Meet Our Staff

DAVE SCOTT

Founder/ Executive Director

Dave Scott can trace his deep love for nature and the outdoors back to his earliest childhood memories catching crayfish and minnows in the little creek behind the house he grew up in, hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather in Corpus Christi, TX, and riding horses with his brother in the Colorado Rockies. After a childhood filled with outdoor exploration and adventure, Dave joined a Search and Rescue team in Southern Colorado where his passion for self-reliance and wilderness survival was kindled further through his experience helping others in wilderness emergencies.

 

He then went on to serve 6 years in the US Army. After exiting the military Dave began pursuing his passion for the outdoors full time, studying wilderness survival, wildlife tracking, youth and adult mentoring, naturalist studies, and sustainable living skills at wilderness schools across the country. 

 

In 2011, after moving back to his hometown of Austin, TX from the Pacific Northwest, Dave’s vision of opening a Wilderness Skills School became reality when he founded Earth Native Wilderness School with plenty of help from his wonderful wife Mikki. It has been one of his greatest life experiences to watch the school grow, along with the wonderful community that it has sparked.

 

In addition to his love of wilderness survival and bushcraft skills, Dave has an intense passion for wildlife tracking. In 2011 he was certified as a Track and Sign Specialist through the Cybertracker Conservation evaluation system, an international standard for certifying wildlife trackers, becoming the 12th person in North America at the time to attain the certificate. 

 

Dave is also the co-author of Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species. A book he wrote with his good friend and fellow wildlife tracker Casey McFarland.

 

As an educator, Dave’s passion is to help his students establish strong lifelong bonds with nature and the outdoors through knowledge of wildlife behavior and track and sign, increased sensory awareness, wilderness survival skills, self-reliance, and the knowledge of place. Dave’s greatest love is spending time outdoors with his wife and kids. 

BRITT LUTTRELL

Forest Preschool Director/Instructor

Britt Luttrell is a native of Austin, Texas. Growing up he spent many an afternoon catching bugs or in some treehouse he had built with his nose in a journal.  His father worked for the Texas Agriculture Department and used to take him on ranch visitations where he experienced MASSIVE purple grapes on the trellis and corn fields with more ravens in them than corn. These trips, and others, bound Britt to the natural world in a truly significant way. 

 

Britt loves witnessing the wonders of nature, whether it be giant trees growing on the edges of sheer cliffs or the impossibly perfect adaptations of tiny insects. He loves challenging his body, finding nooks and crannies no person has ever been to before. The stories of an ecosystem captivate him… Are these ants coming or going? Who was here last night? Britt feels so proud to have retained his childhood sense of wonder about the world. He values green belts as much as huge forests and he believes every kid should have a safe place to connect to the Earth and its wildness.

 

Before joining the Earth Native teaching staff, Britt spent eight years practicing, learning, and teaching young people at Nature’s Way Preschool at the Austin Nature and Science Center. He was fortunate enough to study with some leading figures in play-based education, including Tom Hobson (Teacher Tom), International Play Iceland, and others. Britt has held the microphone on discussion panels for the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CINCA) and led countless meetups in the greater community. Between preschool classes, summer camp groups, volunteer days, hiring and training new staff, and international trainings, Britt has shown his city the benefits of playing outside.

 

With nearly a decade of outdoor education experience, Britt knows that the best place for children to learn is in the woods, forests, and wild places. He is eternally joyful that he has the opportunity to continue to give children some of their first great adventures in nature at Earth Native.

JULIA COSGROVE

Youth Programs Supervisor/Weekend Class Lead

Julia grew up in El Paso, Texas among the strange and beautiful creatures of the Chihuahuan Desert. From a very young age, Julia loved to explore - she explored the mountains and arroyos in her hometown, and she explored the whole universe in the spaceship she built in the basement of her house. Whenever Julia’s family would drive across Texas to visit her grandparents near Houston, Julia enjoyed watching the landscape change and was amazed that one state could contain such vastly different views. 

