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!
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.
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!
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. She also owns and operates a parent participation music class and teaches yoga. 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. See you in our forest office!
Mahya Ekhteraei Sanaei
I am a mother of two girls, and I believe playing in nature has a great impact on a child's development. I began discovering the power of nature a few years ago when my child was enrolled in a forest school in Iran. I realized then that I had to say goodbye to my career in business administration and economics and attained an instructor certificate from the Kavi Konj Nature School in Iran. Soon after, I enrolled my other child at an outdoor program in Vancouver and received the opportunity to learn alongside my child while outdoors. This opportunity opened a new path in my life, and I discovered that I was happier outside playing and helping children learn through exploration. I am happy to be a part of the Fresh Air Learning team to help open new perspectives for people to experience life to its fullest. Let's get out there and allow children to explore based on their own curiosity!
Sarah is a licensed Early Childhood Educator with over 15 years of experience working with children aged 0-11 in a variety of settings. She began facilitating outdoor Parent and Tot programs in 2019, and joined Fresh Air Learning as a Parent and Tot facilitator in January 2021.She was born in Southern California where she completed a B.A. in psychology and post-graduate courses in art and primary education. Sarah fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and moved to Washington State where she met and married her Canadian husband, then immigrated to Canada and became a citizen. She couldn’t be happier to call Vancouver home, whereshe shares lots of adventures in nature with her husband, daughter, and son.She is excited to explore, care for, and expand knowledge of local outdoor spaces with Fresh Air Learning families, helping to strengthen relationships and connections with natural environments together.
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.
I have a BA in Psychology from UBC and, before having children, built a career in the non-profit industry. Watching my children grow and learn through play and exploration has been a deeply inspiring experience and is the driving force behind my career transition out of the office and into the woods.Growing up on acreage in the Fraser Valley, I spent my early days catching salamanders (gently!) and swinging from Alder trees. The outdoors was as much a home to me as my actual house. Now, as a parent living in the city, I’ve done my best to re-create these opportunities for my own two kids - exploring the beautiful mountains and beaches of the North Shore. I truly believe that time in nature is not only a wonderful gift, but also aninvaluable tool for children as they navigate the highs and lows of life. I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for nature and passion for adventure with you and your kids.
Melanie Van Eyk
Melanie grew up in the Lower Mainland building forts, exploring forests, climbing trees and playing! This love for the forest and for all living things moved her from in the classroom to facilitating similar experiences for children. She loves the energy, inquiry, engagement, peace, and stillness that nature play invites children of all ages to explore. Nurturing imagination, inquiry, community and collaboration are a focus in her programs.
Melanie has been working with children for 20 years and she looks forward to another 20! She is a licensed early childcare educator, holds a BA in Child and Youth Care and a keen interest in Developmental Psychology. Melanie also operates a LNR childcare and Nature programs throughout the Vancouver area. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and dog Copper. She loves to swim, bike, run, read, and play her guitar.
Tracy keeps a busy and fulfilling life as a wife, mother, educator, writer, radio host and an outdoor nature play enthusiast. Tracy has a background in Family Science and Child Psychology and has been in the early childhood industry for over 15 years, constantly seeking new knowledge and practices and keeping up to date with the educational sphere to provide children with the best experience possible. During her years teaching in a preschool setting, she devotes her practice in sensory exploration, child-centered play and encourages children to learn through their seven senses. If not working, you can find her playing with her cats and walking her dog, and being close to nature. She is very excited to explore, learn, build, play, create, imagine and have lots of fun in the forest with children, and looking forward to meeting all of you at Fresh Air Learning.
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.
I am currently working towards my Bachelor degree in ECCE at Capilano University. Ever since I was little, my mom brought me to as many trails as she could to teach me about our environment and the importance of being in tune with nature. I have 2 rescue dogs that love sharing my adventures, and I am looking forward to not only teach, but to also learn alongside each child.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
Hello! I’m Sandy and I’m thrilled to be joining Fresh Air at Jericho. I have many years of experience in various childcare settings including preschool, out of school care and daycare. On the weekends I enjoy spending time with my family, playing soccer and exploring the local mountains. I’m looking forward to playing, creating and exploring with your children in nature.
Jasmine Defilla is a Registered Early Childhood Educator who delights as much in learning as she does in teaching. Born in Orillia, Ontario- the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe- she grew up playing in the trees, rocks and lakes this land is bountiful in! At the age of ten she moved to a farm by Lake Erie where her mother continued to homeschool her and her sisters until high school. Her father is from Switzerland, so he taught her how to ski and cook delicious food! Jasmine went on to become a Chef herself and still loves to cook, but craved something more. After traveling the globe from all over Europe to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, North America and everywhere in between- she found her passion in education. Jasmine graduated in 2019 from Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. She has experience with infant, toddler, preschool and school-aged children. After learning about the theories, principles and benefits of Forest and Nature School, she started her journey into the outdoors and hasn’t looked back. She is grateful to be continuing this journey with the children, families and staff at Fresh Air Learning.