Alderleaf Alumni

What Graduates Have Done After Alderleaf

Graduates of the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program 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:


Steve Nicolini (Class of ’09) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship 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, works with Quiet Heart’s teen programs, and has discovered a passion for natural building.


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 now co-hosts the cooking show web-series “The Curious Cook”. He has also 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.


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. She recently became the first female in North America to attain Specialist (a score of 100%) on the rigorous CyberTracker Track & Sign Evaluation.  Now she is managing a mountain lion research project in the Teton Mountains with world-renowned wildlife tracker and field guide author, Mark Elbroch.


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.


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.


Brandon Haynes (Class of ’11) spent two years exploring the wilds of Alaska after graduating. He is now enrolled in an Ecological Engineering Master’s Degree program where he is combining 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.


Georgie Lilgreen (Class of ’11) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship 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.


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


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.


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.


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 while completing a bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management with an emphasis on wilderness management and law enforcement and a minor in Criminology.


Jeremy Williams (Class of ’12) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship. 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 as a field technician with the Teton Cougar Project.


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.


Haley Brandt (Class of ’12) continued her studies with Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship. 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.


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’s now working on completing a bachelor’s degree in environmental science at the University of Montana.


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 Farm. He is now a permaculture project manager for Stone Soup.


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.


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


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 recently completed a degree at Western Washington University. She now working with a wilderness therapy organization.


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. He continues to teach with Quiet Heart and the Vashon Wilderness School, and makes lots of music in his free time.


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