fbpx

Get to Know Us

Our People
View Our Core Values
Jenna Rudolph

Jenna Rudolph

Founder and Executive Director

Apprenticeship Program

Jenna Rudolph (she/her/they/them) has mentored children in the natural world since 2004 and founded Soaring Eagle Nature School in 2009. She was born in and spent her formative years in South Africa (territories of the San and Khoehoe People) where her love and connection to birds and animals began alongside her grandmother.

They have been inspired by and have learned from Nancy Turner and the University of Victoria, the Wild Seed School of Herbal Studies, the Wilderness Awareness School, the Animas Valley Institute, the AORTA coop, Wilderness Trails in South Africa, and Martín Prechtel at Bolad’s Kitchen.

She is a Certified Wildlife Tracker, a Naturalist, Botanist, and Birder. Outside of the forest, Jenna spends her time weaving baskets and fabric, spinning wool, carving, wildcrafting, and processing food to store it for the seasons in which wild food is less abundant.

Jenna is deeply committed to nature mentoring and the forest, where she feels everyone can feel truly alive. She believes that by spending time in nature with caring mentors, children can be their most full selves, learn and adapt to real-life situations, and become resilient, caring individuals.

Verena Gibbs

Verena Gibbs

Forest Learners Consultant

Verena’s (she/her) career in education began in Belfast and London, leading her to become a Learning Consultant and then Vice Principal at Wondertree, an innovative non-profit school in Vancouver that is now the SelfDesign Learning Community. It was there, sitting at a round table of multi-age learners, exploring what inspires them that Verena’s passion for creating child-centred learning spaces grew.

In 2009, Verena moved to Masset in Haida Gwaii. As an elementary principal, the vocational drive to ensure the students’ well-being shifted to the needs of her staff. Ever grateful for this experience as a learner and leader in a community rich in culture and connectedness, Verena continues to grow her own capacity to support educators. She has completed a series of Elena Aguilar’s coaching programs including Coaching for Equity and Team Coaching. Verena completed her Compassionate Systems Leadership – Master Practitioner certification in July 2023.

Through her own continued learning and growth, Verena is committed to providing educators with the ongoing support they need before they think they need it because when a teacher or principal asks for help, it is likely already too late. Through individual coaching and new learning experiences, Verena is changing this narrative, ensuring it is never too late again.

Verena is deeply grateful to live on the unceded, traditional territory of the Pentlatch, E’iksan and K’omoks people.

Mikaela Ahmadi

Mikaela Ahmadi

Youth Programs Manager

Mikaela (she/her) grew up on the Tribal land of the Nisenan people, now called Sacramento, California, where she spent her childhood along the river biking, playing explorers, and teaching her stuffed animal students lessons she planned!

Always striving to solve the puzzle of how education could be, Mikaela began Soaring Eagle Nature School’s Apprenticeship Program in 2018, which showed her the value of nature connection in community and the universal tendency for nature to inspire an authentic passion for learning. Since then, Mikaela has taught the full range of Soaring Eagle Nature School programs, including the Forest Learners Program, and utilizes her Bachelor of Commerce from UBC to ensure the nature-connected community of kids, parents, and mentors at Soaring Eagle Nature School thrive!

When she’s not hiking and playing outdoors, Mikaela is learning Spanish and completing her certification in Waldorf Early Childhood Education.

Isabella Yong

Isabella Yong

Administration Lead

Isabella (she/her) grew up in Singapore Island (Pulau Ujong), Indigenous land to Malays (Orang Melayu). Moving to Canada in 2018, Isabella experienced growth and self-discovery by living close to nature and embracing the four seasons, especially from winter to spring! It taught her the meaning of growth and becoming anew.

Being of multi-ethnic Singaporean and Panamanian heritage, Isabella hopes to empower those who have struggled with self-identification and to encourage young people to appreciate the blessings and beauty of who they are.

Isabella has worked with children, youth, and adults since 2009 as a gymnastics program coordinator, instructor, and club manager. She recognizes that being engaged and present with her students contributes to their understanding and holistic development. Additionally, with a degree in Business Management from RMIT Australia, she continues to contribute her skills to meaningful organizations and promote a healthy and active lifestyle, both physically and mentally, for all ages.

