5th Annual VINEC Educators and Presenters

“Hand-In-Hand Nature Education Inc. would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of the educators and presenters who have generously donated their time and effort to share their skill, knowledge and passion with us all. With all of these wonderfully creative people coming together, we are able to offer you and your little ones an unforgettable experience focused on playing, learning and connecting in nature!”

Meet Your Creative, Passionate & Dedicated Educators/Presenters – (in alphabetical order by first names)

Alix Wilson

Hand-In-Hand Nature Education Inc., Cumberland

Currently in my 5rd year as an educator at Hand-In-Hand Early Years Nature Education Program in Cumberland, my love of children and nature extends far into my past! Previously, I ran a nature-based program out of my home for 5 years, and have been involved with young children doing various fun things since I was a young teen. My husband, two sons (16 and 13) and I have lived in the Comox Valley for almost 12 years, and share our home with 2 dogs and a dozen chickens.

Araina Krentzel

Swan Lake Nature Preschool Alumni, Victoria and École Puntledge Park Elementary Grade 4 Student, Courtenay

Hi! My name is Araina Krentzel. I am 9 years old. I went to Swan Lake Nature Preschool in Victoria when I was 4 years old. Since then, I love to play outside with my brother, friends and family. I love to go swimming in rivers, rock climb, hike, camp, mountain bike and ski. I like how you can just go outside and it’s always so peaceful! I like to learn about different plants and if you can eat them or not. I also like to teach people about animal’s identity.

Brahmi Brenner

Hand-In-Hand Nature Education Inc.

I grew up in Vancouver, the lucky city that cannot eclipse its natural skyline of mountains and ocean. I studied ECE and Elementary Education at Concordia University in Montreal. I loved trekking up Mont Royal to escape the concrete grid of the city and watch the seasons change from a birds’ eye view. I have always been drawn to study language and culture in the context of children’s education, which began with the bilingual school of Montreal and brought me to China in 2011. It was hard to adjust to the hyper-urban environments of Tianjin and Beijing but I was also deeply engaged in the culturally rich and exciting work of trilingual language immersion in a Reggio Emilia-inspired German preschool. It was hard to see the impact of air pollution on our kids, the nagging coughs, and the bad air days when we had to stay inside. Children are keenly attuned to their environment no matter what it holds, and I remember our kids debating whether clouds were the same as dirty air. When I returned to BC, I had the deepest appreciation for the smell of the air. I try to remember that feeling now, the sensitivity I had to the notes of fir, cedar and ocean air on each inhale. It’s so easy to take for granted. I moved to Galiano Island in 2016 and worked with a non-profit team to establish the island’s first community daycare. Our richest resource has truly been the forest around us. I became the School Garden Coordinator for the Galiano Community Food Program, planting, harvesting and cooking with the elementary school kids and diving into big questions about food security and island living. In June 2018 I attended the Hand-In-Hand KIDS Campference and I was so impressed with the knowledgeable presenters and unique design of Pro-D workshops for teachers that also served as fun activities for kids. In October 2018, I was so fortunate to participate in the Forest and Nature School Practitioner’s Course in Revelstoke, BC. This was an incredible cohort of teachers who I still feel privileged to have as co-learners and mentors. As Program Manager of the Galiano Daycare, it was a joy to share my learning about forest education with my daycare team. Leaving Galiano is bittersweet but I am so excited to be part of a new community in Campbell River. I can’t wait for us to spend our time together learning from the forest.

Bruce Carron

WildSpirit, K’omoks territory

Born in South Africa, I acknowledge the privilege of using the colonial language of English. As an immigrant-settler, I have lived predominantly around and in the Salish Sea. I am a father of two amazing children, Delfina and Kestrel, whom I live with in the unceded traditional territory of the K’omoks First Nation in the Puntledge watershed. I am a co-founder of Firemaker Primitive Skills Society/Gathering (1999) and the Oak and Orca Bioregional School (1999). I currently run WildSpirit (since 2005) in the Comox Valley, mentoring children and adults towards a deeper connection to Nature. I am a student of Tom Brown’s Tracker school, the Wilderness Awareness School and Nature. The vision of WildSpirit is to shift human consciousness to be in harmony with the wildness of the Natural world. We recognize that there is still “wildness” in every being, that there is a hunger for connectedness and thirst for understanding of one’s place in the web of life. At WildSpirit we offer connections. We reawaken wildness.

