MEET OUR STAFF

All of our staff are First aid & CPR certified, and are background checked through the Olympia police department. 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & Co-founder, Creatress

Heather McKenna

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Heather is an incredible community-member, dedicated partner, loving parent and inspiring teacher. Heather initiated the formation of ACORNS initially to create a space for her child and others in the unschooling and homeschooling community who were seeking inclusive, alternative approaches to education outdoors. She recognizes that education and liberation happen through community, relationship, life experience and enduring curiosity. Once the process began, Heather began to imagine something even bigger!

Since then, Heather has been working long and diligently to make this dream happen; reaching out to community members, experienced individuals, potential partner organizations and networking this manifestation into reality. Spinning the web. Creatively drawing on her past experiences with 15+ years in commercial banking, business, and a degree with Evergreen, she is putting her skills to work for a cause that she believes in, seeking alternatives along the way from the systems of oppression and other social constructs that don’t serves us.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER

Kendra Obom

Kendra has worked in outdoor ed for 11 years, including working as an adventure guide in Costa Rica, leading backpacking trips in the North Cascades, and teaching after-school rock climbing in a youth program. She has directed girl's leadership camps, taught outdoor preschool and developed and designed curriculum for all of the programs she has worked for. Kendra is most enthusiastic about making sure each youth feels empowered to be themselves within a safe and growing community. She is a certified WFR (Wilderness First Responder). 

INSTRUCTOR FOREST SCHOOL AND PRESCHOOL

Allan Davis

INSTRUCTOR PRESCHOOL

Melissa Fassbender

Melissa is enchanted by the wonder and curiosity children hold in the natural world and is always ready to learn from and with them.  She encourages heightened listening and awareness of one's surroundings in her teaching, and incorporates the anthroposophical methods of Waldorf education as well.  Melissa has a lot of fun playing with the arts, especially through weaving, natural dyeing, movement, painting, and music-making.  She has a strong sense of empathy and wants to nurture this understanding in young people.  She has a bachelor's degree in environmental spirituality from Goddard College and several years' experience caring for young children in home and preschool.  Melissa believes deeply in the intuitive abilities of children and when given the chance to know the Earth, the positive and immense changes they will bring to our world.
 

INSTRUCTOR PRESCHOOL AND FOREST SCHOOL

Alexus Gordon

INSTRUCTOR

Veronica Aristeo

ADDITIONAL STAFF

Instructor

Alex Freilich

Alex has lived the majority of his life in the Pacific Northwest, and has spent years learning from the land, observing the patterns and cycles that exist here. He is a graduate of the Evergreen State College with a focus in Natural History and Agriculture. He is passionate about permaculture and developing better relationships with the land around us. Alex is inspired by the curiosity and openness of children. He in turn seeks to inspire young ones to look closely, tread lightly, and act compassionately.

INSTRUCTOR

Brett Jensen

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Brett has been working in the child care since 2007. He started working for YMCA Camp Orkila as camp counselor for their summer program Pioneer camp and marine biology camp. Over the next 9 years he worked in many positions from Arts and craft staff member and logistics manager for the camp's summer expeditions program. In 2012 he started working for Orkila's OEE (Outdoor Environmental Education) where he taught a range of classes from Marine Biology and diversity to challenge course experiences. He prides himself on being a self-taught Ancestral skills teacher and tracker and has spent many hours in the woods, pond, lakes, and prairies of washington state.  He is a certified WFR (Wilderness First Responder) and has Thousands of hours of risk-management experience.   

INSTRUCTOR

Alexandria Vickery

Alexandria is a transplant from sunny California and is currently growing roots in the Pacific Northwest and with ACORNS. Once a field researcher in urban ecology and disease evolution, Alexandria realized that science was more fun when she shared it with other - and when she wasn't being eaten alive by mosquitoes. She has spent the last five years focusing on outreach and environmental education, and has had the pleasure of teaching with USGS, the National Park Service, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, the Pacific Science Center, and Seattle Tilth. When she's not holding handfuls of slugs or climbing trees with kids, Alexandria is a scientific illustrator, dancing queen, and rising ukulele star.

INSTRUCTOR

Annie McElroy

Annie McElroy has been a part of ACORNS NW from the start. Her hard work and dedication to the program has helped get things off the ground. We appreciate all she has done!! Annie is a graduate of the Evergreen State College. She has worked with many organizations utilizing her passion for the outdoors and community.

Annie McElroy has been a part of ACORNS NW from the start. Her hard work and dedication to the program has helped get things off the ground. We appreciate all she has done!! Annie is a graduate of the Evergreen State College. She has worked with many organizations utilizing her passion for the outdoors and community.

INSTRUCTOR

Walker Hammond

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Walker grew up in Steamboat Springs Colorado exploring the forests, streams and mountains in the Colorado Rockies. Walker is a graduate of The Evergreen State College (2011) where he focused on agriculture and natural resources. Walker is passionate about the natural world and enjoys teaching others how to enjoy and use it safely and responsibly. Walker spends his summers in Idaho guiding fly fishing and hiking when he has time.

Photography provided by Heather McKenna - Please do not use without permission