About Take Me Outside

Take Me Outside is a non-profit, charitable organization committed to raising awareness and facilitating action on nature connection and outdoor learning in schools across Turtle Island / North America. We believe in a future in which spending time outside playing, exploring and learning is a regular and significant part of every learner’s day. We work collaboratively with other organizations, school boards and individuals to encourage children and youth to spend more time outside through various projects and initiatives.

TMO’s target population is learners and educators, who we reach mainly through the education system from early childhood through secondary school. Our goal is to encourage schools to extend the learning environment beyond the desk and four walls and to use the great outdoors as part of the regular teaching practice. The ultimate goal is to encourage more time spent outside during the school day to counter balance excessive screen time and sedentary tendencies. Our programs are simple, fun and accessible to all.

Land Acknowledgement

Take Me Outside (TMO) would like to acknowledge and celebrate the diverse environments and peoples of our country whose Lands inspire our mission. It is important we begin by acknowledging that outdoor learning would not be possible without access to the natural world that has been stewarded since time immemorial by the First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and Indigenous peoples who have walked and continue to walk and steward these places on Turtle Island. We begin with gratitude and the utmost respect for the many Inuit, First Nations, Métis, and other Indigenous peoples whose Lands support such wonderful outdoor learning experiences for the youth of today. We thank the guardians of these spaces as well as the educators fluent in the languages of connection to these places. We also acknowledge that we as an organization have much to learn and grow as we begin our work in support of reconciliation and in supporting educators in rising to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s calls to action numbers 6, 12, & 62 – 66.

Wondering whose land you reside, work, play & explore on? Check out this resource!

Our Team

Colin Harris, Executive Director

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I reside on the lands of Treaty 7 territory and I acknowledge the past, present and future generations of Stoney Nakoda, Blackfoot and Tsuut'ina Nations who help me steward this land.
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.

Julie Read, Program Manager


Julie is very thankful to live on Dish With One Spoon and Between the Lakes Treaty 3 land, the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, land which has been stewarded by the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg.  She is committed to Truth and Reconciliation, learning Indigenous history, honouring Indigenous Knowledge, and building reciprocal relationships.

Julie is a land-based educator, elementary school teacher, Forest and Nature School practitioner and enthusiastic naturalist with over 15 years of leadership experience within non-profit organizations.  She loves helping people of all ages connect to nature and is deeply passionate about social justice, removing barriers and increasing equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in outdoor learning.  She grew up in a house in a forest near London, Ontario.  Her naturalist parents took her birding in Point Pelee, home of the Caldwell First Nation, every spring since she was a baby, so technically she started birding before she could even walk.  Julie created the Fanshawe Nature School while working as the Community Education Supervisor for the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and has previously worked as Community Programs Coordinator at the High Park Nature Centre in Toronto and as Program Manager at The Guelph Outdoor School.  Julie lives in Guelph, Ontario with her partner Claire and cat Penny and loves camping, cooking, wild swimming, reading, crafting and music.

Rachel Cumpsty, Education Outreach Coordinator


I reside on Treaty 1 Territory and am committed to honouring the agreements made in the treaty process. I acknowledge that I work, learn, and play on the original lands of the Anishinaabek, Ininewak, and Dakota, and the national homeland of the Red River Métis. Manitoba is also the traditional land of the Anishiniwak and Dene. 

As the original stewards of this land, I think it is important that we study and learn about the ways Indigenous people cared for and continue to care for these lands. I am passionate about land-based and outdoor education as a way to promote student well-being and reconciliation. 

Rachel's earliest memories are of her being outdoors. Her childhood was filled with family camping trips and exploring nature. This early love of the outdoors has contributed to Rachel's passion for working with others to promote outdoor and land-based education. Rachel is an educator in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Treaty 1 Territory, and passionate about working with youth to connect them to the outdoors. She currently is a high school educator in the Louis Riel School Division. Rachel’s background in Indigenous Studies has a large presence in her work as she strives to use Indigenous ways of knowing and land-based approaches to promote student wellbeing and reconciliation. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Indigenous Studies and a Bachelor of Education both from the University of Manitoba. She has previously worked for outdoor education programs such as landED Manitoba and been on teacher-led learning teams to support educators incorporating outdoor learning and Indigenous education into their classrooms. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys rock climbing, canoe trips, yoga, and spending time with her partner and their dog Sage.