 

Julia carried her childlike curiosity and amazement with her to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where she fell head-over-heels in love with evolutionary biology, teaching, singing, and pseudoscorpions. Singing in a choir and a band and teaching within the biology department taught her how powerful groups of humans are when they work together, whether they are making music or asking questions and learning. Evolutionary biology and pseudoscorpions taught her that the planet we live on is endlessly fascinating and beautiful. Julia is incredibly grateful for her professors and mentors in college who shared with her their love for teaching. While in college Julia also learned two of her most valued skills, how to paddle in a kayak and how to properly pack a backpack for backcountry camping adventures.

 

After college Julia continued to work on the research she had started as an undergraduate, investigating the evolutionary histories of pseudoscorpions on Caribbean islands. She spent the year after graduation traveling to Australia to learn from a pseudoscorpion expert, to Ecuador and Colombia to collect arachnids with a team of researchers, to Kenya to teach workshops on bioinformatics, and eventually landed in Boston to begin graduate school at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. While studying at Harvard, Julia spent most of her free time volunteering as a teacher for K-12 classes visiting the Museum of Natural History. Her favorite lesson to teach was called “Life in a Rotting Log” which involved digging in dirt, sifting through leaf litter, and quality time with real live creepy crawlies. 

 

After receiving her Master’s degree, Julia moved back to Texas to be closer to her family. Before joining the Earth Native team, Julia worked just across the highway at McKinney Roughs Nature Park where she led K-12 programs on insects, fire ecology, edible plants, and native animal adaptations. She also worked as a member of the recreation staff to facilitate kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, wilderness survival, and GPS activities for children and adults. Julia is thrilled and deeply thankful to be continuing her journey as an educator at Earth Native and for the opportunity to share her curiosity and wonder.

NARISSA VELASQUEZ

Youth Programs Supervisor/Monthly Programs Lead

Narissa is an Austin native. She developed a passion for the natural world at a very young age while spending countless hours at her neighborhood creek building dams, investigating insects, and catching toads. One of her fondest memories growing up involved a grand camping expedition with her family to Balmorhea State Park in Texas, White Sands and Mesa Verde National Parks in New Mexico, Arches National Park in Utah, and other state/national parks along the way. 

 

Before completing her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Foods, through Texas State University, Narissa had the opportunity to intern with Urban Roots, where she empowered, inspired and promoted healthy lifestyle choices to young people through food and farming. This fulfilling work inspired her to continue working in youth education. 

 

After graduating from college, Narissa dedicated two years of service to the 4-H CAPITAL AmeriCorps program where she brought high-quality nature-based experiences to underserved youth in the Austin area. She taught students how to camp, fish, build shelters and campfires, as well as many other outdoor survival skills.

 

She is thrilled to share her nature knowledge and experiences with her students and others at Earth Native. She spends her free time volunteering with local organizations, hiking, camping, kayaking, and playing disc golf/soccer in and around the Austin area.

JASON KLEINERT

Wildlife Tracking Intensive Instructor

Jason grew up exploring the piney woods and swamps of Southeast Louisiana. He had the opportunity to spend time in Colorado as a child where family roadtrips and camping expeditions helped develop his love of the outdoors. As a teenager he summitted Mt Shavano and Mt Elbert on week long backpacking treks. That love of the outdoors was further explored after moving to Texas to attend college. Here he was introduced to the stunning beauty and tranquility of the Chihuahuan Desert. His first visit to Big Bend National Park left a lasting impression and it remains a beloved place for him and his family.

 

Jason continues to spend as much of his free time as possible in the outdoors exploring natural and wild areas. He remains passionate about backpacking, camping, and traveling. He is constantly seeking to expand his knowledge and experience of the natural world.

 

Before becoming an instructor, Jason participated in many intensive courses Earth Native, completing the Survival Skills Intensive, Wildlife Tracking Intensive, and Advanced Wildlife Tracking Intensive. His study at Earth Native sparked a passion for wildlife tracking. He is currently certified as a Track and Sign Specialist through the Cybertracker Conservation evaluation system, an international standard for gauging and enhancing in-field knowledge of wildlife behavior and track and sign identification. He is one of only 4 in Texas and 27 individuals in North America to attain this level of certification.

