From Education to Ecology
EarthWorks Institute programs are lead by highly trained, diversely practiced guides, with over 20 years of combined experience in developing environmental and educational programs. Learn more about our guides in the profiles below.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
After completing a graduate fellowship with the National Science Foundation’s GK12 program, Lindsay earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and Risk Assessment from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). With her education and a decade of teaching experience both nationally and internationally, Lindsay has built a unique skill set for effectively working with under-served youth and families in the outdoors. Having spent nearly 14 years traveling throughout the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia, she has taught children from every walk of life, helping to build resiliency and advocating for equity and sustainability.
Lindsay is a wilderness survival instructor at Rochester Institute of Technology, a licensed NYS Hiking and Camping Guide, and holds a certified in wilderness first aid. She has incorporated her cross-cultural experiences and environmental knowledge into designing programs at venues such as Golden State YMCA in California and the Gandhi Institute for Non Violence in Rochester. Her teaching expertise also includes an adjunct position with SUNY ESF teaching Global Environment and the Evolution of Human Culture, and a diversity of inquiry-based programs in earth science, environmental science, teambuilding and wilderness skills for various organizations throughout her career. Lindsay’s own environmental research, has received funding from sources such as the National Science Foundation, Research Foundation, and the Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation. She has co-authored two publications on integrating science into high-school classrooms.
Prior to working as a Team and Leadership Facilitator at Cornell University, Lindsay most recently held the position of Education Director for a non-profit land trust in central California where she was tasked with bridging the education gap for the non-English-speaking youth of migrant farm worker families. In this capacity, she created education programs for over 2,000 underprivileged youth and developed Mentored to Mastered, a youth alternative education program for juveniles with criminal backgrounds, connecting them with professionals who provided mentoring. Lindsay does spend time teaching in the classroom, however, she would much rather see herself and her students outdoors, immersed in a world of sensory and experiential education. Her goal in developing the Earthworks Institute is to make simple but long-lasting, positive impacts on those with whom she works.
Co-Founder, Farm-to-School Educator & Program Design Lead
Nick Brown holds a B.A in Business Administration from Keystone College and a graduate degree in Natural Resource Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He is a conservationist by trade, and his focus has been on public land use management. With over 9 years of experience in landscaping, habitat restoration, land use planning, plant nursery operations, and plant propagation – as well as 6 years of business administration experience. Nick brings a dynamic skill set that allows for sound finance and budget management when planning and implementing conservation and land management projects.
Nick is passionate and knowledgeable about native plants, sustainable land use, wild edible identification, and environmental stewardship. He endeavors to take an innovative approach to all of his projects and ideas. His goal in developing the Earthworks Institute is to empower people of all ages to be proactive in making the world around them better for themselves and their neighbors.
Wilderness Skills Instructor
Michael Kannard became a guide with Earthworks Institute after attending two classes; Into to Wilderness Survival and Intro to Primitive Tools. He loves the concept of drawing people outside and away from electricity, so he decided to get more involved. In his professional life as a landscape architect, his focus has always been on the protection of the natural environment and on projects that encourage people to spend more time out of doors. Michael’s professional work includes ecological restoration projects and the design of parks, trails, kids camps and even a nature play area for kids at a nature center.
After having cut back on his “work” hours in the last couple of years, he had the chance to spend more time working with non-profits that focus on the outdoor environment, including several stints as a volunteer park ranger for the National Park Service at several parks in the Southwest. Michael is now excited to work with EarthWorks Institute to encourage the people of the Rochester eco-region, especially the kids, to spend more time outside getting familiar with their natural environment.
Forest Preschool Lead
Suzanne is a certified New York State Elementary Teacher, currently homeschooling her two children, while raising chickens and kale in her backyard. She holds a Masters in Education from Nazareth College and a Bachelor’s in psychology from SUNY Geneseo. She has taught children and teens in many different settings, from Prekindergarten in the Rochester City School District through teaching Swing and Lindy Hop in various community centers. Although a city resident for over 25 years, Suzanne is a country girl at heart and spends as much time as possible gardening, enjoying nearby parks, and camping with her family.
In addition to teaching her own two daughters, Suzanne is a teacher at Lilac Children’s Garden, a Waldorf-inspired homeschool program. She is excited to be sharing her love of the natural world with children and their families in forest preschool.
