Our Mentor Team
Kim Simpson - she/her
Kim is a director, founder and teacher at Free Spirit Forest and Nature School. Growing up in Collingwood, it’s no wonder she has always had a heart for playing outside and appreciating the great outdoors. She graduated from Brock University’s Health and Physical Education Program, where she developed a deep understanding of play-based learning. She completed a Bachelor of Education in Outdoor Ecological and Experiential Education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Through this program, she learned the significant influence that meaningful outdoor, experiential education and Nature-connection can have on the whole-child, and how essential it is for the development of today’s youth. This set her on the trail to become a certified Forest and Nature School Practitioner.
Kim’s love for being outside extends into many past work experiences. She has spent summers planting trees across Canada, working as a guide and camp counselor throughout Ontario, and has supported youth in various outdoor therapeutic settings. In her free time, she enjoys camping, gardening, and being on the water. You can usually find her wandering slowly through the forest with her three daughters.
Matt Simpson - he/him
Matt is a director and founder of Free Spirit Forest and Nature School. He has dedicated his life to working with children and is passionate for the outdoors and its use in empowering students through meaningful experiences. He graduated from Lakehead University with degrees in Outdoor Recreation and Geography, as well as a BEd in Outdoor Ecological and Experiential Education. He is a graduate of the NOLS Outdoor Educator program and a certified Forest and Nature School teacher with Forest School Canada.
Matt has spent years in mentor roles both in and out of the classroom, here and abroad (South Korea and Ghana). He has worked in various settings as a camp counselor, outdoor guide, and extensively as a project leader with Katimavik all across Canada. He is a father of three girls and now more than ever understands the importance of nurturing connection with Self, Others and Nature. You can usually find him hiking local trails, paddling local rivers or simply just listening to the birds!
Jessica Witt - she/her
Jessica is a teacher at our Collingwood School. She graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree. She then when on to complete her diploma in Early Childhood Education at Fleming College. During her time at Fleming College, she also completed the Eco-Mentorship certificate which has deepened her understanding of how to support children’s meaningful experiences in nature. Jessica is currently completing the Forest and Nature School Practitioner Certification which is offered through Forest School Canada.
Jessica has experience working with children in a variety of settings including an after-school program, in-home childcare, and a nature-based preschool and kindergarten program. Her passion and appreciation for movement and nature has motivated her to support opportunities for children to learn and play in nature. In her free time, Jessica enjoys hiking, gardening, and drawing. She also enjoys swimming, canoeing and paddle boarding.
Sarah Nabet - she/her
Sarah is a teacher at our Wasaga Beach, Collingwood, and Duntroon locations. She loves people, and graduated with a degree in hospitality. She has been camping, canoeing, hiking, and exploring Canada since she was a twinkle in her momma’s eye. She has seen firsthand the benefits of nature-based play through her work with children as a Guide leader and youth leader, and now as a mother of three. Sarah believes that it is more important than ever for children to understand and connect with nature as they are the future guardians of our fragile Earth. She is thrilled to be working with FSFNS.
Sarah is also working towards a diploma in holistic nutrition. In her ‘free’ time, she volunteers with Friends of Clearview EcoPark, and loves hiking, canoeing, camping, puttering in her vegetable garden, and hanging out with her family and friends.
Robyn Daykin - she/her
Robyn is a teacher at our Wasaga Beach School. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a degree in Global Studies and English. She completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto and is an Ontario Certified Teacher. Robyn is a certified Forest and Nature School Practitioner through Forest School Canada.
Robyn has taught children in a range of environments including schools in Northern Alberta, a Haitian refugee village in the Dominican Republic, and SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Robyn worked as an environmental educator leading field trips at the Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area. It was this experience that made her decide that she wanted to continue teaching (and learning) outdoors! In her free time, Robyn enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, camping and working in her vegetable garden. She loves being active in/on the water, but also appreciates relaxing on the shore. You can usually find her hiking – you may see her finishing up another section of the Bruce Trail!
Jesse Neary - he/him
Jesse is a teacher at our Collingwood School. He has a college background in journalism, is trained as a professional chef and is a paddling guide for Free Spirit Tours. He is an avid backcountry adventurer who has spent a lot of time guiding friends and family through unfamiliar territory in the interior. Jesse is also a husband and father to three beautiful children. He has completed several courses in mental health support for children and has vast experience with young people with special needs.
His passions for the outdoors, working with children and being a caretaker for the environment has led him to this position. Passing along the knowledge and experience is very important in the goal of preserving and spreading gratitude to the natural gifts that we are blessed with.
In his off time, you can find him deep in the Algonquin backcountry, fishing in parts unknown, on the trail and developing a lasting bond with his family and nature. If he looks familiar, you may have seen him portaging his canoe through Wasaga Beach in search of the next adventure!
Jackie Vandenberg - she/her
Jackie is a Child and Youth Worker and educator who has dedicated many years to building effective relationships, developing and facilitating programs, providing advocacy and creating community liaisons to improve child, youth and family outcomes and influence positive community capacity. She has experience in a variety of educational, community service and mental health settings.
