Our Team

Natalia Brightwood
Founder & Program Director
Mystic’s Guild Master

Natalia Brightwood

Natalia Brightwood is an Environmental Educator and Mentor who has dedicated her life and career to Wilderness Protection and Education, with a passion for guiding and mentoring personal connections to the Earth.

Natalia began learning about wild edible plants, the magic of the outdoors, all the creatures and the fae who live there, as a young girl with her grandmother in Suquamish, Washington. It was through her grandmother that a strong connection with wild places inspired her and opened the door to her life’s work.

Natalia studied environmental Biology, Chemistry, and Geology of the Pacific Northwest and began work as an activist for the Washington Wilderness Coalition.

Motherhood fostered a realization that something was missing from the education of our youth. Natalia studied to become an Environmental Educator at Trackers Earth in Portland, Oregon, worked with Tracks and Tales in Duvall, Washington, and Adventure Quest in Bellingham, Washington.

Versed in Coyote Mentoring through the Wilderness Awareness School, she founded WildWise – A School of Outdoor Adventure, and has been teaching and mentoring children and young adults for fourteen years.

She is a Wilderness First Responder, formally trained in Tidelands to Timberline Natural History, and Restoring Rites of Passage for Youth.

Natalia is also a Land Steward with the Jefferson Land Trust.

Natalia’s hobbies include Herbalism, Ancestral Studies, Anthropology, Activism, Hiking and Camping, Backpacking, Pathfinder Gaming, Rites of Passage, Cultural Reclamation, and spending time with her family. She is married, a mother of three, and lives in Kingston, Washington.

Natalia hopes to always continue learning, and one day be the world’s most awesome Grandma.

Aidoneus Bishop
Executive Director & Wilderness Guide
Companion’s Guild Master

Aidoneus Bishop, is a Pite Sámi wilderness guide, outdoor educator, and rite of passage facilitator.

A trauma-informed educator, father of six, former Boy Scout Leader, United States Marine, chef, entrepreneur, restaurateur, Information Technology Executive, and Engineer, Aidoneus now works with organizations throughout the world on social justice issues, sovereignty, treaty rights, indigenous ceremony protection and preservation, cultural appropriation, ancestral studies, entheogenic rituals, indigenous rights and rites, Sámi and Germanic Tribal education and reclamation, and is an environmental and social activist. He is a Master Swordsman, Wilderness First Responder, certified Northwest Naturalist, and a steward with the Jefferson Land Trust.

Aidoneus has been formally trained and has extensive life experience with survival in the harshest of environments. Underneath all of the quiet and seemingly intimidating and gruff exterior is a big heart and a love for educating, mentoring, and caring for children, to share his experiences with them, inspiring them to never stop learning, and always question the meaning of world they see.

Aidoneus was key in the coordination and founding of a youth Summer meal program in North Kitsap with Rotary, Kiwanis, local food banks, and the NKSD, he founded and operated a mobile meal service focused on providing shelter and meals to homeless youth in North Kitsap and is a savvy and respected business leader, being recognized as one of the top business leaders in his community under the age of 40, in 2013. Aidoneus has served on the Board of Directors of six non-profit organizations. He is a member of the Pacific Sámi Searvi, Wilderness Guides Council, Youth Passageways, Sons of Norway, and also guides youth and adults with Rite of Passage Journeys.

Aidoneus focuses instruction on medieval weapons and combat techniques, Sámi and Germanic culture, history, orienteering, rites of passage, mountain & wilderness survival, defensive arts, blacksmithing, tracking, ethics, lore, backpacking, edible and medicinal plants, archery, discipline, hand-to-hand techniques, rituals and practices, and ancestral skills.

Michael McCurdy
Bard’s Guild Master

Michael McCurdyMichael McCurdy is a Musician and Educator who has made it his life mission to pass on the love he has had for music and the arts since his own childhood in Portland, Oregon. He decided to become a drummer at age 9 after seeing a high school band performance, where he immediately approached the drummer afterwards and arranged to begin taking private lessons. As a teen, Michael studied under the great Jazz & R&B legend Mel Brown in Portland, who’s kind, patient way of teaching and constant smile from behind his kit, made a lasting impression and opened his eyes to how music can create connections and shape lives.

Along with his love of music, he is a voracious reader and lover of literature and in 1994 earned a BA degree in English Language and Literature from Portland State University. Working for a few years as a Technical Writer, Michael discovered he also had a love of teaching others. Parenthood also has a way of making one contemplate the future beyond our own existence so, when his son Miles McCurdy was born in 2003, Michael made the decision to become an Elementary School Educator and in 2005 received his Masters Degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education with a 4.0 GPA.

