Heather Fraser – BCYC, ECE
Owner & Forest Educator
A mother of two, I am passionate about working with children and have a love for the outdoors. I have taught in a number of early childhood settings including toddler, preschool, and school-aged programs. I have a passion for nature and I am excited to share that passion with others around me. I spend my time gardening with my two children and exploring the beautiful trails and beaches around our home. I feel that it is so important to get outside whatever the weather and connect with the world around us.
My academic background includes a BA in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria, as well as an Early Childhood Certificate. I continue to take many professional development course in Early Childhood Education to keep up with current information in the field.
My passion for outdoor play and my understanding of the importance of connecting our children with nature inspired me to build Saplings Outdoor Program. I hope through this program to share our appreciation for nature and a compassion for all living things.
Imke Huebner – ECE
I began working with children at the young age of 10, growing up in Germany.
Since then my love for children has led me to pursue a career as a ECE Teacher, BI, and Program Coordinator for camps.
One of my beliefs is that play is a child's most important work and I strive to create and maintain an environment where your child can grow and thrive while exploring the world around them.
I am very happy to be part of Saplings Outdoor Program.
I am so excited to be part of the blossoming Saplings team. I have seen the joy that a morning out with Heather and the team brings to the children... they love it! I spent most of my time growing up on my best friend's farm, where whole days would go by carving out dens in hedgerows, making potions from mud and flowers, and climbing hay bales. There is such freedom in being outside.
Originally from the UK, I was initially employed by local government to develop trails and access to the outdoors. Following a postgrad diploma in conservation, I worked for various wildlife conservation organizations. Wanting to move more into the environmental education side of things, I spent several years working with both children and young people at risk on practical conservation projects and creative outdoor art installations. I am a firm believer that play, particularly outdoors play, is the best way for little ones to learn vital lifelong skills. In return, instilling a love for the outdoors in our children ensures the next generation of advocates for our wild and natural places.
I also have 3 small boys who are a constant reminder of the importance of mud, sticks, puddles, mud, and imagination to the growing child. Hmmm, did I mention mud?...
I grew up and studied sociology in Ontario and moved to Vancouver in the summer of 2015. I have loved it ever since. I quickly spent most of my free time hiking and camping, as well as fishing and canoeing. Being outdoors continuously reminds me of how we need to appreciate and look after our forests, lakes, oceans, and animals. Not to mention all the life and survival skills I've gained along the way!
I have become involved in community and residential support work for a wide array of clients, and I have been in the field for over three years. I have gained hands-on experience in what compassionate, trustworthy, skilled, and professional supports for a diverse community like the North Shore's truly looks like. I want to share this valuable knowledge with youth in a supportive environment to equip them with lifelong skills.
Jocelyn Li – BKin, ECE
Jocelyn is passionate about taking care of the earth and its beings. She hopes that by introducing children to the beauty and wonders of nature that they too will be passionate about taking care of all that surrounds them. Jocelyn enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, and camping. While working at a traditional daycare, she wished to be outside in nature rather than in a standard playground. She got her wish this past fall when she started volunteering and subbing in forest school programs. Jocelyn has a Bachelor of Kinesiology from UBC, and an Early Childhood Education Diploma from Langara. She is excited to be a part of Saplings and is looking forward to see what adventures the children will choose!
Maria Jose Obando Paez, MA Ed
Coming from Ecuador, I have grown up in a place surrounded by so many beautiful landscapes and unique animal and plant species. Ecuador is a place where you can be amazed by the mountains, beaches, rain forest, and islands. Since I was child, I enjoyed traveling around my country with my family and discovering new and amazing places in nature. I love to be outside.
My passion for environmental studies started when I realized that my country’s ecosystems were being destroyed by uncontrolled human activities. I decided not to be part of the destruction, but part of the solution. During my university studies in Environmental Engineering, I found out that education is the key to changing our relationship with nature. To connect kids with nature will lead our society to protect our home, Earth, instead of harming it. I truly believe that education can change the world.
Three years ago I came to Canada to earn my masters degree in Environmental Education, and I fell in love with Canada. I love to hike, camp, see the stars, look for animals, and swim in lakes and oceans. I continue visiting new places, and love to explore.
I am very excited to start working with Saplings Outdoor Program, and to share my passion with the students, while learning from them as well. I am sure it will be an unforgettable experience!
