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.
HEATHER FRASER | She/her
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.
CHEIF LEARNING OFFICER & FOREST EDUCATOR
Teacher TK is an educator with years of experience in forest school program in Ontario and BC. They grew up on acres of land in a rural area of Northern Ontario where their love for nature began. TK graduated with a diploma in Early Childhood Education from Niagara College where he developed a deep passion for the early years. Since graduating, he has also worked in resource, curriculum development and workshop facilitation. Some examples of their workshops are: Storytelling, Creative Art and Loose Parts in the Forest, Supporting Transgender and Gender Creative Kids in the Early Years, & Supporting Outdoor Play and Exploration in the Early Years. He is currently an MA candidate in in Early Childhood Studies.
TK HANNAH | THEY/HE
TK is passionate about holistic education, the importance of play (no matter the age!) and the journey of unlearning. In his spare time, TK loves to play guitar, spend time in nature and keeping play alive in their life! At Saplings Outdoor Program, Teacher TK strives to create a safe and equitable environment for children where they are free to discuss big ideas, explore, take risks and have wild adventures
SAPLINGS MANAGER & FOREST EDUCATOR
I was born in Zambia and lived there for 10 years. I spent most of my childhood playing outside and particularly enjoyed climbing tress and making mud cakes.
I then moved to England and grew an interest in working with children in my teenage years. I was often asked to babysit and I also helped out in the crèche at my church. I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Psychology with Child Studies and worked in pre-schools and as a nanny for several years.
CHIMMEY NGUNI | She/her
I moved to Vancouver in January 2020 and continued to work as a nanny. I always enjoyed playing outside with the children. We often went to the beach and on nature walks.
I also love to hike and explore in my spare time. I’ve seen and experienced the many benefits of outdoor play and being in nature. Saplings is giving me the opportunity to combine my passion for child development with my passion for nature!
I grew up in Whiterock BC and I have always felt at home on the beach and in the forest. I was raised in a close community, all my friends were my neighbours. We used to explore and play hide and seek- tag after school in the forest near our houses until it was dark, and our mothers called us home. I remember searching for crabs and fish on the beach with my brother and climbing the tallest trees with my friends.I have wanted to be a teacher my entire life. I got my education at Langara College in Vancouver. I studied early childhood education and infant/toddler care.
EZRA LINDLEY | THEY/THEM
I have been working with children professionally for 4 years and I absolutely adore it. Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs. I believe in risky play and learning through play. I want to encourage children to ask questions and come up with their own solutions. I loved to watch the joy and wonder children experience as they explore the natural world. I have always appreciated the outdoors and I am super excited to be working with Saplings.
I was born in Japan. When I was a child I used to go to the countryside with my family and family friends every weekends. We plowed a field, grew many different types of vegetables there and explored the forest together. So I have loved to get in touch with nature since then. I graduated with a bachelor of Child Studies in Japan and worked in a kindergarten. I have a strong passion for working with children. Also part of what I love about my job is that I get to help each one to discover their own strengths and talents and nurture those traits through my educational approach.
LULU KATOH | SHE/HER
I believe spending time in nature is promoting children's creativity and developing a sense of wonder. I am so excited to be a part of the Saplings team!
Gloria is a fun-loving nature enthusiast from Waterloo, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Waterloo and received her Early Childhood Education Diploma from Seneca College. She has over 15 years of experience working with children. She grew up camping and going to camp and has always loved playing outside. She is passionate about making the world a better place through her work with children, weaving age-appropriate elements of social and environmental justice into the creative lessons that she emparts.
GLORIA PROCTOR-BENNETT | SHE/HER
She believes strongly in the inherent beauty and worth of every child, and loves helping children grow to become the wonderful, unique persons that they were meant to be.
My academic background includes Masters of Science in Botany, as well as Bachelors in Education. While I was studying, I got to do many practicals in various botanical gardens and rich vegetation areas from that part, my love for exploring nature prompted. Later, worked as a Biology teacher for Grade 8-12 for 3 years in Khalsa College School, Amritsar. I moved to Surrey in 2018 and started volunteering in Khalsa School, Surrey. Later I got an opportunity to work as a TOC in Gobind Sarvar School.
