The Living Earth School Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors are the stewards of our mission and vision. They volunteer their time, passion, and expertise to help advance strategic goals that support our work in the nature connection movement. We are grateful for their commitment to our organization and community.

Living Earth School seeks to reflect the diverse array of people who live in our region. We encourage anyone who has the skill set, knowledge or interest in supporting mentored nature connection for youth and adults in our community to consider volunteering with LES.

Volunteering as a Director on the Board of Directors is one of many ways to get more involved with Living Earth School. We are always seeking people interested in being considered for Board or Committee service. Board member terms are 3 years. Terms generally start January 1st, and our active recruitment and interviewing process begins in June. Current board committees include the Equity, Finance, Fundraising, Human Resources, Risk Management, and Governance and Board Development Committees. If you would like to speak to someone about the possibility of board or committee service, please complete our interest form HERE.

We are looking for individuals who will:

  • Create and foster connections within our greater community, particularly within communities where barriers to nature connection exist
  • Serve as visionaries and leaders while driving our strategic vision and goals
  • Guide and support our fundraising efforts
  • Have knowledge and background in areas such as:
    • Non-profit accounting/financial acumen
    • Data analysis/statistics
    • Equity and inclusion
    • Event planning/execution
    • Non-profit governance
    • Grant writing
    • Small business or non-profit law
    • Marketing/public relations/social media
    • Operational leadership
    • Sustainable building and/or land management

Our Current Board Members:

Val Washington, the newest board member, is new to the LES community. She has an undergraduate degree in Economics and is pursuing her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning with a concentration in Sustainability.

She became interested in rekindling her relationship with nature after studying environmental justice and taking a park planning class in graduate school. As a novice outdoorswoman and adventurer, Val attended her first backpacking trip with LES in 2023. Her dream is to be equipped to enjoy solo camping and backpacking trips throughout the region.

With the threats of global warming and climate change, she believes that right now is the time to gather people to enjoy and appreciate nature before it is too late. Even so, she understands that due to cultural and systemic barriers, not everyone can enjoy the outdoors as much as others, and she hopes to change that through outreach and education.

Val lives in Harrisonburg with her son, and dog, Stewie. In her free time, she enjoys reading, road trips and spending time with her family.

Kate “Cohosh” Guenther

“Cohosh” Kate Guenther, currently serving as our Mission Keeper, has been a part of the Living Earth School community for over 10 years as a student, a volunteer, and an employee. She benefitted from years of study in the Kamana Naturalist Training Program of Wilderness Awareness School. She created a resource database for wildlife rehabilitators, educators, and naturalists about the wild plant foods eaten by wildlife:

Her current passion is diving into the 8-Shields of cultural and community mentoring. She goes gaga over historic open fire cooking, natural fiber crafts and dogs.

Diana Boeke

Diana Boeke, currently serving as our Vibe Tender, has spent a lifetime navigating and attempting to disrupt systemic inequities. She holds a B.A. in African American History and an M.A. in Holistic Health Education, as well as a graduate-level certificate in Organizational Leadership.

Diana grew up in the golden hills of the San Francisco Bay Area, shaped as much by the cultural as by the natural terrain. She has traveled extensively, and lived in Egypt for nearly a decade. She has worked as a youth counselor, an editor, a communications specialist, and a donor-relations and fundraising professional. For a few years, she became involved in the local food movement and, together with her husband, ran a small organic farm as well as started a cooperative CSA. She currently works as a ranger on the Monticello trail system in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is a founding member of a collective working to house and support returning citizens.

She is an avid outdoor enthusiast, and passionate about building community as well as healthy collaborative organizations. She continues to pursue training in restorative justice and trauma-informed facilitation. Diana is a graduate of the Living Earth Adult Foundations course, and holds boundless gratitude for Living Earth School for helping her rediscover her connection to nature and place in the world.

Val Goodman

Val Goodman, currently serving as our Story Keeper, has been a long-time supporter of the Living Earth School. Connecting with nature is a deeply rooted family value so when her children were young they attended LES camps. Val and her husband attended LEAF in 2019-2020.

Valerie came to Charlottesville as a traveling nurse “just passing thru” in 1988, and never left. She married and raised her family here. Now semi-retired from her RN role and empty nesting, she is caring for her menagerie of miniature donkeys and horses. Valerie lives in Charlottesville on her hobby farm with husband Matt. Great joys include feeding the birds, tending to the koi pond, taking long cycling trips, and finding ways to care for others.

Kathryn Abbot

Kathryn Abbott is passionate about nurturing families and children and creating community. In the past, she has served in various leadership roles for Attachment Parenting International (API) and on the Board of Directors for the Greenwood Tree Educational Cooperative in Mount Vernon, WA. She homeschools her two children, ages 16 and 12, with a diverse approach aimed at meeting their learning styles, needs and interests.

