Our history has left us with a long list of incredible educators who worked many seasons at Sea to Sky and have since moved on to other pursuits. Unique, legendary and leaving an imperishable legacy, some on occasion when circumstances allow, come back to work their magic in the outdoor classroom. As sustainability educators at Outdoor School these other 'islanders' represent a rich diversity of characters, talents and skill. With island names the likes of Wolfie, Fungi, Forest, Monsoon, Ocean, Ivy, Flow, Lichen, Osprey, Seal, Shadow, Chute, Mica, Oso, Driftwood, Taiga, Rainbow, Pika, Squall, Oregano, Otter, Moondust, Coyote, Owl, Bufflehead, Tuckamore, Madawaska, Huckleberry, Cricket and River, these talented educators from the past 25 years of Sea to Sky programming are fondly remembered by students and teachers throughout the Vancouver region. A few of their dated 'stories' appear below.
Amy Blanding, aka Oregano, was born in the grassy foothills of the American Rockies, and raised on the red shores of Epekwitk (PEI). Known for her undying spirit and keen spontaneity, Amy has worked as a youth facilitator and educator from coast to coast. With a bachelor degree from Dalhousie University and the University of King's College in Nova Scotia, Amy is a passionate educator, sailor, soccer player, and bodhran player. Always ardent to learn more about the Earth and how to live on it, Amy finds peace and balance in her life through the universal languages of laughter, music, nature and sport. In the recent past, 'Oregano' called the Salish Sea home, living on a Haida sloop with her partner.
Sheena Careless, aka Otter, is a native Sunshine Coaster having spent much of her childhood exploring the precious wild spaces of British Columbia and beyond. Out of this has come a passion for the conservation of this province's spectacular wilderness endowment. Sheena is a University of Victoria graduate in Geography and a Queen's graduate in Education. She is a high energy, all weather educator with a twinkle in her eye, at least four funny bones in her body and a lightness and a laughter that ripples out to all in her company. She is a highly respected educator on the Sunshine Coast where she lives with her husband and young son.
Liz Gesner, aka MoonDust, is a story seeker & smile-sharer whose love of the natural world has taken her from woodland trails, to museums, to science classrooms, and back outside again. Growing up through summers of experiential environmental learning on the east coast, MoonDust has over a decade of earth education experience in four provinces, as well as a BEd directed towards Senior Science from SFU's PDP program. Sea To Sky's approach to education being real, relevant, & revolutionary speaks to her passion for validating youth & creating healthy communities. Her appreciation for small wonders is boundless and her enthusiasm to share laughter & help discover new talents on outdoor adventures throughout the seasons keeps her heart dancing & her mind expanding.
Jenny Groves, aka Coyote, came west from Ontario with a BEd from Queens University in Outdoor & Experiential Education and a passion for learning and teaching. An avid paddler, musician and artist, Jenny has a strong background working with youth and adults in the outdoors. "I am a musician and an artist with a love for costumes and drama and have made these passions of mine an integral part of my teaching." Jenny also teaches with the Sunshine Coast School District and was a lead educator with the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership based at Pearson College. Recently she served as the Canada World Youth coordinator in China. She plays a sweet bass cello with Sweet Cascadia.
Simon Hocking, aka Owl, is a graduate of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria and completed his teaching degree in the Outdoor and Experiential Education program at Queens University. He is a talented musician and is often heard 'belting' out Sea To Sky's favourite tunes at campus fire. Simon is a lead vocalist and guitar / mandolin player for the bands The Rakish Angles and Sweet Cascadia. He has a passion for the 3R's of sustainability education. Simon is an avid ocean kayaker, gardener, traveler and keen soccer player in the Sunshine Coast Men's Soccer league.