Isabella enjoys yoga, rock climbing, snowboarding, water sport, hiking, and exploring where she lives, as well as the countries and islands she visits.

Delmar Williams

Delmar Williams

Mentor

Workshops

My name is Delmar Williams (he/him) and I am from the Squamish and Lil’wat Nation. I have grown up within my community and with my elders who still speak their traditional language and sing our traditional songs. As a child, my family would fish the Fraser River every year to sustain us through the year. I am continuing to learn and grow my knowledge around ancient technologies and ways of knowing.

I’ve been teaching with Jenna and Soaring Eagle Nature School since 2014 and have trained instructors, taught kids and families, and run many weekend workshops. I am a certified hiking guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. I am a hunter and hunt guide and have been taking people out in the backcountry on foot and by horse for over 20 years. I worked with Outward Bound for 16 years. I competed in the World Archery Show in Kazakhstan in 2017 and represented the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations at the Bushcraft Symposium in Alberta, Canada. I have taught at ancestral skills gatherings in Washington, Oregon, and California teaching tracking, drum making, carving, knife sheath making, and hunting. I love working with my hands and have figured out that if I can’t find a tool, knife sheath, jacket, or backpack that fits my needs, the best thing for me to do is make my own. 

Sally Plummer

Sally Plummer

Mentor

Forest Learners Program

Sally (she/her) was born and grew up on the lands of the Cornovii and Dumonii Celtic tribes. By the ocean in rural England, Sally spent her early years immersed in all the outdoors has to offer. Since her post-graduate diploma in conservation and ecology, she has spent the last 12 years working with children of all ages fostering a nature connection and discovering wonder in the natural world.

As a passionate outdoor instructor and mentor, she firmly believes that we cannot expect the next generation to fight for the natural world and all its wonder if they have not spent time experiencing it. She has set up and run natural art projects with school children and discovered magic and mud while teaching forest school with younger children here in BC. She also mentored young people undertaking environmental projects in Chile and taught teenagers traditional forest crafts in England.

Sally loves weaving stories and paving the way to discovery. She also loves to make things and pass those skills on to others. When not in the forest, you might find her at her jewelry bench making silver jewelry, or painting stones and whittling wands with her three boys.

Alicia Drover

Alicia Drover

Mentor

Forest Learners Program and Young Sprouts Weekly Nature School

Alicia (she/her) was born in Kelowna on the unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people. She spent her childhood there and in Abbotsford – the territory of the Sumas and Matsqui First Nations of the Sto:lo people. As a child, Alicia enjoyed walks with her mom in the forest, searching for bugs with her friends, and writing stories full of animals and magic. A memorable elementary school field trip taught her how all living things are connected through games and play and inspired her to become an environmental educator.

To protect the wild animals she loved, Alicia went on to earn a BSc in Environmental Science at Simon Fraser University. Through her studies and leading fun, educational activities for kids with Let’s Talk Science, she honed her nature knowledge and shared it with others by volunteering with the Vancouver Aquarium and the City of Surrey as a nature guide. She then helped plan and lead outdoor nature camps at VanDusen Botanical Garden. Alicia believes that every child should have the chance to develop a bond with nature and that we all have a role in protecting it.

In her free time, you can find Alicia exploring local parks, creating stories, and helping cats and hamsters find their forever homes.

Michael Diaconu

Michael Diaconu

Mentor

Forest Learners Program

Michael (he/him) grew up on the North Shore, exploring the lands of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam First Nations. The connection to nature developed as a child fuels his inspiration and acceptance of life’s flow to this day. He enjoys putting his experience in writing and even published a nature poem in Highlights Magazine for Children when he was 9. He learned the art of rock balancing from his father at an early age, which he still uses to create mental stillness and visual art using the Earth’s fabric.

After graduating from Capilano University’s Communications Program, Michael travelled to his parent’s home country, Romania, to teach English using nature as the chalkboard. In between teaching at these incredible programs, he ventured to a village in Colombia to volunteer with children under 5 to help their English language development through live music.

Michael’s travels have gifted him great adventures in nature, from the high mountains of Europe, the wild jungles of South America, and of course, British Columbia, which he is grateful to experience every day. If you hear a flute echoing through the forest or the strum of a charango by a stream, it might just be Michael living a little dream.

