EarthWorks Learning Guides & Leadership Team Profiles

Our Guides

From Education to Ecology


EarthWorks programs are delivered by highly trained guides with over 20 years of experience in developing wilderness education programs. Learn more about our guides in the profiles below.



Joseph Dean

Program Manager & Learning Guide


Joseph is a recent graduate from The College at Brockport and Monroe Community College. He has been working with the Center for Youth for 3 years as a Crisis Intervention Prevention Educator in the Rochester City School District. Joseph has recently become certified from Cornell University in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. From his early childhood, Joseph has shown passion for the wilderness, conservation and environmental education. In the summer of 2016, Joseph worked for the NYS DEC as a Naturalist Intern where he mentored youth in a variety of hands-on survival skills and interactive team building activities.  Currently, he continues to put his passion into practice as a Learning Guide for Earthworks. He enjoys leading workshops and sharpening his skills related to shelter building, stalking, plant identification, tracking and camouflage. During his free time, Joseph enjoys archery, wilderness hikes and staying active. On a professional level, he serves as a Board of Director for  Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County where he focuses on positive youth development and how that relates to youth’s discovery and skill development within our natural world.


ashley fantigrossi forest guide

Niki Whilden

Learning Guide


Niki holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management from Rochester Institute of Technology. After graduating, she worked for an environmental engineering firm, but decided to follow her true love-working hands-on with people and animals, preferably outdoors! Prior to Earthworks, Niki was employed by Heritage Christian Services (HCS), working with adults and children with disabilities. During twelve years with HCS she worked in a variety of settings including residential and day habilitation sites such as Mendon Ponds Nature Center and Heritage Christian Stables. Niki is a PATH Certified Advanced level Therapeutic Riding Instructor with many years of teaching able-bodied and therapeutic riding lessons to a wide range of children and adults.


Niki is a long-term and very active volunteer and leader of Monroe County 4-H. She currently is the leader of the largest club in Monroe County, where her responsibilities include teaching children a wide array of project areas, including community service, animal care, agriculture, nature, and photography. Niki has extensive experience with a wide range of children earned by a long list of volunteer duties for her daughters’ schools and various community activities. She is an avid animal lover and equestrian. In her free time, you will often find her exploring local parks- most likely with some combination of her 2 daughters, 2 rescue dogs or on the back of a horse. Niki is excited to be a part of encouraging even the youngest kids to get outside, learn something new and to get their hands dirty!


David Rutherford forest guide

Keaton Jenkins

Learning Guide


Keaton is a graduate of the Rochester City School District’s East High School, and became an entrepreneur in 2014 after co-founding Beat the Odds Clothing – a mission-driven retail company that encourages people to face and conquer adversity through clothing.


Keaton is currently attending prep courses to acquire his School Age Care Credentials. He is an active member of the community who has conducted community basketball tournaments, back-to-school fundraisers and continues to benefit youth in the Rochester community through the experiential education programs offered by EarthWorks. In addition to his great passion for working with youth, and in youth development, Keaton enjoys traveling, clothing design, and sports.


Angela Cannon Cruthers Instructor Herbals and Wilderness Skills

Angela Cannon Cruthers

Herbals and Wilderness Skills Instructor


Angela (aka. Angie) Cannon is an environmental educator and author who teaches at Finger Lake Community College in both the conservation and humanities departments, at The Forest School for Cumming Nature Center, and with Summer Write through Writer’s and Books. She holds degrees in science and education and publishes articles on nature and parenting as well as short stories. Her fiction has appeared in Stone Canoe and Ladybug and her true stories have appeared in the anthologies A Mile In Her Boots: Women Who Work in the Wild (Solas Hous, 2006) and The Ultimate Bird Lover (2010). Angie’s experience also extends into working in horticulture, herbal education, biology, wilderness skills, poetry and creative writing. As an amateur herbalist and wildcrafter, a NYS certified guide, a writer, and educator for deepening our awareness and relationship with nature, Angie has been leading popular EarthWorks summer programs for more than two years.


Mary Coburn forest guide

Mary Coburn

Licensed Mental Health Counselor & Nature Therapist


Mary is a holistic psychotherapist with a Ph. D. in psychotherapy from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA. and a Master of Science in Counselor Education from Alfred University.   Her work focuses on promoting growth and healing through the facilitation of awareness of the mind, body, spirit connection which, has taken place in a variety of settings: through graduate student teaching, in workshops, and in individual psychotherapy.


Until retirement, Mary served as a Global faculty member at Sofia University (formerly The Institute of Trans-personal Psychology) in the Spiritual Psychology Masters specialization. Today her workshops and work with Earthworks focus on self-awareness through creative expression/movement and mindfulness in nature. Her individual client and volunteer work encompass nature therapy, talk therapy and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (for which she is also a certified instructor), a mind/body approach to wellness and wholeness. Aside from her work in therapy, Mary has also been a lifelong hiker-member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, has a deep spiritual connection to nature and has joined EarthWorks as a guide to “help others fall in love with our amazing earth and let it help heal them.”