Founders and Mentors
of the Nature Kids Team
HEATHER FLEMING - Owner and Lead Facilitator
Heather has lived in Tofino/Ucluelet on and off since 2011. She has worked primarily at Jamie’s Whaling Station on the water looking for the incredible wildlife that live in our area, such as feeding gray whales, breaching orcas, wandering black bears and soaring eagles. She has also worked as a kayak guide for Paddle West exploring the scenic waters of Clayoquot and Barkley Sound.
Heather has worked in a variety of childcare positions including summer camps and a nature based preschool in Victoria. She has a Bachelor of Science in Geography and an Early Childhood Education Certificate. Last year she combined her two passions when she took over Tofino Nature Kids. She now gets to explore nature and inspire children to do the same.
In her free time Heather enjoys being outdoors, walking in the woods or on the beach, exploring tide pools, sea kayaking and camping. She really enjoys travelling and has been fortunate enough to have set foot in over 20 countries. Some adventures she has been on include, chasing animals on a safari in the Great Plains of Tanzania, spying on birds while working as an intern in the cloud forests of Ecuador, and swimming with dolphins in New Zealand.
Heather is looking forward to exploring the tide pools, playing games, building sand castles and feasting on wild berries with you all this summer!
JAY ROBERTS - Co-Founder and Program Facilitator
Jay grew up on the east coast of Canada, surfing, hiking and lifeguarding. He initially developed his wilderness skills through years of involvement with the Boy Scouts first as a Scout and then as a Scout leader. Jay is a passionate and playful naturalist. He was introduced to Deep Nature Connection by Jon Young and the ‘8 Shields’ Program and is inspired by these practices to guide each person to discover and develop the unique gifts that they have to offer to the world.
Jay is a BC Wild Facilitator and has studied with the Wilderness Awareness School and Forest School Canada. He is certified in CPR C, Bronze Cross and Occupational First Aid.
He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Calgary as well as a Journeyman Carpenter certificate from BCIT. He has completed 1 ½ years of his Waldorf Grades School Teacher Training from the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy. He has trained with David Weinstock in Nonviolent Communication methods.
Jay lives in Tofino with his wife and 2 young daughters. In his free time Jay enjoys exploring the local beaches and forests with his family, surfing, building things, writing poetry and playing the bass guitar.
Jacquelyn Block - Assistant Program Facilitator
Jacquelyn is very excited to be a new member of the Nature Kids Tofino team. She moved to Ucluelet last year and has been working as an Education Assistant at Wikaninnish Community School. Her other experience working with children includes as a singing coach and performer for community events, camp leader, and Community Support Worker. Jacquelyn is a certified Health Care Assistant, Activity Assistant, and has some post-secondary in music. Jacquelyn has always loved calling the island home, and spending time connecting and learning from nature. She grew up in Campbell River, and has also lived in Nanaimo and Victoria. Her other hobbies include performing, travelling, nature walks, camping, fishing, cooking, crafting, and a huge love for animals. She has three large dogs that she enjoys training and taking on adventures! Jacquelyn is looking forward to learning more about this special part of the island, spending the summer in a beautiful setting, and creating connections with the children and team members she will get to work
Aliasha Pennie - Assistant Program Facilitator
Aliasha moved to Tofino with her family when she was in grade 5. After she graduated high school she moved to Victoria and completed a two-year marketing program at Camosun College. After travelling to New Zealand and Australia she has returned home and is very excited to be playing at the beach with all you nature kids all summer long! Since Aliasha returned form travels she has been working at the after school program at the Wickaninnish Community School over this past winter and spring.
Aliasha is very passionate about travelling and exploring new places. She is always keen for an adventure on land or in the sea! Aliasha is so grateful that this island is her home and her appreciation for its beauty grows every single day.
ANN MACDONNELL - Assistant Program Facilitator (Tofino)
Ann is a nature kid at heart. Her earliest memories are of summer vacations spent with her family in Georgian Bay; fishing, catching frogs and crayfish by the dock and sailing in Lake Huron. Her curiosity for nature led her to study Biology at Concordia University in Montreal, where she joined a university sustainability group. This sparked a deep interest in sustainable living and organic farming, and in the summers she traveled to Italy and Costa Rica to work on organic farms. She valued the farmers' connection to the earth and believes that a strong nature connection can foster greater creativity, respect and compassion in all ages.
Soon after graduating, she began working as a biologist on the west coast and was instantly hooked to life in BC. The trees, mountains and ocean provided all the outdoor adventures that she ever dreamed of. Her experience working with children started in Vancouver where she tutored French and Biology. Now living in Tofino, she fills her days with surfing, yoga, camping and making new friends.
SHANDY KARIATSUMARI - Assistant Program Facilitator (Tofino)
Shandy's outdoor and mentoring experiences are diverse:
1998 to current: Surfing School Instructor and Trainer
2000: Graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Emily Carr Institute of Fine Art and Design.
2000: Began a 7 year journey working for Hooksum Outdoor School in Hesquiaht Harbor teaching Leadership programs to Youth in a First Nations Traditional Teaching. Lifesaving Instructor and Surf Guide roles.
2005: Assisted with Young Children's Outdoor Day camps in Lantau, China.
2008: Began my apprenticeship as 'Mom' with my daughter Arkoa.
2014: Teaching Waldorf Inspired Kindergarten and Grades 1-6.
2015: Graduated with a West Coast Anthroposophical Certification of Waldorf Early Childhood. This intensive 3 year study gave me study and experience to many of Rudolph Steiner's insights regarding child development as a holistic being from ages 0-7years.