Photo by Heather Daniels Pusey
Semester Program Lead, Field Director
Wilderness First Responder, Certified Forest Therapy Guide, BA Psychology, Graduate Certificate in Ecopsychology
Caitlin Horigan has been a mentor in a wide variety of settings in numerous countries for more than two decades. She is an advocate of self-directed education and anti-oppression changework. Her teaching weaves together Joanna Macy’s The Work that Reconnects and Bill Plotkin’s Wild Mind model with expeditions, naturalist skills, and nature connection practices.
Caitlin has facilitated both day and residential place-based nature connection programming in the nonprofit sector, public and private schools, summer and after-school programs throughout the unceded territories of Wabanaki and Abenaki people.
She is on a journey of deepening relationship with the more than human world and connecting with her ancestral lineages. Her introduction to tracking, bird language, plant medicine, friction fire, shelter building, scout skills, homesteading and off grid living began when she worked for the Maine Primitive Skills School in 2014. Caitlin is a Wilderness First Responder, certified in CPR, and pursuing a Recreational Maine Guide license.
In 2018 she began the multi year Wild Mind Training Program with Animas Valley Institute and in 2019 she completed a graduate certificate in Ecopsychology through Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has also participated in Helping the Butterfly Hatch, a mentorship program for facilitators of Self Directed Education. She recently began an interdisciplinary graduate program at UMaine in Peace and Reconciliation Studies. She is also a certified Forest Therapy Guide. Caitlin is committed to increasing the accessibility of programs she offers and continues to explore how to thrive in a capitalist system while creating a post-capitalist future.
When she is not working Caitlin enjoys exploring the woods, following animal trails, making medicine, foraging food, creating art, running barefoot, practicing yoga, and dancing.
Areas of facilitation experience include: herbal medicine making, fermentation, wildcrafting, tree & plant id, seed saving, campfire cooking, water safety and purification, hide tanning, canoe skills, expedition planning + preparation, wilderness first aid, shelter building, friction fire, wood craft & carving, cordage, basketry, nature journaling, scout, tracking & trailing, bird language, permaculture design courses, storytelling, personal myth, rites of passage, ceremony & ritual, decolonization, anti-oppression changework, self-directed learning, democratic process, non violent communication, consensus decision making, transformative justice, authentic movement, Internal Family Systems, The Work that Reconnects, and Social Presencing Theater.
Additionally, she is an E-RYT 200 and RYT 500 yoga teacher with over 1000 hours of teaching experience. You can view her yoga and healing arts website at www.midmaineyoga.com and resume here. Click here to contact Caitlin.
Semester Program, Rising Moon Facilitator
Wilderness First Responder, BA Spanish, Middlebury College
Moriah has lived most of her life in the bio-region of so-called New England and currently lives on Penobscot territory in midcoast Maine. The daughter of a woodworker and a Waldorf educator, she spent her Vermont childhood climbing trees, traipsing through fields, foraging and gardening, while receiving a Waldorf education. She understands, from an embodied place, the deep value of unstructured experiential outdoor learning and nurturing young people’s innate creativity.
A passion for learning languages has led Moriah to study French, German, Spanish, Japanese, and other languages at various times throughout her life. She is looking forward to learning more Farsi and Irish in the coming year. Moriah facilitates a Spanish language learning component through story and song at White Ash on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Moriah has been involved with The Wildwood Path in Unity, Maine for six years, first as a participant and then as staff, where she deepened her experience with shelter building, winter camping, friction fire, naturalist skills, medicine making, cordage, crafting, and tracing the lineages of story, song, and culture.
She is excited to be attending tracking workshops, and Animas Valley Institute programs in 2022, as well as continuing her own experimentation with various crafts — all of which she plans to bring to her work at White Ash Learning!
Moriah believes that the growing of a post-capitalist world must be accessible, collective, and adaptable. Her passion for history and anti-capitalist praxis has led to the creation of an online class for adults, Sowing Post Capitalist Seeds, in which participants explore the origins of capitalism and white supremacy, and work on creating alternatives in our lives and communities. Click here to contact Moriah. Photo by Heather Daniels Pusey.
Wilderness First Aid, BA Peace and Global Studies, Earlham College
Mica Rose was born and raised on unceeded land of the Powatan Confederacy, also know as Richmond Virginia, and has recently relocated to the Mid-Coast with their family. They received a Bachelor’s Degree in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College, where they focused their interest in the role of art and imagination within social movements. They have received training in conflict transformation, collective decision making processes, and community trauma healing modalities. They are fascinated by neuroscience, human development, and how people learn and make sense of the world. They have worked with children for over 10 years in a variety of settings including 5 years in community arts programming, and three years working in Montessori classrooms.
