Colin Harris, Executive Director
Colin Harris has been immersed in the field of outdoor education for over a decade. He has been Director of Outdoor Education at YMCA Wanakita in Haliburton, Ontario. He has instructed canoe trips for Outward Bound Canada and has worked with First Nations students in the Western Arctic Leadership Program in NWT. He has taught physical education in Toronto and recently completed a Master’s of Environmental Education and Communication through Royal Roads University. He is the founder and Executive Director of Take Me Outside and initiated the organization by running across Canada, going into 80 schools across the country and engaging 20,000 students in the conversation of their time spent in front of screens compared to their time spent outside, being active and connecting to nature. Colin lives in Banff, Alberta where he enjoys trail running, writing and continuing to find ways to engage Canadian students in exploring this country's incredible backyard.
Judith Lipp, TMO Manager
Judith joined the Take Me Outside team in 2018. She brings with her a wealth of experience in program management and organizational development and is excited to apply her skills to the important task of getting kids outside. She previously managed an award winning non-profit organization focused on community ownership of renewable energy and an educational charity focused on energy and the environment. Through the transformative power of nature connection experienced in her own life she changed focus in 2016 and has been working on developing and delivering nature programs and outdoor experiences for children and adults for several years. She holds a PhD in Policy Studies, an MSC in Environmental Studies, as well as various certificates and qualifications in nature connection and mentorship, but through all that training and education nature has always been her greatest teacher. It’s this nature knowledge and inspiration that drives her work and her hope that all children everywhere have the chance to spend regular quality time in the great outdoors. Judith lives in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia.
Alyssa Stapleton, TMO Program Coordinator
Alyssa was drinking salt water from day one, growing up along the coast of rural British Columbia the ocean has played a key role in her development as a passionate outdoor educator. Alyssa has paddled extensively throughout BC's innumerable waterways and coastlines in addition to the waters of Central America and Southeast Asia. Wherever her travels take her, Alyssa always strives to weave a place-conscious experience for people that enables them to connect meaningfully to both the landscape as well as one another. Alyssa is a certified Level 3 Sea Kayak Guide and a Paddle Canada instructor for both sea kayaking and canoeing. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Geography, as well as a post-degree diploma in the Restoration of Natural Systems. Currently, Alyssa is finishing up her Bachelor of Education and hopes to combine her passions of outdoor adventure and restoration with her love of teaching. Through her work with TMO Alyssa aspires to make the outdoors accessible to all learners in all places and stages of education.
Christie Thomson, Chair
First and foremost Christie likes to laugh, learn and play outside with kids. She loves campfires, good stories, and believes that connecting with nature is fundamental for good health. Christie's career in outdoor/environmental education started when she worked as an Ontario camp counsellor roughly 15 years ago. Since then, she’s developed and delivered educational programs for Banff National Park, the Prairie Learning Centre, Friends of Jasper, and Massawippi Water Protection Association. Christie is a qualified teacher and recently explored how we can teach and learn for meaningful/spiritual relations with nature in her Master’s thesis.
Sheamus has worked as an educator for almost 20 years. After earning his Bachelor of Education with a specialization in Outdoor, Ecological, and Experiential education from Lakehead University, Sheamus spent years teaching and leading wilderness based expeditions, primarily with Outward Bound Canada. These experiences highlighted the power and potential of experiential learning in the natural world. Sheamus has spent the last 11 years as a high school teacher in the public education system in Ontario. Sheamus maintains a strong focus on interpersonal relationships, experiential learning, and providing opportunities to take learning outside of the classroom. His daily experience highlights the prevalence of technology in the lives of young people and the critical importance of providing opportunities for them to connect with the natural world. Sheamus enjoys sharing his passion for all things outdoors with his students, and most of all, with his two young daughters.
Originally from Queenston, Ontario, Carly spent much of her upbringing exploring the wonders of the Niagara Escarpment, “fishing” with sticks and leaves down by the docks, and searching for funky bugs on her way home from school. Now she’s living in Toronto, where she has helped further the mission of non-profits like Jane Goodall Institute, WWF-Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, EWB Canada, and the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. Carly’s background is in communications, but at the heart of her experience is creative storytelling and a passion for engaging and empowering online communities. Carly spends most of her free time exploring the city’s trails with her curious, nose-to-the-ground beagle, Tucker.
