About

Our Nature Mentors
Chris Hyde

Chris Hyde

School Founder & Director

Born and raised here in Central Texas, Chris has spent his entire life wandering and exploring the wild places across America. Fishing along the coast in Corpus Christi, hiking the trails of State Parks across Texas, exploring the piney woods of Big Thicket and discovering all that nature offered as mysteries along the way. After graduating High School Chris traveled across the country taking classes from dozens of different outdoor schools that focused on modern & traditional skills of survival living, as well as leadership, homesteading and permaculture. In 2009 Chris began working in environmental education for youth and adults teaching outdoor leadership skills, archery, bow making, wildlife tracking, ethnobotany and outdoor survival skills. In 2014 Chris opened Natureversity to help homeschool communities around Austin and Dripping Springs reconnect with nature through the practice of hands-on and passion-led learning while being outside. Chris is a certified Outdoor Wilderness Guide with the National Outdoor Leadership School & Wilderness First Responder with the the Wilderness Medicine Institute of North America. He is also an Active Duty Lifeguard with the American Red Cross and a Wildlife Track & Sign Specialist with CyberTracker International. He lives here in Austin Texas and enjoys traveling to new locations around Texas, making primitive bows and arrows, primitive hunting, fishing and tracking wildlife.

Cam Johnson (Eagles & Owls)

Cam Johnson (Eagles & Owls)

Homeschool & Summer Programs

While most think of Rhode Island as the smallest state, for Cam it was a massive expanse which was to be ventured into at every opportunity. All through his childhood, he would spend his time exploring the local woods behind his house, or travelling through the state to go on hikes with his family. Between family trips and outdoor camps, Cam soon had explored almost every corner of the state and wanted to expand. He and his family began to travel across the northeast, skiing, hiking, camping out, boating, and much more. This love of nature continued to grow, and by the time he was 16, Cam had travelled through more than half of the United States and several countries around the world. Cam also had discovered a love for teaching children, and frequently did so between mentoring special needs children with music therapy, and through weekly teaching opportunities at his karate studio. Cam is thrilled to have an opportunity to teach children about the wonders of the natural world, the possibilities of exploration, and to pass on the different stories and survival skills which he has picked up through his own upbringing. From backpacking, to setting up tents, to fire skills and archery, he brings to the table an incredibly positive, can do attitude and outgoing personality. Having recently moved to the Austin area, he is excited to learn about the flora and fauna of the Austin area, and share in the adventure of exploring new areas of the world. 

Lauren Valentine (Hawks)

Lauren Valentine (Hawks)

Homeschool & Summer Programs

Moving from Georgia to Texas as a young child was the first step in Lauren building a life of travel and exploration of the outdoors. With a brief stint at the waterfalls of Jurassic Park, Lauren explore the tropical diversity of Hawaii, the snowy mountains of New Mexico, the beautiful beaches of Cozumel and so many more locations around the globe. After her brief focus on studies, Lauren renewed her love for nature and exploration during college. Taking up a residential camp counselor position where she spent her time teaching archery, running zippiness and partaking in all the fun activities that camp has to offer. After earning a degree in Psychology from Southwestern University and a minor in Studio Arts, Lauren moved to Estes Park to run outdoor nature adventure actives for children. Her time in Colorado, although brief, was a whirlwind of exciting adventures including hiking, climbing, exploring and mountain biking. Her favorite was backpacking through the Great Sand Dunes National Park during the bitter cold of February where she honed her skills of wilderness survival and primitive camping. In 2020 Lauren finally returned to her home of Texas to work another summer camp before joining the Natureversity Teaching Team. She is excited to share all her wisdom and passions for knots, nature crafts and mental well being through nature. Lauren loves collecting hobbies and practicing her favorites that include crafting, kayaking, exploring, knots, archery as well as roller skating, although she has quite mastered that last one.

Ben Van Scoy (Hawks)

Ben Van Scoy (Hawks)

Homeschool Programs

Ben Van Scoy, also known by his nature name “Branch,” is an Ohio native who recently found his way down to the Lone Star State. Ben has always felt at home in the outdoors – as a child he could most often be found rummaging around in the creek in his backyard looking for all kinds of critters. Ben’s passion for getting kids outside started during his early college years where he served multiple summers at his local church camp. Ben views nature as his sanctuary and finds the calm of the woods to be where he feels most connected with the world. He received his bachelors in education at Ashland University and promptly took a position teaching outdoor education at a camp with Mohican State Park in Ohio as his backyard, where his passion for outdoor education flourished. Ben believes that the best type of learning takes place outside, where children who would typically feel uncomfortable within the constraints of a typical classroom can thrive. He loves hunting for deer sheds in the spring and birdwatching all times of year. Ben is a proud cat-dad and a passionate outdoor gear-junky. You can typically find Ben fishing for trout in the mountains of Colorado, hiking through the Tetons, watching wildlife documentaries, photographing beautiful scenery, or the occasional rock climb at a local rock gym. 
Amanda Hegal (Falcons)

