The original vision from which TreeSong sprouted
by Michelle Fox
I wish to create a Nature Education and Retreat Center which is dedicated to supporting deep appreciation and connection to nature while inspiring a deeper connection to oneself and community. Moving forward from the premise that humans have the propensity to care for that which they know, understand, and are connected to, programs offered will inspire stewardship and a dedication to actively care for nature and our planet at large. In an over-culture permeated by disconnect, a return to our essence is called for. Naturalist John Muir shared, “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.” Our planet needs people that are connected to the beauty of their own inner universe, and the myriad of blessings that surround them to be effective leaders and stewards. Nature offers an amazing opportunity for reconnection and inspiration.
Programs for children and adults will be offered, with a focus on Nature Awareness for children. Opportunities designed specifically for families will be available as well, to foster the health and well-being of each individual and the larger family constellation. In all programs, a blend of ancient indigenous wisdom in addition to modern ecological understanding will be utilized. There will be a focus on nature as teacher, music and movement, storytelling, ceremony (such as rites of passage), wildlife education, and activities which enhance awareness (of self and surroundings) as well as wholeness.
Interlaced with the ongoing Nature Education programs will be opportunities for outside entities to utilize the space for classes, retreats and other various programs (for example, a local Yoga center renting the space for a Yoga retreat). Any outside program sponsored would ascribe to the general mission of supporting health and well-being, in this way offering a Center with integrity in its focus.
It is my deepest desire to inspire deep connection with nature, community and self/soul within an atmosphere that supports reverence for and stewardship of the land.
We value nature as our greatest teacher, learning the ecosystem we are a part of and the power of mentoring and inter-generational relationships.
We care for what we know, understand and are connected to. Those who experience strong, healthy connection with self are our most effective leaders and stewards.
Rich connections to self, community and nature support our holistic state of well-being
We believe in the importance of strong, vital communities (the importance of belonging).
The beauty of nature inspires reconnection with our own essence, awakens the senses, allows us to tap into what is sacred in all things and experience the inter-conntectedness of all we behold.
Staff & Board
I’m Michelle Fox, Founder and Executive Director of TreeSong. I have been an early childhood educator for over 25 years. After procuring a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Spanish at the University of California at Davis, I earned an Elementary School Teaching Credential from the Multi-cultural/Bilingual Program at Sacramento State University. I have had teaching experiences in bilingual (Spanish/English) Elementary classrooms, Spanish immersion Kindergarten, Pre-school, as well as teaching Art to Elementary students.
I have mentored children in nature awareness through a program I created called Roots and Wings, and currently am in my 9th year of teaching yoga to children ages 4-13. I have also been a mentor in a program called Maiden Spirit for the last 6 years. This program is designed to empower girls 9-13 and prepare them for a rite of passage ceremony.
Summer 2013, I attended a week long training in the Art of Mentoring at the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA. This inspiring week gave me a wonderful foundation in mentoring children in nature awareness. The last 10 years have also given me rich experiences and deepened my devotion to wholeness and the mind/body/spirit connection, through my practices of yoga and massage therapy.
Having had the opportunity to live on the Washougal River with my children for 4 years has also gifted me greatly. Through the day to day relationship with the forest, animals, river, I further opened to the powerful healing and learning that nature offers. I was able to witness first-hand, children (my own two) learning, growing, returning to their own true nature, as a result of their consistent contact with the natural world.
It is my most sincere wish to pass along what I have discovered and to support others in developing a life changing relationship with the wilderness both outside and within them.
Nicole Banta is a native Oregonian who grew up camping and spending time outdoors with her family in the Pacific Northwest. With three active little boys, Nicole loves spending time outdoors, especially near water. She currently works for a nonprofit organization, Oregon Mentors, supporting mentoring and youth development programs in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Her greatest passion is supporting youth. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Oregon and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from Portland State University.
