The Living Earth Year Round Staff

Kelly Lecko

Day Camp Coordinator, Lead Instructor

Kelly is an Appalachian Transplant from California. From the moment she learned about headlamps and natural hot springs at age 18, Kelly has not had a job inside a building ever since. Kelly graduated from the University of Redlands and has been an outdoor environmental educator in six states from Maine to the Smoky Mountains. Kelly found a home in Appalachia and enjoys traveling, learning, hiking, biking, swimming, singing and connecting with many natural spaces these mountains provide. She expresses herself creatively through art, poetry, dance and food.

Paul

Paul Cipriani

Lead Instructor

Paul has been studying primitive technologies for over 15 years. Apprenticing at schools such as Wilderness Awareness School and The Tracker School, Paul has also studied how to mentor others in these ancient skills. Knowing this is his life’s work, he has nature mentored children on the high seas upon tall ships, in the deserts of Utah with troubled youth, at various summer camps across the country, as well as at his own school in Florida. When not leading youth around the woods, Paul loves to fish, hunt and rockhound. Leatherworking and blacksmithing are also hobbies of his.

Josh

Josh Langford

River Trip Coordinator, Instructor

Josh (also known as Big Red) comes from the Rocky Mountains. Born and raised in Utah he spent his youth exploring the high desert peaks of Utah. He moved to Laramie where he attended the University of Wyoming. He graduated in 2019 with a Bachelors in Elementary Education.

Josh comes to the living earth school with almost a decade of river adventure experience. As a Boy Scout from a young age, he moved into summer camp staffing as he got older. Here he found the pull of the river. Josh spent many years and thousands of river miles guiding and leading weeklong expeditions down the Green River of Wyoming and the New River of West Virginia. The one thing he loves more than floating on a river is sharing the experience with others.

Camille

Camille Thionville

Instructor

Camille grew up homeschooled on a homestead in rural Virginia, learning through connection with the natural world around her. She started training in Shaolin Mizong and Jow Ga kung fu at the age of 9 and continues to practice martial arts today. Her desire to understand and learn more about psychology and the movement of the human body took her all the way up to New England and then back to Virginia.

Camille first joined the Living Earth team as a summer camp instructor in 2021. Working with the summer camp re-awoke the pure, joyful, innocent connection with nature that she had grown up with. She now strives to bring awareness of movement, awareness of breath, and awareness of the joy of living with everybody around her. Along the way, she discovered the amazing diversity and benefits of mushrooms to the ecosystem and is currently focusing on deepening her understanding of the mycelial network and its enormity.

Zach Orme

Zach Orme

Instructor

I have had the dream to start a nature program for the past year. When I completed the Anake program through Wilderness Awareness School (W.A.S.) in Washington state, they heavily encouraged us to spread their teachings in any way we could. From that moment on, I set my mind to start a Fredericksburg area wilderness school. Post Instructor apprenticeship at WAS I moved back home to Fredericksburg and reconnected with LES where I have attended programs for over 8 years, and taught for several years as an instructor. Starting in the fall of 2021, I have been mentored and worked to make my dream a reality, and this launch is the start of that dream. I am committed to making our programs successful and positively impactful on our participants through teaching the whole person.

Edward Bucky Brown

Edward “Bucky” Brown

Instructor

I first became interested in primitive skills when I took a weekly homeschool program run by Ancestral Knowledge when I was 11. It wasn’t long into that year that I developed a passion and desire to learn and understand as much as I could about the skills and knowledge of our ancestors, ranging from primitive pottery to blacksmithing to weaving to bow making and much more, so that I could one day pass it on. For four years I honed my skills and quickly developed expertise in primitive, naturalist, and survival skills leading to my becoming an instructor. Most of my fondest memories were made when I made the long trip to Charlottesville each summer to go to a Living Earth School camp or on an expedition. When I was lucky enough to be hired as a summer camp instructor, I began to see what it was that set LES apart, and in great detail began to learn the art and science of mentoring. I am also a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR).

Peter Yencken

Instructor

Peter is a master bowmaker and craftsman. He has instructed at wilderness schools across the United States and Australia, bringing the satisfaction of materials such as leather, wool, wood and metal into people’s hands. Peter brings humor and wry wisdom to his classes, and is known for his probing questions that make crafting class double as Philosophy 101.

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Erin Campbell

LEAF Instructor

Erin Maureen Campbell, aka Soupy, became wildly curious about the natural world during three years in the Pacific Northwest as a student and instructor at the Wilderness Awareness School. Soupy is a UVA grad from Springfield, and in 2014 after several years of adventuring out-of-state, she moved back to her native Virginia and fell completely in love with these hardwood hills, humid summers, and swift-running streams. In 2018 Soupy started part-time graduate degree studies in transformative leadership and conflict transformation, and in 2019 she moved into a tiny house on wheels she built herself (with the help of amazing community). When she’s not writing papers for school or running LES programs, Soupy can be found singing in harmony, mountain biking, or wandering the woods in search of tracks in the mud and flowers to identify.