JACK PAIN

Youth/Adult Instructor

Jack was born in Indianapolis and raised in south central Indiana. Every summer of his childhood was spent in southeastern Kentucky in the backwoods surrounding Dale Hollow Lake. It was there that his fascination with the forest began. As an adult, Jack moved to Washington State to attend the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program, it was in this program that his deep love for the outdoors resurfaced and sparked a desire to pursue outdoor education full time. After spending 3 years studying and apprenticing at Alderleaf Wilderness College, where Jack honed his skills in birdwatching, wildlife track and sign identification, wildlife trailing, plant identification, bow making, knife forging, and bushcraft and survival skills, he joined the Earth Native Instructor team as a Youth Programs Instructor.
 

Jack currently holds certifications in Wildlife Track and Sign Identification, Wildlife Trailing, Permaculture Design, and Wilderness First Responder. He spends his free time camping and hiking, going out into the woods to decipher the track and sign puzzles that animals leave behind and to watch birds.

RACHEL FIGGS

Youth Instructor

Rachel was gifted a multifaceted childhood that reverberated with romps in gulf coast waters, swimming in secret swimming holes on her great grandfather’s farm and concrete jungle adventures in Houston’s 5th Ward, her birthplace. She was lucky enough to have a nuclear tribe with massive appreciation for the natural world and almost all her memories of family trips were immersed in the striking beauty of nature.

 

After graduating with a degree in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and getting a “real job”, Rachel very quickly realized that a regular laboratory nine to five under fluorescent lights was most definitely not for her. So, she did what every conflicted young adult does and joined the United States Peace Corps. Even though nature had always been a place of comfort and solace for her, her service as a Coastal Resources Management Volunteer in the Philippines was what truly helped her come to the life changing realization that humans will only protect what they love and only love what they understand. It was in this space that her career in environmental education began, and since then has shown no signs of slowing. 

 

Following her Peace Corps service, she took a solo sojourn through southeast Asia before settling back in Houston. While living in the big city she split her energy between teaching Yoga for Harris County Senior Citizens Programs and as a Horticulture Program Assistant for post-adjudicated youth within the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. A series of unfortunate events in 2017 caused yet another reevaluation of purpose and place and she soon found herself in the national parks of northern Virginia and California teaching overnight environmental science education with Nature Bridge. At Nature Bridge she revisited life lessons and the importance of equity, inclusion, social/emotional learning and how vital they are to our relationship with our fellow humans and the natural world. 

 

Rachel is stoked to be a part of the Earth Native team! When she isn’t refurbishing her great-grandfather’s farm she’s most likely on some body of water riding a board with a fin attached to it, scheming on her next dive trip, or nose deep in a good book and she’s even been known to do all three at once.

DAVID CROFT

Adult Instructor

David Croft is a native of the Texas Hill Country and grew up as a “free-range child” with outdoor experience in all parts of Texas.  He has interests and experience in Primitive Technologies, SCUBA diving, caving, sailing, flying and wildland studies of all kinds.  

In his early college career he studied psychology/geology at the University of Texas and was active in sub-marine and submarine research both with the UT system and the Department of the Interior.  After several years of developing his carpentry skills into a design and construction business, his latent interest in medicine and emergency response led him to become a certified EMT with special skills.  From there he took on firefighting, EMS response and ultimately full time work at the Seton system first as an Emergency Room Technician then as Operations Manager for Seton’s Emergency Services.  During that period he finished a pre-med degree and assumed much of the responsibility for Seton’s disaster response including response to Hazardous Materials Incidents in the region.  He also represented the Seton System at the region’s Interagency Disaster Council.  

David then returned to school full time to complete a degree in Environmental Management with a focus on Natural Hazards.  As an intern at the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, he worked to develop and evaluate emergency response/notification strategies for HAZMAT incidents that threaten water quality in the district.

After graduation, he was recruited by the City of Austin Office of Emergency Management to write the healthcare response plans for Austin/Travis County and then by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to help design and implement a Facility Management Information System.  David then joined the City of Austin's Wildland Conservation Division helping to care for and manage the City's preserve lands.  

