Meet Our Staff

DIRECTORS/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 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. 

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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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JULIA COSGROVE

Director of Programs

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 and the Director of Programs at Earth Native and for the opportunity to share her curiosity and wonder.

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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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CALLIE BREEDLOVE

Operations Administrator

Callie was privileged to grow up in a family that loved the outdoors. She was born in Grapevine, TX and her early childhood was spent fishing, camping and hiking across most of the western United States. Her family traveled to state parks, beaches, monuments and anywhere they could find to engage with the natural world. Each new place was an opportunity to learn about the world and discover new interests. Her most fond memories are of Sue-meg State Park in California, where they discovered the beauty and wonder of giant Sequoia trees. 

 

When she wasn’t doing homeschool assignments, helping gather firewood or taking care of their farm animals, her favorite pastimes were picking wild plums and blackberries or catching minnows to use as fishing bait. Callie carried her curiosity and love of nature with her wherever she went. Growing up on the move and experiencing so many wonderful things has instilled in her a passion for exploration and reminds her to enjoy each moment. 

 

Callie graduated from Western Governors University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Her early career was in healthcare support roles and administration. While she has always enjoyed helping others in a healthcare setting, she felt a calling to get back to nature. Callie is excited to be a part of the Earth Native team and to support others in their journey to discover the natural world. When not at Earth Native, Callie can be found hiking with her husband and three dogs, or gardening at her home in Bastrop.

TEACHING TEAM

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RACHEL FIGGS

Weekly and Monthly Programs Supervisor

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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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JON SITES

Youth 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 continue this passion helping others develop connections to nature and outdoor skills. 

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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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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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ALYSSA WICH

Youth Instructor

Alyssa was a city kid who moved to the country when she was young and immediately fell in love with the open spaces and the animals that came with it. These interests led her to pursue a degree in Wildlife Biology at Texas State University where she learned about animal behavior, plant identification, and animal tracking. While at Texas State she had the opportunity to intern at the San Antonio Zoo where she got the chance to work closely with animals and learn more about their characteristics and behavior. Later, while working as a youth recreational instructor, Alyssa realized she had a passion for teaching and sharing nature experiences with children and began pursuing a career in environmental education. 

Before joining the teaching team at Earth Native Alyssa worked in parks and recreation as a Park Ranger in New Braunfels and later designing and managing youth programs with the town of La Grange’s Parks Department.

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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. 

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EMMA KENNEDY

Youth Instructor

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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TRINA WHITE

Youth Instructor

Trina grew up in a Maple and Lilac tree filled town outside of Chicago, Illinois with a deep-seated passion for exploring nature and expressing her love for it through art. She spent much of her time either exploring the creek behind her grandparent’s house, or in her grandfather’s art studio learning how to draw and paint what inspired her most. One of her favorite things to do for inspiration or peace of mind was to wander aimlessly through the woods until she found her favorite tree and wait for deer and other wildlife.  

With a desire to master her artistic skills, she went on to attain a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis in oil painting. She continued her studies in Italy, focusing on art  history and anthropology which then lead her to illustrate for archaeological digs in 2011. Upon returning to the U.S, her thirst for adventure propelled her into backpacking in Costa Rica where she extended her stay, made friends with the natives, and recognized their inquiring needs for outside help in educating children in the arts. With the help of a local artist, she co-founded a non-profit school of art and music in Puerto Viejo, CR, which was supported by donations she raised by curated art shows the following years.  

Her artistic endeavors and dreams of living near the ocean, mountains, and trees then lead her to pack up and drive west where she landed in California and began a career as a painter, sculpture, and special effects artist for TV and Film. Keeping her camping gear in her car at all times, she took plenty of time to swim, hike, and explore the diverse nature that was available. She loved waking up, swimming in the ocean, hiking in the mountains, and counting shooting stars under the vast desert sky, all within the same day or weekend. 

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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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REGINA GRAELLS

Youth Instructor

Regina grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and spent several years living in El Paso before moving to Austin. Her curiosity about nature and wildlife was sparked from a young age spending time outdoors with her grandfather who worked in the field of agriculture as an Agronomist. While spending time with her grandfather, she was introduced to many wonderful things including how to raise and rehabilitate injured animals and outdoor cooking techniques. 

 

Throughout her childhood, Regina spent her free time outside, learning to build fires, running around in the mud, and catching all the critters she could find. Whenever possible, she loved watching any animal planet special she could find and learning as much as she could about what the natural world had to offer. 

 

Before joining the teaching team at Earth Native Wilderness School, Regina spent a year working with children to help them develop leadership skills. During that time, she also invested in her own healing journey where she fell back in love with nature. Regina has always emphasized the idea that wonder is a natural way of learning and wanted to find a space to be able to share this with future generations.

 

Regrina remains excited and inspired to work with an organization that helps children build foundational nature connection experiences.

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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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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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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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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.

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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.