Alderleaf Alumni

What Graduates Have Done After Alderleaf

Graduates of the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program (AWCP) and the Advanced Wilderness Skills Program (AWSP) have gone out into the world and applied their new skills in many exciting directions! Read on for a sampling of what some of our alumni have been doing:


Andy Stratton (AWCP Class of ’15, AWSP Class of ’16) completed both of Alderleaf’s nine-month programs. Directly after graduating the Advanced Wilderness Skills Program he interned with the Panthera Teton Cougar Project out of Jackson, Wyoming. He worked with Dr. Mark Elbroch and several Alderleaf alumni researching mountain lions.


KD Thompson (AWCP Class of ’15, AWSP Class of ’16) after graduating from Alderleaf applied her permaculture skills working for Vets on the Farm as a live-in farm intern. She helped build a cold room for storing the harvest, completed building a greenhouse, and started building a hoop house. She was also hired by the Washington State University extension office in Spokane, to write fact sheets for various vegetables for the common gardener.


Ryan Colvin (Class of ’15) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship Program in 2016. He was then hired by Stone Soup Gardens in Seattle, Washington, a permaculture design and installation company. He has since been promoted into the position of equipment systems, masonry, and project lead. He is also spearheading a project in the village of Kete Krachi, Ghana where he is creating a food forest and installing rain gardens and catchments systems at the Village of Life.


Sam Royce (Class of ’14) went on to complete the Alderleaf Instructor Apprenticeship Program in 2015. He now works as an instructor with Quiet Heart Wilderness School and as a guest teacher at Alderleaf. He also offers classes in moccasin-making, flintknapping and hide-tanning through his own organization, Wildness Within.


Annabel Brennan (AWCP Class of ’14, AWSP Class of ’16) completed both of Alderleaf’s nine month programs. Directly after graduating the Advanced Wilderness Skills Program she interned with the Panthera Teton Cougar Project out of Jackson, Wyoming. She worked with Dr. Mark Elbroch and several Alderleaf alumni researching mountain lions.


Alyssa & Riley Hughes (Class of ’13) after graduating moved to Riley's hometown of Springfield, Missouri, where they started their own permaculture design & installation company, Sustainable By Nature. They have designed many landscapes and permaculture systems for local businesses such as Mama Jeans Natural Markets. Riley has also been teaching tracking classes through local groups such as Dove Mountain Primitive Skills.


Ted Packard (Class of ’12) was hired by Quiet Heart Wilderness School as a youth programs wilderness instructor after graduating. He also assisted with teaching & leadership training at Alderleaf. Ted continues to teach with Quiet Heart and the Vashon Wilderness School, and makes lots of music in his free time.


Jamie Weaver (Class of ’12) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship. She was then hired as a wilderness instructor at Primitive Pursuits in New York State. She then completed a degree at Western Washington University. Jamie is now teaching with a wilderness therapy organization.


Mark Olson (Class of ’12) continued his studies at the University of Missouri’s Fisheries & Wildlife Department. He also works as a wildlife photographer. Mark is now a park ranger at Canyonlands National Park.


Leah Houghton (Class of ’12) after graduating Alderleaf, worked as camp director in the remote wilderness of the Cascade Mountains at Camp Wahoo, teaching children outdoor skills and horseback riding. Leah traveled to Ecuador where she volunteered on a biodynamic farm, helping to install a micro-hydro-electric system in a rural valley. Leah taught at a Montessori school and enjoys homesteading with chickens, a dog, and two mini dairy goats. She is now teaching at Alderleaf.


Patrick Loderhose (Class of ’12) interned with permaculture designer, Jenny Pell, after graduating. He teaches permaculture courses and designs greywater systems. He designed and installed a greywater system at Alderleaf. He is now a permaculture project manager for Stone Soup.


Jessica Ennis (Class of ’12) was hired by Earth Native Wilderness School in Austin, Texas where she works as a youth programs wilderness instructor. Earth Native Wilderness School was founded by former Alderleaf instructor, Dave Scott.


