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MEET OUR STAFF

DIRECTOR/ADMIN TEAM

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DAVE SCOTT

Founder/ Executive Director 

Dave Scott can trace his deep love for nature and the outdoors back to his earliest childhood memories in Austin Texas 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 Texas, and riding horses with his brother in the southern Colorado Rockies. After a childhood filled with lots of 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 survive critical wilderness emergencies.

 

He then went on to serve 6 years in the US Army Military Police Corps. After exiting the military, Dave immediately began pursuing his passion for the outdoors full time, studying, and later teaching, 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 Wilderness Skills, Dave has an intense passion for wildlife tracking, a skill he has continuously pursued since childhood. Dave has earned Track and Sign Specialist Certificates in two different regions of the United States and is currently serving as a Track and Sign Evaluator with CyberTracker North America. 

 

Dave is 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 identification, 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. 

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MIKKI SCOTT

Director of Operations

Mikki was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and then followed a desire to explore more of the country starting with her education at James Madison University in Virginia, where she earned her BBA. Summers spent working in Vail and Aspen, and semester in London, furthered her love of exploring new places and eventually led her to a position in the Meeting Planning and Hotel industries, a job that took her to amazing locations all over the world where she got to experience stunning sights and unique new cultures. 

 

Eventually her journeys led her to Austin, TX where she met her husband. 

 

After 15+ year working in the Meeting Planning and Hotel industries, Mikki put her logistics and coordination skills to good use joining her husband, Dave Scott, in the founding of Earth Native Wilderness School. 

 

Mikki’s role at Earth Native includes marketing, website design and updating, social media, program creation, financials, and keeping her husband on track (i.e. the glue that holds everything together). Mikki lives in Cedar Creek, TX with her husband, Dave, their two wonderful kids, Lauren & Connor and their pup, Bailey.

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MERILEE BRADFORD

Director of Programs

Merilee was born and raised on the edges of Puget Sound and in the woods of the Pacific Northwest where from a young age she could hardly be convinced to come inside and dreamed of building her own cabin. From an early age she has been making her own clothes, camp gear, quilts, baskets and all manner of art.

After acquiring a degree in Psychology & Youth Studies from Seattle Pacific University, Merilee became a Pediatric Mental Health Specialist at Seattle Children’s hospital and has been working with youth and young adults in various capacities ever since. Once she found Wilderness Awareness School in 2008 and completed both the Immersion Program as well as the Immersion Apprenticeship, there has been no turning back from a life of sharing her love

for the natural world with youth and adults alike and spending as much time as possible exploring the natural world and making things with her hands.

After over 10 years with Wilderness Awareness School, specializing in teaching bushcraft, animal processing, hide tanning and wildlife tracking, Merilee has added both work as a Wildlife Field Technician for the US Forest Service and as a professional chef for Human Nature Hunting to her skill set

She holds a Wilderness First Responder Certification as well as a Permaculture Design Certification and is continually working towards deepening her skill in Wildlife Tracking through the Cybertracker Conservation evaluation process. Merilee has a deep love for wildcrafting, tanning hides, making food, trail running, wildlife tracking, reading and being around a fire. She currently lives in the Bastrop area with her husband, Charlie, and their Golden Retriever, George.

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BRITT LUTTRELL

Forest Preschool Director

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.

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MAKAYLA MARSHALL

Operations Administrator

Originally from the Rust Belt, Makayla hails from the outskirts of Metro Detroit, Michigan. One foot in civilization, the other leaping into the northern forests and plentiful lakes. Makayla has always had an affinity for the wild things but never knew careers in the outdoors existed until she met a Wildlife Biologist during a Women in STEM workshop in middle school.

 

This led her north into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to pursue a degree in Conservation Biology at Lake Superior State University where it was common to spend a weekend on a hike or cutting down invasive trees with your professor! After graduating, Makayla took a year-long fellowship with the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Wisconsin where she deepened her relationship with the land and her appreciation for what a “land ethic” really means. 

 

Afterwards, she took a jointly managed job with The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in South Dakota enrolling private landowners of the unbroken prairies and wetlands of the Prairie Pothole Region into perpetual grassland and wetland conservation easements. Once that contract expired she picked up and moved again to North Texas where she was the Assistant Park Manager at Quartz Mountain State Park in Southwest Oklahoma. Both these jobs developed her relationship building and organizational skills with various partner agencies and have set her up for her role as Operations Administrator here at Earth Native. 

