EPIC’s Learning Team

Teacher

A BC Ministry Certified teacher onsite with children two days per week. They oversee home learning component, SLP and be the interface with NIDES.

Catie Bainbridge (she/her) is a white settler with Irish, French, and English ancestry. She is a storytelling, bone collecting, cloud watching, mud playing child-at-heart who recently moved back to Lekwungen territory (Victoria) from Sinixt Territory (Nelson). 

Catie began working in the field of mental wellness and addiction recovery five years ago. In that work, she witnessed adults become reconnected with themselves in the safe hands of nature. Integral to her teaching practice is nourishing these connections with children so that their relationships with themselves and their communities stay strong. She believes that every being should have a place in nature where they can feel held as they grow and that our families, communities, and environment can heal and flourish if we learn to love and listen to the land again.

Her first teaching experience was working in a bioregional forest school located at PKOLS in the 2018-19 school year. It was there that she learned so much about the world from the candid wisdom of children in nature. She holds a B.C. Teaching Certificate and is learning about place-conscious, inquiry-based learning models with an emphasis on indigenous principles, identity development, and anti-racist pedagogy.

Megan Grupe (she/her) is an ocean-lover, forest bather, mountain climber, and lover of forming communities with kids (and adults!) in nature. She is a white settler of Swiss & Scottish heritage who was born on Kalapuya territory in Oregon. Having spent the last decade and a half living up and down the west coast of North and Central America, she has fallen in love with nature-connection and navigating these spaces with others from the rainforests of Costa Rica, to the kelp forests of sunny San Diego, the rocky intertidal of the Pacific Northwest, and most recently the Coast Salish territories of Greater Victoria. 

With a goofy, patient, empathetic, kind, gracious, and warm motherly energy she comes at teaching with curiosity and delight, believing that she acts as both a facilitator and participant in the learning environment. She holds a Bachelors in Marine Biology & Environmental Science from University of Oregon and a Masters in Education from University San Diego, California and is a B.C. certified teacher. Most recently she is engaging in learning around decolonial and nature-connected teaching through the Child & Nature Alliance. All of these experiences have contributed to her passion and love of teaching while thinking critically about how to create harmonious learning environments with organic rhythm and flow that channel the diversity and beauty each human brings to the learning community. Much of her classroom teaching background is with teaching math and science to middle school and high school aged humans, but she has worked in outdoor education with humans of all ages and also with families to create learning at home. She has also done a multitude of training around teaching mindfulness, yoga, and self-compassion practices to littles and loves to incorporate this into her teaching style.

Outside of being a teacher, she calls herself mom to a beautiful, lively, and creative 3 year old daughter and wife to a tall avid gardener and deep sea biologist. She is very much looking forward to meeting and working with each and every one of you to create and build community together.

Mentors

Additional educators, specifically with outdoor wilderness awareness training. A mentor is present onsite all 3 days.

Francie Morgan (she/her) is a gardener of delicious food, relationships and curiosity. She can usually be found outdoors taking in the slug/moss/tree’s eye view, scaling mountains with her adventurous family and sharing her enthusiasm for nature. She is a believer in diverse community, mending, music and of surrounding one’s self with plants at all times.

As a settler in New Brunswick, Francie grew up living between the traditional territories of the Passamaquoddy and W∂last∂kwiyik (Maliseet) peoples. She and her forest biologist partner moved to Lekwungen territory of Victoria in 2011 and quickly feel in love. In 2013 she graduated with a joint degree in Environmental and Gender/Indigenous Studies. She has had the greater privilege of nurturing many friends through the passage into motherhood as their Doula. Being a Doula is fundamental to the way Francie understands and navigates the world, especially now as the mother of a sensitive and curious 2.5 year old.

For the past six years Francie has loved being a member or the education team at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary where her focus was primarily on place based ecological programs and home school science courses. She has seen firsthand the transformative power of nature on community and self and believes strongly that nature herself is the best mentor. Whether in laughter, sprint or silence Francie looks forward to meeting your children where they are at on their journey to self and world discovery.