One of their most cherished offerings is working with very little ones in the process of learning to read. They are committed to creating and facilitating spaces where children can be rooted, guided, and free. Mica believes strongly that cultivating radical imagination and connection to the more than human world in childhood is essential for raising people who can act in the world as change makers and caretakers. They build relationships with children with an anti-oppressive foundation, and believe that accommodating and respecting children’s autonomy and personhood is essential to true learning.
The journey of homeschooling/unschooling their now six year old has opened up more curiosity about alternative and community based educational models, and they are grateful to be a part of the White Ash community as a mentor and a parent of a participant. They are also a musician, writer, and multi-disciplinary artist. They can often be found singing to their plant friends in the garden, or giving offerings to streams, rivers, and other bodies of water. Click here to contact Mica.
Wilderness First Aid
Tyler Pierce (“Dirt”) grew up playing in the mucky, mossy lowlands of Duwamish territory. From there he sprang out and crossed the continent a few times, lately making home inside the lands of the Wabanaki Confederacy. His work history includes cooking and hospitality, organic farming, carpentry, and traditional Japanese landscaping. He is also passionate about hiking, climbing, the written word, bicycling, tending houseplants, yoga, and sacred geometry. He is perpetually working on listening and exercising compassionate communication skills. His favorite pastime is playing the drums and he has had a lifelong love affair with music of all styles. Dirt loves spending time around the curiosity and natural excitement of young people and is happy to have the opportunity to facilitate learning and growth within the self-directed model. He is looking forward to pursuing continuing education in wilderness studies and Self Directed Education as well as preparing for the Maine Guide exam.
Wilderness First Aid, Art and Environmental Science, University of New Hampshire
Raised in Southern New Hampshire, Julia moved to Maine 3 years ago after living in Boston, then Worcester, Massachusetts during her 20’s. During that time, they were an active community organizer working under the umbrella of Climate Justice. She found work as a carpenter, a seasonal apple farm worker, and occasionally on a local ski hill. They learned the art of weaving at the Saori Worcester Weaving Studio. She loves sharing her loom with people, encouraging them to use it as a form of meditation and expression. She has a chronic injury in her wrists that fuels her inspiration to make the outdoors and the art of weaving accessible to people with physical and developmental challenges. They also completed The Wildwood Path, a 9 month journey of growing and deepening personal nature connection and wilderness skills. Julia is a substitute mentor, assists with the never ending list of administrative tasks, and sometimes fills in as carpenter when we need her! Click here to contact Julia.
Wilderness First Aid, Certificate in Permaculture Design, Certified Sawyer
Mev grew up with hands and feet in the mud of the tidal wetlands of traditional Abenaki land known as Scarborough, Maine, studying hermit crabs and watching the cycles of the tides and moon. This deep connection with nature fostered a lifelong curiosity with all forms of the natural world, from fungi and lichens to ever shifting weather patterns. They soak up information about nature through podcasts, songs, books, and stories, and delight in sharing what they find with others. Mev has spent much of their adult life tending plants and working with the earth through gardening, farming, landscaping, and trail crew, and has spent many hours exploring woods and streams with the children in their life. They bring diverse experience from working with Meeting House Herb Farm, Local Sprouts Cooperative, and the Beehive Design Collective. They nurture a creative practice of visual art, theatre, and song. They seek to unweave their own capitalist and white supremacist conditioning, and re-weave social patterns of deep listening, accountability, and mutualism.
Spring Semester Intern
Wilderness First Responder, Sophomore at Warren Wilson College, Outdoor Leadership and Music
Shanti was raised at the Sachidananda Ashram – Yogaville and the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, which are intentional communities that value meditation, yoga and mindfulness practices. She recently completed her freshman year at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She is double majoring in outdoor leadership and music, while also working on the outdoor programs crew that runs wilderness programs for the student body. Shanti also enjoys singing, songwriting, aerial silks, acting, knitting, dance, interdisciplinary arts, gardening, and exploring all of nature’s wonders. Shanti is very excited to sing songs with new friends and is looking forward to meeting you at day camp!