Caila Holbrook

Comox Valley Project Watershed Society, Courtenay

Caila has a Masters in International Nature Conservation and a BSc in Environmental Science. She has been helping Project Watershed look after the sensitive habitats of the Comox Valley and educate people about estuaries since November 2008.

Chelsea Badger

SD72 Elementary Teacher, Campbell River

Educating young children for over 16 years in the nature abundant rural communities of Tofino, Ahousaht,  Cortes Island, Haida Gwaii and Campbell River has shaped and inspired my teaching practices. I love observing students interact and connect with nature while they navigate different terrains and use their imaginations to create stories that are meaningful to them. Inspired by Reggio Emilio’s provocations and infused with Waldorf magic, I am excited to offer a nature inspired story telling and movement play session for children at Campference 2020.

Chelsea Holley

Harry Otter School of Nature Wizardry, Campbell River

It’s that time of year again… Vancouver Island Nature Education Campference…for KIDS! Yay! I just love wandering around in the beautiful Rathtrevor park, with my bare-feet, in the sun or rain, with children, families, animals and birds, GREAT BIG trees, and of course, the sandy beach. Nature with all of its wonders and mysteries has never stopped inspiring me to connect with my wild roots, leaning about our local plants, animals, food, medicine, and how we all fit into it. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with children and youth in nature-based camps and day care programs. I look forward to the celebration of nature and kids that is the Vancouver Island Nature Education Campference!

Clare McDonald

Hand-In-Hand Nature Education Inc., Cumberland

My name is Clare McDonald and I moved to the island in 2015. I love being outdoors and enjoy reading books, journaling, gardening, cooking, baking, doing all sorts of artwork, playing music and spending time with my family. Yoga is a practice that I feel very passionately about and feel that it has offered me some amazing tools that help in my everyday life, I look forward to being able to share that with you! I began my training at the Yasodhara Ashram in Kootenay Bay, BC in 2009 in the young adult program and returning in 2012 I completed a 9-month residency program and received my certification as a Hatha Yoga Instructor. Subsequently I completed my Hidden Language Certification in 2016 and will be taking training for Kundalini and Dream Yoga this July. Since 2012 I have taught Hatha Yoga at the Robron Centre, in youth programs, addiction treatment centres, the YWCA, childcare centres, and elementary schools.

Cynthia Pollak

AdventureSmart, Parksville

As a member of ASAR and their mounted Equine Search Assist Team (ESAT), I opted to take training for presenting the AdventureSmart program, which makes presentations available for free to any interested group. Tracking has been a useful skill to learn through SAR, too. I also have experience in leading pond, mushroom, and “forest physics” nature walks; presenting spiders and biomechanics at schools; and teaching to all age groups. Currently, I manage a small farm with a riding arena and tutor a variety of subjects.

Emerson Chan

Saplings Outdoor Program, West Vancouver

Emerson is 9 years old. He has been in Saplings since he was 2. When Emerson isn’t up in a tree, or riding his Bike he enjoys whittling and building awesome forts. He is excited to come and help his mom, and show some new friends how to create an awesome adventure playground!

Eva Bubb

Comox Valley Waldorf School, Courtenay

Eva has a passion for culture and education. She wrote her Masters thesis on Economics of Education in Russia, where she was a teacher to indigenous Altayan children. She co-founded a Sudbury school in Belgium, where she went through Waldorf elementary and highschool. Eva regards the outdoors  as invaluable to our education and life in general, and one of the reasons she moved to Vancouver Island is the abundance of nature it is blessed with. She is currently a Waldorf elementary teacher, and raises her young son with rain, mud, trees, and rocks.

Gary Aylward

Retired Art Teacher, Comox

Gary is a retired art teacher and now full time artist in the Comox Valley who loves spending time playing his bass guitar, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, getting time away in his tent in the summer, and photographing nature when he isn’t renovating his 50 year old home.

Gordon Gudbranson

North Island Zone | Conservation Officer Service | Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Conservation Officer Gordon Gudbranson works with the Ministry of Environment’s Conservation Officer Services in the North Island Zone. Along with his duties in the field, Gordon is highly motivated and passionate about bringing Bear and Cougar Awareness to the community…for the more education that he can provide, the likelihood of an unfortunate encounter with wildlife will hopefully decrease.