Experiential Learning Guide
Rose is a recent biology graduate from the University of Rochester where she was a recipient of the de Kiewiet Research Fellowship. She conducted research in molecular genetics focusing on the transfer of bacterial genes to invasive pest insects. In the summers, she worked at a nature center in her home state of NJ, serving as an environmental educator and introducing students to natural history. Through these experiences, she has developed a substantial scientific understanding of the environment and a passion for environmental education.
Additionally, Rose is passionate about living sustainably and has lived in several sustainable living communities and coops, serving as President. More recently she has developed an interest in environmental humanities and is excited by this new perspective of using art and literature as a lens to understand our world, our environment, the interactions between the two. She hopes to further pursue this interest through a graduate degree in the future, though in the meantime shares her interests in and knowledge of the natural world with children as a guide with EarthWorks Institute.
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 Transpersonal Psychology) in the Spiritual Psychology Masters specialization. Today her workshops and work with Earthworks Institute 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 Institute as a g
uide to “help others fall in love with our amazing earth and let it help heal them.”
Instructor, Wilderness Skills & Forest School
Alex is a recent graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). Last summer he worked as a summer staff at Primitive Pursuits in Ithaca NY, leading children ages 6-14 into the wooded property and mentored them in a variety of hard and soft skills, team building, and games. Before graduating from SUNY-ESF he was the club president for Roots and Pursuits, a club the focuses on traditional ecological knowledge and skills such as primitive skills, and wilderness and survival skills.
Alex has led many workshops in the past such as bow making and hide tanning and tries to regularly practice skills to become proficient with, including fire by friction, shelter building, stalking, camouflage, tracking, plant id and uses, foraging, and archery.
Instructor, Wilderness Skills & Forest School
Jordan is a Mohawk Native, traditional story-teller and lover of all the gifts nature has to offer. He has several years of experience teaching time-honored, outdoor skills with children and adults and has honed his primitive skills over the years by sharing time and trade with like-minded practitioners in the state of Florida. Jordan has worked for the past four years with New York State Office of Historic Preservation at Ganondagan State Historic Site leading tours, serving as an interpretive guide, participating in re-enactments and caretaking of the land.
Before becoming a guide with Earthworks Institute, he also taught during the year at the Jewish Community Center after-school program, served as a Nature and Adventure Specialist for their summer camp programs. Jordan is currently a student at Monroe Community College, working towards his Associates Degree in Psychology where he intends to use his degree to eventually work as a wilderness therapist.
Director of Program Development
Ashley is an active community member who gives much of her time to social justice initiatives involving gender equality, human trafficking, and sustainable development. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, a minor in Fine Arts, and a certificate of completion from the Women’s Leadership Academy at Alfred University, she dedicated several years of her career to marketing for startups and emerging technology companies. During this time she worked with individuals based in European, Middle Eastern, and African countries, and with organizations including the United Nations, to share innovative technologies to advance development in developing countries and remote areas of the world.
As part of her dedication to continued learning, Ashley is pursuing education through the SDG Academy and EarthWorks Institute Guides. In her free time, Ashley likes to travel, read, craft, and explore the wonders of nature.
Instructor, Wilderness Skills & Forest School
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!
Wilderness Skills Instructor
Dave Rutherford received his Bachelor’s of Science in biotechnology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. After seven years of working in laboratories, he decided to change career paths to pursue his true passion, environmental science and conservation. He was employed by Westchester County Parks first as a naturalist and then as a wildlife biologist. As a naturalist, Dave taught local schools about the indigenous people of the Hudson Valley, performed maple sugaring for the public, created and led programming ranging from plant-animal identification to primitive fire making and hide tanning. During the summer, Dave led the Conservationists In Training program for middle schoolers. This day camp focusing on conservation, respect for nature, primitive skills, and environmental science. As a wildlife biologist, Dave worked to better understand and improve the interactions between people, wildlife, and the environment.
Dave enjoys camping, backpacking, and hiking in the great outdoors with his wife and their scruffy dog. In his free time, he likes to discover the mysteries of nature, go backpacking, backcountry skiing, and find out ways he can give back to the earth and local communities.