Our Team

Staff Directory

Lesley marshall

Founder
(she/her)

I have been an Education Director and Teacher in the Pacific Northwest for over 15 years. As a Teacher at Catlin Gabel School, I learned about curriculum development, group learning techniques and benchmark assessments. For the past 9 years, I have worked as a Program Director at Trackers Earth.  I have been a part of this growing program and was able to hone my skill set in education management, forest school techniques and operational logistics.

I am passionate about providing students with multiple learning paths and meeting the child where they are in their skills.  As a working mom, last spring was very difficult.  I felt I could not give my son the attention he needed, and he was only getting the most basic education.  That is why I created this program, so our students will stay engaged, inquisitive and caught up for when schools re-open.

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Sara brells

Operations Coordinator
(she/her)

I am an educator, guide, Nature-Connected Coach, and committed life-long learner.  My BA in Politics & Government affirmed the belief that guides my professional endeavors: Education is the greatest agent for social change. My career in education launched over ten years ago in the international education sector. I have since had the privilege to work in early childhood, leadership development, outdoor education, experiential education, and most recently as a public school Kindergarten Teacher. I’ve witnessed the joy of a child who realizes for the first time that they can read; learned from indigenous teachers in a rural community of the Ecuadorian Amazon; and stood in awe of young childrens’ intuitive connection with the woods.

I believe that nature-connection is every human’s birthright and I am passionate about equity of access to nature-connected programming. Children (and adult-children!) learn what it means to show up as their best selves when they are attuned to nature’s cycles and wisdom. I am honored to work with the team at PDX Education Collab on outreach and operational logistics and as a co-launcher of our Outdoor Preschool and Outdoor Adventure instructor.

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Sarah Chrusoskie

People and Paperwork manager
(she/her)

I am the back end paperwork and people goblin! I LOVE to be outside and in/on cold water. Working with children and grown-up children is the most challenging and rewarding job. I thrive on being useful and facilitating growth. Sitting with big feelings is my superpower (unless they are my own).

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Grant Peters

instructor · digital management
(he/him)

As an environmental journalist by trade and educator by passion I have carved myself a niche in the world of outdoor education as a systems thinker that approaches the challenges of achieving sound philosophical pedagogy with an unconventional toolbox. I’ve had an opportunity to learn from and share with multiple educational organizations and individuals over the last 8 years: Trackers Earth, Oregon Outdoor School, and Galileo Learning, and a handful of students with more specific needs.

My schooling culminated in a bachelor’s in journalism with a focus in environmental sciences, and a self- guided certification in environmental stewardship through macro-systemics (read as: overcomplicated ecology). Journalism as a practice has changed drastically over just the intervening years since my graduation and – in a similar way to education and the more-than-human world – those institutions that could not adapt could not progress. It is my goal to help students prepare themselves for an incomprehensibly dynamic future by encouraging curiosity, determination, and empathy.

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Mick Miller

instructor · qUARTERMASTER
(he/him)

Mick has been teaching outdoor skills in the Pacific Northwest since 2018.

A lifelong outdoors enthusiast, Mick learned much of what he knows from his parents: a backcountry guide and museum specialist. He draws on his Gaelic heritage, like stories of faeries and wild rovers, to inspire students with the magic of the outdoors. His history degree also serves to inform his education, drawing on the wilderness skills of peoples around the globe and across time. He is particularly passionate about the intersections between humans and nature, and the bushcraft culture common to all cultures around the globe.Look out for his big hat, his hand made walking sticks, and his general excess of gear. A classic over-packer, Mick likes to be prepared for any and all lessons that might present themselves in the woods and wilds, believing these to be the most valuable ones. He’s eager to get out and share stories, skills, and excitement with new and seasoned adventurers alike! See you soon!
My schooling culminated in a bachelor’s in journalism with a focus in environmental sciences, and a self- guided certification in environmental stewardship through macro-systemics (read as: overcomplicated ecology). Journalism as a practice has changed drastically over just the intervening years since my graduation and – in a similar way to education and the more-than-human world – those institutions that could not adapt could not progress. It is my goal to help students prepare themselves for an incomprehensibly dynamic future by encouraging curiosity, determination, and empathy.

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Jake Bussey

Instructor · Transportation
(he/they)

“Gratefulness leads to a widely opened heart. You cannot receive anything great in life with a closed heart. Be grateful and reap the benefits!”
– Assegid Habtewold

