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Who WE Are

Welcome to Wild Earth! Get to know our Staff and Board of Directors. Want to know more about our values, etc? Visit our About page.

Wild Earth Staff – check out our new Employee Handbook!

Omari Washington identified his purpose in 2004, during a backpacking & paddling trip above the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Despite emerging evidence, at that time few people were willing to believe climatologists’ warnings that humans were negatively impacting our planet. Hiking across the melting permafrost, Omari witnessed the significant changes already taking place. Moreover, he knew that many marginalized communities would be disproportionately affected by our inaction. After returning from that trip, Omari attended Green Mountain College in Vermont and received a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Since then, he has led hikes in urban parks, managed diverse teams of environmental educators, built school gardens, developed curricula, and helped plant 1,000,000 trees in New York City. The focus of all of this work has been to engage and empower youth in developing deep connections to nature, centered around their own unique experiences. Omari is grateful to be welcomed into the Wild Earth community, where young leaders are growing wild!
Abby has lived all over the U.S. in a mix of urban, suburban, and rural environments. She discovered a passion for the outdoors in the backyard spaces of her many childhood homes: collecting acorns under oak trees in Virgina, hunting for snails in a small garden in the Bronx, exploring a thin strip of forest separated by farms in northern Illinois, and more. Abby enjoys working outdoors with youth and communicating the wonders of the natural world, skills which she developed over the last 5 years as an educator at several outdoor schools in WY, WA, and MT and as a researcher, outreach coordinator and administrator in MT. She recently moved back to NY to be near family and was excited to join the Wild Earth team in 2022.
Mai grew up in southwestern CT, where she spent her days clamoring across barnacled boulders lining Long Island Sound, and capturing crickets to feed to her leopard frogs. She studied acting at Emerson College and graduated from Hampshire College with a self-designed B.A. in ecosystem mimicry agriculture and community circus theater. Alisha Mai has run nature-immersion programming since 2008, with Vermont Wilderness School, the Institute for Natural Learning, Wolftree Programs, White Pine Programs, and most recently, Wild Earth. Mai enjoys working with girls and teens, and incorporating physical play into her programs. She draws upon her background in theater and circus to create zany and magical experiences in nature. Alisha Mai is certified in Wildlife Track and Sign (Level II) through CyberTracker, and is a Wilderness First Responder. She teaches vinyasa yoga and aerial silks, and studies at Circus Warehouse in Queens.
Ana is from the fish-shaped island to the south otherwise known as Long Island, Northport to be exact. She studied Philosophy in Boston and Eastern Classics in New Mexico before fully diving into yoga and Early Childhood Education. She has taught yoga in the Hudson Valley since 2013 and specializes in serving groups along the entirety of the birth spectrum. In 2020 her passion for maternal care and creating family-forward environments led her to become a Birth and Postpartum Doula. At this time she also began an apprenticeship at Wilder Waters in Maine, harvesting wild blueberries with her two children, learning to gather and process medicine and food from the land and swimming in ice cold creeks. Engaging with the landscape in these new meaningful ways culminated in her finding her way to Wild Earth and she is very happy to be here!
Caleb grew up in Chicago and has worked for non-profit organizations for almost 2 decades, with his focus primarily being on community advocacy for underserved youth. Now at Wild Earth, Caleb uses outdoor spaces as a way to offer support, instill life skills, and environmental awareness for underserved students in the Kingston City School district.
One of Corinne’s earliest memories outdoors involves whittling sticks. Carving sets of spoons, forks, and knives, Corinne tried, around the age of 8, to develop a wooden cutlery line called “Sliver-ware.” Although the project never took off, Corinne has remained inspired ever since by the creativity (and yes, the puns) that can emerge in relationship with the more-than-human world. As an adult, Corinne’s work has been about finding ways to merge theater-making, ecology, and education. They have created place-based curricula that guide elementary-aged youth in making original theater about their environments, taught college classes focused on how literature is (or is not) responding to climate change, and written plays exploring the perspectives of non-human characters like rocks and trees. Passionate about designing educational spaces that facilitate the self-discovery and self-expression of young people, Corinne worked for almost fifteen years as a theater teacher in high schools and middle schools throughout New York CIty (primarily via the organization Opening Act) and as a writing teacher and tutor at Brooklyn College and the California Institute of Integral Studies. Now at Wild Earth, they are especially excited to lead Ropes, Wild Earth’s program for high school-aged youth, as well as to launch Awl, the newest (and punniest) Wild Earth program for young people of all genders.
