sarah wants students to leave not only with better scientific understanding and ecological knowledge but also greater self-confidence, new human and non-human friends, curiosity to discover more, and gratitude for nature’s gifts.
- Connector of people & places
- Communicator, planner & designer
- Leads with empathy
- Cultivator of hope, gratitude & curiosity
- Naturalist & organic gardener
- Loves getting “into the weeds”
- Explorer of ideas & experiences
Julie Hubbard McNall
Julie is compelled to keep all the rest of the nature nerds around here responsible. But she also loves to play outside when she gets the chance.
- “Numbers person”
- Jolly soul
- Former Development Director for Serenity Lane
- Former owner of Chocolate Decadence
- Up and coming nonfiction author
- Certified Professional Public Buyer
- Experience in city management
- Outdoor recreation enthusiast
Member at large
- Assistant Professor in Planning, Public Policy, and Managment
- Trail runner
- 15 year veteran of work in the nonprofit sector
Member at large
- Air Force veteran
- MS Planning, Public Policy and Management
- Outdoor adventure enthusiast
Roger "Bill" Ward
Member at large
- Outreach Manager for Serenity Lane
- Fifth generation Oregonian
- Art, music, and outdoor enthusiast
Member at large
- Professional wildlife and sports photographer
- Whole Earth Parent
- Experience in natural resources management
Terance “Dirt” MacKenzie
Instructor, Director of FOREST
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.
- Longest-running instructor
- Director of challenging team building activities
- Head Ogreseer
- Head baker of wood cookies
- Ninny Bane
Soma "Thunder" Bhargo
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. Soma holds a Level II certification in Track and Sign Identification from Cybertracker International. 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.
- Wildlife tracker
- FOREST chef
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.
- Fierce warrior princess
- Lover of natural sciences
- Wilderness therapist
Tim spent his formative years exploring the dunes of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, romping through the marshes and climbing trees. He loves camping and playing in the wilderness. While in the Boy Scouts of America, he learned the basics of how to be in the wild; learning knots, fire structure and tending. Tim volunteered at Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve cleaning up beaches, mapping and discovering new trails, making trail markers, and care tending the facilities. Tim developed a passion for sharing his nature connection with others while working at the Museum of Natural History in Brewster, tending the aquariums and learning the local species of birds. Seeing the people’s expressions when learning about each animal or local lore, he noticed how important it is to include nature in our lives. Tim loves hiking, wood carving, learning primitive skills and teaching in the woods, passing on his excitement and curiosity of the natural world! Tim is driven by the desire to inspire the next generation to connect with the woods.
- Finder of Things
- Shaper of wood
- Binder of knots
- Wildlife Tracker
- Fire Bender
After obtaining her B.A. in Child Development and Learning and her M.A. in Elementary Education, Meg taught Intervention K-5 and 1st grade in North Carolina. After moving to Oregon, Meg wanted to shared her passion for the outdoors with children to give them the same energizing experiences and appreciation for nature that she gained as a child. Meg captures students’ high energy and channels it into learning and helps students learn their limits with the right balance of autonomy and support. She also makes challenging experiences like campers’ first overnights comfortable by role-modeling preparedness and being super supportive!
- Elementary teacher
- Creator of artistic things
- Crafter of little kid adventures
- Lover of fire
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 caretaker 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.
- Transformational face painter
- Secret princess
- Friend of goats and donkeys
Alyssa "Bloodberry" Smith
Alyssa was born and raised in Washington State with the woods in her backyard and the ocean as her neighbor. She spent summers at her grandparents’ small lake cabin near the bay, catching frogs and rough skinned newts, watching eagles, and investigating animal markings. Although looking back she feels she saw nature as one shade of green, rather than the diversity of wild colors.
As an adult, she found home in Eugene while attending the University of Oregon for Social Studies Education. During that time, Matt from Whole Earth Nature School visited her Environmental Justice in Education class and had the class play a game involving “weeds.” Learning that these “weeds,” had medicinal value, and thus did not only exist to be the stomping grounds of her childhood, or the bane of her mom’s garden, opened up curiosity that would last a lifetime and she knew she had to be apart of this program that ensured people would know deeply what lived all around them.
Interested in spending her summers in the woods again she began volunteering for Whole Earth Nature School in 2013. She was given her name “Blood Berry” by a camper because she always rubbed Oregon Grape on herself, claiming, in her words, “because I was obviously training dragons before camp.” The fantasy camps piqued her creativity and ignited all around giddy-ness each summer for this avid reader and aspiring nerd. While she had worked with young people in various settings (Reggio Emilia Daycare, primary schools, crisis intervention, camp counselor, after school programs) since she was 15, combining nature education, fantasy and children blew her away.