Kyra Burkart

Kyra Burkart

Mentor

Forest Learners Program

Kyra (she/her/they/them) was raised in Nelson BC on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Ktunaxa, and Syilx Peoples. Growing up with the forest as her playground, she spent her days making fairy houses and collecting snails in her backyard. She credits her current-day love of nature to her early years exploring the wonders of her environment. In 2016, Kyra moved to Treaty 6 territory to pursue a degree in Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta, where she experienced the importance of nature literacy in developing deeper connections to the environment. She often missed her bus to ID the plants or follow the bird calls that she learned in her classes.

In 6th grade, her teacher told her class, “I became a teacher because I hated school,” and looking around, she noticed this was a common experience for many of her peers. Ever since, she has dreamed of becoming an educator who inspires a love of learning by creating engaging, inclusive experiences for all students. During her undergrad, Kyra worked as an Outdoor Educator and Naturalist, and in 2020, Kyra moved to Musqueam territory for UBC’s Teacher Education Program. As an environmental educator and certified teacher, she has been inspired by the power of nature-based education in creating engaging, student-centred learning experiences that foster curiosity and excitement for learning.

Aaron Pettigrew

Aaron Pettigrew

Mentor

Young Sprouts Weekly and Monthly Nature School, and Teen Wild Within

Aaron (he/him) grew up playing with frogs in the muddy creeks of the Huron-Wendat (Wendake-Nionwentsïo), Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee territories north of Lake Ontario. As a young person, he made a trip out west and he was excited by how big everything was: the mountains, the trees, the waterfalls. When high school finished, he moved to the traditional and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) nations. Twenty-some years later, he’s still here, and he’s still excited.

Aaron has a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from UBC. He’s been working in education for nearly a decade, offering low-barrier music classes for kids and teens at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, teaching music fundamentals to adults at Vancouver Community College, and supporting K-12 students at Windsor House, a local democratic school known for its exploratory approach to education.

Aaron is a hand-tool woodworker, an aspiring carver, and an all-around outdoor enthusiast: this summer, he completed a 25 KM trail race in North Vancouver, spent 7 nights canoeing and portaging in Ontario with his wife and daughter, and made two trips to paddle with the salmon at Say Nuth Kaw Yum. When he’s home, you can usually find him baking bread, being silly with his family, and hanging up everybody’s wet gear so it’s ready to go for next time.

April Kornitsky

April Kornitsky

Mentor

Weekly Nature School

April grew up on the lush territory of the Kwikwetlem, Stó:lo?, and Katzie Nations. April is Michif, Irish, Polish, and Nehiyaw with familial roots in the Red River and Treaty 6 territory.

She spent her childhood exploring the wilds of the West Coast with her dad, learning to hunt, and fish. This fostered a deep love and appreciation for nature. Over time, she became passionate about foraging for plants and mushrooms, with a focus on invasive species.

Through volunteering over 300 hours in restoration projects and educating others about invasive species, April found her calling. This led her to pursue a degree in Indigenous studies with a minor in Resource and Environmental Management.

April believes strongly in the lessons nature has to offer, advocating for the importance of learning from and protecting our natural world. She’s determined to pass on this passion to the next generation, believing it’s key to creating a better future.

Alex Malecek

Alex Malecek

Mentor

Weekly and Monthly Nature School, and Teen Wild Within

Alex Malecek was born and raised in the beautiful lands of what is now called North Vancouver, in the unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Squamish, and Stó:lo nations. Alex began his rewilding journey at Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School in 2015 and has been passionately committed to learning and sharing ancestral Earth skills ever since.

Aside from his strong focus on ancestral Earth skills, Alex is an accomplished musician/multi-instrumentalist (his latest work, a full-length solo album titled “Alex Airling – Hollow Bone”, can be found on YouTube), scientist (completed a Bachelor’s of Science at UBC in Chemistry and Biology), mixed martial artist (8 years of multidisciplinary experience), sailor (sailed to Hawaii from Vancouver twice, amongst a lifetime of other crossings), and is a passionate cook/food alchemist; he also has two beautiful birds (Chai and Maria) and a lovely dog (Anuk).