Natalie is a nature enthusiast that has worked in outdoor education for the past 12 years. A certified teacher, Natalie started her career as a Teacher running hands-on gardening and food sustainability programs at the Toronto Botanical Garden. From there she went on to work as Executive Director at the High Park Nature Centre where she led the OURSpace (Outdoor Urban Restoration Space) project which created a garden in High Park where the public could explore and learn about the native plants of the rare and endangered Black Oak Savannah. She is now a Senior Manager at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and oversees a variety of Community Learning and Education programs across York and Durham regions. Natalie has a young son and is passionate about supporting teachers as they search for ways to get kids outside as part of their learning! In her spare time Natalie and her family camp, mountain bike and explore their neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario.
Stéphanie Plante was born and raised in Tecumseh, Ontario and has an MA from the University of Windsor. She is a 2016 Arctic Fellow and a collaborator on a SSHRC study investigating the impact of digital technology on Indigenous communities. She has volunteered in the past with VDay Ottawa and is currently involved with the Refugee Assistance Project at the University of Ottawa and Take Me Outside. She is on the board of the St. George Housing Co-Op, is a proud member of Canadian Parents for French and Equal Voice. Her most important job is being a mother to Ian, 6-years-old and their dog Diego. She came to appreciate the outdoors much later in life and loves going to dog parks. She also enjoys podcasts, cooking, yoga and Beyoncé.
Stéphanie est originaire et a été élevée à Tecumseh en Ontario. Elle détient un master en sciences politiques de l’université de Windsor. Elle est amoureuse de la nature et fréquente souvent les parcs de chien. Elle a été chercheuse associée au 2016 Arctic Summer College et participe à une étude menée au sein du Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines, examinant l’impact des technologies pour améliorer l’accès au vote dans les peuples indigènes. Elle a auparavant été bénévole pour VDay Ottawa et est actuellement très impliquée dans le projet d’assistance pour les réfugiés à l’Université d’Ottawa. Elle travaille aussi à la Coopérative d’habitation Saint-Georges, et est une mère fière de son fils de 6 ans Ian. Elle apprécie les baladosdiffusions, la cuisine, le yoga et Beyoncé.
Kate believes that kids need opportunities to spend time in nature, learning and playing, so that the next generation can live healthy lives and develop an appreciation for our environment. As an educator Kate has had opportunities to lead elaborate outdoor education programs, but she remains a firm believer that the outdoors can be woven into any subject area. Kate also has experience as a canoe and hiking guide, international trip leader, and camp director. As a new mom, introducing her daughter to the great outdoors has become her favourite new hobby!
Elisabeth holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and is the National Director of Mental Health Services for CBI Health Group. She champions ways to build resilience and provide mental health services for individuals across the lifespan. She has worked extensively with individuals with injuries and pain and saw firsthand the power of being in nature as a way to increase physical and psychological function. She is passionate about TMO supporting mental health and building resilience of today’s students through outdoor exploration, where they can challenge themselves both mentally and physically. She lives in Calgary, but travels any chance she gets. She is married and has a three-year-old son, Magnus as well as a fur baby Viggo. Both boys are water babies, just like Mom.
Bridget Wayland joined the Take Me Outside Board of Directors in January 2019. She likes cross-country dog walks, wild swimming and getting her kids outside in all forms of weather. Bridget holds a Master’s degree in creative writing from Concordia University and a Bachelor’s degree in literature from McGill. She was the longtime senior editor at Harrowsmith Country Life magazine and the founding editor of Harrowsmith’s Truly Canadian Almanac, then handled digital fundraising communications at McGill University's bilingual Faculty of Law and the Trans Canada Trail (now known as the Great Trail). Bridget currently leads the communications and marketing arm of ALUS Canada, A Weston Family Initiative, as Director of Communications. She is based on a few acres in southern Quebec.
Amy Woolf has worked in and led digital marketing strategies for tech companies for the last 9 years and is drawn to the way that science, technology and data is leveraged and interacts with people’s actions and behaviours in relation to the environment. Her passion is geared towards building personal relationships and collaborating, inspiring and assisting people to understand the play between technology and data with the art of human behaviour to find a balance between the digital world and their connection with the great outdoors. She holds a BSc in Psychology and is studying MA in Environmental studies in 2019. Amy also was a children’s Ski Instructor and a Crossfit coach.