Craig was born to Martha Diaz and Jin Kim in Flushing, Queens. As early as he could flip rocks, he developed a passion for insects that followed him all throughout his academic and professional career. He has a B.S. in Environmental Biology from SUNY-ESF, an M.Ed. in Environmental Education from Bard College, and has worked for the Bureau of Invasive Species and Ecosystem health within the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Most of his work for NYSDEC included surveying and felling pitch pine trees infested with Southern Pine Beetle in the Long Island Pine Barrens. Having seen the need for a positive relationship between people, bugs, and the environment at large, Craig now proudly shares his passion and experience with and through Wild Earth.
Dale Gibbons has worked with children as a teaching assistant and providing foster care for Ulster County Harbour Program while raising her family.  Later she worked in theater tech but was always drawn to spend time in nature. Wild Earth has allowed her to combine these passions, to work with children while encouraging their love of the outdoors.
Dan joined Wild Earth in 2022 upon moving to the Hudson Valley with his wife and daughter. Prior to that, he taught in the elementary classroom for over a decade, always integrating his love of literacy, music, and the great outdoors while teaching. Dan is an avid hiker and Appalachian trail enthusiast who may or may not get a little lost from time to time. Working within the schools’ program, Dan is excited to be helping children in Kingston become advocates for themselves and the world around them, developing their innate appreciation of nature along the way.
Devin grew up in Mesa, Arizona where they’d play barefoot outside in the scorching desert while getting cholla cactus stuck all over their clothes. They worked multiple jobs in high school, didn’t understand what the SAT’s were, and moved away from home at 17. After many obstacles, they became a first-generation college graduate with a BA in Environmental Studies from CUNY Hunter College. Their first time visiting the Hudson Valley was during a Geography Club trip and they instantly fell in love with the area. After college, they worked in managerial and administrative roles while volunteering in needs-based education with New York Cares. Devin later moved to Kingston and joined the Wild Earth staff!
Dustin grew up playing with his sister and other neighborhood kids in the “woods” (an acre of marshy land deemed too wet for development) near his suburban Long Island childhood home. After focusing his studies on political science, and philosophy at SUNY New Paltz, he began to take interest in local food and ecology while working at local farms and wineries. In Fall, 2011 he was introduced to Wild Earth by his friend Thomas Meli, and began attending the Dawn Song Village Program. He has since staffed several Wild Earth programs as well as some time with White Pine Programs in Maine and Coyote Club Wildlife Education Programs in New Hampshire. He is a passionate deer hunter, loves birds, harvesting edible plants, open fire cooking, gardening, and Earthenware pottery. He lives in Cottekill, NY with his wife Terrah and dogs Frankie and Peanut.
Elaine grew up in the urban jungle of the East Village and East Harlem in New York City. She spent summers investigating, adventuring, and connecting with her feral self in the Eastern Catskills and Southern Connecticut. Over the past two decades, she has been devoted to supporting youth in their own discovery of their most genuine/able selves established in an understanding and appreciation of our place within Earth. She has done this in the NYC-DOE, the High Line, various Outdoor Science Schools, developing the Steward School, and working at Common Ground High School in New Haven, CT. She loves spending time in the water, forests, gardens, in quiet space, creating, and cuddling up with delicious food and some loved ones. She is so excited to dive into all things wild with the community of Wild Earth.
Elana grew up along the shoreline of Connecticut, running through the woods in her neighborhood and biking to the local seashores. She studied Holistic Psychology and Expressive Arts Therapy at Lesley University, and minored in Environmental Science. Elana is a new resident of the Hudson Valley, living with her partner and their family in Hyde Park. Elana has worked in support of a variety of community organizations and artists and is passionate about bringing her energy to work that serves and inspires the collective. She enjoys her free time by assisting visiting groups at “Lonely Worm Farm” in Hyde Park, offering Yoga and healing arts, spending time with her family, learning and practicing herbal folk medicine, and playing music.
Esperanza is, and has always been, a teacher at heart. From the early age of 8 she would hold play groups in her church and tend to the young children who would often disrupt the sermons. This passion to teach carried on through the years, bringing her to SUNY New Paltz where she received her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and History. While living in New Paltz, she merged her love for the outdoors, her passion for teaching and her organizational and entrepreneurial skills into many different educational programs. She has taught in various local schools, led theater groups, kids yoga, art programs and of course worked with Wild Earth in a number of programs. Her commitment to community connection has guided her community service work in jails, juvenile centers, Americorps, inner-city art programs, soup kitchens and many more volunteer based initiatives. She sees every child’s potential and knows there is no better way to hold their blossoming than through the arts and the exploration of the natural world.
