Our mentors set us apart.
Each of our lead mentors are Level 3 Forest School practitioners and are endorsed by the Forest School Association. In addition to having diverse backgrounds, wild ones of their own, our mentors have trained for 300+ hours as Forest School practitioners and each year, we travel around the world to continue our nature connection education.
All additional staff and volunteers have undergone an appropriate process to assess their skills and suitability for working with young learners and have been subject to background checks. Qualified outdoor first aiders staff all sessions and all staff have access to a recommended first aid kit.
Founding Forest Mentor
Our Forest School was founded by Jordan Manfredi, who was raised by horses and with the sweet smell of hay in her hair. She is a Level 3 Forest School Practitioner, Certified Girls Mentor and Circle Facilitator, former Tinkergarten leader, and university professor. Jordan is a mama to two, Lily Love and Bear, and loves beauty hunting, and being downright silly.
Jennifer Oehler is a mother of two boys and has recently graduated from the Occupational Therapy Assistant program through SCCC with honors. Jennifer has been a creature of the forest since she was a child herself. She believes in the importance of self-discovery and healthy development for our children through the exploration of nature and boundary testing.
Her insight into child-development through the lens of Occupational Therapy helps foster the personal growth and sensory development of our learners. She strongly believes children and adults alike benefit from a deep, meaningful connection with nature.
Phoebe Munch is a graduate from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Education and an individually designed major in outdoor and place-based education. She’s always felt a deep connection to the natural world with her most tangible (and the most teachable) childhood memories were climbing trees barefoot, skiing and rolling down grassy hills.
Having always loved children, her dream is to help them find their place in the world through play and nature exploration.She wholeheartedly believes that one can become a better teacher inside by what you learn from a child outside.
Lead Mentor Stacey Robinson is a Level 3 Forest School Practitioner, Certified Girls Mentor and Circle Facilitator, and a former Tinkergarten leader with a background in environmental policy. Stacey is also a mama to two, Bria and Milo, and loves learning about the history of place through its plants.
Romina Kramer was a child immigrant; American grown with Ecuadorian roots. She’s an Occupational Therapist registered and licensed in New York and a Stony Brook University graduate, working extensively in pediatric neuroscience. Her passion in supporting people to remember that they are perfectly made has led her to work as an out-patient rehab and school-based O.T. Motherhood has helped to deepen her love for neuroscience and social-emotional development as she bears witness to her son, Alexander’s inquisitive and exploratory nature. She’s a true believer that humanity needs to go back to the basics, to connect with nature in order to heal, to relearn to trust their intuition and be in awe of the world’s beauty.
Janis Gunes has been teaching in different capacities for the past twelve years and has a degree in Linguistics. Janis first started teaching at a private preschool and has continued her love of teaching through homeschooling her two boys, Firat and Yusuf. Currently, she teaches English and Linguistics courses online and privately tutors, in addition to being a postpartum doula. Janis has always loved the great outdoors and will always remember exploring the woods behind her house as some of her fondest childhood memories.
Ranger Eric Powers
Our wildlife and place-based consultant, Ranger Eric Powers is a wildlife biologist with over 30 years of experience. His programs are dedicated to conservation, sustainability, inspiring people to engage with nature, and teaching visitors about environmentally responsible behavior. He believes that when we take care of our planet, we are caring for ourselves as well. Humans and our environment have a permanent, unbreakable bond.
Melissa Mapes Miller
Lead Mentor Melissa Mapes is an earth worker by day, and birth worker by night. She was born and raised in East Hampton and is a mother of two. She is a Level 3 certified forest school leader and is passionate about holding space for little ones to discover the magic of nature.
She wholeheartedly believes in giving children the opportunity to expand their spiritual, emotional and physical attributes through risk taking and exploring, allowing them to establish a deep connection to nature at a young age with the dream of creating eco-conscious caretakers for the future of our planet.
Winnie Kuemmel is a certified teacher with a background in special education. She is a Tinkergarten leader and mom to two boys, Dempsey and Julian. Her passion for learning through play has led her into the forest where she believes lies the heart of education. She is inspired by the imagination of children and how nature can be such a wonderful playground for us all!
Brittany Abbate is the mother to two wild boys, Joey and Luke, and a Registered Nurse. Although educated in conventional medicine she has always been in awe of nature’s powerful ability to heal both the mind and body. Brittany is passionate about helping children flourish through nature and self-direction. She believes children should be given the freedom to explore and learn at their own pace, in their own way, constantly growing and changing just as Mother Earth and the seasons do.