Our Team

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Chris Ercolano
Owner & Director of Education

Our Founder and Director of Education, Chris Ercolano, bring his years of Montessori education experience to our programing style.

“I am working to increase access to the natural, cultural, and historical wonders that Virginia has to offer. I want to support students, educators, and families to connect with their local community. I believe that if we can build creativity, curiosity, and compassion in our neighborhoods than we can build a better world. It all starts with igniting the spark of discovery in our young people.”

Education

  • English & Philosophy, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Montessori Method, Saint Mary’s College of California

Teaching Experience

  • Golden Oak Montessori of Hayward (CA)
  • Sabot at Stony Point (VA)
  • Richmond Montessori School (VA)

Additional Highlights

  • Intern with 826 Valencia (CA)
  • Outdoor Educator with the James River Park System (VA)
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Eryn Alloway
Director of Marketing and Design
Wildcrafting and Garden Educator

Our marketing and design lead, Eryn Alloway, contributes in numerous ways to making sure this organization runs smoothly. Beyond taking care of the behind the scenes operations, Eryn is an incredible teacher that inspires curiosity and a sense of wonder in her students. She has trained in herbalism, botany, and sculpture. A true renaissance woman, her green thumb and expansive mind seem to have no bounds. 

 As an educator, she brings her love of art and the earth together to share herbal lore, wildcrafting, and botany in a magical way. 

Education

  • Sculpture, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Medicinal Plants, United Plant Savers

Other Projects

  • Richmond Plant Hub – Connecting community gardens and supporting local farmers with free seed distribution and workshops on permaculture and sustainable growing practices. 
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Ryder Faunce - Outdoor Educator

“Hey, I’m Ryder. I am currently finishing up my bachelors degree in psychology at VCU. I grew up camping, skiing, and biking in the Shenandoah valley and now I enjoy exploring the urban wilderness that is Richmond.

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Kristen Rankin - Art Educator

Kristen is a recent graduate from VCUarts, with a BFA in Illustration, and a specialty in children’s animation and narrative media. With curiosity and exploration as the driving force, Kristen seeks to bring her imagination to life, creating magical worlds with just light and color. When she isn’t working on her portfolio, you’ll often find her exploring the park near her home in search of various creatures, learning to identify local plants, listening to music, and spending time with friends! 

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Maile Paek - Yoga and Mindfulness Educator

Maile is a Yoga Alliance certified RYT 200, Pranayama Breathwork guide, and Sound & Reiki practitioner. Maile is passionate about integrating these tools of healing into daily life both on and off of their mat – believing that these different modalities of healing can extend into all aspects of our being and connect us deeper to ourselves and the world around us. Mailes classes combine traditional yogic principles with other mindfulness practices leaving students to feel more in tune with the body and spirit.

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Aspen DeRosa
Art and Movement Educator

Aspen DeRosa (they/them) is a multimedia artist, teacher, and student of life that values curiosity, community, accessibility, and collaboration. While studying and teaching in their Masters of Arts program, they discovered their passion for community-based learning opportunities and resources. When they are not teaching or making visual art, they are either spending quality time with loved ones, resting and re-centering or enjoying one of many hobbies! Aspen loves dancing, reading, making music, singing, writing poetry, cooking, podcasting, spending time outside, sewing/styling garments, and community service (to name a few). Aspen considers themselves a highly passionate and energized person, and is very motivated by all that life has to discover and reveal! 

Sam Christian Art Educator

Sam Christian (They/Them) is a Richmond native finding every way to celebrate and preserve the inherent strength found at the intersection of black and queer identity. Christian uses multiple forms of media including Fiber(Quilting), Digital Drawing and Printmaking to convey the chaos of queer childhood, the utility of black art and the need to preserve ones self in the face of adversity. Christian asks every viewer to question their ideas of liberation and community Care.

Brandi Bovell
Yoga Teacher

Brandi Bovell, LMT, LMA, CNHP, LR, RTY
 
Brandi started her yoga practice in 2009. Over the years it became her “go to” for exercise, inner peace, and healing. In 2022 Brandi decided to take a yoga teacher training, not sure at the time what the end goal was however it just felt “right” at the time. Brandi began picking up spots subbing at a few studios, and found teaching to be as educational for her as it was to her students. When not teaching yoga, Brandi owns and operates Old Mechanicsville Health Spa in Hanover, VA offering massage therapy, skincare, and wax hair removal. When not working she enjoys spending time with her 3 children, husband, and pit bull. Anything outdoors is her happy place. 

“We are committed to Providing engaging programs where kids use their imaginations and explore the world around them to discover something new.”

– Chris Ercolano

OWNER AND DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

Want to help?

There are many ways to support our work. You can volunteer your time or donate to help keep our programs affordable.