Amanda Hegal (Falcons)

Homeschool & Summer Programs

Amanda was born and raised in Houston, Texas and started her exploration of wilderness skills when it came time for college. From being the mascot at the University of Texas at San Antonio her freshman year, to studying in the sand at the beaches of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, she eventually made her way back to the hill county and graduated from Texas State University in 2018. Amanda is a Texas certified teacher and couldn’t think of a better place to share her love for teaching and the outdoors, than Natureversity. Throughout her years, she has worked with children as a coach, mentor, nanny, au pair, and science educator. Amanda loves the great outdoors wherever life’s journey has taken her and makes it a point to always keep it cleaner than she found it. In her spare time she enjoys reading motivational books, hiking with her dog, camping with friends, and swimming in nature. Amanda is new to Austin, Texas and can’t be more thrilled to continue the adventure here.

Mel Teran (Hawks, Eagles & Owls)

Mel Teran (Hawks, Eagles & Owls)

Homeschool & Summer Programs

Mel was born in Chihuahua Mexico and was raised in San Antonio Texas where she loved to play outside and explore with the other children in her neighborhood. Hide and seek, kick the can, red rover and king of the hill were some of her favorite games as a kid growing up. After taking an outdoor environmental science class in high school Mel found a whole new passion for wilderness adventures. After high school she enrolled at UT where she earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering while also pursuing her teaching certification. Mel is working towards becoming a research scientist who studies biomimicry and develops skills of sustainable living practice with her engineering degree. Mel loves hiking, camping, exploring new state and national parks around Texas and the country and is skilled at interpreting clouds and predicting upcoming weather. Mel also enjoys spending time crafting and creating things from wood as well as making music in her spare time.

Kamryn Schneider (Eagles & Owls)

Kamryn Schneider (Eagles & Owls)

Homeschool & Summer Programs

Kamryn grew up in the small town Montgomery, Texas exploring the nearby forests and basking in the darkness of the night sky. She has always been a nature lover. At a young age she began caring for children through nannying and childcare. During her high school years she discovered  the practice of yoga. Yoga helped her move through the challenges of being a teenager and an unstable home life. Desiring to see more of the world, after high school graduation Kamryn traveled to Maui for her first Yoga teacher training. She fell in love with the aloha spirit, waterfalls, and strength of the ocean. She then moved to Austin, TX and has been continuing her yoga education in various destinations including Canada, Mexico and around the states. She loves to host yoga/meditation events for adults and children to connect to the nature inside and around them. She is fascinated with the power of ceremony and all things sacred. She currently is interested in studying ancient practices of Native American people. Kamryn has an innate ability to connect to children and animals. She grew up caring for horses, cats, dogs and doves. Kamryn brings a warm, playful and grounded presence. She is passionate about helping others discover their own connection to the Earth.

Will Knox (Falcons & Owls)

Will Knox (Falcons & Owls)

Homeschool & Summer Programs

Will was born and raised outside of Dallas Texas and from an early age knew the natural world was going to be where he spent most of his time. Upon graduation of Highschool Will traveled around WWOOFing (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in order to gain outdoor skills in gardening, permaculture, sustainable agriculture, wilderness education, naturalist studies and survival skills. During this time Will got a chance to show kids ages 5-12 how to live more in connection with the wild places and share his passionate love for all things outdoors. Leading hikes, exploring forests, playing games and teaching the kids how to live with nothing more than a knife was his dream lifestyle. Now at Natureversity he has found his home where he can do that and more each and every day. He is extremely excited about sharing his passion of the wild side with the future generations, as they will be passing on the torch that humanity has nearly let burn out. Wills favorite hobbies include meditation in nature, creating art through drawing as well as playing finger style guitar, and building structures out of natural materials.

Carter Liston (Hawks)

Carter Liston (Hawks)

Homeschool Programs

Carter was born in Austin, Texas, but grew up in a town north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a deciduous forest in his backyard. This allowed him to develop an intimate connection with nature at a young age. There he would use his imagination building forts, bike ramps, and a treehouse with his friends. He loved climbing trees, watching birds, carving sticks, and playing games. Being a camp counselor for a church summer camp in 2015, he got a taste of how fulfilling working with kids can be. Carter then went on to college in Ohio, earning a BA in Psychology at Kent State University in 2019 and this past summer, Carter and his girlfriend converted their car into an RV and lived on the road for three months as they traveled around the entire country traversing twenty different states to uncover the beauty that America’s national parks bestow. From Yellowstone in Wyoming, Crater Lake in Oregon, Redwoods and Sequoia in California, to Zion in Utah, his call to nature was reawakened, confirming an inner longing to build a career outdoors. After twenty years, Carter has finally returned to his roots in Austin, hopeful for new growth and revelations. He is grateful to have found Natureversity and is excited to learn and help our future generations develop their own connections with mother earth, which he believes will help our world become an even better place.