There is a great deal of guesswork in this world of ours.  It’s nice to know that, every now and then, there comes along something so intrinsically right that it feels perfectly suited to you.  That’s how I feel about adventures, education and the outdoors.  Really there weren’t a whole lot of choices when it came down to it: I need the thrill of adventure every now and then, I couldn’t teach inside walls all the time, and I had to work in the outdoors as much as possible. It’s been almost a decade since I finished my university years, fifteen since I began them, and delved into the wild current known as a career.  There were a lot of setbacks, things that brought me to a screeching halt.  There were also a lot of things that propelled me forward, and all of them had two things in common: they were fun to do, even though they were work, and they all educated folks in the ways and the symmetry of the outdoors. I have worn a lot of hats over the years: National Park Ranger, Camp Counselor, YMCA Program Director, Forest Service Ranger, delivery driver, and many more.  I love the hats (as a matter of fact, I have a wide collection of hats that I adore and wear all the time), and they have added breadth and scope to my life to the point that, in fifteen short years, I have done so much and seen even more that I can hardly believe I packed all that adventure into them!  As always, I look for the next adventure. Hey, a question: will you go on my next one with me? “Life is good.”
-Jake Bussey
I believe that nature-connection is every human’s birthright and I am passionate about equity of access to nature-connected programming. Children (and adult-children!) learn what it means to show up as their best selves when they are attuned to nature’s cycles and wisdom. I am honored to work with the team at PDX Education Collab on outreach and operational logistics and as a co-launcher of our Outdoor Preschool and Outdoor Adventure instructor.

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Soli Gustafson

instructor · Garden coordinator
(she/they)

I grew up on a farm with all kinds of animals and my family was very outdoorsy. I've got four siblings, three of them triplets, all younger so lots of experience with kids. My passion is definitely farming and my real goal in life is to have my own farm with animals and run a camp for kids to learn about farming. Until then I'll be teaching kids all about the outdoors and travelling with my two cats!

Our farm was in Boise but then my parents decided it was getting big and we moved to the beautiful southern Oregon coast. I was upset about losing the farm but soon fell in love with the beach and the forests there. After that I got my Bachelor's degree in Anthropology from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. I did my study abroad in Senegal while learning French. Moved around a little, worked on a big livestock farm in Junction City, and finally settled in Portland for a few years. Since then I've been mostly teaching kids about the outdoors, with a few side jobs working with dogs and in a French immersion school. I'll be here all the way til the end of summer and then hopefully I'll be heading somewhere warmer for the winter! I like to move around a lot.

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Seamus COllins (Moose)

Instructor
(he/him)

Birds, plants and movement.

I've been enjoying dancing, rolling and breathing in the world of martial arts for some time now but only in the last ten years have I approached it on a professional level. My background is mainly in Brazilian jiu jitsu and Muay Thai, however, what I teach is a blend of aspects from karate, kung fu, Muay Thai, tai chi, boxing and even yoga. I believe it is important to understand various approaches to the martial path while considering context like the culture and history of each one and how they can be applied to enrich our lives.

My passions also include talking about the birds and plant life that surround us. Whether we are in "civilization" or "nature", we always have this amazing display of survival and beauty that is always trying to communicate with us. Learning about these creatures we find that our worlds are more shared than we often expect.

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Peter Gerlek

instructor
(he/him)

I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and spent my time as a free range kid exploring forests, lakes, and mountains. Hiking, backpacking, and canoeing were a regular part of family life.

In 2010 I moved to Portland. I was enchanted by this sylvan city and its ability to provide exploration of wild spaces within an urban area. I found work as an outdoor instructor with Trackers Earth, where I practiced LARP as an educational medium. I have also worked in childcare for the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette.

I believed as a kid as I believe now— that nature is a space of imagination. Richard Louv writes in his book Last Child in the Woods that “in nature, a child finds freedom and fantasy.” I hope to help provide that.

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Sam Bisnette

Instructor
(he/him)

Born and raised in the Flint Hills of Northeast Kansas, Sam has had a lifelong passion for all things outdoors. As a young man, Sam headed West and began a career in outdoor recreation and education. Over the years he has amassed a variety of experience in many different positions, such as ranch cook, horseback guide, horse training, and hunting outfitter just to name a few. When not at work, you can probably find him in the kitchen tinkering with recipes for fermented hot sauce or foraging for wild edibles.

He doesn't rent pigs.

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Laura Grant

Instructor · Forest Witch
(she/they)

Hi, there! I'm Laura Grant with the NW Adventure Company :)

I've spent most of my life outdoors, either playing in the yard or park as a kid or camping with my family both as a child and as a parent. As a child, that usually meant playing in mud, climbing trees, turning branches into magic wands, and turning my Barbie dolls into fairies. As an adult, I spend time hiking, foraging, rockhounding, and communing with nature through a highly-researched method of meditation and relaxation called shinrin-yoku.

Connecting to nature is important to me as a person, parent, student, and educator; nothing is quite as fun as being able to tell kids everything about a cool rock, flower, or mushroom they found and then facilitating outdoor S.T.E A.M. activities with those same objects. As an early childhood educator, I make conscious effort to help children find the best way for them to communicate their thoughts and feelings (especially when having big feelings), and to praise them for their efforts. I utilize Montessori and Reggio Emilia methods of teaching and relational pedagogy to make a child-centered nature-based education and mindfulness.

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Wolf

Instructor · Seanchaidh (Gaelic storyteller)

Wolf has been working in outdoor and special education since 2007 with a background in social/emotional and behavioral health.

