DAVE SCOTT - Founder/Program Director/Adult Lead Instructor
Dave is the Program Director and Lead Instructor at Earth Native Wilderness School. Dave found a lifelong love for the nature as a young child exploring Texas’ wild places with his brother, Michel. As a teenager, a passion for wilderness survival skills and self-reliance was kindled while he was involved with his county’s local search and rescue team.
After spending 5 years in the US Army, Dave began pursuing his true passions full time, studying wilderness survival, wildlife tracking, youth and adult mentoring, naturalist studies, and sustainable
living skills at wilderness schools across the country. 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 one of only 20 individuals in North America qualified 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.
Dave is the co-author of Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species and is currently working toward his Master’s Degree in Environmental Education. As an educator, Dave’s passion is to help his students reconnect with the natural world through wildlife tracking, increased sensory awareness, wilderness survival skills, and the development of a strong sense of place.
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 12 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.
LIANA SONNE - Lead Youth Instructor/Youth Programs Coordinator
As a young’un, Liana grew up camping in the deserts and mountains of the Southwest US, living some years in a pop-up camper or truck travelling the country with her family. Liana felt and fell in love with everything from ocean animals to desert plants. The first real work for her began at fifteen with wildlife in need of rehabilitation; soon thereafter working with tigers at a Conservation Facility. She gained a particular fondness for animals and their plights.
Not wanting to band-aid the issues of the world anymore, she ventured into the fields of Environmental Education and Sustainable Agriculture. She generated lessons and curricula that made for an abundance of experiential learning opportunities to Southwestern youth.
In Northern New Mexico, her last home she coordinated efforts to produce and make accessible healthy, local food with urban schools and organization amidst the food deserts of the state. New to Austin, Liana has been Educational Director for non-profits committed to growing more conscientious youths.
Having studied ecology and education at the masters and undergraduate level, Liana still persists in investigating every subject from pegacorns to sociobiology. Fun facts: she is a derby daredevil, avid cyclist, preferring a bike over a car, a huge fan of exploration, indulging in rock climbing and all things outdoors.
JESSICA ENNIS- Youth Instructor
Jessica was born and raised in the Great Lakes bioregion. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, she has spent recent years living in Michigan before moving to Austin. 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 a few 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.
Most recently Jessica has been an Instructor with Earth Native's 2012-13 9-month Weekly Homeschool Program, as well as other contract programs. 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.
BRIAN FREEMAN - Youth Instructor
Brian Lev Freedman dove into the world of learning Wilderness Survival Skills and Primitive Living Skills in 2008 when attending a course with the Tracker School in New Jersey. He immersed himself even deeper by completing a 14 day Field Course in Utah with the Boulder Outdoor Survival School in 2010. After meeting Dave Scott in Austin, Brian signed up for and completed the 9 month Survival Intensive with the Earth Native School. He has was also an Apprentice for the 2012-13 Homeschool Weekly Program before becoming a Youth Instructor for the same program.
Brian has also been working passionately with youth for over 8 years. Much of his work began with the Amala Foundation where he has been involved with many of the summer camps and 7 Global Youth Peace Summits. He has also worked as a teen mentor with the Whole Life Learning Center in Austin.
Brian is passionate about helping the world find a way to live more in balance and he has chosen to do so through environmental education, nature awareness, and working with the world's most precious resource... our youth.
SARAH WELCH - Youth Instructor
Since she was little, Sarah has loved getting dirty, playing, and exploring outside. While attending high school in northern Michigan, she took her first official ecology class and the passion was cemented. Though she pursued a music degree from the University of Southern Maine, she spent all of her free time exploring the coastline, mountains and forests of the beautiful state of Maine. Upon graduating in 2006 she moved to Guatemala to learn Spanish and travel; there, she ended up working for a volcano guide company, taking tourists on day and overnight hikes to see the lava. This was the moment Sarah realized she could turn her passion for the wilderness into a real job.
Since then, Sarah has worked for a number of different organizations guiding outdoor activities. In 2010, Sarah began working for Outward Bound, where she discovered a new passion for education. She spent her time guiding extended canoe expeditions for teenagers in the Everglades and rivers of Florida and the Mississippi Delta. To see the growth and progress the teenagers made while living and learning in the wilderness setting was by far the most rewarding aspect of the job. Sarah then became driven to teach kids and focus her energy on outdoor education rather than just guided tourism. She moved to Austin in 2012 and has been spending her time learning to identify all of the local species and exploring all the Texas parks and wilderness lands that she can get to. She has been teaching outdoor programs as well as bicycling classes to Austin area kids and families. In her free time, you can find Sarah biking around town, swimming in the springs, canoeing on the lake, or otherwise looking for some new adventure!