ANU KOHLI | SHE/HER
Barely getting time while taking care of my 1 year old baby boy, I am planning to work towards my Education Assistance Certification and Teacher's Licence in 2022.
As of now, I am really excited to be part of Saplings as a Substitute Forest School Educator. Hope to both teach and learn.
Having spent most of my life here in B.C., my love for the outdoors started young; camping with family, exploring local mountains, going for swims in the sea. I have been in the world of education for the past 7 years, having worked with children as young as 3 right up into the teenage years. Part of my teaching career involved 2 years spent abroad in South Korea; I fell in love with the kindness of the people, the flavours of the food, and the fast pace of life in the big city of Seoul! I love to visit new places, especially with my father who is one of my favourite adventure buddies.
One of my greatest passions is working with and learning alongside children and youth.
SHANNON EMERY | SHE/HER
I am grateful for the way they encourage me to slow down and notice little details I might otherwise pass by; the ant in the garden, the puddles to splash in after a rainy day, or the feeling of mud squishing between your fingers! They are natural observers, curious and full of wonder, and I love being along for the ride. I cherish storytelling, and building a sense of community through a sharing of experiences. We all have so much to learn from one another, and I’m thankful for all of the little moments we get to share together, whether that be with fellow educators, the students, their families, or our greater community.
On the weekends I can usually be found scooting around the city on my bicycle, hiking with my partner, sharing a tasty meal with friends and family, or reading a good book! I’m grateful to be joining such a welcoming community here at Saplings!
Hello, my name is teacher Soroush and I have been working with saplings since November 2020. I grew up in a complex on Lytton street off of Mount Seymour Parkway; so, I had an area to explore with other kids around my age, this was the start of my love for the outdoors. Some of my fondest middle school memories were from Outdoor School and the Big House. Having been in North Vancouver my whole life it’s not surprising I have a strong connection with nature
SOROUSH SHARAFZADEH | HE/HIM
Currently, I am on the verge of graduating from Capilano University with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with most of the focus being drawn towards Psychology, Philosophy and English. I live a highly active and healthy lifestyle outside of work and school. Some of my hobbies include writing, singing, and comedy.
My name is Jasnoor Kaur Rolay. I have graduated from Capilano University, North Vancouver in April 2021 with a Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education Program. I have been working with children as a practicum student as well as part-time educator since 2019 at different centres such as UBC Kittiwake and Saplings outdoor Program. Starting summer 2021, I am very happy to take upon the opportunity as a full-time educator with Saplings Outdoor Program.
JASNOOR KAUR ROLAY | SHE/HER
While in school, I had learnt about different developmental as well as post-developmental perspectives on childhood which helps me understand the dynamics in a classroom as well as an outdoor environment. Apart of being with children, my other passions include cooking, going to the beach and travelling with friends. I am originally from India and I came to Canada in 2018 to pursue my post-secondary education. I have been living in South Vancouver since I came to Canada.
I grew up in the city of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. Living in Brazil I had a place full of natural areas and beautiful natural landscapes, home to a large percentage of plant and animal diversity. Academically, I graduated with a Biological Sciences Licentiates degree, and a Master's degree in Plant Biology from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, where I was able to fulfill and have a deep connection with my love for teaching, science, research, and nature. During my years in university I have had the chance to experience a deeper contact with children in the education process of science, but also overall subjects.
CAROLINE CRISTINA ASSUNÇÃO SILVA | SHE/HER
Since then, I have worked with an Environmental Consulting Company in the search for endangered species and of interest for conservation. I believe that exploring the outdoors is the best way to get closer to nature. Additionally, it's an opportunity to explore children's curiosity in this kind of environment, nurturing their responsibility, resilience and interest. And as a recent resident of Vancouver, BC, I'm enrolled in the Associate of Arts degree at University Canada West with the aim of expanding and adding my knowledge with areas related to science and psychology.In my free time I like to go hiking outdoors, play with my dog, watch series and movies and read books on different topics. I am very happy to be part of the Saplings Program.