I’m a new transplant to the PNW although I feel like this is where I belong. My early childhood was spent exploring the forests of Maine and then the wild coast line of Cape Cod. II ended up in the other Washington for a long time. I was involved in Arabic language and culture studies and lived overseas in Spain and Jordan. Later I entered the mental health field and served primarily new immigrants from all over the world. My specialty was women and children experiencing severe traumas of all kinds. I also have training and experience in conflict mediation.
I believe that connection with nature and authentic connections with people can bring about great healing. Treesong is a safe and empowering space for everyone and I’d like to help increase that awareness by improving access for more diverse people to experience nature and its benefits. I am fascinated with the positive changes I’ve seen in women when they give them themselves the gift of returning to the woods and I’d like to share my experiences with others.
My current passion is exploring naturalist and tracking studies as I complete the cycle and return to the woods and wilds that I enjoyed as a child. I’ll be attending an intensive naturalist study program this year at Wilderness Awareness with the goal of bringing that knowledge back to share with others. My other interests include riding my mountain bike to explore new parts of the wilderness, martial arts training (I hold a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do) and playing music. Play is an important part of my life and personality and I bring that characteristic to as many endeavors as possible. When you come across me at Treesong you’ll notice the importance of play in my life. I am excited to be a part of the special joy of Treesong and support Michelle’s vision.
Georgetown University BA Arabic Language and History
Marymount University MS Counseling
Licensed in Washington, LMHC and in Virginia LPC
Languages – Arabic rusty, Spanish fluent
Monica Vilhauer is an educator in philosophy and the arts. She’s also an enthusiastic wordsmith and a lover of nature. Monica earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from the New School for Social Research in NY, and earned tenure at Roanoke College in VA. After a decade as a college professor, an academic author, and a program director, she returned home to the Pacific Northwest, where she now teaches philosophy and art workshops in community settings. Monica loves meandering conversations that encourage us to examine our values, habits, and relationships, and that persuade us to experiment with new ways of living. She is especially inspired by questions of how human beings relate to nature, and how we can do a better job of it. She leads conversational workshops and experiential learning retreats that emphasize the practical importance of philosophy, through her business Curious Soul Philosophy. Monica is also a lover of the arts, and is always trying out new ways to be creative. Her favorite art forms are ceramics, mosaics, music, and dance. Keep an eye out for her nature-inspired mosaics workshops at TreeSong!
I am a Gorge resident living close to nature on the edge of Buck Creek, in Skamania County, Washington. I am married and have 3 grown children, 3 grandchildren with a new one on the way.
I have worked in Nature Education, focusing on children and Creative Arts Expression, Non-Profit development, outreach, nature center management and conservancy work for 25 years. I have also held volunteer board positions in many Arts/Nature related non-profits and I am NAI certified as an interpretive guide. In the course of these years, I have held the event coordinator position, the volunteer coordinator, as well as Board Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Special Liaison, and many a board seat. A partial list of past groups includes: Clackamas County Arts, West Linn Arts Commission, Willamette Arts Council (I was the co-creator of this non-profit), Palos Verdes Land Conservancy, San Pedro Arts, CultureSeed, and Peace Village.
I have BA in Psychology with course work in Art Therapy. I am a certified Life Coach and Expressive Arts facilitator using SoulCollage(R) and other modalities in circles, workshops and private sessions.
I also find pleasure and self-expression in my own art, gardening, sharing healing techniques using essential oils, herbals and alternative approaches. Philosophy, poetry, photography, and music are essential to grounding me.
I hope to bring my skills, gifts and experience to TreeSong as it continues to grow and yield its bounty of expressions. The opportunities for nature awareness, connection, creativity and personal development are showing up beautifully and the future looks wildly alive!
Honorary Board Members
Adrian Farnsworth grew up as a fourth generation southern Californian. While she loved spending summers at the ocean with her grandmothers and family, something always felt missing. In her early 20’s, Adrian visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time and knew this was where she would spend the rest of her life. Finally, in the early 90’s, she was able to move to Washington with its green forests, flowing rivers and abundant wildlife. Adrian felt like she had come “home”.