Jennifer Skipper grew up south of Albany, in Coeymans Hollow. From a young age she could be found exploring nature, and the wilderness she found surrounding her house. She developed a love for exploration, and adventure. Whether she is tramping through the forest, or building shelters, Jennifer finds great joy in her time in the wild. She has explored, and familiarized herself with the Northern Catskills, and Southern Adirondacks, Jennifer is an avid hiker, camper, and bush crafter. She also enjoys anything that will put her closer to nature. Jennifer participated in an apprenticeship with Dave Muska, from Ondatra Adventures. Where she learned, and practiced primitive skills, survival skills, as well as wild edible, and medicinal plant identification.
Jess has a background working in and for environment and social-justice focused nonprofit organizations including Housing Works in NYC and Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls. Jess had a transformative experience as a junior nature camper and counselor at the Oglebay Institute’s Junior Nature Camp in Wheeling, WV, that sparked a lifelong interest in ecology and the natural world, so Jess was thrilled to join the staff of Wild Earth in 2020.
Jessie has come to resettle here in the Hudson Valley after spending most of her young life in North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Elementary Education from Appalachian State University, Jessie went on to work in various child care professions before leaving the classroom to be a wilderness therapy guide in Utah for five years. During that time she learned and taught self reliance, survival skills and natural crafts with teenagers while hiking and camping in the desert. She loves learning and exploring in the outdoors and hopes to instill that passion in her students.
Kate’s curiosity of the wild began while being raised on a maple farm in Central NY. Surrounded by natural forests and open pastures, she developed a passion for the freedom that exploration in nature provides for children. Kate discovered the Hudson Valley as her home more than 20 years ago. She comes to Wild Earth with many years of experience in nonprofit management, focusing specifically on youth development. She received a BA from SUNY New Paltz and a Masters in Public Administration from Marist with a concentration in Ethical Leadership. In her spare time, Kate leads an inclusive Girl Scout troop, teaching young girls about leadership and cultivating an appreciation for our natural world.
Katie was raised in the Hudson Valley and spent much of her formative years barefoot outside. Drawn to early childhood she spent 8 years teaching preschool at SUNY New Paltz, regularly guest lecturing in language development and child appropriate practices as well preschool and kindergarten curriculum and child psychology and development. After leaving SUNY Katie studied At Hawthorne Valley Alkion Center and spent several years teaching in Waldorf Schools. With a passion for the outdoors she brings a craft, snack and story with her wherever she goes.
Kayla was born and raised in the Hudson Valley where she spent most of her childhood exploring all this beautiful valley has to offer. Her passion drove her to attain her BA in Environmental Studies & Policy in 2019 and work on various outdoor research projects before joining the Wild Earth team in 2021. She loves spending her time exploring the woods, crafting with natural materials and most of all, exploring these interests with other excited people!
Mark (he/him/his) is a multidisciplinary maker, teacher, social activist, and life long learner who lives in the Hudson Valley, NY. When Mark isn’t leading a Wilderness Education program, you might find him collecting acorns to make flour, constructing a giant prop to be used in a rally, or redesigning ADA accessible designs to be more functional and aesthetic. Mark is an expert carpentry teacher, tiny house builder, designer, and architectural draftsperson, as well as an amateur inventor and avid gardener. Mark loves his partner Sage and helps her manage living with multiple sclerosis as her primary care worker. In addition to these experiences, Mark has taught Maker Space carpentry programs and Wilderness Education programs for a variety of schools, camps and non-profits. You can view Mark’s teaching work and other work at his website
Robert Weickel (they/them) originally from Lexington, KY, has been in the Hudson valley with their son for six years. They bring a background in food service/justice and early childhood care, as well as a lifelong passion for the outdoors to Wild Earth. The child of a former wilderness educator, Robert believes strongly in the transformative powers of immersive nature based education. 
