Monthly Program Staff 2023-2024

Lydia Crook

Monthlies Program Coordinator
Pronouns: She/Her
Favorite Being: Magpies

Lydia is a thoughtful and dedicated mentor who builds strong relationships and cultivates an environment full of fun and laughter. She loves to build fires, climb trees, craft, bake, and go long-distance hiking!

She came to Wilderness Awareness School in 2021 from the UK to do the Youth Nature Instructor Training. Back in England she co-ran and taught at a small Forest School called Seeking Wild. Before finding her way to nature based education she taught yoga to children, refugees & asylum seekers, university students, and in studios.

Jason McGinnis


Pronouns: He/Him
Programs: St. Edwards Saturday Nature Explorer (Director), St. Edwards Saturday Nature Skills, Tolt Saturday Nature Skills
Favorite Being: Great Horned Owl

Jason was a full-time musician and wilderness enthusiast in Colorado before moving to Washington in 2016 to attend The Immersion at Wilderness Awareness School. He is also a graduate of the Nature Instructor Training Program and the Alderleaf Wilderness College Advanced Wilderness Skills program. He is an Eagle Scout and a veteran of the United States Army. Jason’s passions include music (singing/drums/guitar/piano), birds, storytelling, working with fire, fishing, wilderness survival, and mentoring.

Omer Gil

Pronouns: He/Him
Programs: Cougar Mountain Saturday Nature Adventure and Nature Explorer (Director)
Favorite Being:

Born and raised in Israel, travel and hiking were intrinsic and meaningful parts of Omer’s childhood. Growing up, Omer felt a deep calling for education in nature, which ultimately led him to join the Israeli Scouts during his early years. This was his first introduction to wilderness and survival skills that would forever change his life.

Omer pursued his passion for teaching by studying at the University of Tel-Aviv, where he learned and honed the skills necessary to impart knowledge effectively. In the fall of 2020, Omer joined the Wilderness Awareness School, where he found himself rekindling that very love and passion for wilderness and survival skills. He embraced teaching through a strong connection to nature, fostering curiosity, active listening, empathy, and a growth mindset. Since then, Omer has graduated from two years in the Youth Nature Instructor Training program and one year in The Immersion.

Omer’s passion is to ignite curiosity and excitement for nature in both kids and adults. He loves to dance, drum and is enthusiastic about all things related to survival skills.

Bear Miller-Brown


Pronouns: She/Her
Programs: St. Edwards Saturday Nature Adventure (Director), Cougar Mountain Saturday Nature Adventure
Favorite Being:

Bear grew up in California playing sports and adventuring outside any chance she had. When she graduated high school, she moved up to North Dakota to experience what true cold meant. After a few years, she was ready to find a new adventure and found Alderleaf Wilderness College in Monroe, Washington. She graduated from their year-long Naturalist program in 2016-2017, with certificates in permaculture design, tracking & trailing, and a primitive survival educator. She also picked up skills like bird language, wood carving, leather working, flint knapping, storytelling, and songs. After the pandemic in 2022-2023 she found herself looking for community and found Wilderness Awareness School’s Youth Nature Instructor Training program. 

Kendell Braschler

Kendell Braschler

Pronouns: She/Her
Programs: St. Edwards Saturday Nature Adventure
Favorite Being: Parakeets

Kendell is a student at the University of Washington. She has spent 6 years working and volunteering with Wilderness Awareness School’s youth programs. She has 35 house plants in her bedroom, one of which is a tree!

Emma “Beaver” Noroian

Pronouns: They/She
Programs: Cougar Mountain Friday Nature Adventure (Director), Seward Friday Nature Adventure (Director), St. Edwards Saturday Nature Skills (Director), St. Edwards Friday Nature Adventure (Director), Tolt Saturday Nature Adventure and Nature Skills (Director), St. Edwards Saturday Nature Explorer
Favorite Being: Raven

Emma, or “Beaver”, as many of their students and friends know them, grew up in Vancouver, B.C., where they learned to love biking, exploring ocean and forest ecosystems, building, and playing in the rain. They grew to love the great western redcedars, bog blueberries, and spring cottonwood snows in the forest near their school and home and spent many an afternoon playing in their mother’s garden, rescuing the snails from their mother’s wrath. At the age of 13, Emma moved down to Palo Alto, CA for high school and slowly grew to love a new ecosystem.

For university, Emma made her way back up north to Vancouver, B.C., and earned a B.A. in Psychology while exploring the ecosystem of her childhood with new eyes and an old heart. As fate and luck would have it, she found WAS and was immediately enthralled with the work being done there and made her way down to attend The Immersion, graduating in 2022. She then completed the Adult Nature Instructor Training Program in June of 2023, expanding on her knowledge and experience of guiding others on their journey of nature connection. Through her many years as a summer camp and school year instructor, Emma has brought curiosity for her students and the outdoors, a passion for firemaking, crafting, singing, storytelling, being silly, and embodying a loving trickster in all the programs she works.”