Mickey Figueroa (Class of ’12) went on to work at Zombie Tools Knife Company. He then completed a bachelor’s degree in environmental science at the University of Montana and went on to work as a Recreation Tech for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).


Haley Brandt (Class of ’12) continued her studies with Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship Program. She was then hired as a youth programs instructor with White Pine Programs in Maine. She’s now completing an undergraduate degree at Prescott College.


Jeremy Williams (Class of ’12) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship Program. He was then hired on as an instructor and the land steward at Alderleaf. Jeremy’s background working on organic farms, hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail (over 2,600 miles!), and spending thousands of hours on survival skills gives him a diverse set of skills to share. He is now employed on mountain lion research projects in Wyoming.


Kellene Collins (Class of ’12) after graduating became involved with wildlife monitoring in the Cascade Mountains. She assisted with wolverine and wolf research projects lead by Conservation Northwest. She’s now conducting bird research with The Evergreen State College.


Gianna Torres (Class of ’12) moved to Sedona, Arizona after graduating Alderleaf where she acquired a position as a wilderness ranger for the US Forest Service.  She continues to work for the Forest Service and completed a bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management with an emphasis on wilderness management and criminology.


Chris Pearson (Class of ’11) since graduating has been working in a variety of teaching positions. He’s taught at the BOLD (Boys Outdoor Leadership Development) program through the YMCA, leading hiking trips to the North Cascades and on the Olympic Coast. He also teaches programs at the Tacoma Nature Center about birds, survival, fire building and shelters.


Connor Maguire (Class of ’11) moved to California after graduating to work as an instructor at Slide Ranch, an outdoor education school focusing on sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. He’s now back in Washington State working on an organic farm on Waldron Island.


Phil Johnston (Class of ’11) went on to utilize his wildlife tracking skills working for mountain lion research projects in California. He now teaches tracking and survival through the Pacific Field Skills School and finished a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology at Humboldt State University. He also has become a Track & Sign Specialist through CyberTracker.


Georgie Lilgreen (Class of ’11) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship Program and then began working as an instructor at Alderleaf. Her amazing background growing up in a remote village in Alaska gives her a wealth of life experience to share. She now teaches wilderness skills through the Peacekeeper Society.


Brandon Haynes (Class of ’11) spent two years exploring the wilds of Alaska after graduating. He then completed an Ecological Engineering Master’s Degree program where he combined his Alderleaf training with his background in engineering to design sustainable ecosystems intended to integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both.


Matthew Ecklund (Class of ’11) went on to work as an independent permaculture designer and founded his own kombucha beverage company, Rainbow Cloud Kombucha. He also continues his work as a professional photographer.


Alex Holdaway (Class of ’10) was hired on as a youth programs instructors at Trackers Northwest, a wilderness school in Portland, Oregon. He's also made several trips to Greece, studying the wildlife there.


Michelle Peziol (Class of ’10) continued with Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship. She then co-designed and led a special expedition to Alaska to study wildlife tracking. Michelle then worked as an instructor at Alderleaf for two years. Michelle became the first female in North America to attain Specialist (a score of 100%) on the rigorous CyberTracker Track & Sign Evaluation. Michelle went on to manage a mountain lion research project in the Teton Mountains with world-renowned wildlife tracker and field guide author, Mark Elbroch.


Jase Grimm (Class of ’09) went on to spend two summers working at a remote lodge on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. He then spent a year in Antarctica cooking for scientists at the Amundsen Scott South Pole Research Station. He also co-hosted the cooking show web-series “The Curious Cook”. Jase has acquired an 8-acre plot of woods and fields in his hometown, Decorah, which he is in the process of converting into his permaculture homestead.


Steve Nicolini (Class of ’09) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship Program and was hired as a youth programs instructor at Quiet Heart Wilderness School. He later accepted a position at Alderleaf as the land steward and worked as an instructor for three years. Steve continues to consult as an independent permaculture designer, stewards a historic property, and is an apprenticing electrician with plans to work in the solar industry.


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