David became a Master Naturalist in 2004 and has volunteered in various capacities including teaching primitive technologies for the Capital Area Master Naturalists, Westcave Preserve, the Native Prairie Association of Texas, Scouting and YMCA.  He is the Emergency Operations Coordinator for El Ranchito Summer Camp and enjoys teaching “Primitive Technologies”, “Natural Hazards of Texas”, “First Aid off the Grid” and other topics.

TRENT LAWRENCE

Youth/Adult  Instructor

Trent grew up running barefoot through the creeks of Conroe and Porter Texas, picking blackberries and carving walking staves. His love for the outdoors started in those muddy waters and continues to grow every year. 

He went to school and obtained his associates of arts with the idea of becoming a philosophy professor but soon realized that the best way he could be a teacher is if his classrooms were the woods, rivers, and hills. Prior to joining Earth Native’s teaching team, Trent worked for three years in an environmental leadership program, where he was the lead field instructor. He is CPR, First Aid certified, a certified rope and rock-climbing instructor, and has been involved in bushcraft and wilderness skills learning for many years.

His favorite pastime is handline fishing with handline rigs he carves himself. He also enjoys hobby blacksmithing and leatherworking. His main passion however is to teach others the skills he has learned to inspire people to develop the same love he has for nature.

JAMES MICHAEL CIESLUK

Youth/Adult Instructor

James can trace the first spark of his journey to become a naturalist back to his childhood when his aunt began showing him how to forage for edible plants. After serving in the United States Marine Corps, James began studying wilderness skills and nature education full time at Alderleaf Wilderness College in Western Washington State where he completed the school’s Wilderness Certification Program, with Honors, and the Alderleaf Instructor Apprenticeship. After studying at Alderleaf for two years, James attended the Wilderness Awareness School’s Anake program in Duvall, Washington where he further honed his naturalist, nature mentoring, and wilderness skills.

 

Prior to joining Earth Native, James taught nature education programs for Quiet Heart Wilderness School and was a volunteer youth instructor at both Alderleaf Wilderness College and the Wilderness Awareness School and served as a team leader on the Conservation Northwest Citizen Science Project. 

 

James is certified Level III in Wildlife Track and Sign Identification and Level II in Wildlife Trailing through CyberTracker Conservation International, an international standard for evaluating the field skills of Wildlife Trackers. 

 

When he’s not running around in the woods with kids James enjoys following animal trails through the woods and honing his bushcrafting skills. 

KAILEY "KIKI" MOORE

Youth Instructor

Kiki has a reputation as a “kooky compassionate Texas girl.” She grew up near the Houston area climbing trees and cutting paths though the tiny patch of forest near her house. Although she didn’t know a lot about the trees and critters in the woods as a child, she always felt drawn to them and found something magical there.

 

In high school, Kiki became an active member of her school’s theatre troupe and loved it so much that she decided to study theatre in college at the University of Texas at Austin and wound up graduated with a dual degree in theatre and dance and English literature. After college, Kiki traveled to Greece where she volunteered at a refugee camp where she taught music and theatre to kids and adults helping them to manage the trauma they held after being displaced from their homes. Kiki’s experience in Greece awakened within her the desire to devote her life to helping others. 

 

After leaving Greece, Kiki moved to Berlin, Germany and worked as a camp counselor spending every waking minute with kids! From dawn to dusk she was singing, starting campfires, taking night hikes, canoeing down rivers and running through the forest with kids of all ages. One of her favorite moments of every day was opening her tent in the mornings to the sight of beautiful, rustling trees. While she was in Germany, Kiki began to reflect on our societies vanishing relationship and connection to nature and she realized that being in the woods had become like a second home to her.

 

While Kiki has worked with kids of all ages, and in many settings, throughout her life, her biggest passion is exploring the forest with little kids and showing them the real magic that exists there. As an instructor at Earth Native, Kiki aspires every day to help children create a deeper connection to nature that will last into their adulthood.