Now, you can catch her continuing her passion for active learning. Whether it is sewing, gardening, leather work, everyday connection to the wild, bushcraft skills, health, botany, entomology, Coyote mentoring, current events, or something new.
Alyssa has a strong urge to leave the world better than when she arrived. She sees the chaos in our societies, and she think a lot of people don’t know where to begin helping change our society for the better; she feels that by connecting kids with their backyards/the wild is her small impact. In September 2017 she became a mom and feels like it imbued her with superpowers (and not only the “eyes in the back of the head” kind). She feels in touch with a part of herself she didn’t know she had. She is stronger, braver, more curious, motivated, passionate and resilient. If you see her and her little critter, Ao, they will surely love to share smiles and chatter.
- B.A. in Education
- Apprentice of Robin Hood
- Pirate of Mt. Pisgah
- Teacher of Wee Ones
Instructor, Assistant Director of Outdoor School
Growing up on a sheep farm in Mid-Michigan, Peat loved being outside from the start. Whether it was farm work, adventuring in the woods, family camping trips, or helping Grandma in the garden Peat was almost always outside. Peat graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Child & Youth Development. From summer camps, to outdoor school, to trail crews Peat has been connecting students with nature all over the country for almost 10 years. Bringing their love of learning along with them, Peat has found fulfillment in hiking, tree climbing, rock climbing, as well as self-sufficiency skills such as fire, shelter, edible and medicinal plants, and wilderness medicine. They are always game to learn something new and their favorite teachers are their students. When not exploring the great outdoors, Peat loves to cook, train dogs, and watch every nature show on re-peat.
- Weaver of stories
- Ascender of trees
- Seeker of learning
- Dog’s Best Friend
Justin "Lonestar" Watt
- Ukulele songwriter
- Pizza chef
- Gnome Leader
- FOREST Chef
- Breaker of ceilings
- Dedicated mentor
- Former Whole Earth Nature School Student
- Student of herbalism
- Meditation enthusiast
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?
- Early Childhood specialist
- Sign language interpreter
- Mother and Grandmother
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.
- Rock Climber
- SAR volunteer
- Whitewater navigator
- Adventurous spirit
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 Smoky 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.
- Earth Skills devotee
- Community builder
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.
- Urban Farmer
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.
- Lover of delicious organic food
- Martial artist
Mo "Moss" Olguin
- Geologist and rock climber
- B.A. in Education
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.
- Community builder
- Lover of healthy delicious food
- Compassionate listener
Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in Northern New Jersey, Hannah’s childhood was filled with walks through the woods, black bear sightings, bike rides, gardening, and swimming in lakes. In 2019 she will receive Bachelor’s Degrees from the University of Oregon in Cultural Anthropology and Spanish.
When she’s not in class or working for Whole Earth she enjoys dancing, practicing yoga, baking, backpacking, and solo traveling throughout Latin America. Nature fuels her spirit with patience, gratitude, compassion, mindfulness, humor, and joy, which she feels grateful to share with others of all ages. She aspires to help people heal from trauma and connect with nature by becoming a wilderness therapist after receiving her Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Psychology.
- Wilderness First Responder
- Professional Forest Frolicker
- Muffin Baking Fairy
- Lover of Learning
Brooke was born and raised in Philomath, Oregon and spent her childhood on adventures that led her deep into the heart of the forests of the Pacific Northwest this time gave her a life long love for being covered in dirt. Four years ago she left Philomath to attend the University of Oregon with the dream of learning how to share her love of being outside and caring for others with children. In the spring she will graduate with a bachelor degree in Education and a minor in Spanish and she is excited to keep growing as a teacher and mentor as she continues to love the earth and the children in her life.
Brooke tries to be outside as much as possible and when not working with kids outside, she loves hiking, biking, running, rock climbing, surfing, and sitting in trees. When exhausted from doing all these things she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. Brooke is also an assistant teacher at the Coop Family Center.
- Wilderness First Responder
- Lover of Sunshine
- Expert at getting lost
- Cultivator of Imagination
- Life long student
Rye Oommen has grown up in the forests of Oregon. A student at Whole Earth Nature School since elementary school, he has spent his summers barefoot in the woods learning primitive skills and developing a connection with the natural world. After many years as a student and volunteer, Rye now works as an instructor, mentoring the next generation. Rye is a multi-instrumentalist who plays drums, guitar, banjo, bass, and piano. He enjoys running and biking around Eugene and appreciates a good mud pit. Rye loves working outdoors with children because he believes that teaching skills, awareness, and respect for nature allow them to connect with the wisest and most dependable teacher imaginable, the earth.