Heather Fleming

Tofino Nature Kids, Tofino

Heather has lived in Tofino/Ucluelet on and off for the past 9 years. She has worked primarily at Jamie’s Whaling Station on the water looking for the incredible wildlife that live in our area, such as feeding gray whales, breaching orcas, wandering black bears and soaring eagles. She has also worked as a kayak guide for Paddle West exploring the scenic waters of Clayoquot and Barkley Sound. Heather has worked in a variety of childcare positions including summer camps and a nature based preschool in Victoria. She has a Bachelor of Science in Geography and an Early Childhood Education Certificate. Her plan to combine her two passions into one job and explore nature with children has come to fruition with Tofino Nature Kids. In her free time Heather enjoys being outdoors, be it walking in the woods in one of our Regional/National Parks, poking creatures in tide pools, or on the water kayaking. She really enjoys travelling and has been fortunate enough to have set foot in over 20 countries. Some adventures she has been on include, chasing animals on a safari in the Great Plains of Tanzania, spying on birds while working as an intern in the cloud forests of Ecuador, and most recently swimming with dolphins in New Zealand. She is looking forward to learning and exploring with you all at the 2020 Campference!

Heather Fraser

Saplings Outdoor Program, West Vancouver

A mother of two, I am passionate about working with children and have a love for the outdoors.  I have taught in a number of early childhood settings including toddler, preschool, and school-aged programs. I have a passion for nature and I am excited to share that passion with others around me. I spend my time gardening with my two children and exploring the beautiful trails and beaches around our home.  I feel that it is so important to get outside whatever the weather and connect with the world around us.  My passion for outdoor play and my understanding of the importance of connecting our children with nature inspired me to build Saplings Outdoor Program.

Jamie Black

Wild Craft Play 'sCool, Central Vancouver Island

Since 2004, Jamie has offered programs, training, workshops and lead children, youth and adults through many life-altering adventures as an Earth-based Educator.  Over the years Jamie has taken great pride in collaborating with organizations, businesses and community members providing quality services for children, youth and leaders in a variety of outdoor and adventure-based educational and performing arts. The Game of Wild Craft Play was born in early 2008 embodying child engaging play that has grown through direct study, constant feedback, and community collaboration. Jamie extends her gratitude for the community support that encouraged Wild Craft Play to become a school in 2017.

Jennifer Lestage and Christopher Thomlinson

VI Creature Teachers, Campbell River

Jennifer founded VI Creature Teachers in February 2012 offering live, interactive reptile, amphibian and invertebrate encounters to the Vancouver Island community. She has always had a passion for the natural world and the animals we share it with. She got her first pet snake, a female Spotted Python named Montey, when she was 15 years old and still has Montey today. The majority of the animals she affectionately calls her “cold-blooded crew” are previous rescues who required veterinary intervention or rehoming. All of her animals have interesting back-stories that she loves to share with her customers. By using her educational background in Environmental Sciences and Small Business Management she implemented a variety of programs designed to benefit people of all ages. She provides a safe, fun-filled environment so that participants can learn about important conservation issues, animal husbandry, genetics, biology and more. These shows are entirely mobile, appearing on site at birthday parties, schools, daycares, elderly care facilities, fundraisers and more. To quote the late Steve Irwin, “I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message.” She is a proud two time winner of the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year Award, VI Creature Teachers just won the 2019 Vancouver Island Small Business of the Year award and one day Jennifer dreams of opening up her own educational facility. Chris joined the VI Creature Teachers team in 2015. He utilizes his experience and training in First Aid to assist with veterinary aftercare when new rescues come into the facility. He can also be found assisting in educational shows and performing animal care duties. His favourite animal ambassador to work with is Balerion the Argentine Boa Constrictor.

Jill Peacocke

Retired School District 71 Teacher, Comox

Jill, a retired teacher of Senior English and Psychology, works part time with Hand in Hand Nature Program in the Comox Valley because it always makes her smile. She spends most of her time supporting and creating environmental initiatives to help youth find ways to tackle Climate Change. She loves hiking, biking, NATURE, laughing, kids and dogs.

Jody Fink


Hi I’m Jody, a mum of 3 and owner of Stripes Gear a thermal base layer clothing line, we live in the small, beautiful village of Cumberland, BC. I grew up on a remote farm in Northern Queensland, Australia and since childhood I have always spent the majority of my time playing and experiencing the outdoors. Fast forward 25 years and not much has changed. We spend a lot of time in the outdoors, foraging, mountain biking, hiking and trail running, camping year-round. Our family thrives on creating, building and being in the outdoors.