Micha Joslin

Micha Joslin

Summer Programs

Micha was raised on a small farm in Lebanon Connecticut. She has always had a fondness for being outside, allowing nature to be her guide. From camping with her father, climbing trees with her siblings & chasing frogs with her friends, Micha has enjoyed the benefits of nature connection from an early age and attended New London County 4~H Camp from the age of 6-16. After graduating high school she began her journey exploring more of the United States, moving to snowy Winter Park Colorado in 2008. From there she experienced some of the western US, settling in Southern California for several years before finally moving to Texas in 2018. Since arriving Micha has been learning from the local primitive skills & survival community about native plants & animals, carving & fire craft, hide tanning & traditional archery. Micha has multiple years of experience facilitating primitive survival skills workshops for adults & children of all ages. She hold certifications in wilderness first aid, sexual abuse awareness training, lifeguarding and outdoor youth development. She is also a graduate of the outdoor educator apprenticeship program at Natureversity. She loves working with children & using her gifts of imparting empathetic awareness to her students through hands on learning in nature. She has extensive experience as a healing practitioner, bringing love to those seeking harmony in the body as well as in life. Micha also enjoys crafting, playing her cedar flute & connecting with the Spirit of Nature.

Tevin Gray

Tevin Gray

Summer Programs

Tevin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in various places throughout his life. From Maryland to Indiana and now Texas, Tevin has always had a passion for nature and exploring the inner workings of all living things. Moving around allowed him to explore the flora and fauna of many different states and make friends that enjoyed all types of outdoor activities.

Currently Tevin works at Corpus Christi Montessori School running an Outdoor Classroom where he is able to provide a unique teaching environment. The students have multiple on-site gardens where they harvest food weekly and then learn about how to cook, preserve or even sell the produce to the local Farmers’ Market. Tevin also running Keepers of the Garden CCTX an Urban Garden teaching sustainable life skills while providing fruits and vegetables to the local community! He loves making fires, cooking a nice meal and camping in new places.

Elizabeth Weeks

Elizabeth Weeks

Summer Programs

Elizabeth was born and raised in Austin, Texas and her love for nature developed through explorations of State Parks, fishing, kayaking, and other family adventures as a young girl. Though she enjoyed many opportunities to connect with nature around Austin, she found a haven with her family deep in the piney woods of Bastrop Texas. She was raised surrounded by friends and loved ones who were happiest outdoors, who had regular conversations with old oak trees, cherished wildlife, and constantly encouraged her to explore the woods at an early age. After high school while pursuing her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher, she began working with children through the City of Austin Outdoor Recreational Department Programs. In 2018, Elizabeth earned her degree in Elementary Education at Texas State University with a minor in Studio Art. She has a passion for educating youth through passion & inquiry based learning, as well as connecting individuals with the earth, their community and themselves. When she isn’t practicing yoga or rock climbing, Elizabeth also enjoys connecting with nature through hiking, camping, wildlife tracking, mountain biking, and kayaking on town lake.

Nicole Jamison

Nicole Jamison

Homeschool Nature Programs

Nicole Jamison was born and raised in Corpus Christi Texas. Since her first trip to the beach she has been fascinated with every aspect of nature. Chasing seagulls, fishing on Bob Hall pier, tracking crabs in the sand and enjoying drift wood fires were just a few of her favorite moments growing up wild. Nikki is a summer camp counselor and outdoor science educator for a multitude of educational organizations around Central Texas. She feels that nature is the best teacher we all have because there are so many interesting and useful lessons that children can learn by playing in nature; lessons that cannot be taught in any classroom environment. In addition to being a total nerd for all of nature, she also grew up with Chris Hyde by her side as a fellow educator and nature guide for her to develop and practice her passions of wilderness living skills. From fire making and knife carving to fort building and enjoying wild edible plants, she loves imparting her experiences with the next generation of passionate outdoor learners. Nicole has an Associates of Applied Science in Environmental Science and Geology, and offers valuable knowledge in Central Texas geology, fossils, and land formation. She has also completed a water and sediment testing workshop and is well versed in native and naturalized plant identification, including edible & medicinal species. She loves spending time with her two sons canoeing, camping and exploring new areas of Texas.

Randy Judycki

Randy Judycki

Wilderness First Aid Instructor

Randy was born in Illinois, and soon realized he needed to move to the mountains to climb, ski and whitewater kayak. So he packed his pack and moved to Arizona where he attended Prescott College received a Bachelor of Science degree in Outdoor Education. After graduation, he traveled to Scotland and Europe to climb ice in Scotland and ski in Europe. He then received a job with a school in California where he started a nationally recognized Outdoor Leadership program for sixth to twelfth-grade students. While at the school, he pursued his certification to become a Level 5 Whitewater Kayak instructor and his American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) Rock Guide certification. Randy is the only AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Provider in the state of Texas, where he certifies individuals to be guides.  He has also pursued his certification to become a SOLO Wilderness First Aid instructor teaching classes to scout leaders, scouts, climbing guides, and all types of outdoor enthusiasts. In 2013, he moved to Austin with his wife and daughter so his wife could pursue her dream job and he started Austin Ascents.