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Hub Knott

Co-Founder/Executive Director

Hub has been on a deep nature connection journey for over 25 years. He didn’t grow up in a world that felt connected to nature. He knew 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. He yearned for the taste of the wild, the real, the mountain peaks and the rich valleys.

He has traveled to other continents and studied with many leaders and mentors to answer the question: what consistently connects people to nature, and their purpose? It is these findings that put him on the leading edge of the nature connection movement. Hub knows from experience how this nature connection journey can transform ones life, leading to more heart-centered relationships and purpose. He has mentored and taught thousands of people to connect in a deeper, more meaningful way with not only the natural world, but with themselves in balance with community.

Hub is great at bringing humor, curiosity and a light-hearted approach to loving this earth and empowering people to embrace their opportunity. 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, trail running, paddling rivers, and saying “yes” to adventure.

Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham

Director of Operations

Scott brings diverse skills and tremendous energy, enthusiasm, and passion to his role as operations director at Living Earth School. He has been a teacher, mentor, entrepreneur, business leader, and global technology consultant. As a supervisor and counselor at a Virginia wilderness therapy program for at-risk youth, Scott witnessed the powerful impact that living and learning in nature can have on building character and connections. He believes that a strong connection to nature promotes values and relationships that benefit not only the person but the community and the natural world. Having launched and grown businesses in Boston, Indianapolis, and Virginia, Scott’s mission is to help the Living Earth School promote its nature-based mission while leveraging his business expertise to strengthen and grow the organization, provide opportunities for staff members to develop their potential, and expand and diversify the school’s programming to provide equitable learning opportunities.

Scott is a proponent of life-long learning and giving back to his community. Throughout his life he has shared his time and expertise with organizations that provide housing, mentorship, and educational opportunities to underserved communities and at-risk youth. In his spare time, Scott is happiest when he’s fly fishing, riding his motorcycle, skiing, camping, remodeling homes, traveling the world, and spending quality time with family and friends. He has two grown children who live in Chicago and Ohio. Scott has held Virginia teacher licensure and wilderness first responder certification.

Anna

Anna Caughron

Administrative Director

Anna (known at camp as Tanna) is a long-time student turned staff and is enthusiastic about her administrative role. She grew up in Charlottesville, loving the Blue Ridge Mountains and has been lucky enough to travel all over the world. While at Colby College Anna explored the beautiful ecosystems of Maine from the granite mountains to the bogs, winter landscapes, and rocky coastline. Anna also spent a year in northern Germany, working as a teaching assistant at a boarding school, where she learned the joys of biking everywhere. She has hiked in the Alps and Pyrenees and when she is not in the office staring at a screen, Anna can be found out in the hills and on the move, or researching for her next big adventure.

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Luke von Hemert

Instructor

Luke von Hemert started going to the living earth school when he was around 10 and quickly fell in love with what was taught at the school. He then went on to attend every camp that they offered, and when he heard he could become a CIT (counselor in training) he jumped at the idea. After graduating high school, and seeing a bit of the world he has signed on to be a natural mentor for kids, and plans to do so in the future.

Luke really enjoys rock climbing, and ascending huge walls out in Utah has been a big highlight in his life. What he really likes about working for LES is sparking kids connecting to the earth, and seeing them really start to care for it.

Snow Bear, Steven Taylor

Summer Camp Elder, Veteran Summer Camp Instructor

Snow Bear has been with LES for many years and is now our designated camp Elder. He shares his loving and caring ways so eloquently with the campers and they seem to be greatly drawn to the deep earth skills and gentle ways in which he shares his knowledge.

Joey Murray

Veteran Summer Camp Instructor

Joey has been with LES for 17 summers and it just wouldn’t be the same without him! Joey has a love of the wilderness that was fostered since he was a child. He has had the opportunity to travel all over the world learning from Indigenous elders and nature connection leaders and has constantly asked the questions: What brings people closer to nature connection? What brings people closer to themselves? It is the drive to answer these questions and especially the community of friends that he works with that has put him at the cutting edge of the nature connection movement.

Joe realized that deep nature connection mentoring and community are the most important ways for our children and adults to grow in a very deep way to connect with the earth and our hearts. He loves to care for the land and when he is not teaching he is learning. Over the span of his career he has trained many instructors and helped start a number of wilderness schools. More close to his heart has been the thousands of children he has helped mentor into becoming fully alive amazing beings.

He is a co-founder of Ancestral Knowledge 501(c3) and has been mentoring deep nature connection since 1997. In his free time he loves to spend time in nature alone or with his family, students, community of other nature connection mentors.