Staff

Erin Cole

Co-Executive Director

Lead Teacher: Thimbleberries, Families 

Substitute: All programs

Erin has a Master Degree in Teaching from Seattle University and spent 8 years teaching Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades in the Kent School District, but her roots are in outdoor education. Her first teaching job was at Discovery Park in Seattle where she worked as a Nature Day Camp Naturalist. This was by far her most favorite teaching position and informs her teaching style to this day. Erin also attended that same Nature Day Camp program as a student back in the 1980's and credits her experiences at Discovery Park for setting her on the pathway to becoming an outdoor and environmental educator. She has two elementary aged children that she takes outside every day to roll around in the dirt, literally. Erin is a gardener and believes firmly in the therapeutic power of working outside and connecting physically with the earth.

Tess Golden-Orr

Co-Executive Director

Substitute Teacher: All Programs

Tess was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest where camping, hiking and fishing were important to her family and gave her a deep sense of reverence for our natural world.  Her passion for nature and travel moved her to sunnier weather.  She studied at Bodymind College in San Diego and began a career as a holistic health practitioner with a focus on bodywork.  Then on to Hawaii where she joined her husband in the photography business, and Tess continues the business to this day.   She is a proud mother of two elementary aged children.  Once a preschool teacher and a nanny, she enjoys holding nurturing space for children to play.  Tess has a love for the outdoors and is passionate about our role in caring for our ecosystem.  She is Forest School Canada Trained. She joined Camp Roots in 2015 and previously organized 100% outdoor nature programs to inspire other families to cultivate love and stewardship of our environment. She believes that fostering a relationship of enjoyment & respect for nature with kids is crucial for the health of our planet and people.

Donna Guna

Lead Teacher: Huckleberries

Donna grew up in Virginia, surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After college, she moved to the coast and started her family in Virginia Beach. This is where her appreciation for nature and all its wonder really took root and became an integral part of her life. She has since developed a love for hiking, camping, gardening and exploring the natural wonders surrounding us.

Donna has been working with children for more than 15 years. She earned her degree in psychology from the University of Mary Washington and went into the field of children’s mental health. After realizing that wasn’t her calling, she found her true passion in early childhood education. She has worked with children and families as a teacher in a classroom setting, as well as directing preschool programs. She has recently begun her master’s program in education to become an even stronger educator and advocate for children.

 

Donna whole-heartedly believes that it is important for her children, and all children, to be interactive with the natural world around them and look to nature as their greatest teacher. She hopes to guide children in ways to live in harmony with our world and help them grow into individuals who seek to protect and improve our environment.

Natasha Alcantra

Teacher: Huckleberries

Natasha Alcantra was born and raised on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, where she found her lifelong respect and appreciation for nature. She was drawn to the seasons and unique beauty of the Pacific Northwest and attended college at the University of Oregon. Along with a passion for backpacking, hiking, and bouldering, Natasha finds joy in teaching children. Growing up with younger siblings and cousins, she was surrounded by the energy and natural curiosity of children. She hopes to inspire young learners with education outside of the walls in the classroom, and promote play

and creativity. Her prior teaching work includes after school art education for K-6th grade students in the Greater Seattle area, and tutoring ESOL to international students at the University of Oregon. She graduated with a B.A. in Material and Product Studies, where she not only studied Product Design, but also the environmental impact of producing everyday objects. She believes in the importance of learning about nature and having the greater outdoors available to all, and future generations to come.”

 

Ray Hurley

Lead Teacher: Salmonberries - Field Monday thru Thursday; North Fridays

As a child, Ray spent their days playing in the dirt under the redwood canopy, splashing in the waves of the ocean, and searching under logs for salamanders. Their childhood was rich in outdoor experiences and they have spent the past decade providing similar rich and meaningful outdoor experiences for youth. For the past two years, Ray has worked as an instructor at IslandWood, an environmental education center that focuses on developing personal connections with nature that inspire care and stewardship of all communities. Ray relies on art, play, exploration, and curiosity to help students discover new things about themselves and the world around them. Through immersive nature experiences, Ray believes youth find space to grow as individuals and develop a sense of love and care for the world they exist in.

Ray earned their Master’s in Education through the University of Washington in the Spring of 2020, where they also completed an intensive graduate teaching residency in outdoor education. When they aren’t teaching, Ray can usually be found reading a good book, sharing a meal with friends, or playing with their cats.

Clare Kenny

Teacher: Salmonberries -North

Clare was raised in Portland, Maine and grew up roaming the forests, mountains, and coastlines of her home state, leading her to develop a deep-seated love of the outdoors early on in her life. In pursuit of higher education, she moved to Montreal and earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from McGill University in 2018. Shortly thereafter, her desire for new experiences brought her to the west coast, first to British Columbia and then to Seattle, where she was enchanted by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

 

Clare loves working with kids and enjoys engaging with them in a variety of different activities and levels of thought. She has worked in professional childcare for close to 10 years and has worked with many families with children of all ages and backgrounds, including children with learning and developmental disabilities. She always aims to cultivate a comfortable and safe environment for those in her care and is mindful in her efforts to form loving and individualized relationships with each child. In addition to childcare, she has a background in outdoor leadership, through work as a sea kayak guide and through her experience organizing and leading hiking trips for other students during her university years.

 

Clare, herself, is the product of alternative, nature-based education and firmly believes in its benefits. She hopes to help children nurture a direct and respectful relationship with nature for their own wellbeing and for the betterment of planet earth. 

