The mentors are genuine, loving people who foster the same qualities in the youth they work with. Both mentors and students are some of the most authentic and caring people I have met.
— Lindsey Collinsworth, Education Director SLO Botanical Garden
 
 

Grant Chase

Program Mentor
 

I have always been awestruck by the beauty of the natural world. My relationship with Nature began in my mother's gardens and camping on the sandy beaches of San Felipe Mexico as a young child.  When I was about nine years old, we moved from Southern California to rural land near Town Creek of Lake Nacimento. My new neighbors: the deer, the bobcat, the acorn woodpecker, the gray squirrel, and so many others became a never ending source of wonder. I have a strong connection with my family's Native American heritage and have devoted great energy to my grandfather's native language of Lakota. I am a tree lover and have been a practicing arborist for many years, as well as a performing musician and music teacher. It fills me with gratitude and joy each day I work with the participants of our program. 

 
 

Laura Lalita Creps

Program Mentor

My love for nature connection began when, at the age of 16, I spent 3 months backpacking in the Arizona deserts as part of a nature immersion program founded on the teachings of the Anasazi Native Americans. The richness of my experiences there ignited my passion to work with teens in nature connection and with rites of passage. I bring a love for contemplative nature practices, along with a love for music, ritual, and hard skills development. I give thanks for all the mentors who have supported my development over the years and for my greatest teacher, Nature herself.


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Brenda Gates

Program Mentor

The roots of my passion for nature connection run deep, as deep as the roots of my ancestors who emigrated from the Swiss-Italian Alps to the woods of the Central Coast six generations ago. Our family rituals were wandering the forests, mountains, and seashores, creating a beautiful relationship with the natural world that was both explorative and restorative. Raising five children in this same environment has been a blessing. I am elated to bring this vision of connection to the young ones at Outside Now. My foundational training is with the Montessori philosophy.  Supporting a love for learning has inspired my work with children for the past 20 years. Today I celebrate being a coyote (nature)mentor for Outside Now, as I continue to share this sacred, Central Coast home with my grown children!


Julie Hackett

Program Mentor

It began with a few seeds, then chickens and a Jersey cow, an herbal medicine chest...what next? Honey bees! Farming and homesteading skills give me endless opportunities to follow a process all the way from birth to death, matrix to nexus. I am fascinated with ecology, the relationship between all things. And, I enjoy sharing my love of edible and medicinal plants, as well as the ever accessible and strange world of insects. My deep gratitude for my Nana who took me on many wanders through the woods as a child. We were never in a hurry.


Elliott Johnson

Program Mentor

I grew up spending a lot of time in the outdoors. Backpacking, fishing, surfing, and exploring were the things that captivated me and kept me out of the house. All my most vivid memories, deepest lessons, and greatest adventures came from these experiences in the natural world, which led me to understand the value of nature connection and motivated me to help facilitate these experiences for others. I have so much gratitude for the people around me who help me grow on my own journey–the people who give me a reason to look at a track more deeply and know the language of the birds.
May your eyes be the Owls' and your ears be the Deer's!  


Noa Kamplain

Apprentice Mentor

As a young girl, I spent my days wandering the creek behind my house, playing in the garden among the sunflowers, and hiking trails throughout the Central Coast. These experiences shaped me: I became captivated by Nature and mindful of the way I walked in the world. I started my days with the practice of gratitude. I surrounded myself with deeply nature connected people. Through my relationship with them, my passions for bird language and plant medicine were ignited. I formed a relationship with the natural world that affected every aspect of my life.  I became aware of how everything in nature was interconnected. 

Having grown up around Coyote Mentors, it now feels right to pass forward what they have taught me. Exploring the outdoors is where I am happiest. You’ll find me looking at birds or sitting around a campfire, falling in love with as many things as possible.


Sam McRee

Program Mentor

I was skeptical of nature connection when I was introduced to it.  Yet, when I saw it was an important piece of the puzzle–I’m talking about the puzzle of how we are going to pass down the possibility of a good future–I embraced it wholeheartedly.  The patterns of nature have come to captivate my deepest curiosities, the patterns which can be known directly through tracking and bird language.  These are fundamental life patterns and can be found just as readily within one’s own mind as on the landscape.  When I think about how blessed I am to have this awareness, I am reminded of how the legacy of nature connection has been passed down from generation to generation and how fortunate I am to have been mentored by an invaluable link in this chain, a man named Mac Stewart.  Mac Stewart was a coyote mentor who was so artful in his approach he could sneak around all my walls and reawaken my innate curiosities. 


Lindsey Mitchell

Program Mentor

Years ago, I was blessed to meet a bright, wild pack of coyote mentors (nature mentors) with curious eyes, alive storytelling, and astute questioning skill. I noticed how these people walked like the fox, saw through the eyes of the deer, listened like the scrub jay. They inspired me to begin my journey toward deep nature connection. Today I am grateful to walk in their footsteps as part of the lineage of Outside Now mentors. My heart is fed by sharing this journey in community. Each day I am inspired by the life that surrounds me: birds and food plants deeply engage my curiosity. It’s a gift to walk this path.