Moving to Kitsap County in 2005, upon being convinced what a great place it was from occasional visits with his sister who lives in Kingston, he became the Elementary Music Specialist at Wolfle Elementary School in 2007. Working as an Elementary Music Educator, Michael combined his passions for music and teaching with a seemingly natural connection and rapport with children. His focus on using music as a way to connect the community together is one of his most strongly held beliefs and has been one of the biggest reasons for his success as an educator and also as an advocate for music in our community. In 2017, his 5th grade students were composers of a contest winning orchestral piece that was performed by the Seattle Symphony and that same year he was chosen as the NKSD Elementary Educator of the Year.

Outside of the school day, Michael continues his mission of connecting community through the power of music by hosting a warm and welcoming, weekly all-ages open mic at Downpour Brewing in Kingston and by playing in local bands “Blues Counselors”, “the Relics” and “Three Horse Carousel” as well as drumming & recording occasionally with many other local musicians. Michael also has a passion for, is quite knowledgeable, and is an avid collector of many styles of music with a special affinity for music of different cultures and the many ways music and culture are forever intertwined.

Outside his seeming obsession with all things musical, Michael also enjoys spending time with his family, being in & learning about our beautiful natural surroundings, reading just about everything from ancient history to science fiction, great cinema and also sometimes just sitting quietly with no thoughts at all.

He is looking forward to continuing his work of making music and community connections at WildWise and in the Bard Guild, which being about using the arts and storytelling as a powerful way to connect a community, seem like a perfect fit.

Pan Greenwood
Ranger’s Guild Journeyman
Scout Leader

Pan GreenwoodWhen the world is infused with magic, and our hours are edged in awe, how can we do less than treat the wilds with respect?

Pan is native to the peninsula, and grew up on a little homestead nestled in the foothills of the Olympics against a thousand acres of timberland. He spent his childhood in endless fascination with the wild world around him, climbing trees, playing with knives, and learning to speak bird. He never seems to have had his curiosity stolen away. Pan studied, Mythology, Geography, Ethnobotany, Creative writing, and Physics at the Evergreen state college, earning his BA in 2017. He also cultivated a surprisingly resilient business there, teaching children and poor college students how to fight with foam weaponry. As a starving college student himself he discovered that he could turn the botany he was learning towards saving money on groceries. Resultingly he came away with some mastery in swordfighting and wildcrafting, two skills he never ever expected to put together. Pan had also long fostered his skills as a storyteller, both as a performer and as Game Master in the tabletop roleplaying arena. Creating worlds and game mechanics to fit his endless imagination, he has consistently hosted adventures since he was fourteen and the AD&D campaign he was part of fell through, forcing him to step up into the storyteller’s chair. So when Pan received an email in the summer of 2018 asking for someone who: “Has role playing experience, knows plants, is good with kids, and can sword fight,” he couldn’t help but be intrigued. One thing led to another and Pan is now delighted to be doing the most important thing he can imagine, making sure our newest generation don’t have their wonder stolen away.

Marisa Taborga Byrne
Instructor

Marisa (Sasa), born and raised on the Central Coast of California, comes from an Irish, German, Bolivian and Spanish lineage. She is a nature connection guide, rites of passage facilitator and holistic sexual health educator.  Marisa has been working with youth since she was one herself, and began to hold ceremonial rites of passage for adolescents and adults in 2012. As a recipient of the powerful healing attributes of nature, she is a strong advocate for soul discovery in the wild. Marisa is now fully dedicated to empowering youth through the lens of holistic sexual health education, and has taught in classrooms and private programs since 2016. She believes that education is the preventative medicine of potential trauma and the key to fully embracing and embodying our wild, natural selves.
Se habla español

Cameron Withey Byrne
Instructor

Cameron Withey began leading youth rites of passage in 2011. Wandering the woods at The Evergreen State College, he found his calling through self-designed studies in eco-psychology, contemporary rites of passage, and writing. He served as Rite of Passage Journeys’ Program Director from 2015-2018, and joined the Youth Passageways Stewardship Council in 2017. As a poet and sixth-generation Pacific Northwesterner with ancestry in the Celtic Isles, his soul is full of sea, green, and many shades of grey. He is passionate about addressing the cultural challenges of becoming fully human and deeply belonging to this Earth. He strives to be both a student and ally in indigenous spiritualities and politics, as an activist, poet, and community-builder.

Eli Rusk
Forest School Mentor

Eli RuskBorn and raised in Kingston, Washington, Eli has had a love for the outdoors and adventure his whole life. He grew up reading Eragon, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Dune, and many other high narratives that transformed the way he viewed the world around him.  Eli grew up in the North Kitsap Options program, which as a child enabled him to express his creativity and love for community. He attended Kingston High School for two short years before finding his place at Olympic College where Eli earned his Associates of Arts degree. When Eli was sixteen, he found his chief meaning in the cultivation of ideas and the imagination; of course, nowhere is this more fertile than in the minds of children. Today he pursues a Bachelor’s degree in Primary Education, while working with WildWise.