She believes that it is imperative for humans to regain and retain our connection to the natural world, to find the wild in ourselves and to love what we discover about ourselves and the world around us, and ultimately to take that love and be stewards for our communities and the earth.

She and her family moved to Charlottesville in 2019, where they promptly became an LES family. Some of her favorite things are being with family and friends, cooking and eating delicious food, spending time in nature, reading great fiction, learning new things and being inspired by real conversations.

Living Earth School co-founder Hub Knott sits on a rock by the water

Hub Knott is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Living Earth School. Hub has been on a deep nature connection journey for over 30 years. He didn’t grow up in a world that felt connected to nature and he was smart enough to know something was missing. In his late teens he started exploring the woods near his childhood home in Baltimore, and then expanded to some of the most beautiful wild places in North America. It was while spending time in nature that he found what was real in life, and saw how time outside can heal. Hub was moved to give back, to mentor the next generation to find their own place and hope.

Hub has mentored and taught thousands of people to find a deeper sense of belonging to nature and community. Hub is great at bringing humor, curiosity and a light-hearted approach to loving this earth and empowering people to embrace their opportunity. He is a passionate student of life, loves to tell stories, and unravel mysteries.

Hub lives along the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wonderful wife Kate and daughters Violet and Phoebe. He loves pursuing his outdoor passions of gardening, tending the wild, wandering the mountains behind his home, paddling rivers, and creating beauty. Hub is the author of Living Nature Connected: A 30-day Sit Spot Practice.

Kate Knott

Kate Knott is the Co-founder of the Living Earth School, along with her husband Hub. She was the director of the school from 2002-2020. She has currently stepped away from this position and is now serving as a board member.

Kate is a visionary and change maker, on a mission to connect people back to living a life connected to nature and to their own sacred journey. She sees life as a precious gift and knowing that we have a choice to live it fully or hide in our comforts or distractions. She actively chooses to live from her heart and to step into life fully.

She has built one of the leading nature schools in the country, from the ground up, and continues to be on the cutting edge of the national nature connection movement. She has been engaged on the nature connection journey herself for well over 25 years and has touched the lives of thousands. Her path continues to unfold around connecting people to our brilliant planet Earth, and to both awakening within and helping others awaken to their truth within. She is currently forging a new path involving deep nature connection, meditation, nature photography and expeditions to beautiful wild places on planet Earth. Stay tuned!

Kate loves to explore the wild with her family, by herself or with friends. You will most likely find her nibbling on wild plants, hiking, paddleboarding, exploring beautiful wild places and often on her belly getting the perfect photograph of a beautiful moment in nature.

John Outland

John Outland began his career in alternative education at the former New Dominion School in 1994 after graduating from Wake Forest University. He quickly realized that his passion for the outdoors and helping others superseded his History and Politics Degree. After over four years of intense personal growth and team building he left to help form the Discovery School of Virginia where he helped young men and women learn to reclaim their lives through mentorship, hard work, intentional academics and outdoor living. He now serves as the Director of Residential Life at the Keswick School in Keswick VA.

John spends most of his free time with his wife Laura, three children, and dogs Charley and Jake. Together they enjoy living close to the James River and spending time on the James and all the nearby waterways. John also stays involved in coaching youth sports and helping manage the local soccer league.

Brian Bentzen

Brian Bentzen began his relationship with nature spending summers on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which led to attending Northern Michigan University in Marquette, MI. After spending 20 years in Northern VA and losing his relationship with nature, Brian and his wife Michelle moved to Earlysville, VA with their children where they experience the beauty of the outdoors daily on their homestead. Brian attended the Living Earth School Adult Foundations course two times because of the welcoming community and the variety of things to learn.

Monica Danials

Monica Daniels spent a year in the woods in the LEAF program in 2018-2019 and she loves bobcats and visited the bobcat den. Some of her favorite activities were making her own bow drill kit and learning how to use it, learning about animal tracks and practicing animal tracking, and building and sleeping in a debris shelter. The LEAF program developed her confidence and enjoyment in being in the woods. When she’s not messing around in the woods she’s being a teacher and her passion is getting kids into the woods so that they can have all the great experiences that she’s had.

Monica loves outdoor challenges. In 2021 she did a Rim-to-Rim run of the Grand Canyon and the next year went extreme caving. Next up is hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland. Being a caregiver by heart, she is certified in Advanced Wilderness First Aid. These skills have come in handy during some of her adventures.

When not outdoors she enjoys her family time with her two amazing adult kids, snuggling with her cats, reading, drawing, and painting.