 

In her free time, Makayla enjoys exploring public land, hiking, reading, learning new languages and new skills.

TEACHING TEAM

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EMMA KENNEDY

Youth Programs Supervisor

Emma grew up in Sacramento, California where she gravitated to the outdoors from a young age. Bugs and creatures of any kind have always been her biggest fascination as she spent much of her childhood camping, hiking, and exploring all of the nooks and crannies of California. She had the opportunity to spend the summers in Lake Tahoe, where there was no shortage of wildlife to be inspired by and exploration to be done. 

 

While attending California State University, Chico, Emma had the chance to study in Athens, Greece and further grew her love for the gorgeous outdoors and spent most of her time in the waters of Eastern Europe. She holds a degree in Exercise Physiology and has a passion for the workings of the human body and what it’s capable of. This ties in wonderfully with her love for nature as it challenges her to spend lots of her time hiking, biking, running, fishing, climbing, and swimming. The more animal encounters within these activities, the better. 

 

Emma continues to be excited for all of the outdoor adventures to be had in Texas! Before joining the Earth Native team, Emma was a lifeguard for 8 summers, programmed summer camps, and was a Special Education teacher. Emma believes inspiring children to love learning and the outdoors is the most important work to be done. 

 

In her free time, you can find Emma out on the golf course, exploring new swimming areas, or in the kitchen trying out all kinds of recipes!

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LAUREN SYMMS

Youth Instructor

Lauren has always been fascinated by the powerful relationship between nature and people. Born in San Antonio, Texas to a military family, she spent much of her childhood abroad. The need to frequently relocate created a love for exploring, and taught her to find a sense of place in nature. Quiet moments impressed on her the importance of people's connection to their surroundings and the healing power of time in the dirt. 

 

In college, she studied anthropology and environmental science thinking about the effects of people on the health of ecosystems, and vice versa. She volunteered with many San Antonio organizations, like Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, the San Antonio Zoo, and Texas Master Naturalists, tapping into the wealth of knowledge found in community. After graduating, she completed an AmeriCorps service term with the Conservation Corps in Saint Paul, Minnesota. As a member of the Youth Outdoors program, she led seasonal crews of high-school students in natural resource management and community conservation projects. 

 

As an Earth Native Instructor, Lauren is always eager to impart curiosity, enthusiasm, and respect for the natural world. She enjoys teaching bushcraft skills, wilderness medicine, and natural awareness. Her personal experience as a mother and public school teacher has only reinforced her advocacy for allowing kids to be wild and learn from nature.

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WES WHITE

Youth Instructor

Wes 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, Wes’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.

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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.

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CHARLIE SERRA

Adult Instructor

Charlie Serra grew up 25 miles North of New York City, in a town called Mamaroneck, where when he was fifteen he began learning and mentoring youth in nature awareness, ancestral and survival skills through a school called “Four Feathers.” In 2008, Charlie moved to Duvall, WA to participate in the 9 month Adult Intensive “Immersion” with Wilderness Awareness School. Upon graduation he completed the Youth Apprenticeship Program and subsequently spent many years as a core instructor for Wilderness Awareness School, with both youth and adults where he still guest instructs today.

Charlie and his wife, Merilee, have a deep passion for and well of experience practicing and teaching survival skills and naturalist studies of all kinds together. For over a decade Charlie has enjoyed cultivating a life outdoors, engaging in wild food harvesting and preserving as well as animal husbandry. He holds a Specialist Certification in Wildlife Tracking through CyberTracker of North America, is a trained Wilderness First Responder and is an avid birder in his freetime.

Charlie’s current passions are hand forge knife-making, bow making, hide tanning and sewing his own clothes out of buckskin, walking in the woods with his wife and two dogs and wildlife tracking.

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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.

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CALLIE LILLEMOEN

Youth Instructor

Callie was born and raised in the east Texas Piney Woods. Her love of nature blossomed at an early age listening to the woods come alive in the morning with bird songs and squirrel chirps from her grandparents’ back porch. Callie’s childhood was divided between time spent in the woods with her brothers creating hideouts that felt like a whole different world, and the basketball court. 

 

Callie’s early childhood experiences outdoors inspired her to study Geography at the University of Texas where she majored in geography on the landscape ecology tract and minored in geography. 

