Ali was born and raised in Carbondale, leading a busy and full life, primarily outside! Raised as an avid outdoors kid, Ali’s parents had her camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, riding, and caring for horses, and just getting dirty each and every day! She attended Mt. Sopris Montessori School, the Carbondale and Aspen Community School(s), Colorado Rocky Mountain School, and then earned an AAS in Early Childhood Education through both, Mid-State Technical College and Colorado Mountain College (CMC) in 2016. Ali is currently enrolled in the BAS Leadership and Management degree program through CMC.
In high school Ali traveled around the world competing in kayak competitions, earning a spot on the U.S. Freestyle Kayak Team three years in a row. Then, at 18 years old, she joined the Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol as an EMT where she worked for nine years. While there, Ali additionally handled and trained her black lab, Jane, to be an avalanche search and rescue dog. She has worked for numerous outdoor programs up and down the valley including but not limited to; The Aspen Ski Company, Blazing Adventures, Ute City Farms, and The Pine Creek Cookhouse (driving the horse-drawn sleigh). Ali joined the Waldkinder teacher-family in June of 2016 and has been a consistent member of our team since then. Her love and knowledge of the outdoors including a deep understanding of safety and enormous respect for risk and hazard are infectious and inspiring.
“I have always been drawn to the philosophy and ideals of Waldkinder. Allowing children to explore the environment in their own way while learning to identify and manage risk is crucial to healthy growth and development. Children need to play, interact, discover and experience the world in their own way and at their own pace. When provided with the time and natural setting to do so, it is my belief that children will inevitably grow into confident, capable, empathetic, tenacious and respectful individuals.”
Rebecca was born in Michigan, where she learned to love nature by roaming the forests and beaches. She attended Western Michigan University, studying Earth Science and Environmental Resource Management. The North Woods of Minnesota beckoned her with a job as an educator at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.
While there, Rebecca attended the University of Minnesota in Duluth where she obtained a certificate in Environmental Education. She has worked at a number of nature centers teaching children of all ages, including the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies here in the Roaring Fork Valley. She is currently working toward her Early Childhood director certification at CMC. Rebecca has taught preschool for 11 years, 8 with Waldkinder.
Rebecca and her husband Jason live in Carbondale with their two teenagers who are encouraged to frolic freely in the forest! She loves hiking, biking, reading novels and naturalist guides, gardening, and yoga.
"I love being outside with the children. There is no better place to be truly present in the moment! They are more calm and relaxed when they are in nature. So am I! We have time to explore, learn about ourselves and the environment and how to take care of both. Working the Waldkinder way, I have learned that children are so much more capable than we give them credit for. Instead of recoiling, they are excited to meet new challenges! And with love, consistency and encouragement will rise to any occasion."
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Kelsey had the privilege to grow up barefooted in a lush forest, snacking on huckleberries and chasing faeries. Being held by nature during pivotal life events, Kelsey has always been fascinated by the personal unearthing and healing possibilities of immersive wilderness experiences.
Completing an Herbalism Certificate Program at age 27, Kelsey quit her career in the trades to follow her naturalist threads of curiosity. From birding to bushcraft, medicine-making to stewarding the land, Kelsey’s curiosity led her into an intensive Wilderness Survival Program. This inspired her to join a Forest School Teacher Training Program, which she completed while teaching pre-K through 4th grade at an outdoor school. By working with children outdoors, she further developed her love for nature, facilitating adventure, and supporting people where they are at.
“There is nothing comparable to the holistic learning environment of the outdoors. With so much space, time, play, and discovery, being outside supports more than emotional, behavioral and intellectual development. I have seen a majority of my students bring to light a sense of self, visibly expanding their confidence, independence and empathy towards others. Creating learning communities in the outdoors has helped them to articulate and express their feelings, and obtain a strong sense of risk management and awareness skills that aid them in self-discipline, problem-solving and decision making. I have seen remarkable growth, love and connection developed between wild places and children, and I believe my most important work in life is to facilitate experiences outdoors to support, nurture and encourage that connection.”
Kelsey is currently enrolled in Early Childhood Education and Outdoor Education programs at Colorado Mountain College and exploring her new home in the Roaring Fork Valley.