DAVE SCOTT - Founder/Executive Director
Dave Scott can trace his deep love for nature and the outdoors back to his earliest childhood memories exploring the banks of Williamson creek as a child. After spending a childhood filled with outdoor recreation Dave became a member of a Search and Rescue team in Colorado where his passion for self-reliance and wilderness survival was kindled further through helping others in wilderness emergencies.
Dave then went on to serve as a Military Police officer in the US Army. After exiting the military Dave began pursuing his passion for the outdoors full time, studying wilderness survival, wildlife tracking, youth and adult mentoring, naturalist studies, and sustainable living skills.
Dave has been involved in Environmental Education since 2003 and, in addition to Earth Native Wilderness School, has instructed at several wilderness schools across the country including the Wilderness Awareness School and Alderleaf Wilderness College.
Dave is currently certified as a Track and Sign Specialist through the Cybertracker Conservation evaluation system, an international standard for gauging and enhancing in-field knowledge of wildlife behavior and track and sign identification. He is one of only 20 individuals in North America to attain this level of certification.
Dave is the co-author of Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species. As an educator, Dave’s passion is to help his students establish strong lifelong bonds with nature and the outdoors through knowledge of wildlife behavior and track and sign, increased sensory awareness, wilderness survival skills, self-reliance, and the knowledge of place. Dave’s greatest love is spending time outdoors with his wife and kids.
KRISTEN GERHARD - Senior Youth Instructor/Apprentice & Community Development Coordinator
Kristen is inspired about connection with youth, adults & whole families through nature immersion, social-emotional learning and community building. She intends to foster opportunities for self-discovery, personal growth, inspiration, self-empowerment, and a greater awareness of sustainable living and land stewardship through Earth Native programs both for herself and others. Kristen holds a degree in Sociology from the University of Texas. She completed Earth Native’s Survival Skills Intensive in 2013. She has also studied native plants & trees with local herbalist Ginger Webb and most recently received a certificate in Permaculture Design. Kristen was deeply moved by her experience in the Art of Mentoring training at Earth Native in 2015 and served on the facilitation team for AOM at the Wilderness Awareness School the summer of 2015.
She most recently comes from the Whole Life Learning Center, of which she is a co-founder and has served as Assistant Director for the last several years working to create an inspiring, empowering and engaging learning environment with a connected community of families as an alternative to traditional schooling. Previous work has included youth camp directorship and program coordination at El Ranchito, the Amala Foundation and Youth Advocacy. Other things Kristen loves are dancing, being playful & sneaky, the healing arts, travel & community sharing through food, music, ceremony & storytelling. She lives near Bastrop in a remodeled 1973 airstream with her partner Braden and their amazing dog Star.
JESSICA ENNIS - Senior Youth Instructor/Adult Instructor
Jessica was born and raised in the Great Lakes bioregion. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, she had spent recent years living in Michigan before moving to Austin in 2012. After graduating from Calvin College with a degree in International Development, she spent two years working for a refugee resettlement agency, getting to know people from all over the world, starting a craft business for clients, and matching community members with newly arrived refugees.
She has always loved spending time outside, but many years ago she decided to pursue rewilding full-time. So she left the non-profit world, moved to the Pacific Northwest, and enrolled at Alderleaf Wilderness College, where she completed their 9-month Certification Program.
At Alderleaf, Jessica began to learn more about the art of tracking, a subject which she wasn't particularly passionate about until she met some inspiring tracker women, whose excitement proved to be contagious. She also deepened her knowledge of plants, learning more about ethnobotany and permaculture. After struggling to find and keep one, going to her sit spot became one of her favorite activities. Her passion is nature awareness, and she loves to see kids grow to feel at home in the outdoors.
This will be Jessica’s 5th year as an Instructor with our Youth Weekly Nature Program. She also teaches at our Youth Monthly program, our Adult Plant Intensive course and many other shorter adult and youth classes. Jessica loves finding the wild in urban environments, and seeing the resilience of plants and animals taking over places abandoned by humans. She finds joy in riding her bike, watching the sky, brewing kombucha, and exploring the landscape.
