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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:

Katie Meline (AWCP class of '17) graduated the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program and went on to work for Sound Salmon Solutions as a Habitat Restoration Technician. Congrats Katie!

“I gained a deeper connection to the natural world -understanding all aspects so that you are inspired to teach others. A truly inspiring and life-changing opportunity!" – Katie Meline

Brock Archer (AWCP class of '17). Brock attained wilderness instructor positions at Wingate Wilderness Therapy and Trackers Earth after graduating Alderleaf.

“Alderleaf has a very sincere staff and community. The awesome part is that Alderleaf is consistently helping alumni get more experience and career opportunities after you have graduated, which is a wonderful thing!” – Brock Archer

Wren Rezek (AWCP class of '17) after completion of the nine-month program accepted a caretaker position at Zen Lakes, a 26-acre property in Woodinville. The work allows her to put her permaculture and naturalist training to use. She is involved in projects such as creating on-site composting, restoring habitat, and increasing biodiversity. 

Jack Batteiger (AWCP class of '16 and AWSP class of '17). Since graduating, Jack went on to work as an instructor at Quiet Heart Wilderness School. 

“Without Alderleaf I definitely would not be qualified for my job, they gave me the skills and knowledge to pursue my passion. I have an incredible job because of Alderleaf and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.” -Jack Batteiger

Aaron Van Geem (AWCP class of '16 and AWSP class of '17). Since graduating, Aaron went on to work for the Northern Jaguar Project and other wildlife conservation projects as a field technician.

“The most valuable skills I gained at Alderleaf are the ability to track & trail wild animals, and be completely self-reliant & comfortable in the backcountry.” – Aaron Van Geem

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, under Dr. Mark Elbroch. He then went on to work as a field technician on several mountain lion research projects.

"I have learned so much at Alderleaf. It really applies to everyone’s learning styles in a community-oriented environment." - Andy Stratton

Andrew Tuttle (AWCP Class of '16) went on to work several permaculture jobs after graduating. He and his wife, Mary, are now turning their farm into a restoration agriculture park and education center called Redtail Edge Park!

"Its like nature was a dark building I walked into and Alderleaf started opening the blinds one by one. I see so much more than I used to. I walk slower through the woods now because I am more aware." - Andrew Tuttle

Bryant Eddy (AWCP Class of '16), after graduating, was offered an internship with the US Fish and Wildlife Service doing outdoor education, and accepted a position with Michigan Audubon leading birding tours to see the endangered Kirtland's Warbler. He also worked with Michigan DNR as a park naturalist interpreter.

"Alderleaf has done a lot for my career. I want to thank the faculty at Alderleaf for going up and beyond to help students." - Bryant Eddy

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.

Nick Nelmsoverholtzer (AWCP Class of '15) was hired to work at Trackers Bay (a wilderness school in California) as a Wilderness Skills & Blacksmithing Instructor. Congrats Nick!

“Alderleaf introduced me to the many wonders of the natural world and provided a depth to life that I would never otherwise experienced. With the knowledge I've acquired, I can now comfortably spend any amount of time in the wilderness and feel completely at home.” - Nick Nelmsoverholtzer

Ryan Colvin (AWCP 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 (AWCP Class of ’14) went on to complete the Alderleaf Instructor Apprenticeship Program in 2015. He then was hired 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.

“Alderleaf has changed my life and changed me as a person. The advanced program really took my passion and knowledge to another level. - Annabel Brennan

Alyssa & Riley Hughes (AWCP 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 (AWCP 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 then taught at the Vashon Wilderness School.

Jamie Weaver (AWCP 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 (AWCP Class of ’12), after graduating, went on to get his Bachelor Degree in Natural Resource Recreation Management and Minor in Natural Resources. He now works year-round as a Backountry Ranger for Canyonlands National Park conducting Search and Rescue operations, foot/packraft/canyoneering/motorcycle/climbing/MTB patrols, educating park visitors on ecology and wilderness, and refining the policies that protect Canyonlands NP Wilderness.

“Alderleaf helped open my eyes to all the connections in nature between flora, fauna, and us.” – Mark Olson

Leah Houghton (AWCP 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.

Patrick Loderhose (AWCP Class of ’12) interned with permaculture designer, Jenny Pell, after graduating. He taught permaculture courses and designed greywater systems, including designing and leading the installation of a greywater system at Alderleaf. He is now a permaculture project manager for Stone Soup.

“Alderleaf has changed the way I live my daily life. It has provided a source of purpose. I learned as much about myself as I did about the natural world.” – Patrick Loderhose

Jessica Ennis (AWCP 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.

“Before attending Alderleaf I had a theoretical idea of my place in the natural world, but now that idea has transformed into a visceral feeling of belonging to a place.” – Jessica Ennis

Mickey Figueroa (AWCP 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).

"The Wilderness Certification Program really helped me bring a unique outlook to university. Great experience, changed my life." - Mickey Figueroa

Haley Brandt (AWCP 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 then completed an undergraduate degree at Prescott College.

“Alderleaf has shown me just how similar we are to the earth and how we should respect and devote just as much time to her as we do to ourselves.” - Haley Brandt

Jeremy Williams (AWCP Class of ’12) went on to complete Alderleaf’s Instructor Apprenticeship Program. He was then hired on as an instructor at Alderleaf where he worked for several years. Jeremy then accepted a unique opportunity to work on mountain lion research in Wyoming. He then taught wilderness skills at Trackers Bay in California and has now returned to Alderleaf as the assistant director.

“Alderleaf is magic!” - Jeremy Williams

Kellene Collins (AWCP 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, and conducted bird research with The Evergreen State College.

Gianna Torres (AWCP 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.

“Alderleaf is a wonderful program for learning how to live with the Earth and not just on it.” - Gianna Torres

Chris Pearson (AWCP 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 (AWCP 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 (AWCP 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 (AWCP 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 (AWCP 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 (AWCP 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 (AWCP 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.

“I have enjoyed the Alderleaf experience and the many lessons I have learned during my time here. I would do it all over again if I had the option.” - Alexander Holdaway 

Michelle Peziol (AWCP 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 (AWCP 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.

“I would recommend the Alderleaf Certification Program to anyone wanting to reconnect with nature and a desire to live simply off, with and for the land.” - Jase Grimm 

Steve Nicolini (AWCP 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.

“It’s not only a school of wilderness knowledge, but a school of patience, perseverance and deep appreciation of all aspects that support our lives.” - Steve Nicolini

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