KALLI GARDENHIRE

Youth Instructor

Kalli spent her early childhood napping in barns, riding horses and stock-showing on her family’s ranch in South Texas. Her love of nature flourished during long days helping her grandparents work cattle and watching her cousins ride horses on dusty hot South Texas days. Kalli has vivid memories of visiting the mountains in the summer and winter throughout her childhood. She remembers gazing in awe at the enormity of those huge mountain landscapes that stood in such stark contrast to her relatively flat South Texas home. 

 

Kalli's first experience with outdoor education came while studying Journalism and Creative Media at Texas Tech University where she joined the school’s Outdoor Pursuits Center. She led rock climbing trips to southern New Mexico, long backpacking trips, and spent her weekends simultaneously learning and teaching others about the outdoors. It was through these teaching experiences that she realized that she had developed an intense passion for sharing her love of the outdoors with others. 

 

After graduating from Texas Tech Kalli joined Earth Native’s youth programs teaching team bringing a lifetime of passion and excitement for nature and natural mysteries to the programs she teaches and always curiously learning.

 

When not exploring outdoors you’ll usually find Kalli cooking...never skimping on the butter!

LAURA SEARLES

Youth Instructor

Laura grew up in New England with four robust seasons, offering her endless adventures and new discoveries in the woods behind her home. She climbed trees and used mud, sticks, berries, and rocks in the games and make-believe stories she and her neighborhood friends played. Laura’s outdoor exploration and sense of independence as a young child grew into a deep soul connection and enchantment with nature’s diverse playscape.

 

Riding her bike on secret trails, swimming in lakes and the sea, and catching frogs as an adolescent soon turned into rock climbing, solo hiking trips, camping with friends, and climbing Mount Katahdin, Mount Washington, and other peaks in the region. She believes if you truly want to get to know someone, take them for a hike up a mountain and back down – the combination of uneven rocks, towering trees, mental perseverance, and physical endurance opens up hidden passages in our heart and soul. 

 

Laura graduated from Bridgewater State University in 2007 with a dual bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Communication Studies. A few years later, she completed additional trainings and coursework in elementary education and early childhood development. Laura has been leading youth programs since 2012, as a gymnastics coach, certified yoga instructor, and early childhood and elementary educator. 

 

While teaching at Montessori schools, she combined her love of mentoring children with her love of nature. She has since expanded her nature-based lessons beyond the classroom, to include social-emotional lessons, as well as empowering children to learn self-awareness, spatial-awareness, body-awareness, and other foundational development areas needed to thrive in any environment. Laura is a lifelong learner, and continues to expand on her own wilderness skills and her knowledge of both nature and children.

WESLEY WHITE

Youth Instructor

Wesley is a Houston native and grew up hunting, fishing, and building forts in the piney forests of east Texas. His childhood backyard connected to tens of thousands of acres of wilderness in the San Jacinto River floodplain. Nearly all of Wes’s free time as a child all was spent outdoors where he built a lifelong bond with the natural world. Following this passion, Wesley left Texas for college in Florida, where he studied biology, geology, and archaeology.

 

Prior to joining Earth Native’s teaching team, Wes worked for a decade as a field archaeologist in the Everglades and across other areas of Florida, a position that felt like a “dream job” to a nature lover such as himself. Spending so much time studying how natural ecosystems connect to human life has given Wesley a deep understanding of human pre-history in North America, native plant communities and their relationships to soil types and topography, mapping and navigation in wilderness areas, and a chance to hone his wildlife tracking skill. Over the years, Wesley’s love for the natural world has shaped his life in so many positive ways and one of his biggest passions is sharing his knowledge and experiences with the next generation of young naturalists.

EVE HILTON

Youth Instructor

Born into a military family, Eve’s earliest memories of his childhood are in Adak, AK, a tiny volcanic Island in the Bearing Sea where he witnessed the power of nature alongside bald eagles, caribou and sea otter in the awe inspiring and rugged tundra landscape. These powerful early childhood experiences helped to instill a lifelong respect for and connection to nature. 