MIKE DIMAURO - Senior Instructor
Raised in New Jersey, Mike's initial fascination with nature came from countless hours in his backyard woods digging for arrowheads, collecting rocks, building forts, playing spy games, and catching his own wild pets. The land spoke to him through day dreams as he sat in his treehouse, and his favorite pastimes include playing in the rough surf along the Jersey shore.
He spent 4 years studying at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where he graduated with a degree in Accounting while being the captain of the school's soccer team. Mike decided against an office career and went in search of something different. Being inspired by reading Tom Brown Jr.'s The Tracker, he spent the next summer camping with minimal gear in a remote area near coastal Maine and then went on to pursue a five year Mentorship with Mike Douglas, director of the Maine Primitive Skills School. During his stay in Maine, he helped the school grow to a full time endeavor, including infrastructure, a successful apprenticeship program, and a residential instructor staff. Upon leaving Maine in October of 2014, Mike was the school's Head Instructor for Adult Programs and Assistant Instructor for Children's programs. He is also a Registered Maine Guide.
The lessons Mike has learned from survival trips into the wilderness and living for years at a time in structures such as a tipi, a yurt, a grass hut, and an earth-lodge have inspired him to live a life of moderation, and one in tune with the natural rhythms of the Earth. He remains focused on further developing his earth skills, his yoga practice, and exploring the integration of ancestral wisdom with the modern ways of living and thinking. He is very excited to be in the Austin area and thankful for the opportunity to share skills with children and adults.
CHRIS HYDE - Senior Instructor
Avid naturalist and lover of the outdoors, Chris Hyde grew up exploring and learning from the wild places around the Texas Hill Country. Through the Kamana Naturalist Training Program, Chris learned how to understand and celebrate the interconnections of natural diversity throughout the natural world.
Chris has traveled far and wide seeking out wisdom of native living skills, wildlife tracking and ethnobotanical practices. In 2011 Chris graduated from the 9-Month Residential Pathfinder Program and Wildlife Tracking Intensive here at Earth Native. He currently is certified Level IV Track & Sign through CyberTracker Conservation International.
Since then Chris has turned his love for nature into a passionate career in environmental education for youth and adults using a teaching method that encourages curiosity, motivation, and playfulness in nature here at Earth Native. Chris is certified in Basic First Aid, CPR and Wilderness First Responder through the Wilderness Medicine Institute. He enjoys skateboarding, drawing, archery, tracking and botanical studies.
LENNY SCOTT - Youth Instructor
Lenny Scott is a naturalist with a BS in Environmental Resource Management from the Texas State Geography Department. She grew up exploring the Shenandoah mountains, studying aquatic creatures from the Chesapeake Bay, and eating her way through the farmers markets of Virginia.
Lenny is an avid nature enthusiast who loves camping, kayaking, and hiking. She has visited over 30 National Parks, and almost every Texas State Park as a park ranger with TPWD and a endangered species handler for the National Park Service.
She has 20 years of outdoor education program design and delivery for all ages, both locally and internationally.
In an effort to connect families to their natural resources, she has installed hundreds of heirloom gardens, outdoor learning labs, and created STEAM based curriculum for organizations and schools. Her approach to youth and family program development has a focus on sustainable stewardship, highlighting watershed awareness, and biodiverse native wildlife habitat.
While hiking the beaches of the Yucatan from dusk until dawn, she led a sea turtle protection team in Mexico. Researching the unique Afro-Ecuadorian culture of Ecuador, she spearheaded a recycling and drinking water project impacting villages along a polluted river from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean.
Most folks know her by her spirit animal and totem, "Turtle". In her free time she can be found watching the stars, hunting for fossils, beach camping, and helping various riparian and wetland restoration projects. She lives on a heirloom fruit and vegetable farm with her family.