Sarah grew up in Michigan, where her first introduction to the “wild” was through YMCA summer camps. She looked forward to exploring and getting dirty, and would jump into any body of water that she could find. Her passion for the outdoors led her to the Pacific Northwest, where she spent nearly 20 years on the shores and slopes of Washington State. Sarah has a Master’s Degree in Natural Resource Management and has worked in the fields of environmental conservation, food justice, corporate accountability and civic engagement. A desire to build community and share her love of the outdoors with young people led Sarah to spend nearly a decade volunteering as a mentor and snowboard instructor for Seattle youth. Sarah moved to the Hudson Valley in early 2017 to be closer to family and is proud to call Wild Earth her home. She still loves to get dirty and will still jump into any body of water she can find.
Shanna Gonzalez, a dedicated fifth-generation farmer from the Hudson Valley, brings her deep-rooted passion for nurturing the earth to Wild Earth. With over a decade of experience in strategic planning, grant writing, and community building, Shanna has been instrumental in enhancing health and cultural initiatives across the region. Her commitment to regenerative farming and her advocacy for regional food systems have been central to her work, fostering healthy soil and nutrient-dense food. At Wild Earth, Shanna is excited to combine her love for environmental stewardship with her expertise in community development. Outside of her professional endeavors, Shanna enriches her connection with nature by growing heirloom tomatoes, baking sourdough bread, and exploring her artistic side through painting.
Born and raised in the magical Catskill mountains, Tiffany’s idea of a perfect day would be spent barefoot off the beaten path exploring the true wild woods, climbing high into the pines, bird-watching (especially at her favorite place, the Great Blue Heron rookery she visits as often as possible which had 5 nests and many babies last year!), tracking the local wildlife, snacking on the plants and berries along the way, and floating life away swimming in the streams. Graduating from Suny Ulster with an Associates degree in Science and spending nearly ten years in retail, she decided it was time she followed her passions and answering her own call to adventure, Tiffany began volunteering for Wild Earth, took the apprenticeship and is now proudly working as an instructor for the Wild Earth Kingston Project. She is also deep into her second year of the Ancient Art of Awareness classes taught by Michael Ridolfo and, just as she feels about her job with Wild Earth, she is enjoying every moment of it.
Zach “Maui” Jones has been with Wild Earth since the very beginning. As a child, Zach participated in multiple wilderness programs throughout the east coast. Growing up in the Hudson Valley, he enjoyed time outside in the woods and playing basketball, soccer, motocross, and BMX. Zach has spent countless summers working as a wilderness summer camp instructor while pursuing his education and traveling the world. In 2017 Zach joined the Wild Earth team in a more permanent role. Zach now coordinates the Wild Earth Kingston Project for both Bailey & Miller Middle Schools, as well as our summer camps for 7-10-year olds.
After twelve years working as a private wealth advisor on Wall Street, in 2002 David miraculously extricated himself from this soul-deadening work and came home to New Paltz with his family to realize a life dream – fully sharing in the care and parenting of his three children and creating a small family farm. Over the years, the Brownstein family (Three Suns Farm) have raised dairy cows, goats, chickens, bees, and fruits and vegetables in season. In 2004 David co-founded Wild Earth with a vision toward regenerating a living community culture centered around nature connection. From its humble beginnings serving a few dozen local children, Wild Earth now serves close to 4,000 youth and adults each year. David served as its Executive Director for nearly 20 years until 2023, when he passed the baton of leadership to to Omari Washington and the next generation of incredibly capable and inspired leaders. Today, David continues reaching toward his vision, now through his Root Connections ( practice; he offers mentoring, coaching, and collaboration rooted in place-based, relationship-first and village-making work and life ways. David loves to work and play in the garden, meadows and woods, and is an avid cyclist.
Kapi`olani is a descendant of the Haida (Eagle Clan, Sgwaa Gitanee, People of the Tall Grass), Tsimshian, Native Hawaiian, and Filipino. Kapi’olani’s experiences working with Native communities on ocean and land restoration projects, cultural preservation, and protocols have played a significant role in shaping her educational and professional life. She is an educator, athlete, life coach, and consultant who teaches Indigenous approaches to positive change by using traditional teachings and knowledge to support transformation and growth. Kapi`olani brings 18 years of experience working in secondary and higher education institutions supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and policies centered on college student outreach, recruitment, and services for traditionally underserved and low-income communities of color. Her work specializes in Indigenous and First Nations community-centered partnerships.

She held student support and administrative positions at Yale and Dartmouth Native American programs, the Northwest Indian College, and the Enumclaw School District’s Title VII Program in partnership with the Muckleshoot Tribe. Kapiolani lives in the Bronx, New York. She is a solopreneur, consultant, and life coach. Kapiolani founded Indigenous Life Coach & Consultant Corporation and does what she loves helping others succeed. She creates virtual spaces for individuals and organizations that aim to support their health and well-being, as well as, centering Indigenous approaches to positive change and transformation.