Jackie has lived, worked, raised her family and played in Simcoe County for thirty years. She is passionate about meaningful relationships and life long learning across generations, to nature and community. You will find her enjoying adventures in the forest, on the trails and in the water.
Krista Martin - she/her
Krista is a teacher at our Collingwood location. She had a wide variety of education within outdoor education and graduated with an early childhood degree from Georgian College.
Krista’s passion for the outdoors began when she was tour guide and explored the natural world through sugar maple forests. This led her to the College of the Rockies where she flourished in personal growth through hands on experiences.
Krista loves to take her time in nature and make meaningful connections with all things. She believes taking time to ask questions with children is where the magic of knowledge sits. In her free time, she loves to identify new plants and is currently building her own personal ID book. You can find her hiking with her dog Beau and in the Winter months her favourite thing to do is build a quinzhee!
Kim Chamberlain - she/her
Kim is a teacher at multiple forest school locations. She graduated from Fleming College for Outdoor and Adventure Education. Over the years she has also obtained multiple certifications for wild edibles, paddling and first aid. She is currently working on Abnormal Psychology courses through Fleming College as well.
Kim grew up in Toronto, where she managed a publishing company for ten years. When she decided that city life was not what she wanted anymore, she packed everything up to move up north and go back to school. After graduating, Kim has worked as a wilderness guide around Canada as well as the UAE, a trip leader for a wilderness therapy company for troubled teens in northern Ontario and most recently a kayak guide on the West Coast. Kim is most passionate about teaching about wild edible plants, geology, animal tracking and bushcraft skills.
Kim grew up camping on the islands of Georgian Bay, so when she has down time, it is no surprise that you will find her hiking, paddling, painting and camping on the Bay!
Nick Fooks - he/him
Nick Fooks is a well seasoned mentor in Outdoor Education and Nature Connection. He was first introduced to outdoor school in 2012 working in Toronto with the P.I.N.E. Project while finishing an internship as an Earth Steward in Algonquin Park. Since then, Nick has worked in various educational settings such as Waldorf, Montessori, outdoor schools, overnight camping, and workshop facilitation. These workspaces offered much experience for Nick to learn creative methods to approach sensitive contexts. In his passion he is most often seen carving, but he truly loves making art with the forest; song weaving, story telling, and many various bushcrafts that include using tools. Coming with a creative vision into everyday, Nick sees new opportunities to safely embrace and lean into the lessons that each day has to offer.
Rosa Furness - she/her
Rosa Furness is a dedicated professional whose journey has been shaped by her commitment to both the well-being of young minds and the wonders of the great outdoors. Certified as a child and youth counsellor from Seneca College, Rosa’s passion for fostering positive development in children led her to pursue studies in outdoor education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
With eight years of invaluable experience as an educational assistant within the Upper Grand District School Board, Rosa’s impact on children and youth has been profound. She has provided steadfast support within elementary and secondary school settings, contributing to the educational journey of countless individuals.
Rosa’s enduring passion for outdoor education has led her to facilitate transformative experiences for children in Montessori schools. Outside her professional pursuits, Rosa finds joy in skiing, tennis, water sports, and forest hiking. Yet, her heart finds solace in the simple beauty of nature, particularly on her deck by the Nottawasaga River, where she delights in observing the local wildlife. Rosa Furness stands as a beacon of inspiration, combining her expertise in counseling with her love for the outdoors to guide young individuals toward growth, resilience, and a profound connection to the world around them.
Jean Webb - she/her
Since graduating from Humber College with a degree in Theatre Performance in 2014, Jean has dedicated herself to working with youth and fostering their growth. Her enchantment with nature was sparked when she travelled to the United Kingdom and worked with youth, outdoors in a survival skill based program.
Upon returning to Canada, Jean’s passion for nature connection found a home with Haliburton Forest where she embraced an entirely different chapter of her life by spending five years as a dogsled guide and outdoor educator.
Driven by a desire to further enrich her experience with youth, Jean ventured into the realm of Camp Towhee, a therapeutic program catering to youth with learning disabilities and mental health complexities. Over the course of three summers, she wore multiple hats, from nurturing artistic talents to leading wilderness adventures. Her journey culminated as the Director of Programming.
In her free time, Jean enjoys running or skijoring with her dog Quinzee.
Carrie worked in the Fitness and wellness industry for over 15 years including programming at the YMCA. She spent 2 years in Whistler and 1 year in Australia exploring some incredible places. Her gratitude for nature really expanded when I she pregnant with her first born and started making a lot of her own products with locally grown plants and herbs. She’s taken several courses/workshops on gardening, edible landscapes, and mindfulness.
Carrie loves the idea of children learning in the outdoor classroom and used to joke with her daughter (a student of FNS) that she wished she could go to forest school too…. hmm wish come true!
In Carrie’s free time, running is her mediation. She experiences gratitude in the garden and finds stillness in nature. For her, being with kids in nature is a connection like no other!