OUR PROGRAM FACILITATORS

Our program facilitators are here to support your children and your family. Each facilitator brings a unique background in nature-based learning, natural history, and compassionate communication to this work.

We love nature, children, and play! 

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Andrea Eilers
She/Her

Andrea has been working with Fresh Air Learning since early 2015 and volunteered as a parent for 2 years before that. She has a degree in special education and has been working with elementary and preschool families for 20 years. \ When she's not volunteering with her two kids' various activities you can find her staying fit and getting inspired outside. She believes that Fresh Air Learning helps give kids resilience, stamina, personal responsibility, and a deep connection to nature, it is her hope that kids fall in love with nature forever and grow to preserve it. Andrea is a reporting teacher with our elementary program. See you in our forest office!

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Rebekah Parker

Rebekah is an experiential educator with a love for the Salish Sea. With almost a decade of facilitation experience, she has worked with groups of all ages in science museums, residential programs, schools, and in the outdoors. She strives to facilitate spaces where children can thrive, follow their curiosities, and grow through building relationships with the more-than-human world and each other. She has trained with the Wilderness
Awareness School, the Outdoor Council of Canada, and Partners for Youth Empowerment, and earned a Master's in Ecojustice and Sustainability Education from UBC. When not working you can find her on her bicycle (ask about her long distance trips!), taking photos, or sitting under cedar trees. She can't wait to share the joy and excitement of the forest with you!

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Willoughby Arevelo
He/Him

I was raised in the Coast Redwoods in southwestern Cascadia (traditional Wiyot and Yurok territories). I fell in love with fungi as a young child, and I’ve been learning from them, along with plants, animals and microbes, ever since. For the past decade I’ve been offering educational experiences relating to fungi, art and ecology in community contexts and schools. As a parent of a young child, Uma, one of my greatest pleasures has been sharing my knowledge and passion for living beings with her and observing her develop relationships within her ecosystem. I work to offer ecological teachings woven together with artistic experience and play to help children build relationships with the more-than-human world around them, an embodied awareness of the interconnectedness of all beings, and a place-based sense of belonging, caretaking and gratitude for the gifts of the earth. Some of my other passions include music (I play percussion in the Carnival Band), and growing, foraging, cooking, preserving and sharing food.

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Jocelyn Li
 She/Her

Jocelyn has been working in the Early Childhood Education field since 2016. Her favourite moments while teaching have been seeing the proud face of a child who accomplished a task they hadn't been able to do before, witnessing the journey of a child's growing confidence in a new place, and seeing the pure joy and energy of a child who is bursting with excitement!

 

Jocelyn feels so grateful to live, work, and raise her daughters in beautiful Vancouver. She is passionate about taking care of the earth and its beings, and draws inspiration from the beauty and wonders of nature. Jocelyn is continuously awed by the curiosity and creativity of young children, and enjoys the co-learning that forest school provides. She believes that strong relationships are what truly make a community special and is looking forward to meeting you!

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Romi Fischer-Schmidt

Romi (they/them) wishes to heal themselves, their lineages and the unceded lands they are a guest in through deepened and widened relationships, and tender stamina for a practice of radical and collective care. From these teachings and experiences, they hope to cultivate a being together that might foster a collective regrowth, and medicinal sharing of stories. Jacob believes theses needs can be sown by being together in affirmative creativity, and be nurtured through dance, song, slowness and curiosity. From their birth in Treaty 13 territory in Tkaronto, they have lived and learned in Sutiaba territories, Nicaragua, studied in their ancestral lands of Normandie France, and have most recently been a guest in these Coast Salish territories at WSANEC, S’Klallam, Musqueam, Tlseil-Waututh and Squamish. Though they have learned much from their formal education at United World Colleges and UBC, learning from elders, plant medicines, and communities of land defense has been most transformative for them. Romi hopes to honour this by introducing young people to the wonders of the forest, and the land’s embraces that might move us to the transformations that are needed within us, and through us the world.

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Althea Pavel
She/Her

Althea is a student working towards her undergraduate degree in early
childhood care and education. Althea’s most fond memories of childhood
are the ones she made with her mother in the forest. From a young age,
she’s been taught the value in communing with nature and respecting
the environment. She and her dogs love spending time exploring the
forests of the north shore whenever the chance arises.

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Hana Hermanek

Hana is a Teacher, Biologist, Musician and Yoga Instructor and has been working for Fresh Air Learning for three years. She grew up on Haida Gwaii and later Vancouver Island where she studied Biology and Spanish at UVIC. She has been fortunate to spend time in the Great Bear Rainforest studying salmon, supporting conservation efforts in Ecuador, sustainable forestry initiatives in Nova Scotia and travelling around BC and the Maritimes for 2 years teaching environmental education to elementary schools. She loves how enthusiastic children are when in the outdoors and she is looking forward to a beautiful year of outdoor learning at Fresh Air Learning this year.

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Lorenzo de Lara

Lorenzo's journey to becoming a nature school mentor began with a simple desire to learn a few survival skills. In 2017 he took a break from a decade-long career in software development to attend a 9 month intensive nature connection program - called "Anake" at the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington state. His senses, long attuned to the logical and digital became reacquainted with the intuitive and analog. He discovered a love for mentoring youth in natural spaces using the coyote mentoring model. He realized that the survival skills he sought out were simply a means through which a greater goal - a deep connection and love for nature could be developed. He strongly believes that cultivating this connection from a young age is one of the most important things we can be doing for the planet. Since graduating from Anake, Lorenzo has worked as a nature mentor in Vancouver for Soaring Eagle Nature School and has completed a second 9 month intensive program as an apprentice at the Wilderness Immersion Program at Wisdom of the Earth Nature School on Salt Spring Island. When not spending time with his family in the natural spaces in and around Vancouver, Lorenzo also works as a bodywork/massage therapist

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Brittany Westgarth

Brittany is passionate about connecting children to place through nature, play, and self-expression. She values holistic teaching, and views community and the more-than-human, as imperative sites for teaching to the heart, mind, body and spirit. Brittany taught at the Vancouver School Board from 2013 to 2015 until she discovered Democratic Education and has never turned back. She co-ran the Forest and Beach program at Windsor House Democratic School from 2015 to 2019. It was here that she witnessed the value of intrinsic motivation and non-coercive education, and developed a belief in the freedom of educational choice for children.