 

In the early 2000’s, Callie discovered permaculture and began studying the practice through the Austin Permaculture Guild, eventually receiving her Permaculture Design Certificate. To this day she remains fascinated by the natural rhythm that Permaculture provides not only to agriculture but to permaculture communities themselves. Callie is continuously striving to live connected with the land in her off-grid home in Caldwell County. Her dream is to one day live in a Permaculture Paradise.

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MANNY LEE

Adult Instructor

Manny Lee is an avid outdoorsman who has been honing his wilderness skills for over a decade. Manny has been hooked on survival skills and wilderness adventures ever since attending an Earth Native Survival 101 course. Soon after completing his initial Survival 101 course, Manny participated in the Earth Native Survival Skills Intensive Course which he now co-teaches. 

 

Though improvement of his primitive survival and bushcraft skills provide increased comfort and satisfaction, he most enthusiastically enjoys his ever deepening love and connection with the natural world. Manny’s goal as a teacher is to help his students to become more self-reliant, develop the skills necessary to take care of themselves in the woods, and grow a personal enjoyment for spending time outside in wild places. 

 

When he’s not fishing or playing around in the woods, Manny practices medicine as a general practice physician in Austin and teaches courses in both wilderness survival skills and wilderness medicine.

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ALYSSA LONGORIA

Forest Preschool Instructor

Alyssa grew up in Windsor, ON, Canada - across the Detroit border, an industrial town with limited greenery. A shy and quiet child, she found comfort in being independent and using art as a creative outlet. She would often sit outside and find inspiration from the plants and wildlife. 

 

After moving to Austin in 2017 to be with her husband, Nick, she was determined to find a career path that allowed her to spend time in nature and inspire others to connect with the natural world, something that was largely missing from her own childhood. 

 

Alyssa worked in the landscaping industry for nearly three years which helped her develop solid native Texas plant identification skills, as well as strong leadership and management skills. She also spent a year of service with the 4-H Capital AmeriCorps program as a Natural Resources & Garden Science instructor at Title I elementary schools in the Austin area helping students learn how to plant, grow, maintain, and harvest their own food, as well as how to fish, camp, and compost.

 

Her favorite thing about the outdoors is the silence and tranquility and the ability to pause the stresses of life and embrace the simplicity and complexity of the planet that we share with so many other species. Alyssa is so happy that she has been able to continue following her passions through her career, spending time outdoors and inspiring and stewarding others’ connection with nature.

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EMILY ANDRE

Youth Instructor

Emily grew up in small town Iowa. Enjoying the freedom small town life allowed to explore the local creek with her friends for hours on end without adult supervision, creating magical worlds and meeting fantastical creatures. She can connect her love for the outdoors all the way back to her Grandpa McGrady, who was a naturalist and knew all of the plants by name. She grew up telling him stories while sitting on his lap and hearing about his backpacking adventures. She was also lucky enough to spend regular time at a cabin built by her Great-Grandfather in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Here she thrived among the dirt, pine trees, and lakes filled with the melted mountain runoff each summer. This drew her to the forest.

 

When it became time for college she attended Whitworth University in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. While pursuing some extra classes for a minor in Biology, she discovered her favorite class was Botany. This again drew her back to the forest.

 

Fast forward several years and a move to Texas, Emily became a foster parent in Houston and eventually a preschool teacher and later the Education Director at a nonprofit preschool in Austin. Becoming a mother, she ultimately discovered the best place to be with her 3 young boys was outside. Involvement in Free Forest School in Austin, solidified her belief that a deep connection with nature was a core aspect of childhood. 

 

Finally, she discovered Earth Native Wilderness School. All 3 of her boys have attended classes and summer camps here. In 2020, she decided the most important thing to do was sign up for the Earth Native Survival Skills Intensive course for adults. Drawing her again back into the forest. Following the completion of a 5-day survival trip in East Texas she decided she must take Earth Native’s 8-month Track and Sign Intensive course. After completion of the course Emily was certified Level II in Wildlife Track and Sign through CyberTracker North America. After completing both of these courses she was inspired to join the teaching team at Earth Native and is continuously excited for the future, as she believes Earth Native school is the perfect union between her love for Mother Nature and teaching future generations in the forest that she so loves.

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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.

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MARK MCDERMOTT

Wildlife Tracking Instructor

Mark spent his childhood in rural England, and from an early age was obsessed with the natural world. He has fond memories of pond dipping for newts, looking for badgers with his Dad, and horrifying his Aunt by pulling apart owl pellets in her kitchen sink. Gifted with a degree of freedom that may seem surprising today, he and his friends spent every available moment playing in the local woods and fields. Somewhere back in the 1980s he discovered a book on outdoor survival skills and started to get more serious about his outdoor pursuits through the Scout Association, and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Schemes. 

