Meet the Field School Team
Melissa Ellingham – Educator
Melissa’s fascination with the outdoors started from an early age and continued to grow as she did. Through participating in numerous outdoor leadership programs, her skills and curiosity were heightened, yet camping remained a seasonal hobby throughout her adolescence. As she aged, Melissa started her career as a chef, yet still found herself referencing the skills she learned years prior in the backcountry.
Melissa pursued her love of food around the globe, immersing herself amongst other cultures on solo expeditions to understand how food and nature can bring us together as a global society. Back in Canada, bringing her culinary skills outdoors seemed like a logical way to connect her passions. Since then, Melissa has striven to create space for youth to not only connect with nature, but experience and understand the ingredients we are blessed to be surrounded by.
Chelsea Pavich – Educator
Chelsea has been working with kids and youth for over 25 years. As a young teen she was a natural leader, volunteering at youth group, running volleyball and basketball camps, teaching in preschool, KinderCare and before and after school care programs. She was a youth coordinator and also an E.A. for a few years before having two kids of her own.
Camping, hiking, geocaching, and photography are just a few of the hobbies she enjoys. One of her best summers was a few years back where she and her kids kept track and logged 500 hours outside exploring and adventuring! Chelsea has been inspired by Jeff and his team and is super stoked to be leading the Delta and South Surrey Outdoor School Program for the 2021/2022 school year.
Cherie Booker – Educator
Cherie’s passion for the outdoors began early with a love of rock climbing
paddling and backpacking. Now, as a mother of two, Cherie works to instill that
passion and deep appreciation for the natural world within young people.
Throughout her career working in the outdoors industry, she has amassed over
20+ years of outdoor experience not only in many pursuits themselves but in safety gear, mental attitude and the culture surrounding them. Stewardship and a deep respect for the natural world remain central to her core values.
Cherie also brings experience working with Special Needs children, neuro-
divergency and exceptionality in children. Along with her broader experience
organizing and leading outdoor adventures, Cherie has worked with such organisations as Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports to teach Special Needs
children and those with various physical disabilities
Cherie’s dedication and passion for the outdoors, infectious positivity and patient
nature help her to facilitate outdoor experiences for young people that bring joy
and confidence to last a lifetime.
Jeff Willis – Owner and Founder
While being privileged to work within an amazing inner-city school, Jeff’s eyes and heart were fully opened to the importance of providing community and outdoor educational experiences, leadership training and connection with nature to the most deserving kids. It became clear to Jeff that all children and youth were being negatively impacted by the lack of access and opportunity to the great outdoor classroom. Since then, Jeff has set out to make outdoor education a school, community, parent and individual a priority.
Jeff’s passion for experiential outdoor learning, education and community work is linked to: Creative Toolbox, Fireside Adventures Camp Suzuki, Surrey Schools’ Windspeaker Project, Camp Adventure and Action Kids Camp.
Leanne Cederberg – POMO Parent Advisor
“I am a mom, educator, holistic nutritionist with a passion for advocating and creating opportunities for children to be their true authentic selves. My three children are my greatest teachers and guides. I helped bring Vancouver Outdoor School to Port Moody for them!
I wanted more than what the brick and mortar could offer my 2 younger children – a place for them to be kids, explore, wonder, create, play, inquire through their senses. Vancouver Outdoor School does this and so much more. In combination with Kleos (an online learning school), my children will be met exactly where they are academically.
I feel supported (the instructors are extremely knowledgeable, creative and just get kids), excited by my kids’ childhood, and relieved that I don’t have to do this alone and I also get to be a part of a community that wants the same for their children. I feel like I’ve won the jackpot!”
Jordan “Birchy” Birch – Parent Advisor
Birchy is a social impact entrepreneur, management consultant, adventurer, guide, philanthropist and enlightened former addict whose talk and enthusiasm energizes others. As a father, now more than ever, he sees experiential learning as a key ingredient in living a holistic, active and sustainable lifestyle.
He holds a Masters in Applied Ecopsychology and is recognized as a thought leader in the field. As the former Executive Director of Now That’s Ugly Society, Jordan co-founded the Original Ugly Christmas Sweater™ Party and Dash, the infamous giving phenomenon that helps grant the wishes of children living with a critical illness. He is also the co-founder and President of Phox Foods, a nutrition brand that makes HEAL Complete Plant-based meal replacements for health care and lifestyle.
He lives and breathes his role of service, however, you can also find him travelling with his family, at the hockey rink or CrossFit box, on the yoga mat or paddleboard, or hiking, shredding powder or biking up a mountainside.
Jane Stark – Delta/South Surrey Parent Advisor
Jane Stark is a Delta local whose 9 year old daughter has been with Field School since its inception in September 2020. She is available and happy to connect with any parents or learners who are interested in learning more about the field school experience and to answer any questions.
Justine Summers – Delta/South Surrey Parent Advisor
Justine Summers has recently moved to South Surrey from Vancouver with her young family of three. The oldest of her three has been with Field School from the start with her younger ones ages 4 and 1 joining in occasionally.
Justine has her Responsible Adult training, experience in childcare from early years to school-aged as well as years of coaching with athletic programs.
With a background in industrial and fashion design, she hopes to offer a helping hand in the creative projects.
Like Jane, she is available and happy to connect with any parents or learners who are interested in learning more about the field school experience and to answer any questions.