Meet the Education Team
I have worked part time at the Sustainability Centre for the education department over the last 4 years. I also teach the adult willow courses on site and love using the Centre’s own willow grown as part of their WET system. The mix of activities, small businesses, volunteer and user groups here always inspire me.
Most of the time I am actively teaching school children on day visits or as part of their residential stay exploring sustainable and environmental themes. One day I might be building clay ovens, sandbag arches and shelters and another day pond dipping, mini-beast hunting and exploring the native chalk grassland habitats. I also assist in the education office with all the programming and administration of visits.
I originally trained in dance with a liberal arts degree and have always been very active. I have a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and spent several years teaching in community arts. Running a school gardening club when my own children were little really opened my eyes to the benefits of outdoor learning.
Camping and hiking were a key part of my childhood that I took for granted. Later I worked as an Education Ranger for the Forestry Commission and spent 7 years learning, teaching and playing with all ages in a stimulating woodland setting. I never tire of the lessons nature shares with us.
As an allotment holder, bee keeper and chicken owner, I try to combine ideas from forest gardening, no dig growing and permaculture into my own ‘gardening’.
As a basket maker and willow weaver I know the therapeutic and expressive benefits of creative activities and try to promote sustainable crafts wherever possible.
I have worked at the Sustainability Centre for 10 years.
I live on site in my cosy yurt with solar power for electricity, and wood burner for heat. I love living so close to nature. I teach and develop the education programme at the Centre with an amazing team.
Amongst the wide range of activities I enjoy passing on my enthusiasm for discovering new and creative ways to engage people with exciting solutions to environmental issues. I also love a good singsong around a campfire.
I have City & Guilds Level 2 teacher training and experience of working in a college with students with mental health and severe learning difficulties. I have also completed Forest School Level 3 and Outdoor Leader training.
I spent 2 years living and working on volunteer programmes in South and central America, including conservation projects in the Guatemalan Rainforest, and an Environmental Centre in Bolivia, where I first learnt about sustainable building techniques and Permaculture.
I have studied Permaculture Design and Ecovillage Design covering the social, economic, environmental and world view aspects of Sustainability. I also have a degree in Art Design and Media, and I enjoy bringing this creativity to the learning experience.
Head of Learning
I have been Head of Learning at the Centre for 19 years and I love having this opportunity to teach outside the classroom, encourage interest in the environment, and promote enjoyment of outdoor activities.
It is really important that we bring our key topic of sustainability alive for all our visitors so we have built up a wide range of skills within our team and are flexible in our approach to teaching our subject. We aim to build an understanding of some of the environmental challenges that humanity faces and to encourage our visitors to learn about and engage in exploring positive solutions. This work feels more important now than it has ever been because there is so much more awareness of the challenges we face than there was 20 years ago. It is crucial now that we offer hope and encouragement and that our visitors have fun while they are learning so that they can take positive memories away with them. We learn best when all our senses are engaged so we strive to be as hands-on and outdoors as possible when teaching. As a Centre we aim to create good models of sustainability, showcasing projects and examples of green living, as well as promoting sound ecological principles and examples of community engagement, which we can share with our visitors. This is as important for school pupils as it is for college and adult groups.
I have been here now for 20 years, I joined in 2001 and led the setting up and running of the Education provision. This has now grown from a handful of visits in the early years to a thriving service today for children, young people and adults. I have a BA Hons degree in Art, I have Forest School Level 3 Leader training, and Outdoor Leader Open Country certificate. I studied at Keverall Farm in Cornwall for my Permaculture Design Certificate in 2015 which I found truely inspiring so sharing Permaculture Principles with the under 18s is a must for me. I am also interested in working on group dynamics and Social Permaculture with adults.
As a leader I enjoy sharing my knowledge, creating a sense of fun and a spirit of adventure and watching learners develop their skills and their confidence during their stay with us. As Manager I also have a committment to ensuring that learning objectives are met and education visitors are safe when they are on site with us.
We have now held the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge for 4 years so I am confident that we can provide inspiring activities that are also safely managed for the under 18s. I look forward to our continued success as a popular and established Learning Centre and leader in Sustainability Education for schools. Our work has never been more important in offering an environment that can nurture hope, change and a route towards resilience for our learners.
Outdoor Learning Specialist
I have worked at the Centre for 17 years. Initially as a volunteer; I now teach woodland and wilderness survival skills to adults and children. I have completed courses in the NCFE Advanced Bushcraft Award, Forest School, NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Creative Craft, and I have extensive Tracking training. My skills include shelter building, fire lighting, navigation, tool work, facilitating team building games and sensory awareness.
I specialise in working with hard to reach young people including those with emotional needs, learning difficulties or problems with drugs and alcohol abuse and offending behaviour. Students on the verge of exclusion at School or having problems with an academic approach to learning, flourish with their time spent learning outdoor skills at the Centre. Groups that I have worked with include local Secondary Schools, the Adoption Service and West Sussex County Council.
My favourite part of my role is seeing the young people I work with gain in confidence and self esteem. I also offer team building days to businesses and organisations.
Outdoor Learning Specialist
I joined the Education team in April 2019 although I have had a connection with the Centre since at least 2004 when I donated 1000 trees to the South Downs Natural Burial Site.
In 2015 I started as a freelance instructor on the alternative education programme specalising in working with Young people with social, emotional and mental health needs, which I still continue to offer at the Centre. I have had extensive experience of working with challenging behaviour in schools and organisations such as Motiv8.
I hold qualifications in teaching bushcraft, woodcraft and expedition leadership. I also have a level 3 qualification in challenging behaviour and have attended training on challenging behaviour with the Treloar’s School and College.
As part of the alternative education programme I run the John Muir Award, exploring the life and works of John Muir, enabling an education of the importance of National Parks and the protection of wild spaces.
I have had a life-long interest in conservation from a very young age, achieving my chief scout award and gold award for the Wildlife trust whilst still at school. Since leaving school in 1992 I have worked in Forestry and horticulture running a specialist native plant nursery growing hundreds of trees and plants. In this time I have worked with many county and local councils, many organisations including the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, BTCV, Itchen Country Park, South of England Agricultural Show, Butser Ancient Farm, and the Wildlife Trust.
I have a keen interest in botany and love to share my passion for plants with young people demonstrating their many uses as well as their wildlife value. Educating young people about long-term conservation projects to increase biodiversity is an especial interest of mine.
I also am a storyteller specialising in British folklore and nature poetry engaging young people in creative ways such as in rhyme and actions.
Being part of the education team at the Sustainability Centre enables me to share a passion and interest in ecology and conservation as part of their inspiring school programmes. The variety and quality of teaching at the Centre has made a big impression on me. I feel that what is offered here really makes a positive difference to young people and a worthwhile contribution to sustainability. I look forward to working with many more schools and young people in the future.
Stefan is the newest member of our education team. He works with all of our school visits and all ages. He teaches school children on day visits or as part of their residential stay exploring sustainable and environmental themes. He also builds clay ovens, sandbag arches and shelters. You will find him running pond dipping sessions, mini-beast hunts and exploring the native chalk grassland habitats. He is also one of our tutors leading night walks and evening activities.