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.
MICHELLE CARBONE - Youth Programs Coordinator/Youth Instructor
Born and raised in the Midwest, Michelle has traveled across the States before landing in Austin. After living in St. Louis, Milwaukee, Ohio, and even Yellowstone National Park, she has become familiar with the natural wonders existing all across the States. Once she received an undergraduate degree from Marquette University in Urban and Environmental Affairs, she began sharing her love and knowledge of the natural world.
Starting in Yellow Springs, Ohio, she became a Naturalist at Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center. Here, she spent a year taking children on hikes, feeding owls and perfecting the “Bird of Prey Shuffle” skit, where she was featured as the Barn Owl. Due to the impressive commitment to her role as a barn owl and her natural ability to make nature seem “not just for hippies”, direct quote, she was invited to stay on as a Coordinator of the Summer Camp. Michelle migrated to the South after many years of cold winters to the fair (and warmer) state of Texas to continue outdoor education at the YMCA Camp Grady Spruce in North Central Texas. Boat rides to islands, star-gazing and hiking mountains with 5th graders from miles around became her life, as well as singing her always-entertaining Water Cycle Song.
The last leg of her journey before venturing back to Texas was Yellowstone National Park, where she had the chance to climb among the Grand Tetons of Jackson Hole and back country camp all over Yellowstone. But after her many visits to Austin, and Gourdoughs, she knew her home was here, where she has been involved with the Nature and Science Center as well as the Wildflower Center before becoming Earth Native's Youth Programs Coordinator. Her passions include recycling, buying local and looking for new and innovative ways to lead a simpler life with minimal impact on the environment but still maximum fun!
LEE BURTON - Expedition Program Developer
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. He is currently developing and leading Earth Native Wilderness School expeditions to numerous intriguing locations in North America and beyond, with a focus on animal tracking/trailing, primitive survival, and pre-historic archeology trips.
JESSICA ENNIS - Youth Instructor/Adult 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 9-month Weekly Homeschool Program the last 2 years, Youth Monthly programs, as well as other 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.
GREY COWAN - Youth Instructor/Adult Instructor
Douglas G. Cowan (nicknamed Grey) was born in Dallas, TX, but moved to Albuquerque, NM at age 2. Growing up in the Sandia foothills, he and his younger brother caught, observed, and released bull snakes, western fence lizards, tarantulas, quail, box turtles, and rabbits. Hiking, camping, and skiing were past times for his family. Grey earned his Eagle Scout in 2002.
After graduating from University of New Mexico with a double major in History and Religious Studies, Grey moved to Washington in 2011 to study mentoring and survival skills at Wilderness Awareness School. He completed the Outdoor School plus two years as an apprentice instructor for youth, teen, and adults. In addition to teaching summer camps Grey contributed articles to their Nature Skills website.
Cybertracker Level III certified in Wildlife Tracking, Grey enjoys wandering landscapes looking for signs of life. Before moving to the Austin area, Grey was last in Montana to study at Bill McConnell’s Past Skills Yamabushi program. He enjoys working with his hands: making bows, arrows, tanning hides and sewing buckskin clothing, flint knapping, and perfecting primitive skills. As his spiritual connections to the earth mature, he realizes that creating strong relationships with the natural world gives each person a better quality of life. He enjoys empowering children and adults to feel comfortable and at home in nature.
DEANNA RAE RIVERTREE - Youth Instructor
Deanna grew up in Leander, Texas where her family spent weekends fishing, camping and canoeing on Lake Travis. Her father enjoyed hunting, and she helped him butcher deer in the garage, learned how to hold a canoe steady while he bow-fished, and learned to respect firearms, fishhooks and knives at a young age.
In her late teens, Deanna was immersed in absolute, pristine nature in the high mountains of Colorado; guided by an old mountain man who followed no trails and navigated by the shapes of the surrounding mountain peaks. The smell of wild mint filled the air near every stream, and wild Tiger Lilies were in bloom. She appreciated remote places in nature from then on.
Later, while attending the University of Texas, Deanna worked as an Arts Coordinator for Austin Parks and Recreation. She enjoyed introducing children to the playful world of artistic creation. At UT, the study of ancient stone monuments fascinated her, and after graduating she travelled to see some first-hand, including Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Giza Pyramids and Colossi of Memnon in Egypt, and Machu Picchu in Peru.
Deanna enjoys finding fossils, identifying species of plants and birds, overnight canoe camping and now lives with her wonderful husband and little girl on the Colorado River near Bastrop.
NICHOLE CROSSON - Youth Instructor
Nichole Crosson lived most of her life in Michigan, finding secret hiding spots in the woods, swimming in freshwater lakes, and [of course] pretending to be a teacher! While studying elementary education in college, she got her first summer camp counselor job doing high ropes, rock climbing, and team building. Having never been to summer camp as a child, Nichole was amazed at how being outdoors almost all of the time was transforming her. She noticed how quickly the magic was working on her students, too, and decided that this is what being a teacher is all about. She went on to work at summer camps in Rhode Island and Maine, leading 4 day back-packing trips, going on swamp hikes, and memorizing the Lorax for the counselors' weekly Friday performance.
Wanting to sustain this wondrous place beyond our walls and make sure the students she was nurturing every day would have clean air to breathe and water to drink, Nichole developed a strong passion for sustainability and environmental advocacy. After graduating from Central Michigan University in 2010, Nichole moved to Austin to become a teacher full time. She has been lucky to find schools that always support her in having nature study and outdoor exploration as main curriculum components. At Open Door Preschool, she took her students on walks in the woods to make forts and look for edible plants, spider webs, and perfect climbing trees. She led a project-based unit on bicycles that culminated in a bike-safety presentation and her 4 year olds even started a compost bin for the school! When teaching 1st and 2nd grade at AHB Community School, Nichole's favorite unit about Texas flora and fauna helped inspire her students to see their own backyards in a whole new way.
Nichole loves to collect leaves and rocks and feathers, go to comedy shows, and practice yoga. Nichole also teaches kids yoga, sharing how her own practice has helped her connect to herself and the world around her. She is excited to be instructing at Earth Native, alongside her students as they make life-changing discoveries outdoors!
ERIC KNIGHT - Youth Instructor/Adult Instructor
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.
MIKKI SCOTT - Director of Operations
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 Director of Operations, 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 their 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.