Joanna Finch

Jobird’s Sensing Bliss Embodied Music and Movement for Kids of all Ages, Cumberland

Soundscape improvisor, Educator, musician, dancer, actor, poet, recording artist…Joanna Finch loves to play! She is passionate about encouraging people of all ages to explore the nature of sound, and sounds in Nature. As an international traveller Joanna has found many interesting ways to make music from found objects; and through her studies in Embodiment of Movement, improvisational vocal jazz, and deep ecology, Joanna weaves a unique musical experience each time she teaches. As a regular instructor at the Innisfree Farm Herb Gathering where her “Sensing Bliss Sound Bath” workshops are well attended, to folk concerts at the Farmers Market and jazz cabaret dinner shows, Joanna is a multi-disciplinary musician. Her ancestral family, Rev. Bishop and Mary Cridge arrived on Vancouver island in 1855 and the pioneering, community spirit they brought with them is in Joanna’s bones. Love of life is a life of love! There is music in everything and Joanna has a song for every occasion.

Josh Heilik

Search & Rescue, Comox

My name is Josh Heilik and I am a father of two young boys, one of whom is a Forest Friend. Although I’m a native of Manitoba, I’ve had the opportunity to spend nearly 15 years in Atlantic Canada, and am lucky enough to now live here on Vancouver Island. Over the years I’m proud to have volunteered with youth organizations such as the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, and Courtenay’s 3 rd Beavers Lodge. I have also had the occasional pleasure of addressing staff and students at various schools during Veterans’ Week, sharing my experiences in the Canadian Armed Forces. Over the last several years, the focus of my career has been on Search and Rescue. Along with my training as a Flight Engineer on the Cormorant helicopter has come various survival courses and training exercises. These activities, which have taken me from lean-to’s in Manitoba’s White Shell to igloos and snow caves in Resolute Bay, have not only grown my awareness of survival skills, but also my appreciation for my natural surroundings. I enjoy passing on my knowledge and experience to my sons, whether we are wandering in the natural wonder of Newfoundland or British Columbia, with the goal of imparting that awareness to them. My hope is that a little skill, awareness, and planning can prepare them and give them the confidence to tackle all of their outdoor adventures.

Julia Tashiro

Canadian Outdoor Leadership Program, Campbell River

I was born and raised in Germany loving outdoor play, animals and anything to do with forests. After high school I took my bachelor’s degree in education and social psychology and anthropology followed by a master in adventure and experiential education. Though out my time at university I worked in different fields of the education sector: preschool, elementary schools, youth programs and outdoor programs and eventually finished my masters degree with a pilot project that brought the forest and nature school concept to the river of our local community with a preschool raft based on the river. Preschool groups would come for 1 to 2 weeks at at time to discover the rivers ecosystem on the raft and along the shore. A number of events brought me to beautiful Vancouver Island 10 years ago where I have since been blessed to work, live and play in Strathcona Park based at Strathcona  Park Lodge as an Outdoor Educator, Program Administrator and Instructor Trainer and now directing the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training Program. Although I am mostly working with the post secondary age group now, teaching people to become outdoor educators and guides I have remained incredibly passionate about outdoor preschools and believe that playing and learning out of doors with alive and passionate mentors should be a part of every kids life at any stage in their growth every day! My three year old son reminds me every day of the wonder to be found and the growth to be lived out there.

Karen Maxwell Eddy & Laura Russell

Muddy Gumboots Nature Based Learning, Comox

I (Karen Maxwell Eddy) am the driving force behind Muddy Gumboots Nature Based Learning & More in Comox, BC. We are a fully licensed & insured in home childcare facility in its 15th year of operation (formerly Karen’s Kids). I am ECE certified, a certified Forest School Teacher through Fresh Air Learning and certified Yoga Instructor for Kids through Kidding Around Yoga Teacher Training. I work beside my amazing ECE Assistant of 10 years, Laura Russell. We offer a dynamic program with a balance between getting our boots muddy with nature exploration (forest play, beach combing, trail walks) and accessing community programs with field trips in the MG Fun Bus, such as Kindermusik, Library Story Time & many other events and venues throughout the year. As well, we have a huge outdoor play yard on our 2 acre hobby farm with a variety of animal friends. Every day I am striving for excellence in all that we do with the little people entrusted to us.