Hannie Chia

Hannie Chia

Mentor

Young Sprouts Weekly and Monthly Nature School

Hannie (she/her) grew up on the lands of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. During her childhood, she spent weekends hiking and making annual trips to Yosemite (Ahwahnechee) and Lake Tahoe (Nisenan and Washoe) with her family. In college, she was involved in the outdoor orientation program backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas and loved connecting with people surrounded by nature.

When she started working, she took a departure from the natural world and moved to New York City (Lenape), working in various art museums and organizations, collaborating with young people, artists, and the community. She loved exploring accessible ways of learning and became passionate about more unconventional ways of teaching.

Her two young children have been attending forest schools for the past few years and most recently in Young Sprouts. Their experience inspired her to apply for the Apprenticeship Program and to return to her love for nature. With her children and her recent teaching experiences, she has been able to bring her past experience in arts and education to the table. She has found nature to be the perfect environment for young people to learn how to build resilience, character, and knowledge with each other, their mentors, and their surroundings.

Hannie loves spending time with her two children making projects using all types of found materials, walking around the forest, cuddling with her cat, and learning how to use a sewing machine.

Katie Hamar

Katie Hamar

Mentor

Weekly and Monthly Nature School

Katie Hamar (she/her) grew up in the Maritimes on the territory of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) and Mi’kmaq peoples. Nature has played a vital role in Katie’s life from a very young age. She camped with her family, played on Atlantic Canada’s beaches, and attended nature-immersed summer camp. She also attended Scouts Canada for many years, for which she acquired the Chief Scout Award.

As a teen, she started teaching swimming to children of all ages and lifeguarding, which she continued doing for a decade. In her early 20s, Katie moved to Fernie, BC where she fell in love with the wild mountain lifestyle. Living there for ten years, she hiked, explored, skied, learned and foraged, maintaining a pivotal, close relationship with nature always.

Katie holds a diploma in Recreation Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in Sustainability. She is also a certified holistic health coach, yoga teacher, and founder of a women’s circle network called NAHLA Community. Katie loves gardening, camping, writing poetry, and playing with her five little nieces and nephews. She continues to revere and learn from nature every day.

Fábio Mercadante Mortari

Fábio Mercadante Mortari

Mentor

Monthly Nature School

Fábio (he/him) was born and grew up on the territories of Guarani Mbya and Tupi-Guarani (Ñandeva and Kaiowá) in São Paulo, Brazil. He graduated in law and advertisement and followed a legal career for 35 years as a corporate lawyer until moving to Canada and starting to bring his work closer to nature and children.

He is the fifth of six siblings in a family that has always been close to education. His relatives owned a kindergarten in Brazil, in which he was the first male employee. This proximity helped him to explore diversity in educational systems, work environments, and personal life. He has two daughters, 13 and 11, currently at the Vancouver Waldorf School.

Fábio found Canada to be the perfect scenario for his outdoor passions. You can find him on hikes into the rainforest, paddling around the Salish Sea, and riding his bicycle through the BC coastal line. He also has a personal goal of swimming in every BC lake! In Portuguese, Spanish or English, he will meet and greet people along the way and find joy in every interaction.

He also volunteers in organizations that care for children, and is an enthusiastic ski instructor for disabled youth and, as he says, what can be more rewarding than a big smile between snowballs?

Alina Zeng

Alina Zeng

Mentor

Monthly Nature School

Learner, creator, and explorer at heart, Alina discovers and expresses herself in various forms of art. Born and raised in central China, Alina was fortunate to have lived close to nature, where she sought shelter and comfort. As a Han Chinese, Alina is humbled to settle in so-called Vancouver and is actively learning about the histories of North America through Indigenous perspectives. She enjoys Indigenous literature, knowledge, and worldviews and educates herself about ways we can achieve meaningful reconciliation with love and respect.

Alina holds a degree in Urban Forestry and Recreation Planning from UBC and is fascinated by plants and animals. She has been doing research on wildlife movements in Kenya for the past two years, and also tries to answer how different tree species help track climate change in the springs.

Apart from working with children and youths in the great outdoors across Metro Vancouver, she also leads volunteers in invasive species removal projects with the Pacific Spirit Park Society. In her free time, Alina enjoys photography, cooking, painting, and is currently learning to knit.