Adrian has always loved to work in support of others. In addition to her corporate job, Adrian spent several years providing guest support for her close friends at Hidden Lake Retreat, a spiritual retreat center in Oregon. Over the years she met many wonderful people at the beautiful, pristine lake setting and felt fulfilled being of service.
Joining the TreeSong family touches Adrian’s deepest desire to work from the heart and to share with others her love of all things wild. She is hopeful that, in some small way, each person she comes in contact with through TreeSong will feel her passion and love for nature, creating in them a desire to discover, in their own unique way, a connection to wildlife and wild places, becoming stewards of, not just where we live, but of all the Earth. As Rumi wrote, “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.” Adrian would add, “and the Earth.”
Brecia Kralovic-Logan, M.Ed, has been a champion of creativity for over 40 years. She is an artist, speaker, and Spirited Success Coach in Vancouver, Wa. She is the author of The Spiral of Creativity- Mastering the Art of a Spirited Life, a guidebook for bringing awareness to your inner creative powers. “Play. Explore. Discover.” is her creative mantra and she coaches people to play in the out-of-doors as a way of tuning into their intuition.
Her fondest childhood memories are of being at camp: seeing sunlight filtering through tree branches, hearing a symphony of birdsong, smelling the damp earth, and feeling a cold river dance across her toes. Brecia raised her 3 children, in Santa Barbara, Ca, to appreciate and participate in all that their natural environment had to offer. Now she is passionate about Treesong’s mission to provide opportunities for families to learn how to connect with nature.
My name is Mila Carey-Bracke and I’m delighted to be a part of the inspiring work happening at TreeSong. Whether I’m operating power tools, slogging through a swamp or carrying a cute bag – nature is where I feel most at home. Two decades ago, my husband, Mike, and I left a commute-dominated life in the Silicon Valley to move to the Northwest. My longstanding and spirited relationship with weeds began with weeding crops while growing up in the Midwest. This translated well into doing stewardship field work for both national and local land trusts. While I found this work very rewarding and meaningful, my current role of stay-at-home Mom eclipses any previous career. I have a strong dedication to my yoga and meditation practice which I share daily with our daughter, Luna. My family and I spend as much time as possible hiking, playing and exploring the natural world. Our life on the river affords us countless opportunities, as well as blessings, for discovery and delight in nature’s gifts – both day and night. I adore Mary Oliver’s work, so I’ll end with a quote of hers: “Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.”
Time with family, playing music, and enjoying the outdoors are the activities that sustain and nurture Jennifer Tucker. As a music educator and therapeutic musician, Jennifer appreciates the harmony and dissonance offered in the natural world where she discovers beauty, excitement, challenge, and solace. She considers herself an amateur naturalist, with a particular interest in, and healthy fear of, Brown (Grizzly) bears. Jennifer especially enjoys mountain sports, from hiking and rock climbing, to downhill skiing and mountain bike riding. As a grandmother Jennifer greatly enjoys engaging in both musical and outdoor activities with her grandchildren. Jennifer lives with Bruce, her husband, a cat, two dogs, a
fish, and a couple of bee hives in Vancouver, WA.
Rose Hout: “Richard Louv wrote that ‘many people now of college age—those who belong to the first generation to grow up in a largely de-natured environment—have tasted just enough nature to intuitively understand what they have missed. This yearning is a source of power… They do not intend to be the last children in the woods.’ I grew up surrounded by nature. As a child I would sit in a willow tree and keep watch over the strawberry field behind my house. My friends and I spent our summers floating down the Washougal River. I have always felt the importance of surrounding oneself with the natural world.
I’ve spent the last four years in Bellingham, WA working on my Bachelors of Arts at Fairhaven College. My interdisciplinary degree is titled Elementary Education through Creative Expression and Cultural Awareness. After graduation I moved back to Vancouver and I am currently working towards my Teaching Certificate and Masters in Elementary Education at Washington State University.
I have known Michelle Fox for almost twenty years now. I am so honored to have the opportunity to support the beauty she has created at TreeSong and help foster a love of nature in the next generation because I am not ready to be the last child in the woods.”