I was born in the Scotland highlands where I spent my childhood building dens in the wood, climbing trees and hiking to find the last little bit of snow in spring. I moved to the North of England to do my undergraduate degree in Human geography at Newcastle University. Following my graduation I worked in a wide variety of positions including contributing to research papers on climate change for the Scottish government and becoming a graphic designer for a startup tech company. I am proud of my wide variety of experiences but I found that I missed the outdoors and feeling like I was doing something positive each day for other people.
ELEANOR (ELLIE) LUMSDEN | SHE/HER
In 2022 I took a leap of faith and left the UK to work at a kids camp for the summer in New Hampshire. It was a truly amazing experience and has changed my perspective on what type of work will make me happy long term. Following my time in the USA I decided to move to Canada and arrived in Vancouver in October 2022 and started working at Grouse Mountain leading school trips and snowshoe hikes. I found that I missed the process of getting to know the children I was working with and seeing them develop and grow. On the weekends I spend my time drinking tea, painting or hiking with my partner. I’m so excited to be joining Saplings and continuing to share my love of the outdoors.
I'm Taylor de Zilva, I'm an amateur Botanist (begun 6 years ago), mycologist (3.5 years ago), and Arachnologist (undefined, and unsure). Im curently in my 2nd year of Forest Sciences at UBC, additionally helping in the Aviles Spider Lab. I have taken on many different careers previously working at Vancouver Aquarium and the UBC Botanical Garden.
TAYLOR DE ZILVA
I hope to help people develop an understanding and passion for life that is often neglected/unseen, and often out shadowed by large charismatic animals. I've made it my very duty to be a science communicator for the rest of my life, and inspire joy in others to understand the natural world.
I grew up in a quiet corner of East Vancouver surrounded by nature that positively shaped my childhood. From an early age, I could be found down at the local beach flipping over rocks in search of small crabs and slashing through giant mud puddles. Nature became very influential in my career choices. I graduated from the University of Guelph in Earth Surface Sciences. Working as an Exploration Geologist, I made the eventual switch into Outdoor Education and spent several years working with both children and youth on various Environmental Stewardship projects and in Outdoor Recreational programs.
KATHERINE MUSSENDEN | SHE/HER
I received my Early Childhood Education diploma and then my Bachelor of Education shortly after and have since taught in a variety of preschools and Elementary schools in BC, the NWT and Nunavut.
I seek to promote an excitement for learning by recognising and responding to a child’s individual interests. Play is an essential means for learning and
development that is supported and nurtured in a learning environment where children feel represented in every aspect.
I was very fortunate and privileged to grow up in British Columbia and I have many fond memories of climbing trees, kayaking, camping, hiking, and swimming in the summers as well as sledding, skiing, and making snow shelters in the winters. As I got older I started to travel and have now been fortunate to have experienced what the outdoors have to offer in many different countries. My all-time favorite things to do in nature are hiking, kayaking, skiing, and camping.
APRIL VERA-LYNN | SHE/HER
I have a BA in Anthropology from UBC, a TESOL Certificate from ASU, and I am currently working towards getting my ECE Certificate from UBC as well. For the past four years, I have been teaching English as a Foreign Language to children both at a language school in Mexico and throughout the world in online lessons. I believe that children are creative and capable and I am very passionate about inquiry-based and child-led learning.
I was born and raised in North Vancouver, BC and spent most of my childhood frolicking in the forests, playing in the streams, building forts with whatever natural materials my friends and I could find, and befriending animals in their natural habitat. The outdoors have always felt like more of a home to me than my bedroom ever has. I am currently in my last semester at UVic finishing up my Bachelors of Child and Youth Care before continuing on to pursue a Masters in Counselling. I have been working with children in various capacities since 2013, and I graduated with my Early Childhood Education diploma from Langara College in 2018. One of my biggest driving forces throughout several aspects of my life is the desire to help others; to help the people around me realize their full potential and to celebrate our differences.
