Director of EverWild’s Inclusive Nature Immersion Programs
Growing up with acres of forest in my backyard is where my love for nature began. The absence of walls allowed my imagination, creativity and legs to have no bounds. I found this same freedom participating in and coaching multiple sports throughout my schooling in Syracuse, NY. This love for kids and an active lifestyle lead me to SUNY Cortland where I obtained my Bachelors of Science in Physical Education and my teaching credential. One of my Outdoor Education classes took place deep in the Adirondack Mountains. I later took a masters class in Inclusive Outdoor Education and became inspired by a growing movement of connecting children including children with learning differences to the natural world. Later that year I moved out West with the idea to expand such a program that would support this movement.
Prior to EverWild I mentored at LA Nature Kids where I was inspired to dig deeper into an unschooling philosophy of education. After reading, researching and writing I found the synergy between unschooling and the outdoors to be irresistible and inseparable. I began sharing my discoveries with a few parents and members of the community and it didn’t take long to find others who felt the same way about their children’s education. It wasn’t long after I arrived in Los Angeles that I begin to realize how many children were lacking a relationship with nature. As a result many children (adults too) were unaware of their impact on the environment. I began to realize the positive impact that spending time in nature can have upon a child’s developmental and environmental stewardship skills and have dedicated my time to serving my community through EverWild, providing mentorship and programming to all children and families.
Having received my formal education from the University of Cape Town, South Africa with a BA in Psychology and Art History and my informal education from world travel and living abroad, I have been in a process of experiential-based learning ever since. Nothing however prepared me for the hands-on education and life lessons learned from becoming a parent. I’m constantly reminded of the inspiring and simple words of Fred Rogers, There are so many things to learn about in this world and so many people who can help us learn. Our family is inspired by unschooling philosophies and discovering more about our interest’s one adventure at a time.
I graduated from Georgia Tech in 2006 with my bachelor of science in Civil Engineering. Shortly after beginning my career as a structural engineer, I realized that a traditional corporate environment was a mismatch for my personality. I decided to shift gears. This time, I would marry my logical and mathematical self with my creative and people-focused self by earning my masters in teaching physics. My life path began to take shape through the vision of my professors. They opened my eyes to teaching science in a new way: asking questions, investigating, and discussing ideas. In other words, I learned to teach science as if my students were scientists. As I taught physics, math, and engineering to high school students, I began recognizing that all subjects can and should be taught via their fundamental natures. I have further learned that all people (young and not-so-young) learn best when they are intrinsically motivated to do so. It is now my life goal to create a new paradigm in education: one in which students are free to have fun, where individuality is fostered and celebrated, where there is no such thing as a ranking system, and where all people involved grow and learn deeply and organically.
Director of Organizational Advancement
Born and raised in south-western Virginia, Haley's upbringing was centered around nature and the seasons. Spending most of her time outdoors, barefoot in the creeks and forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains and backpacking portions of the Appalachian trail, has instilled in her a great sense of environmental stewardship from the beginning of her life. Haley has always been an active person in her free time, where you can find her snowboarding, rock climbing, roller skating, swimming, and hiking with her dog.
Haley graduated from Metropolitan State University in Denver with a degree in child development and a minor in early childhood education. Throughout her adult life, she has worked with young people in various environments; traditional classroom setting, outdoor education, sports and athletics, rehabilitation, and children who are differently abled. After college, she worked with an outdoor adventure camp where she took kids on rock climbing excursions, kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking. She cares deeply about environmental education and empowering our youth through nature and adventure. Haley believes that the outdoors is the most powerful classroom, in which young people can explore the world and their identity freely.
Dustin comes to EverWild from years of experience as a Preschool Teacher at LA Nature Kids, skateboard instructor/event coordinator, and a Summer Camp Councilor. When he isn't exploring with the EverWild tribe, he is often surfing local point breaks, skateboarding down the canyons, or backpacking/hot springs hunting throughout nearby wilderness areas including the Sespe Wilderness. He is also an assistant warehouse manager for Loaded Longboards and Orangatang Wheels.
I graduated as a developmental psychologist in Moscow. After that I took a Business Communication course in Milan. I worked as a program coordinator in a non-profit who helped children with severe burns for 7 years and organized big fundraising events, camps, and gatherings for children. As I always enjoyed the homeschooling community and democratic learning progress but couldn’t find a place where it was really implemented. I organized a village-based camp in Tuscany where we lived and studied the way people did 1000 years ago. It was a wonderful secret place for 4 years. When I moved to LA I was very happy to find EverWild. It’s wonderful to see full-time homeschooling programs like this. When I am not at EverWild I enjoy spending time with people, dogs, cycling and cooking.
Born in Nashville Tennessee, I spent most of my time exploring the acres of woods surrounding my home. The time I spent there , creating and learning through nature, helped shape the individual I am today. I am now happy to call Southern California my home. I have spent the last three years at Jay's boards and wheels providing skateboarding and surf instruction to groups of all ages. I'm super exited to be working with Everwild. Being an older brother myself, I know the importance of letting children learn through participation , allowing their curiosity and imagination to guide their learning experiences, and most importantly trusting them to lead the way. In my free time I can be found at the local skate parks, playing music, and enjoying nature through all avenues.
Born and raised in Connecticut, he's now happy to call Southern California home. Brian is a freelance web designer and for fun enjoy's surfing, skateboarding, and all sorts of adventures.
"I've always gone against the grain and done things my own way - in my work, hobbies, and especially schooling - and so I’m very excited to do lots of learning and adventuring outside of the classroom with the kids" —Brian