LIBBIE WEIMER - Youth Instructor
Libbie grew up on the path of the Appalachian Trail in Western Massachusetts, where she developed a passion for anything and everything outdoors. While studying International Relations and Latin American studies at Carleton College in Minnesota, she led first-year orientation trips in the Boundary Waters.
Since her teenage days volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Massachusetts, Libbie has dedicated her life to social justice and building community wherever she lives and works. Her enthusiasm for civic engagement and education has expressed itself in many ways, from teaching English to culinary students in the Galápagos, to organizing a giant campus garage sale of students’ unwanted items to benefit local youth programs, to gardening with Urban Patchwork, to helping low-income students in Austin prepare for college.
In 2008, Libbie co-produced a short documentary film about urban indigenous women’s identity while studying abroad in Bolivia, and has since pursued media as a means to communicate her passions. Throughout 2010 and 2011, Libbie worked with Austin filmmaker John Fiege on several environmental documentary film projects, collecting material that included the stories of communities affected by the BP oil spill and the Keystone XL pipeline.
Since departing from the piney woods of East Texas earlier this year, Libbie has refocused her energies and taken time to explore the wilderness areas of the Southwest. She recently returned from Utah with sand in her boots excited to bring her love of wilderness into the world of education. Drawing from her experiences volunteering in elementary schools and serving as an AmeriCorps member, she is thrilled to work with youth again, and hopes to inspire new generations of naturalists.
MIKKI SCOTT - Operations Director
After 17 years in the Hospitality/Travel industry, Mikki has switched gears to help her husband pursue his dream of running Earth Native Wilderness School. As the Operations Director, Mikki oversees many of the school's business operations including web design, registration, promotion/advertising, accounting and more. Born and raised in Colorado, Mikki has found her true home in South Austin with her wonderful husband, Dave Scott, and two beautiful children.
Mark grew up camping and hiking in a region known as the Callahan Divide of western Texas. It was here amid the Juniper and Pecan Forests where his love of wild places and the skills to live in these places first developed. For over 15 years now, he has been traveling to natural areas across the United States to learn, practice, and live the lifeway that he so dearly loves, primitive wilderness living. Mark served proudly as a soldier in the US Army for four years and is an Infantry Combat Veteran (Iraq 2004). He is a long time student of Tom Brown Jr. and has studied bow making under Jim Hamm. Experience by trial and error have shaped Mark throughout his life, so he now has a very thorough knowledge of what works and what does not work. He also works with the Lipan Apache Indians down in south Texas on survival programs and events. Mark believes that the primitive living skills are an art and science that give people not only a greater sense of security in the outdoors, but a connection to the earth in a real way. He holds a B.S. in Education from Texas A&M University and teaches from real life experiences. Mark lives with his wife Amy in College Station, Texas and together travel to various wild places across the state to teach primitive wilderness survival skills.
Eric was born and raised in Austin. 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 The University of Texas at Austin. Upon graduating, he decided to travel throughout Southeast Asia learning about their diverse cultures and ways of life. When he returned to the states, Eric worked on an organic farm on the Oregon coast. All this time away from Austin made him realize how much he loves central Texas and forced him to recognize the importance of 'home'. Wanting to embrace and share all that is Austin, he got a job at the Austin Nature & Science Center teaching elementary kids about the natural world. Some of his accomplishments there include developing a pilot program that brings science and nature to afterschool recreation centers on the east side and creating a botany/edible plant class for homeschoolers.
In 2011, Eric was lucky enough to apprentice through the Way of the Pathfinder program here at Earth Native. The program vastly improved his nature mentoring skills and furthered his knowledge and love for survival skills and naturalist studies. Some highlights include building a hackberry bow, making a knife with an agarita handle, brain-tanning, and tracking throughout Big Bend and the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
In the end though, Eric's passion lies with the plant world. Eric has led multiple plant walks through the Austin Nature & Science Center and Earth Native and has studied herbalism at the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine here in Austin. Plants are his hobby; if you find him on any given day, he's probably doing something with plants.