Child with leaves in hand

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide educational programming for youth in Thurston County that focuses on cultivating connection, expression and impact as lifelong habits in order to

help our children live happy, healthy lives.

We believe children deserve to be given the tools that they need to live their best life. The challenges we are faced with in today's rapidly changing world are worth considering when preparing children for the future; our programs are informed by our circumstances, and our intention to provide the tools children need to

be the change they wish to see in the world.

Beyond the black and white subject matter being taught, there is always a more subtle learning that happens through the relationships in the learning environment. The community of students in each class is always unique, and being a part of that is something that can leave lifelong memories for a child.

As educators, we stay in tune with our own passion for learning, knowing that

what we model often has more impact than our words.

The areas of learning we have chosen are cornerstones for a living a happy, healthy life:

Connection; How we know our place in this world, and within ourselves.

Expression; How we share our internal experience with the world, and how our inner world is reflected back at us.

Impact; How we shape our world, and make our contribution to society.

 

Each and every one of us has something unique to offer the world, and we all deserve to have our voice heard;

We aim to make sure every child who goes through our programs understands their own value.

Our People

Devon McCabe
Director

DEV-DJ_edited.jpg

I believe that it's important to be passionate about the things we teach so that we can ignite children with the drive to be actively engaged in their lives and in the world. I began studying various alternative education theories when my daughter was born in 2006. I worked toward a degree in early childhood education with an emphasis on art and music while volunteering in schools and daycares beginning in 2007, and became a full time employee of the Olympia school district in 2014, spending most of my time supporting students with special needs. My training and education has taught me to truly value the unique learning needs of each child.

I am also a USSEA Certified Skateboard Instructor;

Core principles of that training are safety and gradual progression which allows the student to grow at their own pace. I love encouraging fun and challenging ways for kids to get active outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

 

It feels incredibly important to me that we do all we can to support our future generations in being courageous, innovative, and open-minded about what is possible. I feel it is my life's work to provide a structure for families to plug into that makes that goal more achievable.

Dave "Caveman" Friedman
Program Specialist

Caveman has been mentoring young people in nature since 1997. In his quest to nurture Mother Earth, he creates a world of magic and wonder that captivates young adventuring minds. His passion for connecting with ecosystems through observation and experience, provides an excellent inspiration for the naturalists of the next generation. He continues to be a role model by having fun, remembering to stay young, being creative, learning daily and sharing his knowledge with others.  Caveman graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology.

caveman.webp

Ellice Cryder
Assistant

biopic.webp

Ellice Cryder is a recent graduate of The Evergreen State College. She has 5 years of experience caring for children of all ages and is passionate about fostering nurturing learning environments for young folks. During her time at Evergreen, Ellice studied culturally responsible and holistic education methods. Ellice grew up in the PNW and spent a significant amount of time exploring the natural world as a child. She believes that children who are encouraged to be creative and develop a loving relationship with nature will grow a strong sense of identity and self worth.

Alex Frielich
Assistant

Alex has been living in Olympia for all of his adult life, and graduated from the Evergreen State College in 2009. He spent several years as a staff member at ACORNS NW, a local outdoor school focused on nature connection for children ages 3-10. Alex is a multimedia artist and musician, as well as an avid forager, gardener, and lover of all things Wild.

IMG_0851.heic