- Former Whole Earth Nature School Student
- Critic of foot prisons and feet weakeners (AKA shoes)
- Enjoys dirt and mud
- Distance runner
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. Mike holds a Level II certification in Track and Sign Identification from Cybertracker International.
- Former Tracker School Intern
- Seasoning Sprite
- Ghost of the forest
- Generator of childlike laughter
Cela falls in love with nature everytime she hears a bird sing or catches a glimpse of the mountains. It doesn’t take much to get her talking about her last adventure or just how amazing the sisters look from this angle. Her love of the outdoors started early in life being born in the beautiful state of Idaho but, shortly after moving to Eugene, Oregon. Eugene provided a great variety of places for Cela and her family to explore. In elementary school she started going to Coyote Kids! and continued learning with Whole Earth through high school as well as volunteering. When she’s not going to school or working for whole earth she’s rocking out to Santana, hula hooping, eating pizza, or rock climbing.
- Lover of Pie
- Former Whole Earth Nature School Student
- Glitter Enthusiast
- Mud Zealot
- Sharer of Infectious Laughter
Maria "Cliffrose" Mills
Maria grew up in the rolling hills of the Hudson River Valley, surrounded by cows and sheep, but didn’t truly start to look around her and appreciate the outdoors until she moved to the Southwest. She lived in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah for several years, working outdoors with youth in a variety of wilderness therapy programs. These experiences led her to Boulder Outdoor Survival School, first as a student, and ultimately as an instructor. She has worked summer seasons there since 2015. She moved to Eugene autumn of 2018 to pursue a certification in Waldorf teaching. She was thrilled to discover Whole Earth Nature School, inspired by the fact that there are compassionate people seeking connection with nature everywhere!
- Lover of musical theater
- Passionate about regenerative agricultural practices/good food
- Wilderness First Responder
- Ethnobotany enthusiast
Jade grew up in Eugene, Oregon, where he spent his time camping, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing and backpacking with his family. Some of his fondest memories are spending time in beautiful wild places with people he loves. At nine years old, Jade began doing camps through Whole Earth Nature School where he began develop his primitive skills, outdoor knowledge, and love for nature. He is a graduating senior at the Academy of Arts and Academics in Springfield Oregon, where he is a theatre major. He incorporates his love for theatre into his work through telling stories and providing positive and creative energy to every situation he can. Jade is a graduating member of our FOREST program and loves spending time with friends outside. More than anything he hopes to provide what was given to him through Whole Earth to new campers, an incredible learning and growth experience!
- Lover of games
- Pun master
- Definitely not Sarcastic
- Former Whole Earth student
Arissa "Dill" Saliba
Arissa grew up on the outer edges of San Diego county near the foothills of Palomar mountain. Her connection with nature started as an early toddler when she would help her family take care of their organic citrus orchard. Being raised in this environment allowed Arissa to gain a deep love and profound respect for nature and the outdoor world.
As a child Arissa was often found climbing trees, exploring rock caves, going on long hikes around her home, and creating art with nature. This deep appreciation for nature led Arissa to Oregon State University where she graduated with a B.S. in ecological and sustainable horticulture. She is passionate about responsible resource use and sustainability in agriculture, as well as protecting wildlife habitats.
Arissa has taught at Reggio Emilia inspired schools and nature based schools with her primary focus of education being on organic gardening, native plants and birds, and native ecology. She enjoys stimulating others curiosity for nature and allowing students to build confidence in the outdoors. In her free time she enjoys camping, playing the ukulele, cooking, and playing with her dog, Stitch.
- Natural chef
- Bicycle enthusiast
- Lover of dogs
- Camping nerd
Natalie "River" Stameroff
Natalie grew up in the north San Francisco Bay area, splashing in creeks and running through redwoods and oak savannah. Early in life she recognized her passion for deep reciprocal relationships with the more-than-human world. She traveled extensively through Central and South America on service trips and studied agriculture food and social justice at U.C. Santa Cruz. After several years of practicing permaculture, organic farming, and agricultural education in California and Oregon, Natalie got her M.S. in Leadership for Sustainability Education.
Natalie practices insight meditation, estatic dance and contact improv, and uses her bike as her main source of transportation. She is inspired by indigenous wisdom from around the world, is dedicated to creating space for social justice conversation, and learning to create authentic community connection.
