Olympic Nature Experience’s Vision is that every person in our community has the opportunity to develop a deeply felt sense of connection and appreciation for our local, natural environment that positively affects their daily actions and decisions.
Our Mission is to nurture our community’s connection with nature through immersive outdoor experiences.
Through our interactions and programs, ONE board members and staff strive to embody the following values, continually working to create a safe, meaningful experience:
CARETAKE: We take personal responsibility to protect our natural resources, the beings that depend on them, each other and ourselves as a collective part of nature.
GRATITUDE: We practice appreciation for each other and the natural world, which helps us remember how we are all connected.
RESPECT: We honor the rights of all living creatures to live in a clean, healthy and peaceful environment. We practice respect for each other by honoring our various needs and personal choices.
AWARENESS: We aim to increase our understanding of the world around us. From wild spaces to our relationships with others, we are committed to understanding how our actions create change in the world.
Olympic Nature Experience teachers bring many years of experience working in naturalist roles, teaching, raising young children, and mentoring. Staff are specially trained in nature-based teaching and also trained to recognize natural dangers to keep participants safe. All staff members are First Aid/CPR certified and background checked.
Would you like to join the Olympic Nature Experience team? We are always looking for passionate nature educators to join our team! If you are interested in joining our staff, fill out an application and we will get back to you if you are a fit for one of our current positions.
Merissa Koller WilliamsExecutive Director email@example.com
Sarah GreenwaldProgram Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah began working at Olympic Nature Experience in 2016 as a teacher and administrator. In 2022, she stepped into the Program Director position. Sarah has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara and a M.Ed in Environmental Education from Western Washington University. Sarah has been teaching outdoor programs for over a decade and has a Forest Kindergarten Teaching Certificate. She is grateful for the Olypmic Nature Experience community and loves stomping in puddles, exploring beaches, and eating trail snacks.
Jill ZarzecznyAdministrative Coordinator & Teacher email@example.com
Jill, a native to the Midwest, moved to the Peninsula in 2009 to work in Olympic Park where she spent 5 years leading volunteers and growing plants for the Elwha River Restoration Project. Jill has a B.A. in Environment & Development from Boston University and a MES from The Evergreen State College. Most recently, Jill has focused on raising her two wild girls and studying herbalism. She is grateful to get to spend her days exploring the natural world with children. In her free time, she and her family can be found searching for banana slugs and wild berries in the forest, digging in their garden, cooking up tasty food, or lounging along the bank a nearby river.
Melissa ForsterLead Teacher firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa moved to the Olympic Peninsula to attend the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in 2016 and decided to call it home after falling in love with the unique ecology and community. Learning the art of traditional boatbuilding led to a burgeoning passion and commitment to teaching young children in her ideal classroom environment, nature. After pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education from Peninsula College she has taught young children through Headstart and a local nature preschool. She is honored to have the opportunity to join the Olympic Nature Experience team while serving the children and families of Owl’s Hollow Early Learning.
Amanda MurphyLead Teacher email@example.com
Nancy Morris-VogelLead Teacher
Nancy lives and works on a peaceful little farm with her husband, daughter, dog and chickens. After graduating from Sequim High School she spent a few years working as a wild land firefighter, traveling and working for Boulder Outdoor Survival School. Her desire to help people has led her to a 20 year and counting career in massage therapy. Coming back to teaching outdoor skills and working with children is a fulfillment of a long time dream.
Teacher Sylvester grew up along the saline coastal forests of Maine and the Smokey mountains of Tennessee, where he fell in love with the natural world. After attending Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School in 2007 he began mentoring the children in his life. Moving to Washington and teaching at Olympic Nature Experience has brought many opportunities to share his passion for nature connection and primitive skills with children and continue his education.
Mahina recently moved to Port Angeles. She was born in Hawaii, and grew up in New Mexico, but she has settled and is putting down roots here in the Pacific Northwest. She is an artist with many years of experience as an art educator, childcare provider and mom. She loves being out in nature and feels passionate about the positive effects of outdoor education and play for young children and is so excited to be joining the team at Olympic Nature Experience.