 

After serving seven years in the U.S. Airforce, Eve relocated to western Washington where he attended a wilderness residency program at Alderleaf Wilderness College. At Alderleaf, Eve experienced profound personal growth through is naturalist studies and the connections he made to the local outdoor community. In 2018, Eve graduated from Alderleaf Wilderness College with honors and received certificates in permaculture design, ecological studies, and outdoor education. Eve is also certified as a Track and Sign Level III Tracker through CyberTracker International.

 

Eve’s passions include all things nature related, music, laughing, and sharing his love of nature with others.

KIMBERLY YAX

Forest Preschool Instructor

Raised in Southwest Houston, Kimberly always wanted to trade the fast-paced city life for a life filled with wild animals and tall trees. Being the eldest of five, Kimberly always found comfort and peace laying underneath trees, watching the clouds go by. 

 

Growing up in a big city, it was hard to find green spaces to connect with as a child. Luckily, Kimberly was able to connect to nature through stories her family would tell her about growing up in a small town in Guatemala. Listening to stories about hiding in the trees, running through streams, and sleeping in hammocks underneath the stars always amazed her and she desperately yearned for a childhood like that. It was her family’s stories that inspired Kimberly to care and learn more about the outdoors. 

 

As she grew older, Kimberly spent a lot of holidays hiking and swimming at Brazos Bend State Park and Guadalupe River State Park. During these outings, she always felt a sense of belonging and never wanted to leave these dreamy state parks. These places felt magical and unreal to her and captivated her imagination unlike the city. 

 

It wasn’t until she was a student at Texas State University that Kimberly’s love for teaching others about wildlife and conservation exploded. Being able to learn about wildlife in Guatemala and Ireland in her college years made her realize how powerful first-hand experiences are and wanted to help others have those experiences. 

 

During the school year, she was a Glass-Bottom Boat driver and would drive visitors around Spring Lake to show off the beautiful freshwater springs. During this time, she was also a freshwater aquarist and helped maintain the health of the Texas Blind Salamander and San Marcos Salamander. In the summer, she was able to chat with people from all over the world as an environmental interpreter at the Downtown Aquarium – Houston. Kimberly was also able to SCUBA dive for the aquarium to help maintain the appearance of the tanks and health of her fish friends. 

 

After earning her degree in Wildlife Biology with a minor in Geography from Texas State University, Kimberly joined the Earth Native Instructing team in order to pursue her dream of working outdoors full-time helping others develop a love of nature to match her own.

JON SITES

Forest Preschool Instructor

Jon spent his childhood in Washington and Missouri, exploring the forest that surrounded his home, going on outdoor adventures with his family and friends, and learning to play several musical instruments. 

Jon was first exposed to the world of outdoor education in elementary school when he attended his first class trip to Earth’s Classroom, a nature school in Rosebud, Missouri. This experience led him to enroll in the school’s Natural Resource Career Experience program where he learned about career opportunities in Environmental Education. 

The camping and hiking he did with his family growing up flourished into an interest and love for backpacking and the trees he he climbed led him to a passion for rock climbing. The endless summer days spent on Table Rock Lake led to his interest in marine biology and the joy of taking a boat through any body of water. 

After graduating high school, Jon immediately left his small town to work at a summer camp in the San Bernardino mountain range of Southern California. It was here that Jon realized outdoor education is where he was meant to be. He went on to the University of Missouri, where Jon studied Parks, Recreation, and Tourism with an emphasis in Natural Resource and Recreation Management. During this time he continued to pursue his own nature connection, taking on roles such as a climbing instructor, camp counselor and herb farmer. 

Prior to joining the Earth Native team, Jon worked as an outdoor educator in the Adirondack mountains where he helped his students develop an appreciation for the natural world. For a time this work allowed Jon to live and work in the Adirondack Mountain range of upstate New York, and later in the Blue Ridge Mountain range of western North Carolina. During his time in New York, Jon was fortunate enough to be hired as an adventure guide where he led trips all over the Northeast instructing rock climbing, sea kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and backpacking.

Jon is thrilled to be on staff at Earth Native and to be a part of the Wild Life Forest Preschool teaching team where he continues this passion helping others develop connections to nature and outdoor skills. 