LINDSAY CARTER - Youth Instructor
Born in Illinois and raised in Texas, Lindsay first
developed a love for the outdoors during her childhood summer trips to a small
lake in Minnesota. Some of her favorite memories include fishing with her
grandpa and stargazing on the sandy beach with her sister. She grew up in the
Fort Worth suburbs and continued fostering a love for nature. During her senior
year of high school Lindsay was a selected student for the Environmental
Studies program, where she first taught elementary students about the local
ecology and natural resources.
After deciding to pursue a Geography degree, Lindsay moved to San Marcos and graduated from Texas State University with a BS in Resource and Environmental Studies. Before graduating, she spent a semester working at TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Environmental Contaminants Lab, where she tested the state’s water sources and fish for certain impurities. In 2013, Lindsay accepted a position with TPWD’s Texas Outdoor Family, a learn-to camp program that focuses on bringing new audiences into state parks. Shortly after, she became the Outdoor Education Specialist for Central Texas. She has led numerous camping trips for families and youth groups, and has taught hundreds of participants how to fish, kayak, geocache, build a campfire, and more. Lindsay is a certified Kayak Instructor, Angler Education Instructor and Interpretive Guide. During her time with the agency, she discovered a passion for connecting children to nature, which has guided her to the ENS.
On her days off, Lindsay can be found on a hiking trail with her field guides or paddling the San Marcos River. She is an avid camper and is working towards visiting every state park in Texas. Her nickname is Ranger Snail and she’s known for her tasty Dutch Oven meals.
ANNE VINCENT - Youth Instructor
Anne Vincent had the privilege of being born into a family that knew and loved wild places. Growing up in south east Texas, she was very much at home in the tannin darkened waters of big thicket. Cypress, pine, blue heron, gators, and sugar sand bars on the Neches unfolded some of their mysteries and taught her a love of nature that would ultimately influence her path in life.
By the age of 13 her summers were either spent in an 18 foot royalex old town canoe, with a three horse motor and her dog, being resupplied on weekends at predetermined points by a proud father, or solo sailing from Sabine pass to Matagorda Bay.
After graduating from college Anne went to work for Texas Parks and Wildlife at Pedernales Falls State Park, before her love for adventure led her to several seasons of whitewater guiding and search and rescue in Colorado. She then moved on to Americorps Rocky Mountain and an internship with the National Outdoor Leadership School where she worked on all aspects of backcountry expedition programming.
Almost all the wonder that she can feel she finds in nature. Many years she spends more nights in tents than indoors. Anne is motivated to share the beauty and intricacy of natural systems, foster greater public understanding of our remaining wild places through responsible use, and share with a new generation the gifts of awareness, competency, leadership and risk management that are learned naturally through life outdoors.
Before coming to work at Earth Native Anne spent several years working as an Urban EMT and is currently working to become a fellow at the Wilderness Medicine Institute council on trauma. Anne holds certifications in cultural and natural resource interpretation, guiding, is a leave no trace master educator, and is trained in swift water and technical rope rescue. Anne holds degrees in English and Anthropology from the University of Texas. When she’s not out sharing her love of nature with others, she enjoys multi-day whitewater expeditions, mountaineering and racing sailboats.
LAUREN SOMODY - Youth Instructor
Lauren was raised in Helotes, TX, an old farming town Northwest of San Antonio, surrounded by the Texas Hill Country. Growing up she spent much of her time exploring the wooded areas around her home with neighborhood friends and alone. Lauren recalls that she and her friends sometimes spent entire days working to accomplish such important tasks as damming a creek bed or building a new “home”, but that her favorite experiences were ones had in solitude. She found that being alone in the quiet of nature fueled her imagination as she developed friendships with plants and critters she met on her explorations. Lauren’s greater appreciation for the natural world was ignited by the annual camping trips to the San Juan National Forest that she took with her family. Weeks spent canoeing, fishing, hiking and observing the wildlife ignited Lauren’s passion for nature.