Ever since I can remember I have been out in nature. Growing up in BC has allowed me to see the forest and the ocean in every part of my daily life. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity, and I want to share it with as many others as I can. It delights me to see children getting excited about the forest. When I am not in the forest, I am in my studio, painting or building something out of clay. After I finish my degree at Emily Carr University I would like to teach art classes and design my own graphic novels & children books.
Marina Landry, ECE Assistant
I was born and raised in Calgary. I started sports at a young age, and in my teens, I played elite ringette in the winter and fast pitch in the off season. Calgary is a beautiful city with so much culture to offer. In addition to my love for competitive sports, in my teens I also discovered Calgary offered mountain adventures just 20 minutes from my home.
I worked in childcare in Calgary for four years, which included caring for toddlers and preschoolers, as well as running an after school program. Working in the daycare environment in Calgary allowed me the privilege of introducing children to the wonders of the outdoors in the city parks. I’m a visual learner, so getting my Childhood Education Assistant certificate was an interesting journey!
My heart then took me to Panorama Mountain for three years, where I supervised the daycare program, as well as the Activities and Camps programs. This was an amazing experience, as I’m always eager to introduce youth to the wonders the mountains has to offer. My personal goal is to continue my education, not only in early childhood development, but also exploring how my skills can contribute to the success of special needs programs.
I am so ecstatic to contribute and be a part of the Saplings Program!
I grew up outside Calgary, Alberta and spent most of my childhood active and outside. My weekends were spent skiing and hiking in the Rockies. After graduating from Springbank High School, I moved to BC to pursue a Liberal Arts & Sciences degree at Quest University. Growing up near the Rocky Mountains and living in the Squamish area these last four years, I am quite passionate about the environment and education surrounding it.
I enjoy spending time outside, whether that being hiking with friends, exploring trails and parks, or simply just being in nature. Being connected to nature and sharing that with others is something I am passionate about, as I feel fully myself in that environment.
My passion for the outdoors has led me to Saplings Outdoor Program in Squamish, and I could not be more thrilled to share my love of the outdoors and compassion for nature with the kids.
Kate MacDonald, BA
I moved to Vancouver from Ontario just last year and am so grateful for this opportunity to spend time in the BC forests learning and growing with kids. I’ve worked with children in a variety of community based educational settings for over 10 years, including in-city recreation programs, after-school programs, schoolyard classrooms, and community garden/farm settings.
Although I will always consider myself a student, I recently graduated from Brock University in St. Cathrines, Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Child and Youth Studies and a Master of Arts degree in Social Justice and Equity Studies. Through my research, which explores children’s experiences in outdoor learning environments, I’ve become a strong advocate of child-led learning in natural spaces.
I am a community educator, and a social and environmental activist, focusing on social justice pedagogy, children’s agency, and promoting community engagement for young people. I love swimming in the ocean, playing in the snow, and growing food with friends and my community.
Kyala is lover of all things in nature. She has travelled around the world and has climbed many trees, and scrambled rocks on many ocean shores. She has swam with the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins for more than 200 hours. She is a multi-faceted human being who loves children and is very playful. She has a degree in Engineering and in Waldorf Education. She enjoys playing music and singing and can be seen carrying her ukulele in her backpack for the joy of sharing song. She also loves to paint and draw and is always looking to see what she can co-create with nature and with other people. Kyala sometimes feels like she was born to live outside and has special tree friends everywhere she goes. She is very community-minded and is currently in a yoga teacher program which feels like a big extended family. Kyala brings all facets of herself to her work with the children.
Laurie Yeomans, BA
Laurie recently moved to Vancouver from the UK where she grew up. Her passion for nature and the outdoors came from a very young age, where as a child she would spend nights up on the Malvern Hills in a sleeping bag and nothing else, watching the night sky and searching for shooting stars; during the daytime she would hike and cycle anywhere possible. Laurie moved to Vancouver for a new adventure, and to be closer to the mountains, forest and sea. Laurie is keen to teach and learn from the children she works with, enabling them to explore what they best love in life, and help them experience nature in a way that not everyone gets the chance to in our modern society.
Laurie has a BA honors in Drawing and Applied arts from UWE in the UK, and is a certified Woodland activity Leader. While she was living in the UK Laurie gained lots of experience working as a nanny for various families, volunteering with The Hackney Pirates (a secondary school literacy program) and Muddy Boots (a Forest School) as well as working with a music therapy school for adults with severe disabilities.