ANTHONY LETTERA

Youth Instructor

Anthony grew up in Atlanta, Dallas, and Kansas City, Missouri. Ever since his youth Anthony has been inspired to work in the sciences/outdoors, evolving from paleontologist to veterinarian to marine biologist. Anthony attended Florida Southern College where he majored in Marine Biology and environmental science with an emphasis on marine invertebrates and reef conservation and preservation.

 

While in school Anthony's admiration for the ocean, and the outdoors in general, grew. Each summer of college was spent focused on the outdoors in some capacity. One summer was spent as a cave guide in the Mark Twain National Forest outside of Rolla, Missouri where he led kids through a maze of winding chutes - some with as little as a foot of space between the floor and the ceiling.  Another summer was filled with camping trips around the west to national parks and forests and yet another north of Seattle on the Puget sound as a marine science specialist where he taught groups about the wonders of the rocky intertidal zone of the Pacific Northwest.  

 

One of his favorite two highlights from his time in school was tagging sharks in the Gulf of Mexico alongside MOTE Marine Laboratory researcher Jack Morris where he tagged blacktips, spinner, lemon, nurse, and great hammerhead sharks. For Anthony’s thesis, he spent a week diving every day to assess how the reef had changed since a disease had wiped out most of the staghorn and elkhorn coral populations in the late 90's.

 

After college Anthony worked on Catalina Island for a time at an education program called CELP where he taught groups of students about the kelp forest, sandy bottom, rocky intertidal ecotone ecosystems, sustainability, the native Pimuvit people, island biogeography, and much more! In his free time on the island, he explored every nook and cranny of the surrounding coves while combing the beaches and washes for amethyst. It was during his time on Catalina Island that he realized his passion for teaching outdoor skills to young people and being a steward of the environment. 

 

Anthony moved to Austin in 2020 and joined the Earth Native Youth Programs teaching team shortly thereafter. He is so excited to share his love of nature, water ecology, and outdoor skills with his students. 

ANNE VINCENT

Adult Instructor

Anne Vincent had the privilege of being born into a family that knew and loved wild places. Growing up in Southeast Texas, she was very much at home in the tannin darkened waters of big thicket. Cypress, pine, blue heron, gators, and sugar sand bars on the Neches unfolded some of their mysteries and taught her a love of nature that would ultimately influence her path in life.

By the age of 13 her summers were either spent in an 18 foot royalex old town canoe, with a three horse motor and her dog, being resupplied on weekends at predetermined points by a proud father, or solo sailing from Sabine pass to Matagorda Bay.

After graduating from college Anne went to work for Texas Parks and Wildlife at Pedernales Falls State Park, before her love for adventure led her to several seasons of whitewater guiding and search and rescue in Colorado. She then moved on to Americorps Rocky Mountain and an internship with the National Outdoor Leadership School where she worked on all aspects of backcountry expedition programming.

Almost all the wonder that she can feel she finds in nature. Many years she spends more nights in tents than indoors. Anne is motivated to share the beauty and intricacy of natural systems, foster greater public understanding of our remaining wild places through responsible use, and share with a new generation the gifts of awareness, competency, leadership and risk management that are learned naturally through life outdoors.

Before coming to work at Earth Native Anne spent several years working as an Urban EMT and is currently working to become a fellow at the Wilderness Medicine Institute council on trauma. Anne holds certifications in cultural and natural resource interpretation, guiding, is a leave no trace master educator, and is trained in swift water and technical rope rescue. Anne holds degrees in English and Anthropology from the University of Texas. When she’s not out sharing her love of nature with others, she enjoys multi-day whitewater expeditions, mountaineering and racing sailboats. 

MICHEL ORION SCOTT

Adult Instructor

Michel spent most of his youth exploring the wooded areas of central Texas where he was born and raised. After earning a degree in film from the University of Texas, Michel went on to crew, direct, and produce numerous successful films that have been screened and distributed all over the world.