Lauren loves children and feels a natural connection to them. She has decades of experience working with kids of all ages, beginning with caring for a younger sibling and babysitting and volunteering her time with special needs children as a teen. In 2008 she began teaching preschool and taught children ages 2-4 using the High Scope curriculum which allows teachers to facilitate learning by supporting self-discipline and encouraging children to explore, make choices and problem solve, and then in a Montessori preschool where she gained further experience allowing children to develop self-confidence and learn through personal discoveries and drawing of conclusions. Lauren adores sharing the excitement that kids feel when they discover something new and is eager to guide her Earth Native kids on new paths of discovery!
Lauren studied American Sign Language interpreting at ACC and has obtained a certificate in ASL Studies. She is also certified in CPR and First Aid.
Lauren loves to be active and health and fitness are integral parts of her life. She is energized by practicing yoga, riding bikes, swimming, taking long, meditative walks and enjoying life with her family. Her favorite times are spent laughing with her husband and her three step children.
DIANE CARRICO - Youth Instructor
Diane grew up in the rural regions of the Pacific Northwest and moved to Texas in 2009. In 2012, she graduated from the Capital Area Master Naturalist program and pursued volunteer opportunities with organizations such as Austin Water Utility Wildland Conservation Division, United States Geological Survey, Round Rock Urban Forestry, Multicultural Refugee Coalition, Hike It Baby - Austin, and a number of programs focused on understanding and maintaining local ecosystems. Diane is a graduate of the ENWS Survival Skills Intensive course and in her free time enjoys practicing and continuing to develop her survival and outdoor skills.
Diane has an Associate of Science degree in geology from Austin Community College. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from The University of Texas at Austin and is active in local and regional geology organizations.
She's very excited to have the opportunity to not only share her love for the outdoors, but to also support others in developing confidence and awareness in their own skills as they interact with their natural ecosystems. Her goal at Earth Native Wilderness School is to assist students in finding their own path to connecting with and finding value in their environment, encourage critical thinking and creative problem solving, and to share the practical applications of survival and subsistence skills in modern life.
MICHEL ORION SCOTT - Adult Instructor
Michel spent most of his youth exploring the wooded areas of central Texas where he was born and raised. After earning a degree in film from the University of Texas, Michel went on to crew, direct, and produce numerous successful films that have been screened and distributed all over the world.
After 15 years in the film business, Michel has never lost touch with his childhood love for the nature and continues to use his career in film as a vehicle to learn from native cultures in various locations of the earth. From Botswana to Bolivia, Namibia to Mongolia and many places in-between, Michel has studied with and been deeply inspired by the way of life of the indigenous peoples that he has been fortunate enough to spend time with. It is with great humility that Michel passes on this wisdom to those who seek it. And he sees it as a great honor to learn much in the process from those who listen and share his passions.
DAVID CROFT - Adult Instructor
David Croft is a native of the Texas Hill Country and grew up as a “free-range child” with outdoor experience in all parts of Texas. He has interests and experience in Primitive Technologies, SCUBA diving, caving, sailing, flying and wildland studies of all kinds.
In his early college career he studied psychology/geology at the University of Texas and was active in sub-marine and submarine research both with the UT system and the Department of the Interior. After several years of developing his carpentry skills into a design and construction business, his latent interest in medicine and emergency response led him to become a certified EMT with special skills. From there he took on firefighting, EMS response and ultimately full time work at the Seton system first as an Emergency Room Technician then as Operations Manager for Seton’s Emergency Services. During that period he finished a pre-med degree and assumed much of the responsibility for Seton’s disaster response including response to Hazardous Materials Incidents in the region. He also represented the Seton System at the region’s Interagency Disaster Council.
David then returned to school full time to complete a degree in Environmental Management with a focus on Natural Hazards. As an intern at the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, he worked to develop and evaluate emergency response/notification strategies for HAZMAT incidents that threaten water quality in the district.
After graduation, he was recruited by the City of Austin Office of Emergency Management to write the healthcare response plans for Austin/Travis County and then by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to help design and implement a Facility Management Information System. David then joined the City of Austin's Wildland Conservation Division helping to care for and manage the City's preserve lands.