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COlton Anderson

Instructor
(he/they)

I grew up in the forests of Vermont where I was fortunate enough to learn about the natural world, our connection to nature, the animals and plants that live alongside us, and an intimate understanding our our place among all of it. After high school, my path led me to pursue a degree in outdoor education, as well as finding myself joining the Army national guard. During this time I found my passion for survival and minimalism, as well as a love for environmental science.

As an instructor, I strive to bring together all the lessons I've learned in my time on this earth, and form a philosophy of deep connection with the world around us, as well as a more intimate understanding of ourselves, through meditation and self actualization.

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Sarah Mckinlay-scott

Instructor
(she/her)

A mediocre gardener, Sarah spends a lot of time getting dirty and deciding that those weeds are actually volunteer native plants.

As an undergraduate at University of Chicago in the nineties, she discovered her love for garbage turned to art; now Sarah finds ways to turn all sorts of “found materials” into sometimes useful, sometimes beautiful, or sometimes just weird new objects.

Sarah grew up among Portland’s environmental activists and loves this park-filled, constantly changing city. With 20 years experience in child care and technical theater (and probably too much time playing games), she’s always facilitating the narratives & schemes of people around her.

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Sphinx

Instructor · Admin
(they/them)

Sphinx has been working in outdoor education since 2016 and also works in the greater Portland area as a practicing theatre artist. Their favorite skills to teach and learn more about include plant identification and utilization, archery, sword fighting, fiber arts, wilderness crafting, lock-picking, and storytelling. Their other hobbies and endeavors include pen and paper roleplaying games, hiking, poetry, music, art, and generally maintaining a sense of wonder about the world and nature.

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Marissa Shaver

Instructor · Photography
(she/her)

Hello!

I'm Marissa. I'm a trail runner and ultramarathoner who also happens to have a lot of experience working with kids. I love discovering and sharing ancient trees and plants, teaching about trail running, and developing relationships with each other and the world around us. I have a background instructing photography, as well.

I studied history and storytelling, and ended up working for a while in the film industry as well as teaching in public schools. At a certain point, I discovered hiking. That then turned into an urge to hit the road, and I traveled around the west part of the country for a little bit before deciding to resettle in Oregon. I was blown away by the beauty in the PNW and began spending nearly all of my free time outside in the mountains and forests. Hiking quickly turned into trail running and camping, outdoor education entered the picture several years ago, and now here we are.

Most of what I do in my free time now is trail run, anywhere in the PNW. If I’m not doing that, I’m probably photographing trail races, or, practicing rewiring my brain and learning about interpersonal neurobiology and relational neuroscience. Or making 5 to 12 year old level jokes.

I’m warmly grateful to be a part of a great organization like NW Adventure Company.

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zach todd

Disc master · Social media
(He/him)

By the time I was 13 years old I already lived in 5 different cities and 3 different states. Moving around many times at a young age gave me the opportunity to understand the perspective of various walks of life beyond just “athletes." The diverse amount of friends I made along the way (as well as my mom’s amazing attitude to never judge anyone) helped me with accepting people for who they are without judgement. As I grew older, I realized some big passions of mine were: to always help people improve in their own lives, always give people a fair opportunity by never having preconceived notions of who they are, and to always answer the question “why?” when a person wants to have a better understanding of what they are learning about. I was able to fulfill these passions by coaching football and basketball at Liberty High School while completing my college degree of business finance from PSU. Sports have always been a major part of my life in more ways than just playing and competition. The cultures and friends made along the way are the driving passions that keep me involved in sports. After fracturing the last vertebrae in my back playing college football and having lost a major relationship, a friend thought disc golf would be a sport that would help me with the missing piece in my heart. Not only did disc golf fill the missing hole in my heart, but it ended up taking over my life. The combination of the gorgeous nature we are spoiled with in the PNW, the amazing community of the disc golf world and the competition is what made me fall in love with the sport. I was introduced to the sport in 2015 thinking that it was just a casual type of sport, but in 2018 I was made aware that there are disc golf tournaments played all around the world through the PDGA. After many years managing a mortgage branch, I took a year off of work in 2019 to hone my disc golf game so I could try to become a professional at the highest level of competition (on the professional tour). In 2021 I made a difficult decision to step away from 7 years of coaching football and basketball for Liberty High School to start a disc golf apparel company that has grown into what I’m doing today- teaching kids the joys of disc golf, helping people improve their game through lessons, running tournaments for the community to come together, and expanding what Top Flight Disc Golf has to offer to the disc golf community. In 2021 I competed in my first pro tour event (Portland Open) and by 2022 I competed in 4 pro tour events in the United States. My game and teaching seem to always be expanding in a positive way. The opportunity to work with Northwest Adventure Company and introduce disc golf to the awesome kids in the community has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my life! Fun Fact!- Both of my biological parents were born deaf and somehow my brother and I have great hearing (although my brother has the best selective hearing of anyone I’ve ever met).

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