Clark Watkins

Teacher: Salmonberries -North

Clark was born and raised in Reno, Nevada, and lived there until this summer. They grew up exploring the desert hills and surrounding mountains, living in the shadow of Mt. Rose and feeling more comfortable outside than in. Often hiking barefoot as a child, they became accustomed to paying close attention to where they stepped and became fascinated with and grew to love the smaller beings we share the world with. Their favorite insects are desert stink beetles. Encouraging appreciation and curiosity for “creepy crawly” animals is one of their favorite parts of teaching!

They have enjoyed working with kids since they were a kid themself, and have now worked at a sleepaway summer camp, in a middle school classroom for kids on the autism spectrum, in an urban garden classroom, as a girl scout leader, and have co-led a youth group. They are most passionate about environmental education because they believe one of the most important ways we can build a better world is to instill in our youth a deep respect for themselves, others, and the environment, emphasizing the interdependency of all things and inspiring love for the world.

Clark attended the University of Nevada, Reno and received a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Women’s Studies. Through the university and beyond, they became greatly involved in organizing in their hometown; they believe environmental and social justice go hand in hand. They moved to Seattle because though they had grown very attached to their desert home, they love the rain and wanted the opportunity to grow familiar with and learn to love a very different environment with new plants, animals, fungi, geography and more. They love to read (lots of sci-fi and fantasy), play a few instruments, sing, hike, garden, and dabble in yoga.

Holly Marroquin

Teacher: Salmonberries - Field

My name is Holly Marroquin (she/her) and I am a 24 year old traveller residing on Duwamish lands. My hobbies & passions include creating art, going on road trips, singing while cooking, and spending time with loved ones. 

 

My favorite part of nature that I get to experience is the diversity. The birds you hear, flora you smell, textures of grass you feel; they are all different depending on where you are. I think it's beautiful that we get to be a part of that.

 

As for experience, I have worked upwards of four years as an advocate for individuals with disabilities. I specialized in nurturing independence & providing Positive Behavior Support. What I've learned is that every behavior that someone experiences is the consequence of a need not being met. I believe that acknowledging one's needs and discussing ways on how they would like support will lead to developing better communication.

 

As it is important to ensure we are acknowledging the people we support, I strongly believe that we must acknowledge the land as well. We must practice & express gratefulness that we are able to share this land with the people who were here before us.

Rita Bartlett

Substitute Teacher: All Programs

As a 3rd generation Washingtonian, I have a deep appreciation for the Pacific Northwest. I have been camping, hiking, skiing and boating in this area since childhood, and have always loved being in nature. My husband and I shared our love for the outdoors with our 2 sons as they were growing up. And we still enjoy all of it! I have been guiding preschool children and their families for 35 years. I have a BA from the University of Washington, with a minor in Early Childhood Education and I am a certified Montessori Teacher.  Children of this age have a natural curiosity about the world around them. They want to discover how and why things work. It is through hands-on DOING that these discoveries are made. This is the age to gain independence, learn to get along with others and to begin to understand the beauty and specialness of nature.  There could be no better place to practice these skills than in Nature. 

Colleen Gerlach

Substitute Teacher: All Programs

Hello, I am a native to the Pacific Northwest region, growing up in Bellevue, WA. Growing up my family spent a lot of time in the Mount Rainier are where I spent my time exploring and observing my natural environment. I remember being amazed at the way the landscape changed thru the seasons and always finding something new that I had not noticed before. The sense of peacefulness I had after spending the entire day outside has stayed with me. These experiences fostered a great love for the environment and our role in it. I graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. In Environmental Studies. My degree taught me about native Pacific Northwest plants, animals, and habitats. I have two growing children. Since staying at home with them I have had the opportunity to volunteer at the preschool level and elementary. In my volunteer experience I have helped with academics, led monthly art lessons, run cooking classes, and helped with many school events. I have a passion for outdoors and helping children experience and learn from it.

Abigail Nelson

Substitute Teacher: All Programs

I grew up in Ferndale, Washington and was homeschooled along with my 6 brothers and sisters.  I had many opportunities to explore the wild spaces around us and endless time of playing with friends in our community. From a young age, I observed the nature connection and its therapeutic properties, as well as the importance of caring and nurturing both peoples and nature around me. In a surprise twist, my father joined the navy when I was 9, and from that point on I would continue to explore different cultures around the world. ​I believe in harmony and kindness.  That it's hard to hate up close.

That we all are obligated to lean in, learn about our environment around us, our community, our business owners, our neighbors. To be curious rather than enraged by differences, to be open to learning rather than fighting to be right. That being a steward of our green spaces is an expression of care for things that are alive and in return happily sustain us in our lives. I believe in generosity, in our time and resources. We sponsor children through Compassion and volunteer our time to fill needs in our community. My deepest desire for my students has firstly been that they know they belong, that their life is important and necessary, that they have an exciting and purposeful role to play in our class and in their personal world. I desire for my students to ask good questions and learn the answers through experience. I hope we all can learn from one another, that we are kind and thoughtful towards each other, that we learn that the nature around us is one of the greatest gifts of the PNW and that we celebrate it through knowledge, care, and of course FUN! 

© 2020 Heartwood Nature Programs. All Rights Reserved. Kenmore, WA

Contact us: info@heartwoodnatureprograms.org

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