 

Following degrees in the biological sciences, Mark moved to the US to pursue a scientific research career. The move was transformative, and when he wasn’t working, he was backpacking and birding around his new home in North Carolina, canoeing the local lake, or crawling around the local parking lots looking at all the cool new bugs. Following a later move to Maryland he discovered the Ancestral Knowledge School where he fulfilled a childhood dream by successfully making his first friction fire. It was here he began formally training in ancestral/ survival skills.

 

Mark moved to Texas in 2012 and is now a certified Texas Master Naturalist, and the President of his local Audubon Chapter. Shortly after arriving in Texas Mark started working his way through the catalog of classes on offer at Earth Native. He developed a passion for animal tracking after taking an intro class in 2020 and has been involved with Earth Native’s Tracking Intensive ever since. This journey has taken him from student to instructor, and from tracking roe deer and hedgehogs in the UK, to mountain lion and wolves in the USA. He holds a Level III Track and Sign certification with CyberTracker North America and is currently working towards Professional and Specialist Certifications! 

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ELI ROCHA

Youth Instructor

Eli was born and raised in Austin, TX. As an Austin native, his nature connection is firmly rooted in the landscapes of Texas that he spent so many hours exploring as a kid. At a young age Eli’s passion for the outdoors truly blossomed as he traveled across the many regions of Texas hunting with his dad and fishing the gulf coast. 

 

After high school Eli decided to expand his outdoor knowledge by pursuing an Environmental Science degree in Denver, Colorado. After living in Colorado for a few years, enjoying the Rockies, the pull of Texas and family drew him back to Austin. Before joining the team at Earth Native, he worked as a Park Specialist with LCRA. At LCRA he taught outdoor education classes on topics ranging from outdoor survival skills to skull morphology and led recreational experiences for adults and youth within LCRA parks and along the Colorado River. Through teaching, Eli’s passion for passing along the deep connections he has to Texas flora and fauna to the next generation has only grown stronger. 

 

Eli currently lives in South Austin where he pursues homesteaching, with a goal of greater self sufficiency and sustainability, where he enjoys looking after his chickens and a miniature horse named Gaylin.

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LIZZIE MARSHALL

Youth Instructor

Lizzie grew up right outside of Houston, in Cypress, Texas. Her passion for nature and wildlife first began when she started working with horses. A love for hiking and camping soon followed. Lizzie grew up caring for livestock and earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at Tarleton State University. While in college, Lizzie took her first Environmental Education position teaching children how to care for horses, fishing and kayaking. Later, Lizzie expanded her experience with animals through an internship at the Texas Zoo. After graduating college, she officially became a zookeeper, making her way to the Austin Zoo where she worked with a large variety of animals, from parrots to alligators, foxes, snakes, zebras and even wolves. Her favorite part of being a keeper was educating the public about the animals she cared for and connecting kids with the understanding of just how amazing and important nature can be.

 

Lizzie lives in Austin with her two cats, Draco and Luna. She enjoys travel, hiking, being outdoors, making new friendships, and going to Zilker Park.

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ROSEMARY ARVIZU

Youth Instructor

Rosemary Arvizu was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her love for nature flourished during her academic career at the University of Texas in Austin where she studied environmental engineering and how to incorporate sustainability into the developing world. While her classes taught her a technical understanding of the environment, her volunteering experiences and student organizations helped her develop a deep relationship with nature. She went on hiking and paddling expeditions where she worked with groups to monitor the water quality in Texas' rivers and worked on reserves in Austin to rehabilitate the land to its natural glory. Beyond paddling and hiking, Rosemary loves to explore nature through running, which gives her a special appreciation for nature and its beauty. 

 

Rosemary’s experiences working and learning from others inspired her to leave engineering career and focus on outdoor education. She wanted to work in a place where she could help people fall in love with nature in their own way, just as she did. Working at Earth Native has shown her just how rewarding educating young adventurers can be!

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NICK RIEDEL

Youth Instructor

Nick was born in Austin but raised in many places. Since before he was old enough to remember, Nick developed a love for nature while spending weekends at a cabin in southeast Texas. In those early years Nick could always be found searching for bugs and snakes in fields seemingly claimed solely by huisache and caliche. Those explorations helped him fine tune his senses and be alert to the silent, small, and elusive creatures of nature. 