Rising Moon Facilitator
Wilderness First Responder, BA Environmental Studies, Biology Concentration, University of Pennsylvania
I grew up on Lenni-Lenape land with my parents and grandparents who joined me in wandering up brooks, marveling at crickets, lightning bugs, chickadee, black eyed susan and dandelion. My love for the wild and my grief for environmental destruction led me to the concrete jungle of Philadelphia and the tropical forests of Costa Rica and Nicaragua to study environmental science.
While living in Philadelphia I supported students to connect with nature through teaching in a variety of settings including on a sailboat with Philadelphia CitySail, with Philadelphia Outward Bound, Girl’s Leadership Camp, Environmental Education Camp, and in classrooms and afterschool programs. I also began to study and play at creative movement, song and music-making, wilderness awareness, women’s blood mysteries, rites of passage guiding, urban farming, herbalism, dreaming practices, massage therapy and healing arts. Participating in Niyonu Spann’s Beyond Diversity 101 curriculum gave me tools for the ongoing life-work of uprooting systematic oppression and taking actions toward creating a culture of equity.
I enjoy tending plants, weaving story, poems, performance art, song, music and dance, praising the wild ones in nature and giving my heart to the story of collective liberation. I love creating spaces for young people to be free, curious and connected with the wild within and around. I have a professional healing arts practice in the midcoast area and Philadelphia offering massage, bodywork, energy healing, mentoring & dreamwork. Click here to contact Leigh.
Semester Program Substitute Mentor
Wilderness First Aid, BFA Sculpture, Literary Arts Concentration in Gender, Sexuality, and Race
Rhode Island School of Design
Gabrielle has taught and worked with the young ones in the arts and outdoors both in the U.S. and abroad for the last 10 years. Hailing from the deep south, as a child they grew nourished by the great blue shores of Seminole and Tocobaga land, what is now known as the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, Florida. Leaving the grandness of Live Oaks she was confronted with a very different landscape moving to the territory of the Onondaga Nation of so called Syracuse, New York at 11. Here they learned to embrace the crisp cold that moved from the Great Lakes over the region bringing heavy snow and darkness.
Gabrielle attended college at Rhode Island School of Design in so called Providence, RI on the land of the Narragansett People. She studied in the sculpture department learning woodworking, casting, and metalworking skills, which she applied to her full bodied performance work that invoked much of what she now calls ritual, healing, and ancestral medicine. RISD gave her the skills to examine, question, imagine, and interpret her environment, which they now apply to much of their work in de-colonization, and anti-capitalism. Using their creativity and commitment to anti-racism, anti-oppression, and disability justice they work hard to imagine new realities of liberation. With the help and collaboration of their ancestors, the more then human world, the young ones, and their community they are moving these dreams into reality. Although she is a widely self-taught herbalist, Gabrielle can recall the seeds sowed from Ihre Oma (her grandmother) who moved to the “U.S,” in her 20s from the Rhine River region of Germany. Ihre Oma has always used plant medicine to heal and would give young Gabrielle spoonfuls of honey and lemon, nibbles of garlic, and chamomile tea when they were sick. She began deepening her relationship with plant medicine studying with Mary Blue of Farmacy Herbs in the Fall of 2014. This was brought on by illness and burnout. This time of illness was an important initiation into shadow work and set her onwards towards healing their trauma. While at RISD, Gabrielle also earned a literary arts concentration in Gender, Sexuality, and Race. In this study she was able to give language to her Queerness and name parts of herself that had been hidden by heteronormativity.
In 2016, she moved away from PVD to study with Tom Griffin and Amanda Labelle of Hope’s Edge Farm in what is now know as Hope, Maine on Penobscot Territory. Gabrielle worked at Hope’s Edge Farm for two years where she studied biodynamic agriculture and began a mentorship with Deb Soule of Avena Botanicals, where she has taken courses. Since then she has furthered her relationship to plants through studying with herbalist Jillian Hyllantree Twisla, Suzanne Stone of Moon of Hyldemoer Herbals, she has also attended the New England Women’s Herbal Conference, and the International Herbal Symposium. This summer 2022 they will be participating in the Plant Spirit Medicine Course offered by Jillian. Gabrielle hopes to continue cultivating more profound and genuine relationships with the plant world who have so generously loved and cared for her.
In the winter of 2019, Gabrielle met the sweetness that is her now partner Audrey. Together, in the backcountry, along the Dead River and the mountains of what is Abenaki territory in western “Maine”, Audrey and Gabrielle imagined new kinds of care and formed a relationship of nurturance and safety. Now Audrey and Gabrielle live near the Penobscot Bay in the town of “Monroe” in a small home they built themselves. They are both excited to work on a fun creative project they call “Chainsaw Witch” which intersects tree work, forest skills, tree worship, radical queerness, feminism, anti-racism, self-care, and plant medicine.