In July 2020, Brittany will be graduating from a Masters of Education in Indigenous Resurgence and Reconciliation from SFU. During this program, she has focused on Indigenous pedagogies surrounding land, healing, and music; and strives to respectfully incorporate these ways of understanding into her practice. When Brittany is not teaching, she works as a touring musician and enjoys connecting with people, wandering, Yoga and dancing!

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Meagan Braun
She/Her

 

Meagan is a certified teacher who is passionate about place-based learning, play and a strength-based approach to teaching and learning. Meagan has a background as a nurse's aide, Educational Assistant and Early Childhood Educator. Through years of play and connection with community members young and old Meagan has learned the value of relationship and trust in the learning process, and in building safe, healthy and rich learning communities. Meagan loves the outdoors and is thrilled to combine her passion for the outdoors with her teaching career at Fresh Air Learning and other Island Discovery programs. 

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Nicola VanHyest

Nicola was born and raised at the base of the beautiful North Shore mountains. She was fortunate to have been born into a family that made exploring nature a top priority, and she spent her childhood hiking, biking and skiing in remote areas. Often in the summer, her family would be custodians of huts in the Rockies. As an only child, mother nature became her best friend.

 

As an adult, she has explored many mountain ranges with her family, cycling and hiking around Alaska, bike touring in Europe, hiking the John Muir trail in the High Sierras, kayaking the wild islands near Bella Bella, and of course exploring of all the wonderful things B.C has to offer.

 

Nicola spent many years as an Early Childhood Educator in a Parent
Participation Preschool. and she brings a focus on emergent, play-based learning and a strong emphasis on outdoor education to her work.

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Tricia Edgar
She/Her

Tricia loves to connect people with their places.  For over 20 years, she has worked as a nature educator, developing programs that explore the streams and forests of the temperate rainforest. She enjoys the time and space that children have when they play outside at forest school, and she loves watching children fill with enthusiasm and wonder in nature. Her favourite thing about the outdoors is playing in creeks, and she has lived in the same watershed for her entire life.

Tricia is a permaculture teacher with a Masters degree focused on ecological restoration and community development. She's also a Forest School Canada facilitator who loves to teach teachers how to find their inner mud-stomping child. When she is not teaching, learning and writing about the outdoors, you can find her hanging out with her daughter, running in the forest, gardening, or caring for her many pets.

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Daniella Roze
She/Her

Daniella Roze M.Ed. specializes in transformative ecological education through nature and place-based learning, leadership training, and ecopsychology.  She is the founder of Thriving Roots Wilderness School and is a teacher and curriculum designer at Fresh Air Learning.  She holds a Master of Contemplative Education from Simon Fraser University and a diploma in Applied Psychology and Counseling.  Drawing from extensive training through Wilderness Awareness School’s Anake program, the School of Lost Borders’ ecotherapy training program, Animas Valley Institute, and The Haven Centre for Transformative Learning, Daniella has studied and taught across North America.  The breadth of her training and experience has helped her to understand our interdependence with nature, and the importance of reciprocal human-nature relationships. Daniella is committed to building a life-sustaining world, fostering resilient culture, and supporting others on the courageous journey of whole-hearted living. 

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Thule van den Dam
She/Her

 

Thule is a community worker, theatre-maker, and farmer, doing international environmental policy work in her free time. Originally from the Netherlands, she graduated from the Mahindra United World College in India before studying Human Ecology at the College of the Atlantic in Maine, USA. Committed to an interdisciplinary, empowered and hands-on approach to education, she has facilitated and coordinated a variety of environmental leadership and education programs for youth in the lower mainland since 2015 and helped youth create and perform their own immersive theatre work in Italy and Belgium. She loves climbing tall rocks, cooking for others, and making music with friends.

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Liz Raymond

Bio Coming Soon
 

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Jessica Curry
She/Her

Jessica has a background in outdoor education, travel and tourism, and holds an elementary teaching degree. She has a passion for exploring nature and sharing that love with others. She believes that all children should have a chance to explore their natural world around them and keep being curious about what they find.

 
Jessica loves going canoeing, hiking and camping with her husband and two boys. She also loves keeping herself busy with sewing, soap making, canning, and tending to her garden.  Jessica also volunteers her time as a Scout leader, and helps facilitate support groups for families who have children with special needs.

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Colleen Brow
She/Her

Colleen has lived on the North Shore for almost 30 years and finds herself tree-whispering pretty-much every day. You can usually find her hiking, biking, or snowshoeing with her family, friends, or sweet dog, Ella. For her, "Forest-Bathing" injects a sense of stillness, beauty, and reflection - a gift she never takes for granted.

While raising her family, Colleen worked as a writer and taught Humanities at an independent school with an emphasis on all things imaginative - storytelling, theatre, creative writing, improvisation, and spoken word. Students regularly sourced the rocks, rivers, trees, and sky for creative inspiration. She has an Undergraduate Degree from UBC in Physical Education & Recreation, with a minor in Psychology. She's passionate about nurturing children's desire to imagine, create, and innovate - all while embracing the beautiful outdoors.