 

Nick moved to Kansas for several years as a child where he found a wonderful mentor in a science teacher and herpetologist who further encouraged his passion for snakes and reptiles. Nick’s mother played a huge role in supporting this interest by not only tolerating all the escaped creatures roaming the living room, but also would call on him in the yard to catch and relocate animals. Unfortunately sometimes Nick would relocate these creatures back into the house… To this day Nick’s mom still texts him pictures of every snake she comes across. 

 

Even deeper connections with nature developed on childhood camping and road trips Nick took with his dad, listening to Kerouac on the way, and writing poems to the stars and mountains and desert sands of the Southwest. This deeply seeded sense of adventure and wonderment led Nick to exploring the natural world across many countries in his later years, often finding himself wandering the forests of Japan, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and central Europe. Most recently returning home to Austin after living in Germany, where his love for new nature grew as deep as the mycelium of the dinner he learned to forage. 

 

Second only to his personal love for nature, is his passion for sharing experience. Before joining the team at Earth Native, Nick spent 20 years working with youth as an educator, tour guide, entertainer, mental health specialist, sports instructor and competition level professional coach. The continuous thread throughout has always been a passion for community and wilderness as a foundation for growth.

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HANNAH MALDONADO-LOVELAND 

Youth Instructor

Hannah was born and raised on the crystal clear headwaters of the Guadalupe, deep in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. From an early age her dad taught her how to ID wildlife, forage, catch snakes, and read the stars. She spent many summer evenings swimming in the river with her brother and sister, and flipping over rocks to find critters. These intimate encounters with the natural world led to a deep love for the ecosystem we are all a part of.

Hannah brought her love for the natural world with her when she studied Art Education at UNT, incorporating ecological themes into her body of work, and later when she took a three year break from art school, traveling and learning about sustainable agriculture.

Her travels brought her to intentional communities in the piney woods of Pennsylvania, the rolling prairies of the Midwest, and the open skies of the Southwest deserts. Hannah continued her agricultural education as a farm intern on Shaw Island in the Pacific Northwest.

While living and teaching in Mexico, Hannah fell in love with permaculture, and the concept of incorporating more native species into her agricultural practice. She learned traditional native farming techniques from experienced women in the rural village of Hostotipaquillo, Jalisco. The link between sustainable agriculture and native foraging was a big game changer for Hannah!

Her time spent in Mexico working with kids inspired her to return to school to finish her degree. After graduating she worked as an Outdoor Education Instructor at Mo Ranch. She especially loved teaching native botany, freshwater ecology, gardening, and sustainability.

She also spent several years teaching fourth grade at a Nature Based Charter School in Austin, where she loved hiking with her kids in the woods and teaching Math through the lens of Texas Animals statistics.

Hannah is so happy to have returned to her roots as an Earth Native Instructor in her Central Texas homeland. There are few things she loves more than working with kids, playing in the woods, and inviting others to be curious about the beautiful world around us.

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MARLEE FRITKIN

Youth Instructor

Marlee followed her outdoor passions from her hometown in the foothills of Yosemite, to the enchanting forests of Washington, the epic peaks of the Rockies, and finally to Texas with many worthwhile stopgaps in between. 

 

While working as a preschool teacher in Seattle Marlee met the love of her life, Sam, who brought her further west to Colorado where she ultimately became involved with Outdoor Education, AmeriCorps and Wildland Firefighting. Through these experiences Marlee met the second love of her life, chainsaws.

 

Marlee has always had a deep connection with nature and loves sharing her experiences and knowledge with her students. After teaching preschool for several years, she spent time on trail crews with the Washington Trail Association, and worked as a Wildland Firefighter in the West. Marlee has a deep passion for chainsaw work and tree felling, a skill that she honed over hundreds of hours clearing trails and creating fire breaks.

 

Marlee maintains a passion for natural resources and continues her love of stewardship, education and wildfire prevention and is excited to craft rich outdoor experiences and educational opportunities for her students as a member of the Earth Native youth programs team. 

 

In her free time you will likely find her enjoying the rich natural spaces that Texas has to offer with her husband, Sam, and their dog, McLeod.

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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 traveling and exploring nature with his wife, Stacy. Eric and Stacy co-founded a yaupon tea business called Local Leaf; they sustainably wild-harvest yaupon from Earth Native School's land to create a bottled yaupon maté drink as well as powdered yaupon matcha. They also co-authored Foraging Texas: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Foods.

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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.

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