Right now, Gabrielle is excited to learn ASL, tend to a small humble garden, harvest plant medicine, be embodied while working with the struggles of c-ptsd, embrace and grow slowness and self-care, dance, cook, continue deepening and embodying anti-racism and de-colonial work, and be more passionately in belonging with themselves and their ancestors. And to bring all of this, with them, in wholeness while communing with the young ones at White Ash Learning and everywhere. Click here to contact Gabrielle.
“Young people are the next generation and it is vital to take care of them and encourage loving connection with that which surrounds them, feeds them, helps them breath, and is apart of them.”
Audrey Burns (she/her, they/them)
Semester Program Substitute Mentor
Wilderness First Responder, BS Natural Resources, Green Building & Community Design Minor, University of Vermont
Audrey was born on the salty shores of Wampanoag and Pokanoket land in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. She and her brother were raised by a working class carpenter and a potter and could usually be found swimming, catching crabs, skateboarding, riding bikes off the wharf into the harbor, looking for forgotten money in the pants pockets at the Salvation Army, and building hideaways in the woods. Audrey’s love for the place where the woods meet the ocean, and strong cultural and family pressure drew them to study Natural Resources and Green Building/Community Design at the University of Vermont. Audrey studied wilderness theory, trip leading, eco/living machines, government forest management and policy, critiques of capitalism and environmental movements, and became certified with the American Canoe Association as Canoe Instructor. Audrey started her career and a trail builder, leading canoe trips and designing and maintaining trails and campsites with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Seeking escape, change, expansion, adventure and the big sky, Audrey packed up and took a train to the northern Rockies to build and maintain trails with hand tools in the “Forest Service Wilderness”, some of the most remote places in the lower 48 states and the stolen lands of the Nimiipuu, Shoshone-Bannock, Kalispel, Salish, Blackfoot, Metis, and Crow peoples. She became practiced in the arts of the chainsaw, crosscut and axe. Audrey met a scientist and studied with him in the foothills of the amazon basin in Peru, observing both butterflies and violence of science. Audrey returned home after learning of the sudden death of their father, Dennis, in 2015, and continues to learn how to celebrate and honor, and to grieve his influence and memory.
After spending two years closer to home as an Outward Bound instructor/science curriculum facilitator and an island caretaker, Audrey moved west again to work maintaining trails and historic cabins, riding and packing horses and mules, and canoeing and kayaking the alpine lakes of Yellowstone National Park as a backcountry ranger. In the winter between Yellowstone seasons, Audrey returned to western Maine for off season work where she was brought together for the first time with her current partner, Gabrielle, when they crossed paths on a snowy trail near the drowned town of Flagstaff. They spent the winter supporting each other through 16 hour work days and finding deep connection and nurturance in the woods above Spencer Stream and the Dead River.
Audrey was called back to the place where the north woods meet the ocean. She spent the last years designing and building a home with her partner, Gabrielle. Audrey is pursuing education and community around her passions of tree work and motorcycles. They are currently working toward certification as a Registered Maine Guide. She enjoys cooking as a way to communicate with her ancestors and is on the beginning of her journeys to study ASL and the Irish language.
Audrey is excited to share their skills, imagination, curiosity, and wildness with the young people being grown in this place.
Wilderness First Responder, Maine Master Naturalist
Registered Maine Guide, BA Philosophy, Vassar College
I grew up following my imagination in cliffy spruce woods, roaming tide pools in rocky sandy shores, kayaking in my father’s hand-built boats, marveling at the sky, role-playing in games and on stage, seeking acclaim where I could find it, and sometimes obeying my mother and picking sweet peas and strawberries in the garden above a peninsular harbor in Small Point, ME. I learned inextricably from a young age that all life on earth is both completely amazing and in danger due to our human actions. As soon as I could, I got out of school and walked from Maine to Georgia on a footpath popular even in the gruesome yet budding 21st century. I found myself soon back in classrooms at the dream-realm of Vassar college and studying abroad in Tibetan communities, reveling as an outsider in language and old culture, glimpsing some of the faces of active genocide. Sickened by grief on my return, and emboldened by the practices of living outdoors, I sought life outside of the U.S. for some perspective that might help me, help us. I lived as a student, outdoor educator and Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia for two years. I taught at Chewonki. I led teenagers on expeditions along the coast of present Wabanaki land, to the mountains on foot, and into northern Maine and Quebec in that magnificent indigenous technology the canoe. Then, somehow lost and wild and longing, I met Caitlin Thurrell and she asked me for a walk in the woods. I gave her a bowl carved of Apple wood. After nine years of study and the practice of farming, she was returning to Ladakh in the Himalayas to live. She said she was going alone. I wanted more than anything to be with her, and through some grace she finally said yes. We split our lives now between a small village there through a gorge above the Indus named Dar, where we help grow barley and wheat and take sheep and goats to the mountains, and coastal Maine where we have recently made a small cedar and straw and clay cabin we call home. Receiving and remembering such incredible gifts in life, I want to pass the best I can along to the coming generations, knowing that all we can do is prepare and practice for the unknown. Click here to contact Jason.