Kaleigh McGinnis

Nanaimo Forest Kids, Nanaimo

Kaleigh has been in the ECE field since 2013 but started her love of teaching back in 2004 while she was still in highschool teaching swimming lessons. Her love of nature has always been present and uses forest school to share her love and passion for the outdoors. Kaleigh has taught in Ontario, BC and in England in many different age groups and settings giving her many different wonderful experiences. She looks forward to learning from everyone she meets and expanding her knowledge of the BC Rainforest.

Katrina Sterba

Fresh Air Learning, Vancouver & North Vancouver

Katrina Sterba is delighted to be the Assistant Director for Fresh Air Learning. As an RYT 200 hr yoga instructor, organic master gardener and with over 15 years of diverse experience in teaching, coordinating and managing programs in the realms of wellness, sustainable horticulture and nature connection; she is truly grateful for her jobs and her life. When not “working” she most often found playing with her kiddo and dog in the forest, in the garden or traveling.

Kat Radford

the HeART in NATURE, Merville

In my waking life, I have gathered and collected many years experience as an Art Educator, an Early Childhood Education Assistant and Education Assistant in both public and private schools. I have a great passion for the outdoors.  I feel complete when I am outside, in Nature. One part tree, one part faerie and one part guardian of the arts, it is my connection with Nature that inspires me to guide and mentor our emerging dwellers of Planet Earth-through the ways of creativity and the infinite-with the hope and heart-wish they will find the same. I am over the moon and excited for you join me as you ignite your own spark, feel your heart, experience the enchantment of Nature that awaits and together discover the beauty of ‘the HeART in NATURE’.

Kester Reid & Stephanie Mackay

Fianna Wilderness School, Gabriola Island and Comox Valley

Kester and Stephanie combine many years of experience in nature school and wilderness settings across Western Canada. Their passion is to offer mentoring that supports the inherent gifts in each individual. As the founders of Fianna Wilderness School, they are excited to offer programs in Nanaimo, Cumberland, and Gabriola. Grounded in a relationship of reciprocity with the land and our communities, we honour a commitment to mentoring as a way of life:  closer to the land, closer to each other.

Laura Burki

Saplings Outdoor Program, West Vancouver

Laura joins us from Victoria BC where she has spend the last two decades teaching nature based outdoor pre-K and kinder programs to kids with a passion for the outdoors. Now residing in Vancouver where she joins Heather and the Saplings team to bring kids into the forest. Laura has a background in both outdoor recreation and education and specializes in nature based programming with children ages 3-6. Laura believes that the learning never stops and is dedicated to the development of your child and their connection to the outside world.

Lindsay Coulter

David Suzuki Foundation, Queen of Green & EPIC Learning Centre, Victoria

Lindsay Coulter joined the David Suzuki Foundation over a decade ago, with a Zoology degree and a passion for nature. As David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, she inspires others to claim leadership and use skills of compassion and insight during this insane time. Lindsay is a community catalyst, compassion cultivator, Warrior for the Human Spirit, horse lover and mom of two boys. For two years she has worked hard along side a few other EPIC Seed Members to create Victoria’s newest forest and nature school, EPIC!

Louise Osborn

AdventureSmart, Parksville

After living through the awful experience of having a young grandchild go missing in the wilderness of Vancouver Island, and finally being found by Search and Rescue after spending a night in the woods alone, I decided to join Search and Rescue.  I can hike and carry a full pack.  Our debt runs deep. I am an active Member of Arrowsmith Search and Rescue, Support Team during the summer, and of Verde Search and Rescue in Sedona, Arizona in the winter months. I became certified to teach the Hug-A-Tree and Survive Programs for children and adults, across Canada and in the state of Arizona.  I am committed to Search and Rescue Prevention. I have my Wilderness First Aid (expires December 2022) and am enrolled in Advanced Wilderness First Aid in June 2020. I am a keen hiker and backpacker and the Co-presenter for Backpacking 101 course for Comox and District Mountaineering Club (CDMC) in the summer 2019. I backpacked Cape Scott in June 2017, hiked the Grand Canyon at least 4 times, and in October backpacked the Canyon again, Rim to Rim in October 2017. I also hiked the Chilkoot Trail: Skagway, Alaska to Lake Bennett, BC July 2018. My favourite place to day hike is Strathcona Park…anywhere. I have the North Coast Trail in my sights for summer 2020. I’m a self confessed gear-nut and love talking about hiking gear! Finally, I am very picky about trip plans. AdventureSmart.ca has an easy on-line version that can save previous hikes and info and can easily link to your contact list for emergency contacts.  Do it!