After 18 years in the film business, Michel has never lost touch with his childhood love for the nature and continues to use his career in film as a vehicle to learn from native cultures in various locations of the earth. From Botswana to Bolivia, Namibia to Mongolia and many places in-between, Michel has studied with and been deeply inspired by the way of life of the indigenous peoples that he has been fortunate enough to spend time with. It is with great humility that Michel passes on this wisdom to those who seek it. And he sees it as a great honor to learn much in the process from those who listen and share his passions.

MARCIA KARR

Wildlife Tracking Instructor

Marcia's love of animals was immediate and undeniable. Born and raised in the San Juan Islands of Washington state, her first passion was for orcas. She spent hours sitting on boat decks carefully scanning the horizon for the subtle exhale clouds that indicated the orcas' presence. This is where Marcia honed the patient observation skills she'd need for identifying and interpreting wildlife tracks and sign.

Marcia moved to Austin, Texas in 2009 and immediately got to work learning everything she could about the plants and animals that make Texas so diverse. She spent three years volunteer gardening at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. She received the first of her Permaculture Design Course Certifications in 2012 and completed an Advanced Permaculture Design course in 2014. She also became a certified Texas Master Naturalist in 2014, serving as president of the Lost Pines chapter from 2017 through 2019.

As a Texas Master Naturalist, she began leading interpretive hikes at the local state parks. She found that her hikes typically revolved around the park wildlife and their tracks and sign. In an effort to learn more, Marcia took a weekend tracking workshop through Earth Native in 2017 and hasn't stopped tracking since.

She has participated in Earth Native's Wildlife Tracking Intensive since 2017, both as a student and as a teacher's assistant. She also teaches Introduction to Wildlife Tracking and Bird Feather Identification. She is currently certified as a Track and Sign Specialist through the Cybertracker Conservation evaluation system, an international standard for gauging and enhancing in-field knowledge of wildlife behavior and track and sign identification. She is one of only 5 in Texas and 39th in North America to attain this level of certification.

In her free time, she is a beekeeper, a chicken-wrangler, and a totally-within-reason-not-at-all-crazy cat lover. She dreams of one day using her tracking skills to observe and study mountain lion populations within Texas.

ERIC KNIGHT

Adult Instructor

Eric is a born and raised Austinite and naturalist. As a kid, his summers were filled with trips to Enchanted Rock, Hamilton's Pool, and all the other natural wonders of central Texas. Eric was one of Earth Native’s first students back in 2011. He then became an instructor at both Earth Native and the Austin Nature & Science Center. During the past few years, Eric has been working as an engineer in the renewable energy and environmental consulting fields, but he always takes time to reconnect with the natural world and teach people about plants. He is especially interested in edible and medicinal plants and has led numerous plant walks. He enjoys travelling and exploring nature with his wife, Stacy. Eric and Stacy also co-founded a yaupon tea business called Local Leaf (www.local-leaf.com); they sustainably wild-harvest yaupon from Earth Native School's land to create a bottled yaupon maté drink as well as powdered yaupon matcha.

ANN KOLBECK

Wildlife Tracking Instructor

Ann grew up in snowy Central Wisconsin, just a couple of hours away from the Northwoods and wolf packs.  She spent much of her childhood wandering local parks, fishing with her father, and looking forward to summer camp.  When she left Wisconsin for collage, her adventures continued—including an inadvertent experience snow-camping in Kings Canyon over one spring break.  However, it wasn’t until she moved to Texas that she became enamored of foraging, gardening, and wildlife tracking.  One of her favorite places in the world is the mouth of Santa Elena canyon at sunset.

 

Ann continues to spend much of her time outdoors—camping, hiking, or planning family rafting trips—as well as bouldering and writing both fiction and nonfiction based on her experiences.  She is always expanding her knowledge of the natural world and looking forward to the next adventure.  She enjoys traveling across the country to participate in Cybertracker Evals and trailing workshops.

Before becoming an instructor, Ann was an Earth Native student, completing the Survival Intensive, the Tracking Intensive, and the Advanced Tracking Intensive.  She has also been a volunteer TA with the Tracking Intensive for several years.