EMMA CITRINE | SHE/HER/THEY/THEM
I bring this passion into my work with children as well. As a child, I remember being encoura
to try to fit into boxes that I didn't want to fit into, and to think inside the box rather than fully exploring my creativity and stretching the muscles of my imagination to their limits. I want all of the children I work with to recognize that their differences are what make them beautiful - there is no such thing as 'one size fits all', especially when it comes to how we learn!
One of my favourite things about working with children is how much they teach, humble, and inspire me each and every day. I am someone who can often get stuck inside my own head and children always remind me to slow down and take a breath. A child's sincerity, honesty and gumption are just a few of the many reasons us adults could take a page (or five) from their book.
I am a musician and spend the large majority of my free time writing music, recording, or playing shows with my band. I am a lover of all things art-related and also enjoy painting/sketching, photography, reading and writing poetry, swimming, and exploring new hiking trails. I am so excited to be joining such a positive and welcoming community here at Saplings and I cannot wait to learn and explore together!
My name is Aishwarya Agrawal & I grew up in the city of Mumbai in India. I moved to Vancouver in August, 2022 and I have been living in Kitsilano since. As a recent resident of Vancouver, BC, I am looking forward to being more spiritually and soulfully connected to nature. As an educator, I am eager to be around children & help them discover themselves and the heaven under their feet & over their head and in turn learn so much from them as well.
I have always been drawn to the awe inducing beauty of the wise nature & it brings out poetries from within for me.
AISHWARYA AGRAWAL | SHE/HER
While I was doing a full time course away from home in 2016, I wrote my first poetry watching the dense expressive forests from my classroom. I am also of the belief that a lot can be learnt from children & the most important one of this is the zest for life & observing the little things in life. In a nutshell, I believe that outdoor education engages children in a process of self-discovery, connection with nature and personal growth. Apart from being with children, my other passions include travelling, writing, reading, dog-watching and exploring world cinema. I am elated to be a part of the Saplings team.
Having grown up in Vancouver, I have always been drawn to nature. From a young age, I was involved with Girl Guides, where I developed a wonder for nature through camps and outdoor activities, and then went on to become a brownie leader. In high school, I spent a year in an outdoor education program, where I spent a few months of the school year learning outdoor skills and going camping. These experiences led me to study biology and environmental studies at the University of Victoria, where I recently graduated.
YASMINE RAHMATIAN | SHE/HER
I have been a Girl Guide leader for 5 years, where I taught outdoor skills and planned activities that foster learning and creativity. I like to go tide-pooling, bird watching and dragon boating in my spare time. Learning about nature and being outdoors as a child has shaped my passions and interests, and I am excited to provide the same opportunity for other children. I believe that learning should be fun and immersive, and my hope is that learning about nature in this way will lead to curiosity and respect for nature.
FOREST EDUCATOR, EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANT
I moved to Canada from the UK in 2019 and was drawn to the beautiful surroundings of BC. Through my eight years as a teacher in England, I have taught in a wide range of different primary schools including some time as a substitute teacher, which helped me learn to think on my feet and follow my instincts.
I have always drawn from the fundamentals of forest school teaching, taking every opportunity I could to take my class outside and connect to the world around us. I believe that children learn best through hands-on memorable experiences and when they feel happy and supported to take risks. As an educator, I always strive to bring calmness, creativity, and kindness to every child in my care.
REBECCA MCKIERNON | SHE/HER
My academic background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Design and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the UK. I continue my learning through my love of reading about conservation, plants, and animals.
I believe in a simple way of life, trying to collect experiences and memories rather than things. In my own time, you will find me being creative in all kinds of ways; enjoying painting, drawing, macrame, cooking, brewing kombucha, and fermenting foods. I feel happiest when outside discovering more about BC’s diverse flora and fauna.
I am so excited to be joining the Saplings team and helping children find their own love for the outside world through child centered, interest led learning.