Rising Moon Facilitator
Wilderness First Responder, BA Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic
I grew up a little queer in queer family among the foothills and waters of central New Hampshire, Abenaki Territory, mostly inside of doors and books. Only at last I turned outward to bring attention to rest (as it does still) in the greater-than-human world of root, leaf, and flower, track and skin and hollow bone. When I was eighteen I left high school and worked hard, supported by my parents, to earn money to travel to India.
The experiences of those ten months changed and opened many things in my mind and heart, including a beginning of my own journey understanding interdependence, suffering, whiteness, colonization, and capitalism, and also a deep hope that humans can live a different way, bringing more beauty and less harm. In the spring of that year I spent one month in Ladakh, returning then to the US with powerful desire to go back someday with more ability to be useful. Following this wish I left Brown University for the island called Mount Desert in English, Wabanaki Territory, to study Human Ecology, weave apprenticeship in sustainable agriculture with field natural history, art making, and wisdom-tradition philosophy. Finding work then as farmer and educator on a peninsula called Chewonki in corruption of its original name, I was given the office of Sunrise and came to love the mudflats and salt marshes, spartina and mink tracks in heavy clay. After these nine years training, I began to feel prepared.
Jason and I met and fell in love that year, traveled down the Kennebec River from its headwaters to the sea, and then continued our journey to the Northern Himalaya. Through volunteer teaching at the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) we met Chondol and came home with her to her village of Tar in Sham, western Ladakh, where apricot trees bloom in springtime over two-thousand-year-old fields of barley. In this village of thirteen households and many elders the strength and labor of our young bodies felt helpful, and we could learn some of the labors and songs of making life in this high altitude desert.
Now we have built a small house together in Wabanaki Territory, downeast of Ellsworth, and are making an effort to live ethically in and between these places, in good respectful relationship with community and land.
So far in my life I have served as reader and writer, quiet woods-walker, farmer (apprentice, journey person, and practitioner), teacher of soils, wood, forests, mountains, and waters, cooking on fires, and song. I strive to be a mindful student of solitude and death.
I love dancing and making art with natural materials, song, human and draft powered grain, vegetable, and medicine cultivation, and silent mountain sitting practices of attention. Being with young people out of doors, playing or working or sitting quietly watching and learning brings great joy and hope. Click here to contact Caitlin.
Mentors in Training
Wilderness First Aid, Maine Trans Net Coordinator
Sedum Jackson is 21 and currently resides in Bangor. They were raised on potlucks and knitting circles in Augusta. Sedum spends most of their days working with transgender teenagers through MaineTransNet Youth, foraging, caring for their two tortoises named Nettle and Isabella, gardening, and listening to an ever growing amount of audio books. They are a founding member of the Greater Bangor Housing Coalition, a member of Mindful Queer Collective, and a Common Ground Country Fair area coordinator. They believe that building strong connections to the earth can better connect us to our communities and ourselves. Sedum is incredibly excited to join the White Ash Learning community!
Semester Program Substitute Mentor
Wilderness First Aid, Senior at The Ecology Learning Center
Armonie Cohen-Solal has been attending the Ecology Learning Center, a place-based education high school in Unity, as well as taking college courses in psychology through UMaine. Prior to going to school, she had been unschooled and has participated in many self-directed nature-based programs. Almost eighteen, she is working her way from participant to future staff. She plays the fiddle and has been singing since she could make noise, and sings whenever she gets the chance, including while rowing and sailing on Belfast Bay. She is very excited to join the mentoring team!
As an aspiring outdoor educator, I deeply appreciate the thought and care that the staff community brings to our collaboration with one another in creating the inspiring and intentional experience that is White Ash Learning.