Megin Peake

Hand-In-Hand Nature Education Inc., Comox

Megin is a Nature Educator with Hand-In-Hand in Comox with their 2nd class. She is constantly inspired by the beauty of nature; the way a droplet sits upon a leaf, how the moss hangs to delicately off a tree or when the fog is thickly layered on the ocean, there is a sense of stillness. Nature evokes such a sense of wonder and Megin loves to combine that with an invitation to be curious and play. Which is where creating and crafting come into play – apart of Megin’s arsenal is a Bachelor of Fine Arts and she loves to find ways to bring nature into whatever she is creating whether it’s the physical medium or the inspiration. And much like anyone who loves and values the outdoors she is taking steps to reduce her footprint on this planet and trying to inspire others to do the same. 

Megan Moon

Fanny Bay

Megan is an enthusiastic nature loving preschool teacher. For her entire career as an educator outdoor play and learning has been the most important part of the journey. Megan has worked along side many wonderful children who have enriched her life and who continually remind her of the deep value of developing a true sense of joy and wonder of the natural world at a very young age. Megan has been at home in the forest all her life and is most happy where there are trees close by. Megan is also an organic farmer, mother of two amazing boys, a pine needle basket maker and a mermaid!

Mei Lin Chan

Saplings Outdoor Program, West Vancouver

Mei Lin is 12 years old, she has always had a love of nature, and learned to climb a tree before she could walk. Mei Lin helps her mom by volunteering with the toddler classes at Saplings during the summer, and is excited to join her to help out at the workshop!

Michelle Peters

Earth Art Studio, North Vancouver

Michelle Peters lives in North Vancouver with her family of 5. She works as a Letter Carrier for Canada Post, which affords her ample time to appreciate all the seasonal beauty of BC. While she prioritizes her current job as well as spending time with family, she also fits in a lot of time for painting, sketching, studying Art History and volunteering at a the Avalon Women’s Centre to do art therapy sessions. Michelle co-founded the Cascadian Crusaders in the Comox Valley and the subsequent publication of “The Great Plastic Round-Up”. She contributes to numerous social media platforms including “Earth Art Studios”, “Creative Crusaders”, Women Who Walk the Mail” and her old blog “Pipunkd”…Her lifelong ambition is to serve the Earth through creative pursuits, continue to find the “flow” in daily life, to attend art school until she’s 80 and to publish a practical guide to recycling everything into art.

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre


The North Island Wildlife Recovery Association partners “with the citizens of Vancouver Island to establish a facility for the care of ill, injured and orphaned wildlife and to educate the public on wildlife and environmental issues. We are a non-profit organization that cares for the well-being of Vancouver Island wildlife and strives to educate the public. We continue because of amazing volunteers and incredible community support. Come out for a visit!

Samantha Garstang

Cowichan Valley

Samantha Garstang is a mother and teacher in the Cowichan Valley who strives to incorporate her 20+ years as a facilitator of Outdoor and Wilderness Education experiences into her days with students in a traditional French Immersion classroom.

Samantha Rumney

Euphoria, Cumberland

I was born and raised on Vancouver Island, spending most of my time in Cumberland. Here I have been working as a nature educator for the past 2 years. I’ve been an ECEA at a nature based preschool and have ran outdoor programs through the Cumberland Rec. I’m currently enrolled in the ECE certificate program and I’ve been involved in mindfulness stress reduction training. Learning and teaching about being self-compassion with children has been a new adventure for me. I understand the importance of being connected to our body and our environment.

Serena Turner (aka Serena Flying Fox)

Little Leaves, Thriving Roots, Victoria

Serena Anne Turner is a children’s mentor at Thriving Roots Wilderness School and Victoria Nature School. She trained at the Eight Shields’ Wilderness Awarness School in Washington in the Art of Mentoring. She draws learning & inspiration from her many travels and especially her time in the Arctic, and the connection formed there with the land, the sky, and the children of Baffin Island. Through experience with her own ancestral traditions, she excels at sharing a love of land, and art, with children. The old magic of storytelling & song, the cycles of the seasons and the moon, and the holidays of the ancient wheel are all key parts of her teaching style. She is also a certified rainbow kids yoga instructor, herbalist, and aspiring children’s story book writer. She has a particular love of wool, wood, stones, and all things green!