David became a Master Naturalist in 2004 and has volunteered in various capacities including teaching primitive technologies for the Capital Area Master Naturalists, Westcave Preserve, the Native Prairie Association of Texas, Scouting and YMCA. He is the Emergency Operations Coordinator for El Ranchito Summer Camp and enjoys teaching “Primitive Technologies”, “Natural Hazards of Texas”, “First Aid off the Grid” and other topics.
ERIC KNIGHT - Youth Instructor
Eric is a born and raised naturalist and Austinite. As a kid, his summers were filled with trips to Enchanted Rock, Hamilton's Pool, \and all the other natural wonders of central Texas. These experiences instilled a love of the natural world and influenced him to study Environmental Engineering at UT. Upon graduating, he took time off from the engineering world to travel and reconnect with the natural world. Most of that time was spent in the Way of the Pathfinder 9 month apprenticeship program at Earth Native, studying herbalism at the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine, and teaching kids and adults at both the Austin Nature & Science Center and Earth Native Wilderness School. Eric has been an Instructor for Earth Native’s Weekly Nature Program, Youth Monthly Programs and many adult classes in the past.
During the past few years, Eric has been working as an engineer in the renewable energy industry and the environmental consulting industry, but he has never lost his passion for nature-based education and authentic connection to the natural world. He is especially interested in edible and medicinal plants and has led numerous plant walks. He enjoys travelling, exploring nature with his wife, and growing food in his backyard. He also acknowledges that he spends far too much time on the iNaturalist website.
ERIN BROOKSHIRE - Registrar
Erin was blessed to spend her childhood immersed in the natural world. She has lived on the beaches of Southern California, in the forests of Flagstaff, AZ and most recently in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State.
She has spent the bulk of her career in the administrative field and service industry with big corporations, but has found her home doing administrative work with wilderness programs and working with parents to facilitate great nature experiences. She has a passion around finding ways to help children with special needs connect with nature.
Erin feels most at home with her daughters, Jess and Ashley and her grandson, William. They are often found on the coast with toes in the sand, or hiking through the green forests of Washington. Family is the most important thing in her life and she spends any free time she can with them. She is a writer and loves all kinds of music.
LEE BURTON - Bird Language Instructor
Lee was born in Kerrville and spent his youth exploring the lands and waters of the Texas Hill Country. After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in aerospace engineering, he lived and worked overseas for many years in Germany, England, and China. During this time, he traveled extensively and spent considerable time in some of the greatest ecosystems and wildlife sanctuaries in Asia, Africa, and South America including an epic journey up Mount Kilimanjaro. He also spent numerous months volunteering at various Nature Conservancy preserves in Himalayan China, the desert mountains of the American Southwest and the Pacific Northwest, and most recently central Texas. Upon his return to the U.S., Lee organized and led wolf tracking trips in the mountainous areas of Oregon and the sky islands of the Arizona/New Mexico borderlands before relocating back to the Austin area in 2011.
As a Texas Master Naturalist, Lee has an appreciation regarding all aspects of the outdoors and participated in Earth Native Wilderness School's tracking, primitive hunting, and survival skills intensive programs, subsequently becoming a certified CyberTracker after completing a wolf and brown bear tracking expedition in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. He is an avid backpacker and loves to fish and hunt using his own hand made bow, and enjoys studying riparian, prairie, and forest ecosystems.
MIKAEL BEHRENS - Bird Language Instructor
In the early 1990s Mikael started taking zoology classes for fun while working on his computer science degree at the University of Texas. Ornithology was one of those classes, and since then he's been actively birding and volunteering for bird conservation and education activities in the Austin area. These have included Golden-cheeked Warbler surveys for The Nature Conservancy, leading field trips for the Travis Audubon Society, monthly bird surveys at Hornsby bend, many Christmas Bird Counts, and internet-based citizen science projects like eBird and iNaturalist. Since 2006 Mikael has been leading monthly bird walks in his northwest Austin neighborhood and blogging about the more than 200 species of birds he has found there. This neighborhood birding has fueled his excitement for showing people how they can experience nature without leaving the city.