Gioia Roldan ShawTeacher
After twelve years teaching Montessori preschool in California and South Carolina, Gioia returned to her native Washington in 2021. She is delighted to bring her passions for early childhood education and the great outdoors into her work with Olympic Nature Experience. She looks forward to learning and growing alongside the students and their families. In her free time, she can be found reading to her daughter, cooking delicious meals, and enjoying walks around her home in Port Angeles.
Jesica comes to Olympic Nature Experience with a bachelors degree in Marine Biology and a masters degree in Science Education.
She has worked in outdoor education for years teaching at aquariums, science centers, on boats and islands. Jesica most recently spent her time teaching science at a public charter school in Oregon and is looking forward to getting back to teaching students outdoors.
Sammi has been living in Port Angeles since 2020. After working as a research scientist studying water quality and river ecology, she is excited to begin her teaching career at Olympic Nature Experience. Sammi has a bachelors degree in Biology and a masters in Environmental Science. Originally from Kansas, she has a great appreciation for prairies, open skies and intermittent stream critters. Sammi loves to spend her free time rollerblading, gardening, reading with her cat, and doodling local plants.
Mallory WatsonSubstitute Teacher
Nora PitaroSubstitute Teacher
Originally from New York, Nora has lived in Washington for the last ten years. She moved out to Port Angeles with her husband two years ago, and is so happy to live amongst the mountains and the sea. She has worked for years as a newborn baby and family photographer, and is looking forward to getting out in nature and being a part of Olympic Nature Experience to work with children and families in a new and exciting way!
Erica CalhoonSubstitute Teacher
Erica recently moved to Port Angeles, following time in Olympia, Montreal and Seattle. Her recent years have been spent teaching at a nature-based preschool and creative reuse center, while making art in her free time. With a BA in Environmental Studies from McGill University and a love of local ecology, Erica is excited to join Olympic Nature Experience .
Danielle MillsSubstitute Teacher
Danielle has lived most of her life on the Peninsula and has grown up hiking and exploring the Olympics. She has trained with Ben Sanford at Tribal Edge and Tom Brown at Tracker School to sharpen her outdoor skills. Most recently, she worked at Washington Outdoor School (preschool and elementary) in Ellensburg and Roslyn, Wa. She currently lives in Port Angeles and has three children– an 8 year old and twin two year olds. Danielle also teaches Baby Signing Time and is a Math tutor. She absolutely loves being in nature and has a passion for helping others feel more comfortable in the wilderness.
Tegan GlaudeSubstitute Teacher
Tegan moved to Port Angeles in 2011 from the Seattle area, where she had completed a dual degree in Biology and The Program on the Environment from UW. She loves living on the North Olympic Peninsula and exploring the forests and beaches with her husband and three kids. When not searching for slugs or sea glass she can be found reading, crafting or puzzling.
Board of Directors
Noah GlaudeVice Chair
An appreciation for the easy access to wild beaches, forests and mountains brought Noah and his wife to the Olympic Peninsula in 2011. He is happy to now be raising two children on the Peninsula and connecting to and supporting the community however he can. Noah is the Assistant Director at the North Olympic Library System where he oversees and implements a wide range of services and programs throughout Clallam County.
Jason TaylorBoard Chair
Lindsey and her family recently moved to the Olympic Peninsula and are excited to join the community. Her children are enrolled in Olympic Nature Experience and have already received so many positive benefits from being a part of this unique and enriching program. She has 10 years experience working in the food industry as a chef and as a Director of Operations for food innovation companies. Lindsey also enjoys being involved in the arts and serves on the Board of Trustees at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Seattle. Exploring the Olympic Peninsula and connecting with local farmers has been the family’s favorite pastime since moving out here.
Bryan HarpBoard Member
Bryan spent the first few decades of his life on the east coast before deciding to move to the Olympic Peninsula in 2018 with his wife. He has two children; the eldest of which is an enthusiastic Olympic Nature Experience student. Bryan works professionally as an employee benefits consultant. He has a life-long love of board sports, enjoys gardening with his family and taking advantage of all the amazing nature the Olympic Peninsula has to offer.
Joe ChurchillBoard Member
Olympic Nature Experience has tuition assistance available for low-income families. Tuition Assistance applications are due June 1st, 2023. You will find the tuition assistance application as a part of the registration process. The Tuition Assistance committee will determine TA awards by mid-June.