Education Programs Director
303.499.3647 x 101
Erin Saunders is the Education Programs Director at Thorne Nature Experience and leads community environmental education programming with a staff of 14 that serve more than 12,000 youth each year. In addition, Erin has been central to building the E Movement - a collaborative of environmental education organizations in Boulder County to increase impact through partnerships. Erin is honored to be able to lead the design of the Nature Preschool program, based in research and best practices, allowing young learners to develop a life-long connection to nature through frequent experiences in nature. Erin pursued a career in environmental education based on her own childhood experiences in nature and a belief that having the opportunity to spend time in nature with a mentor will result in adult stewardship. Erin holds a BS in Zoology and Botany from the University of Washington and the University of Melbourne in Australia. Erin enjoys live music, traveling, hiking, and most of all loves spending her free time exploring and playing in nature with her two young boys.
Lori Powell is the Preschool Director at Thorne Nature Experience. Lori has been living in Boulder County since 2002, and has over 15 years of experience teaching a variety of activities to children of all ages. She holds a B.A. in Recreation Resource Management from the University of Georgia, and obtained an M.A. in Education and an ECE teaching license through the Teacher Education Program at the Boulder Journey School, where she taught for three years. She was most recently teaching Kindergarten Enrichment at Bear Creek Elementary, and has taught outdoor education for numerous programs including the City of Denver, the Girl Scouts, and the Boy Scouts. Her passion for many years was leading outdoor expeditions as well as international travel, and then she shifted to working with younger children, which included teaching sign language and technology education. Lori is thrilled to be coming back to the outdoor classroom after several years of being indoors because she knows the incredible value of outdoor experiences for both children and adults. Her free time is usually spent with her husband and son or in the outdoors. She loves camping, hiking, biking, yoga, cooking, and reading.
Lead Preschool Teacher
303.488.3647 x 106
Kara Wadenstierna is the Lead Preschool Teacher at Thorne Nature experience. Kara holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Wheaton College (IL) with concentrations in Social Sciences and English Writing and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Counseling Children and Adolescents from Regis University. With more than 15,000 outdoor contact hours with children, she holds both a CO State Elementary Teaching License and Colorado Early Childhood Educator Certification. Kara taught kindergarten in the Front Range for two years and brings education and community organization experiences from several non-profits, including Colorado Autism Center, YMCA of the Rockies, and Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Kara joined the Thorne team in 2015 and has taught in-school, after-school, and summer camp programs to elementary-aged youth in Boulder County since then. Kara has designed and implemented parent-child preschool camps for Thorne and has written curriculum for many grant-funded programs. Kara chose a career in environmental education based on her own childhood experiences of joy, wonder, and peace in the natural world. She believes that time in nature is foundational for children’s integrated social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development, and is committed to providing this through engaged mentorship, questioning, and play. When she is not outside with kids, Kara enjoys trail running, Nordic skiing, hiking, cooking, and curling up with a good book.
Celebrations and Events
Thorne Nature Preschool values building a strong, supportive, inclusive community between classmates, families, and preschool staff. To this end, Thorne holds family events to celebrate nature and the changing seasons throughout the year. We know that learning doesn’t end when preschool ends and that there is nothing more important than family to a young child. To support nature connection for the entire family, Thorne leads family hikes and nature exploration days, as well as hosts parent education events that include childcare. Thorne believes that a healthy, rich, meaningful sense of community within the Nature Preschool, cultivates the human connection that is equally as important as nature connection.
See the Nature Preschool Calendar to learn more about our community events and celebrations.