Cassandra Connell, Social Media & Communications


Cass works within the Lake Simcoe watershed, which has been inhabited by Indigenous Peoples since creation; recognizing the Williams Treaties First Nations, including the Chippewas of Georgina Island, Rama, Beausoleil, the Mississaugas of Alderville, Curve Lake, Hiawatha, the Credit and Scugog Island, as well as the Huron Wendat and the Metis Nation of Ontario, Region 7.

Cassandra is an Outdoor Educator, a certified Forest School Practitioner, wife, and mom of three kids. She works primarily at an outdoor education centre providing nature-based experiences for early learners, and students from kindergarten to grade 12. She has worked extensively with the local school boards to champion outdoor learning, teacher professional development to support outdoor and environmental education, and community partners in working to create more opportunities to take learners of all ages outside. She lives in Ontario, and when she isn't working enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with her family.

Board of Directors

Christie Thomson, Chair

I live in the present-day Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. My home is in the traditional territories of the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina, and the Iyarhe Nakoda nations. It is also part of the Métis Homeland. I take personal responsibility to understand our shared history and my personal role in reconciliation.
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.

Degju Suwal, Treasurer

I acknowledge that I live, work, and play on the traditional territories of the Iyârhe Nakoda Nations (Bearspaw, Wesley, Chiniki), the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina – part of the Dene people, the Ktunaxa, Secwépemc, Mountain Cree and Métis.
Degju is originally from Kathmandu and emigrated from Nepal in 1994. He has since lived in US and currently lives in Canada. Degju attended Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta and has worked in various accounting roles for over 15 years. He is presently the CFO at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff. He has worked or volunteered in numerous non-profit organizations and boards and is currently Treasurer of CORE International and Take Me Outside. Degju’s love for the mountains and outdoors started at an early age in Nepal and his passion for outdoor activities have grown even further living in Canmore, surrounded by the magnificent and inspiring Canadian Rockies. He currently spends his free time in Canmore enjoying the mountain life hiking, mountain biking, and skiing.

Sarah Ketcheson, Secretary

I would like to acknowledge the traditional territories and oral practices of the Blackfoot Nations, which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, and the Kainai. I also acknowledge the Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda First Nations, the Métis Nation, and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.
Sarah is an elementary educator currently teaching in Calgary, Alberta. She has taught kindergarten through Grade 6, threading outdoor learning throughout each grade iteration. She holds a Masters of Education, with a focus on interdisciplinary studies and how teacher beliefs shape pedagogy, along with a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Science, Ecology major. Before entering into the classroom, she spent summers working at summer camps and outdoor education centres, playing and learning from the land.

Natalie Harder

I acknowledge the traditional and ancestral land of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-wendat (Wyandot) and Mississaugas of the New Credit territory in which I reside.
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.

Kate Porter

Kate Porter is a teacher and vice principal in Southeastern British Columbia on the homeland of the Ktunaxa ɁamakɁis people. She has a Master's degree in Education (Administration and Leadership), a Bachelor of Education (K-12 Physical Education and Science), and a Bachelor of Science (Kinesiology). She has also instructed and supervised with the local teacher education program. As a former guide, international trip leader, and camp director, outdoor education has been immersed in her career, education, and teaching style. Although she formerly taught elaborate secondary outdoor education programs, in recent years she has been teaching at the elementary and middle years levels: going outdoors has remained a common practice in every subject and grade she teaches. When she isn't teaching, Kate can usually be found on the water paddle boarding, canoeing, swimming, scuba diving, or kayaking. When she is extra ambitious, she loves to bike, hike, and camp with her family!

Elisabeth Saxton

I want to acknowledge the lands of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot) Nation where I currently reside. I want to honour their traditional Siksiká language and recognize without the commitment the Blackfoot has to these lands, I would not have the outdoor beauty to explore and create memories with my family where I can practice mindfulness and find peace. Nitsíniiyi’taki
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.

Sheamus Donnery

I am grateful to reside in the treaty and tradtional territory of the the Michi Saagig Anishinaabeg.
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.

Nick Townley

I acknowledge that I live and work on the unceded and traditional territories of the sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations.

Charlotte de Souza

I acknowledge and celebrate that I reside on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-wendat and Mississaugas of the New Credit.

Patrick Maher

I respectfully acknowledge the treaty and traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg. I reside in Nogojiwanong, the “place at the end of rapids”, or Peterborough, Ontario.  My work and play often takes me to the traditional territories of other First Nations,  Métis Homelands and Inuit Nunangat, and I am grateful to live and learn from these lands as well.