Melissa Bell
Forest School Mentor

Melissa Sarlo“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Growing up in South Florida, Melissa spent most of her time swimming and engaging in endless outdoor activities that year-round sunshine provides. Never formulating a specified area of study interest, and very much an enjoyer of hard work, Melissa set out to touch on a variety of occupational experiences. Her randomness of opportunities and deep work ethic has lead her from custodial to camp counselor, wait staff to retail management, house cleaning to brightwork (varnish) finisher aboard boats, orchard hand in New England, Yoga Teacher here and abroad!!!
After Florida, Melissa has lived in a handful of different states, Hawai’i being one, where she birthed a deep passion for body surfing & free diving, connected viscerally with the ‘aina, the land, and the Aloha Spirit.  Aloha translates to “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.” It comes from “Alo,” meaning presence, and “ha,” meaning breath. Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. Its deep meaning, its  “Spirit”, is the connection of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. In turn, harmonizing  an extension of kindness, warmth and sincerity unto others.
California hosted Melissa post island time over the last decade prior to her arrival in the PNW 4 years ago. In CA, she team worked the rebuild and lived aboard a 40’ sail boat, continued body surfing, hiked, deepened her yoga practices & training and became a mama.
The birth of any child will shift the dynamic of life, and the arrival of this light being propelled them to WA.
After landing (randomly) in Kingston, Melissa discovered WildWise as an exceptionally curious opportunity for a then 3.5 years new little boy. Never would she have envisioned a mentor opportunity to unfold for her!!! Melissa offers relationship navigation and believes whole heartedly in the tireless repetition and magic of the first 7-10 years of life as a time to establish an integral foundation with-in. Her solid sense of adventure and respect for/awareness of the natural world around her breeds a grounded presence. Her knowledge of the human body and understanding surrounding the power of breath offers an avenue toward self-awareness. And mostly, her excitement to learn about this epic ecosystem while playing and exploring lends celebration to the infinite potential of our minds and the endless wonders Mother Nature gifts us. Melissa is ever grateful for this metamorphic moment in time and is looking forward to evolving her mentorship further.
Thank you for considering this outdoor enRICHment school for your child!!!
Madrona Eickmeyer
Crofter’s Guild Journeyman
Scout Leader

Madrona EickmeyerMadrona has been with WildWise School from it’s very founding, first as a student in the Adventure Scout program and has spent the last three years as an apprentice for WoodSprites, Adventure Scouts, and Summer Camps. She is excited to be coming on as staff and is comfortable and competent taking part in the Ranger, Crofter, Voyager or Bard Guilds.

Spending her childhood exploring the forests, streams, and shores of her home on the Quimper Peninsula, she has always had a strong connection to the natural world and impressed her peers and relatives with knowledge about native plant species. One of her first mentors was Justin Lake during her time with CedarRoot Folk School and WildWise School’s Adventure Scouts, and she is excited to join him this summer as a mentor herself in WildWise School’s Ranger Adventure Camp.

Madrona also attended Sunfield Farm and School where she learned many skills including how to raise farm animals and garden, and how to knit, crochet, and needle felt. She also is a student in the Youth Environmental Stewardship Program (YES!), which includes working with kids and organizations like the North Olympic Salmon Coalition and the Jefferson County Land Trust, restoring native habitats while studying natural history.

Last summer Madrona completed a rite of passage on a three week backpacking trip traversing the Olympic Mountain Range and along the shores of the Pacific Ocean with Rite of Passage Journeys. Besides spending time in the Wilderness and environmental studies, Madrona enjoys reading novels, climbing, archery, crafting, fishing for salmon, and participating in the Drama Program at Kingston High School. Her favorite animal is the bobcat and her favorite tree is the Vine Maple.

Jakob Ledbetter
Instructor

Jakob LedbetterBorn and raised in Georgia, Jakob Ledbetter grew up exploring the beautiful blue ridge mountains of Southern Appalachia. Heeding the call of the Earth, Jakob embarked upon a MA in Ecopsychology at Naropa University. While completing his masters, Jakob worked as a personal development mentor at a young-adult transition home, in addition to working as a nature-connection mentor at multiple organizations in the southeast. During a vision fast ceremony, Jakob realized his calling to become a wilderness guide. This calling led him to Wilderness Awareness School where he has spent the year playing with ancestral fire, geeking out on bird language, and tracking wild creatures through the forest. He is passionate about community leadership, cultural renewal, land stewardship, wildlife tracking, bird language, wild edibles, and earth-based living skills. He believes that rite of passage and initiatory experiences are the most important cultural tools to be to utilized in the modern world towards creating soul-centric communities. On most days, Jakob can be found in the woods staring up at birds in trees, crawling on the ground looking at tracks, or sharing food around a campfire, singing with friends.

Annie Humiston
Instructor

Annie HumistonAnnie Humiston has been a life long horticulturist, working in the industry for 23 years. Her focus is on integrated pest management. She is a bee keeper and loves the bugs.