Sarah (she/her/they/them) is a third generation Ukrainian/English/Irish settler who grew up on unceded Algonquin territory. She uses a strengths-based relational approach to work with children which helps generate a safe and compassionate space to find connection to themselves, others and the living world. She studied and worked in wilderness and survival skills since 2001, with a focus on connecting children, youth and adults with nature for the last 7 years. Sarah completed a stone tools, bow hunting, tracking and native plants apprenticeships with Eddie Starnator and Julie Martin. She also studied gakgung archery for several years while living in South Korea.

Sarah is especially drawn to rites of passage such as land fasts and working with LGBTQ2S+ folx and self-identified girls and women in particular. She has worked at the P.I.N.E. Project, Soaring Eagle Nature School, presented at Headwaters Skill Gathering and Hillside Festival and was part of the children’s staff and community hearth at the Art of Mentoring Ontario.

She worked with the Guelph Outdoor School for almost 6 years and established the Lynx program for self-identified young women while there. More recently she started her own business called Path-to-Ground running programs such as fire making, tracking, weaving and storytelling. Currently she is completing her Master’s in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University.

 

My name is Rue McDonald M.A. (they/them) I am a placed-based outdoor educator with elementary aged students and adults. In my other work, I offer spiritual and grief support through ancestor connection, lineage healing and cultural reclamation. My learning facilitation practice seeks to offer tools for development of the intuition, nature connection, empathy and resiliency building for learning communities seeking to collectively grow in wisdom, groundedness and capacity for decolonial healing in times of great change and uncertainty.

I am a researcher, plant tender, songster, story weaver bard, queer animist witch and place-based environmental educator. I have Scottish, Irish, Cornish, Welsh and Scandinavian ancestry.

I also have 8 years of teaching experience with a variety of ages and am a certified Forest School Practitioner through the Child and Nature Alliance. Most recently, I have taught nature-based programming though my buisness Queer Directions Learning Center, The Heartwood Learning Community in Vic West and the Royal BC Museum.

I hold a bachelors with honours from Queens University in Global Development and Indigenous Studies and a Masters of Arts in Indigenous Governance from The University of Victoria.

You can learn about me and my work here:
IG @queerdirections  
Podcast Airmid’s Almanac (podbean.com)

Sydney’s (she/her) roots run shallow in this land, previous generations uprooted from the Ukraine, England and Germany, given new opportunities for life in the prairie soils of Saskatchewan. Now on Vancouver Island she finds herself in towering trees, brilliant blue reflections of the ocean, soft steps of moss and the sweet smell of rain. 

She believes that often we can learn as much from children as they can learn from us. Inspired by a child’s innate sense of curiosity and wonder for the world, she is continuously reminded to bring out her own inner child, to find beauty in the simple things, be in the moment and nourish herself with play and creativity. She loves to bike, read, swim, forage, attempt to garden and learn new skills. She dreams of living off grid one day in a cob house, with goats, her cats and with sustainable permaculture systems, food forests, lush vegetable gardens, and fruit trees galore!

Sydney enjoys supporting a child’s need to foster their imagination and self exploration through being/learning in nature and holding space for them to dive into creative and emotional expression. Her own expression lies within writing fiction, poetry and non-fiction pieces, practicing art, from painting with watercolors, drawing with oil pastels to creating sculptures with found items, and cooking/baking with foraged foods, including mushrooms, berries and other edible plants. She also is an empathetic, sensitive soul who feels and thinks deeply and wishes to help children embrace themselves for who they are, as she is learning to do.

Student Mentors

A practicum student, from the University of Victoria Child and Youth Care Program is
onsite 3 days a week. They spend 3-4 months with the community to complete their course requirements.

Guides

Parents and forest community members are invited to be involved onsite with EPIC. They can also facilitate workshops for learners and the EPIC community