- Systems thinker
- Leads with compassion and mindfulness
- Practices regenerative agriculture
- Social justice educator
- Student of natural systems
Lily "Lavendar" Benefiel
Lily grew up in the heart of Portland, Oregon, but that never stopped her from exploring the outdoors. Every year since before she can remember, her family has gone camping every summer. Whether its at the coast or up in the forest, they go rain or shine. She lives her life barefoot, and surrounded by trees. When she reached high school she found her passion for teaching young students about the outdoors through the MESD outdoor school program as a Student Leader. She is a soil enthusiast, a teacher of wacky games, a lover of loud and fast or slow and sweet songs, with a puff of campfire smoke rising behind me. Outdoor school is where she learned how to create strong communities, friendships that last a lifetime, and how to memorize 20 different crazy outdoor school names, within a day. Through her time as a student leader she found herself wanting to pursue the education of environmental science, which is what led to Eugene, Lane Community College, and then to Whole Earth Nature School. She is over the moon about joining to team and become a Whole Earthling!
- Lover of hiking, backpacking, camping
- Scientific examiner of rocks.
- Super soil nerd
- Secretly a forest fairy
- Mother to 15 plants!
Growing up, Tyee spent much of his free time on long river walks and forest adventures. During the summers of his childhood, he explored up and down the banks and eddies of the Illinois River in Southern Oregon, where his family stewards a farm. There, he developed an appreciation for the lessons in humility, harmony, dedication, and challenge that nature offers. He also attended Whole Earth’s ReWild after school program from an early age, which later became Coyote Kids, and many Whole Earth summer nature camps. Tyee is an outdoor educator so that he can facilitate the same inward and outward exploration in a natural setting that he experienced, for the next generation of earthlings. Aside from being a Whole Earth Instructor, Tyee loves to cook and eat tasty food, play guitar, backpack, read in sunny forest patches, and practice homesteading.
- Rock climber, whitewater rafter, backpacker
- Hobbit (short, likes bare feet, great to have on an adventure)
Victoria "Indigo" Pena
Victoria was born in the sunny city of Phoenix, Arizona. Growing up, she experienced many different local cultures and terrains; living in Southern California, the coastal region of North Carolina, and many cities throughout Arizona. As a small child, Victoria began to connect with nature through playing in mud puddles, camping with family, and spending sunny days at the river, or beach. She spends her days swimming, hiking, reading, writing, and practicing yoga. Victoria jumps at the opportunity to travel, or explore the natural beauty that Oregon has to offer. You can catch her drinking coffee, telling incredible stories, or practicing photography. Victoria has experience working in Early Childhood Education, and in a Reggio-Emilio classroom setting. Victoria’s passion for teaching and mentoring grows stronger with each experience and she is overjoyed at the opportunity to guide students in a nature setting at Whole Earth. Victoria will be attending the University of Oregon to pursue a degree in Family and Human Services and Elementary Education with an emphasis in Special Education. She plans to, one day, establish her own schools and teach abroad.
- Knowledge Seeker
- Organic Food Enthusiast
- Coffee Lover
- Spreader of Kindness
- Early Childhood Education Devotee
George "Cedar" Hersh
George grew up in the Willamette Valley, surrounded by vast mountains and rainforest. At age 18, he began working on backcountry trail crews and opened his eyes to the wonders of nature. Enchanted, he devoted himself to this work and a life in closer union with the earth. This work expanded to the areas of organic farming and homesteading. George then found himself in an off-grid community that hosts nature connection, homesteading and horse camps. Here he began mentoring and teaching youth. George very quickly realized that mentorship and teaching provides profound purpose and meaning in his own life and certainly in the lives of the youth. His love for working with youth grew and in Fall 2018 began a teacher training program at the Eugene Waldorf School.
- Tea Master
- Spontaneous Dancer
- Epic Storyteller
- Forest Ninja
- Definitely Believes in Gnomes
Madison "Merlin" LaMore
Madison grew up in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. During his childhood, many days and nights were spent kayaking, canoeing, and hiking along the scenic sandstone cliffs of the Wisconsin River. As he grew, so did his love of the natural world. Madison eventually became a tour guide and boat pilot on the Wisconsin, sharing his love and history of the Dells. Eventually, as all explorers do, he set off on his great journey into the wide world, learning and growing from the people and world around him. One day he found Oregon, and that was that. Captivated by the scenery and people it didn’t take long before he was firmly planted in Oregon soil. Finding a job at a local bakery as a sweets baker, he settled in for the long haul. And while being a sweets baker is, well… sweet, over time the longing to spend more time exploring and learning about the world around him led him to Whole Earth Nature School. These days Madison spends most of his time in his garden, biking along the river, reading, and yes, baking sweets. With a passion for learning and sharing knowledge Madison looks forward to cultivating a love of the natural world with the generations to come!
- Water Wizard
- Music Mage
- Paddling Professor
- Garden Gnome
- Alliteration Aficionado