Mark Lebbell, aka Bufflehead, spent his childhood in the Laurentian Shield country of Quebec and Ontario that left him a 'canoe head' for life. A former classroom teacher, Mark now spends his time as a sustainability educator at Sea to Sky Outdoor School. He has been a lead educator with the Pearson College Summer Leadership Seminar as well as the Wild Ed program based in Vancouver. Mark has played a pivotal role in creating a culture of music and promoting songs for sustainability at Sea to Sky. Mark lives in the 'Gumboot Nation' of Roberts Creek with his partner and two children. He is an active member of the Sunshine Coast Home Schoolers group and lead vocal and guitar of the band Sweet Cascadia.
Chael MacArthur, aka Tuckamore — The word 'Tuckamore' describes the stunted Balsam Fir (Var) and Black Spruce that grow on the rocky shores of Newfoundland and Labrador where they brave the salt laced winds of the North Atlantic. Their roots hold firmly onto the rocks; communities of branches mingle together and stretch inward to the land. They create a metaphor for the place that reminds us of the power of resilience and the wisdom of the wild. Chael has been teaching this wisdom in outdoor classrooms since the age of 16 and has completed university degrees in English, French and a Bachelor of Environmental Education from Simon Fraser University. Tuck believes his most valuable education began the moment his mother first handed him a raincoat and said, “Dere's no need t'be indoors on a day like t'day.” It turns out that in Newfoundland, you are a wet weather adventurer, or not at all. A storyteller, adventurer, musician and explorer, Chael strives to live a one planet lifestyle. As Uncle Tuckles would say, “Young Tuck, my son, he's silly wit sustainability.”
Laura Magrath, aka Madawaska, spent her early years in Ontario canoeing, hiking and whitewater kayaking. She is a graduate of the Concurrent Education program at Queen's University and is currently completing a Masters of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University. She has been a classroom educator for the past 14 years taking kids into the backcountry and integrating sustainability into all areas of school life. Madawaska is passionate about instilling hope and inspiring people of all ages to take steps to reduce our footprints and live as a part of nature. She is working on a children's book “H is for Hope”.
Damien McCombs, aka Huckleberry, is an educator and adventurer who grew up on the edge of Sasquatch Provincial Park. His childhood was spent enveloped and dazzled by huckleberries, fawns, and the miracles of nature. His connection with the wonders of the natural world inspired him to travel all over British Columbia and around the world leaving him rich in experience and stories. 'Huck' is an experienced back-country guide, artist and youth instructor. He is excited about inspiring and engaging young people in environmental leadership, ethics, hiking, rock-climbing, skiing, sustainability education, and even stilt building. If you spot him in his natural habitat, the cliff faces and alpine lakes of BC's Coast Mountains, ask him about the Sasquatch.
Allison Prime, aka Cricket, migrated to the West Coast from Ontario where she spent her childhood summers paddling on the lakes of Algonquin Park. She graduated with a BA in International Development Studies from McGill University and completed her teaching degree in the Outdoor Experiential and Ecological Education program at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Since then, she has been dedicated to using the outdoor classroom to foster self-confidence in students, as well as a love for each other and the earth. She strives to enable students to make connections between their choices and how they affect the ecological systems that support life on this planet. She spends her free time singing in a choir, learning to play the guitar and exploring local forests.
Nick Townley, aka River, is an avid adventurer and sustainability crusader. He feeds his sense of wonder by self propelling through the magnificent rivers, lakes, oceans and wild spaces of Earth Island. He graduated from the University of King's College with a BA in Classics, Otago University with a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and UBC with a Diploma in Outdoor Environmental Education. When he is not at Sea to Sky, Nick is a Coordinator with the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership, and a WildEDucator with WildED. In 2005, Nick volunteered with the Otesha Project Coast2Coast Bicycle Tour. For five and half months Nick bicycled and lived communally with a group of 15 other youth. They bicycled 8,500 kilometres, from Vancouver to Corner Brook, Newfoundland, and presented environmental and social justice workshops to over 10,000 people of all ages. In the summer of 2009, Nick spent six weeks braving the rain and black flies of Northern Ontario, canoeing from Sioux Lookout to Hudson Bay.