Nicole Olmstead

Pronouns: They/She
Programs: St. Edwards Saturday Nature Explorer, Cougar Mountain Saturday Nature Explorer, St. Edwards Saturday Nature Skills, Tolt Saturday Nature Adventure
Favorite Being: Banana slug, fire

I grew up in Seattle, Washington. I’ve worked for WAS for several years doing summer camps and monthly programs. Last June, I graduated from The Immersion, class of 2023. One of the things we did at the end of our Immersion year was go on a week-long survival trip with our class. The only things we took with us were the clothes we were wearing. I am enthusiastic about survival and bushcraft skills, fire, plunging into cold water, plant medicine, nature tea, navigating without maps or compasses, games, and being still and watching the world turn. I’m excited to go on lot’s of adventures with y’all!

Max Griefen

Pronouns: He/Him
Programs: Cougar Mountain Friday Nature Adventure, Seward Friday Nature Adventure, Cougar Mountain Saturday Nature Adventure, Tolt Saturday Nature Adventure, St. Edwards Friday Nature Adventure
Favorite Being: Mountain lion, river otter, gorilla 

I grew up in Vermont, where I attended an 8 Shields school called Earthwalk Vermont once a week for most of my childhood. We did much of the same things we do at Wilderness Awareness School. That experience influenced me greatly, and I received many lifelong gifts from my mentors there. I returned to Earthwalk in my teens as an Apprentice mentor. 

In 2021-2022, I was introduced to WAS by attending the year-long Immersion program, and apprenticing for the program the following year. My Immersion year reminded me that the things we do at the school bring immense value and energy to my life, and it is extremely rewarding and fulfilling to bring children along for the ride. It’s an amazing full-circle feeling with what I was given at Earthwalk. I’ve instructed and directed summer camps at WAS for two years, and this is my second year in monthly programs. 

I am particularly drawn to animals, and I am a seeker of wild animal encounters. I am also passionate about skills of stealth and camouflage, moving in fun ways, tracking, and practicing sensory awareness. Things that make us more likely to see animals!

Greta Van Loon

Pronouns: She/Her
Programs: St. Edwards Saturday Nature Explorer, Cougar Mountain Saturday Nature Explorer, St. Edwards Saturday Nature Adventure
Favorite Being: Yellow-faced bumblebee, red alder, and big leaf maple

Greta grew up in southern Minnesota and received a bachelor’s degree in education, music, and mathematics from St. Olaf College. She has spent time abroad in Germany and India, and is looking forward to more international adventures in the future. This is Greta’s first time instructing monthlies after spending two summers instructing WAS youth camps. Her many passions include plants, crafting, baking, music, and learning!

Brooke Kale

Pronouns: She/Her
Programs: St. Edwards Saturday Nature Explorer, St. Edwards Saturday Nature Adventure
Favorite Being: Artist’s conk mushroom, barred owl, elephant

Brooke grew up in the deserts of Southern California, catching lizards, rolling in dirt, getting sunburnt, and climbing lots of trees. She spent her summers as a teen attending Wilderness Awareness School overnight camps, during which she fell in love with the lush greenery of the Pacific Northwest and began practicing nature connection and survival skills. After many years of visiting Washington during the summer months to either attend or instruct Wilderness Awareness School programs, Brooke has decided to move to the area full-time, and is enrolled as an apprentice for the 2023-2024 Wilderness Awareness School’s Youth Nature Instructor Training Program.

Some of her passions include cooking (both indoor and outdoor), dancing, making music, hand-made crafts, plant medicine, blindfold games, and playing in the rain. She is looking forward to instructing her first monthly program!

John “Luke” Fabian

Pronouns: He/Him
Programs: St. Edwards Saturday Nature Skills
Favorite Being: Northern red-legged frog

Luke has called western Washington home his whole life. His formative years were full of tree climbing, playing in the woods, hiking, camping, crabbing, and sailing. Growing up, he had a few homes on the many shores of Puget Sound; Anacortes, Lopez Island, Whidbey Island, and Seattle. He feels extremely blessed to have grown up in these places. It has helped to inform his understanding of the ecology of the region.

He attended The Immersion in 2016, developing a strong connection to the foothills of the Cascades and the Snoqulamie Valley. After graduating from The Immersion, he moved to Olympia and attended The Evergreen State College. He received a dual degree in the spring of 2021- a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. These experiences have served to harness his knowledge of the natural world, helping him be able to connect others to the workings of life.

Luke maintains a strong connection with the Islands of the Salish Sea, the Forests of the Pacific Northwest, and the mountains of the Cascade and Olympic ranges. It is his connection to place that fuels his love for Nature and for sharing it with others.

Wilderness Awareness School