Founders and Mentors

of the Nature Kids Team

Tofino children's nature program, West Coast Nature Kids

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 as a naturalist 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.  In 2018 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!

Tofino children's nature program, West Coast Nature Kids

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. 

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Rachel Hirst - Assistant Program Facilitator

Rachel grew up in Vancouver and Tofino, spending most of her time swimming in the sea and photographing mountains and forests. She is so excited to be part of the Nature Kids Tofino team and is eager to explore the beach and have fun!


Rachel has a background working with kids and adults with autism spectrum disorder and in customer services. For the past two years she has explored Australia, while getting her Masters in primary teaching. She is passionate about creating positive learning environments where kids feel supported and are encouraged to be creative and enjoy themselves.


Some of Rachel’s hobbies include hiking, writing music, and taking photos. Over the years, Rachel has been able to enjoy these hobbies around the world in places like New Zealand and Tasmania. She can’t wait to continue to explore the world and the spaces right here in beautiful BC - and she looks forward to exploring with all of the nature kids this summer!

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Caroline Tucker - Assistant Program Facilitator 

Caroline grew up on Vashon Island, in the heart of the Puget Sound. Exploring the forest, wetland, and shoreline ecosystems instilled a love for and curiosity about the natural world, which led her to earning a degree in Environmental Education. She's always enjoyed working with children; from being a nanny through high school and university, to facilitating activities for Seattle Audubon Society summer daycampers, to being the Education Coordinator for a National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai (which included teaching students about the fascinating life cycle of the Laysan Albatross!) After more than a decade in the Environmental Education field, she decided to go back to school, earned her teaching degree through the UBC West Kootenay Teacher Education Program in Nelson BC, and moved to Tofino to teach at the Elementary School in 2019. She feels so fortunate to be spending the summer learning and spending time with the children of this community!


Aliasha Pennie - Assistant Program Facilitator - Substitute 


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.

Shandy Kariatsumari - Assistant Program Facilitator - Substitute 


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.