She offers diversity, wellness, and self-development courses on Mighty Networks and her free mindfulness exercises can be found on Insight Timer.

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Wild Earth Board of Directors

Aja is an Afro-Latina, cisgendered, middle class woman raising 3 daughters with her partner of 20+ years, growing food and medicine, creating art, loving hard and strengthening connections in her beloved communities throughout the Mahicantuck (Hudson) River Valley. The Just Transition is central to her work, both personally and professionally, because she strongly believes that a successful community is made up of individuals working collaboratively on all fronts to create avenues to build a healthier, thriving, more sustainable environment. In addition to her roles at Good Work Institute, Aja sits on the board of The Hudson Valley Current, is a member of the Kingston Trust Hub Advisory Board, is a member of HUDSY’s Content Committee, is a member of the Hudson Valley Food Systems Coalition, a member of the New Paltz School District Racial Equity Committee and is a thought-partner for many initiatives and organizations throughout the region.
Jesse Workman is a trans and non-binary civil rights attorney, writer, and tired+happy parent of an exuberant toddler, based in Kerhonkson, NY. Before becoming an attorney, Jesse spent several years as a youth worker in Northern New Mexico, first teaching writing to incarcerated young people, and later, as the life-skills coordinator at a youth shelter. Before that, Jesse taught at a wilderness education camp called Earth Connections in Freeville. Spending time in the woods has always been a grounding force in Jesse’s life and they are very excited to join the Wild Earth Community. 
Laura deNey is a devoted Wild Earth parent and an Emmy award winning filmmaker who is passionate about telling hidden stories from around the world, often focusing on gender, race and the environment. She has produced and edited dozens of hours of documentary programming and is currently executive producing a documentary television series called Hidden Heroes, which profiles the incredible Wild Earth along with dozens of other deserving heroes. She looks forward to continue helping Wild Earth with their video storytelling and now serving on the board.
Patricia Perez is a housing attorney for a Hudson Valley non profit organization. She grew up in Kingston and lives in New Paltz with her husband and children. Despite growing up in the Hudson Valley she did not make it into the mountains until she was an adult. She then spent many hours on the trails with her first child. She recognized how healing and therapeutic the natural world was for both of them, and has made it part of their lives ever since. Patricia is bilingual and has worked in South America as an attorney and media researcher.
Tina Dierna was born and raised in the Hudson Valley. She relocated to the Kingston area after obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s College in Newburgh, New York. She worked as a caseworker for eight years with the Ulster County Social Services Department. While working for the County she started a family and went back to obtain her Master of Social Work degree from Adelphi University. In 2015, Tina became a high school social worker for Kingston City School District. After a summer of volunteering to build a tiny home with five of her students, Tina became an Internship & Career Coordinator, a position that allows her to combine her passions for volunteer work and empowering and helping students succeed. Shortly after, she gained the added position of Transitional Counselor for Kingston High School, assisting students with planning their lives after high school, working with community organizations and creating partnerships throughout the Kingston Community. Tina has always been an active member of the community, whether it’s creating the first Pajama Program Chapter in Ulster, launching a healthy eating program for Cornell Cooperative or a parenting group for Family Services. Most recently she completed the Chamber of Commerce Ulster Leadership Development Institute where she co-chaired the group to launch a youth leadership program. This ultimately led her to run for the Wild Earth board of Directors and launch her own health and wellness lifestyle coaching business called Mom Overboard, a name that embodies her commitment to her community endeavors.
Stevenson is a first generation Haitian American and was born and raised in New York City. He is a visual artist whose work deals with the representation of race, class and gender in media and popular culture. He received his MFA from Hunter College and teaches art and digital photography at a private school in Manhattan. Stevenson is passionate about spending time outdoors and enjoys landscaping and gardening. His daughters have attended Wild Earth programs for many years.
Joan Ewing and Wilton Duckworth are founders of Lost Cat Farm and co-founders of Green Phoenix Permaculture. Prior to moving to Lost Cat Farm, Wilton and Joan, lived for 8 years at Epworth Camp and Retreat Center developing a super-efficient timber-frame passive solar farm house, supporting annual gardens and perennial orchards/food forests, and running educational programming for children and adults. They are certified permaculture teachers and offer all that they can in a spirit of service and reverence for life.

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