Sofi Czich

Hand-In-Hand Nature Eduaction Inc., Campbell River

My name is Sofi and I am beyond excited and grateful to continue learning and growing with Hand-In-Hand Nature Program. I am originally from Ontario and graduated from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay with a double degree in Outdoor Recreation Parks and Tourism as well as a Bachelor of Education at the Primary/Junior level. Since then I have also been accepted as a certified teacher in British Columbia. At school I enjoyed courses such as Experiential Education, Land Stewardship, Leadership, Risk Management, Therapeutic Recreation, Indigenous Education and Child Development. My program offered winter, summer, fall and spring camping trips, I have participated in and thoroughly enjoyed all seasons. On these trips we focused on hard skills such as navigation, primitive fire lighting, shelter building and canoeing. Emphasis was put on soft skills such as team building, group management, decision-making and leadership skills. With much practice on a combination of these skills, I am very comfortable and confident when spending time outdoors, in various situations. In the summer months, I enjoyed outdoor jobs such as StepStones for Youth where I gained experience, working with girls at risk in the outdoors, which equipped me with patience and compassion. I also was a Canoe Trip Leader in Algonquin Park for youth, where I practiced risk management and facilitating educational experiences for youth during multi-day trips. For two summers, I was an outdoor educator for youth with autism at Kinark Outdoor where I began to understand the significance and begin to facilitate student lead learning outdoors. I also work for Greenways Land Trust in Campbell River, where I have learned about the flora, fauna, as well as animals. In addition to my work experience, I also enjoy hobbies including hiking, biking, snowboarding, rock climbing, swimming and just spending time in the forest. I believe that working with children in the outdoors not only enhances learning but also empowers children greatly. I am passionate about creating a space where children can develop a connection with our beautiful natural world. I look forward to forming relationships and facilitating meaningful, educational experiences through exploration, investigation and play.

Sue Cameron

Hand-In-Hand Nature Education Inc., Campbell River

I am a proud mom of three adult children. We were blessed to call Quadra Island our home for almost thirty years. The Quadra Childrens Centre was a big part of our lives while we lived on Quadra. All three of my kids attended this childcare centre. As my children grew, surrounded by caring teachers in their early years I began to appreciate the importance of this work and wanted to be a part of it. I decided it was time to go back to school and become an Early Childhood Educator. I am passionate about children and their innate abilities and unique gifts they possess. My teaching background is based on and is continually inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. This philosophy sees children as capable beings full of potential. I spent over ten years at the Quadra Childrens Centre where this philosophy helped guide me as an early year’s teacher and supervisor in the out of school program. The beautiful forests which surround the centre became a third teacher for all of us as we explored, played and learned for many hours each day, saturated by nature. After moving to Campbell River five years ago I had the opportunity to teach at the Willow Point Childrens Centre and create an early learning program which included huge amounts of time outdoors, in all kinds of weather, year round. I am excited and honored to have an opportunity to be a part of this outdoor nature program. I look forward to facilitating a myriad of teachable moments as your children interact with their natural environment.

Sue McGiffin ECE, SN, IT, RYT 200

Hand-In-Hand Nature Education Inc., Comox

Sue’s passion for yoga began many years ago when she lived in the Pemberton Valley. With her husband and daughter she moved to the Comox Valley in 2012. Along with her yoga practice Sue is part of the teaching team at Hand-In-Hand Early Years Nature Education Program. She has recently developed and implemented a children’s yoga program at Holy Cow Yoga Studio and the Comox Community Centre and has witnessed first hand the physical and emotional benefits of allowing children room to move and explore within their learning. Sue is very excited to share her new knowledge and continue to teach yoga to children in a fun and creative way.

Tomiko Collins


As a science enthusiast, I love exploring the west coast with students and my family. Any chance to get out and touch, taste and get down with nature is my thing. 

The Muddy Boot Prints Educators

Muddy Boot Prints, Vancouver

The Muddy Boot Prints  educators are joining forces to lead this workshop. Belva Stone, Cheryl Fontaine, Sarah Eakins, Pat McGinness and Misachi Mori are excited to pool their collective teaching experiences and lead the children through the park on a scavenger hunt. For more details on each of us, feel free to head over to our Bio Page.

Wren Vorster

Nature Student and Teacher

Wren has 5 years experience learning about forests and estuaries. She has helped create and play many estuary focused games and activities. She is very excited to share the salt marsh secrets with anyone who joins us for this workshop.