Who We Are


  • Ingrid Burrows
  • Allie Comet
  • Judy Hyde
  • Lauren Layton
  • Kalia Lydgate
  • Jason Morris
  • Gia Neswald


Bob Etzweiler

Bob_EtzweilerBob has always loved being outdoors. Before moving to Vermont in 2006, he was program director and naturalist at a summer camp / outdoor retreat center in Pennsylvania. Upon coming to Vermont, he started doing wilderness programs similar to Otter Day Camp and found that was a good fit. He has worked for Oyase Community School since 2007 as well as offering his own Fox Walk Programs—both offered through Vermont Wilderness School.  He loves hunting, tanning hides, crafting, tracking and wandering. He also loves primitive cooking and wants to have a related show on the food network. Let him know if you have any connections.

  • Programs:
  • Field Director Otter Day Camp
  • Lead Instructor Earthfriend Discovery Day Camp
  • Field Director & Lead Instructor Oyase Community School
  • Director & Instructor for Fox Walk Programs

First Aid Certification: Wilderness First Aid & CPR

Amy Hyatt

Amy HyattAmy moved to Vermont in August 2001 to participate in Vermont Wilderness School’s Instructor Apprenticeship Program, get trained and move back to her birth home bioregion of Southwestern Ohio to start a Wilderness School there. She quickly fell in love with Vermont, the work of Vermont Wilderness School, the children and families of Oyase and has been with us ever since. Amy completed the four-year Apprenticeship Program with VWS in 2005, coordinated and co-facilitated a year of the Apprenticeship Program, and has been an Oyase staff lead instructor since the 2003-2004 program year. She has also been a lead instructor for Deep Wilds intro to wilderness survival overnight programs, and a camp director for Otter Day Camp and Earthfriend Discovery Day Camp. She has been on staff for 8+ east coast Art of Mentoring workshops and is currently a major organizer of the Vermont Art of Mentoring. Her specialty is working with children ages 7-11 and adults of all ages in areas of nature awareness, basic survival skills, creative expression, cultural facilitation and community building. She completed a Master of Arts in eco-literacy and place-based education in 2004 from Union Institute and University and a Bachelor’s of Philosophy in Cross-Cultural Communication through the Arts from Miami University in 1995. Additional, Amy has extensive experience in non-profit leadership, organizational development, and community organizing (that’s what she did before moving to Vermont)!

Executive Director of VWS, 2009-2013
Program Director, Oyase Community School
Camp Director & Lead Instructor, Shambala Warrior & Nature Day Camp
Camp Director & Lead Instructor, Earthfriend Discovery Day Camp
Facilitator/Presenter, Art of Mentoring

First Aid Certification: SOLO Wilderness First Aid & AHA CPR

Sam Stegeman

SamSam’s family attended VWS’s weeklong Art of Mentoring program in 2013, and life hasn’t been the same since.  He is thrilled and grateful to have found a community that reinforces his family’s dedication to living a life based in nature awareness, community development, and personal growth.  He believes that every child and every adult, no matter their situation, should have the kind of opportunity his family has had.

Sam became the Director of VWS at the beginning of 2015. For the previous five years, Sam worked at CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) where he coordinated PVGrows, a network of people and organizations collaborating around a healthy and sustainable regional food economy. From 2000-2010 he worked in the foundation/philanthropy sector and gained experience in organizational development, facilitation, program/event management, and finance. He graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from Brown University. Sam and his wife Leslie live in Conway. MA with their two children, who are teaching their parents about trees and making fire.

Additional VWS Instructors

Dhyana Miller 


Dhyana lives, with gratitude, in the Connecticut River Valley of Western MA, where she mentors teens and youth finding their ever-emerging true nature and creates permaculture landscapes. She cultivates place-based community resilience, as Founding Director of Full Moon Girls nature awareness immersion program, following in the tracks of her Hampshire College B.A. in conservation biology and experiential education. Dhyana implements permaculture design with Regenerative Design Group of Greenfield MA and in 2013 founded the 1st Northeast Women in Permaculture gathering. She thrives on wildcrafting, playing lilting fiddle tunes, storytelling, singing, contact improv dance, and co-creating ritual that feeds a renewal of creative culture, within nature, for a time beyond our own.

First Aid Certification: ARC Wilderness & Remote First Aid & AHA CPR

Lead Mentor, Founding Director, Full Moon Girls
Instructor, Art of Mentoring

Elyssa Serrilli


Elyssa is a peaceful, playful servant of Life.  She loves the woods – being outside, crafting things with hands, playing games, feeling plants and earth and water on her skin, and gathering around a fire to share food, story and song.  For 13 years, she has been an outdoor guide, starting first in the Ridge and Valley region of northwest New Jersey, in the Appalachian foothills along the Delaware River.  It’s been a little over 2 years since she found the magical Pioneer Valley, and she loves the caves and rivers and farms and most of all the people here.  Elyssa serves Life as a Coyote Mentor with Full Moon Girls, Earthwork and Wolftree Programs.  She is also a regional organizer for PINE, the Permaculture Institute of the Northeast, an amateur gardener, and a dabbler in basketry, mosaic, and song.

First Aid Certification: Wilderness First Responder

Lead Mentor, Full Moon Girls
Instructor, Art of Mentoring

Melissa Winchell

FB Miel

Melissa joined the Full Moon Girl family over a year ago when she came to volunteer and explore the world of outdoor education. She fell in love with the program and has continued with it since! She leads backpacking, canoeing and wilderness trips and her passion for women’s empowerment work has led her to facilitating Red Tents. Having graduated from UMass with a double major in Anthropology and Resilience Education, she seeks to find niches where she can further explore how student/learner empowerment can transcend current educational structures.

Programs: Lead Mentor, Full Moon Girls

First Aid Certification:  Wilderness First Aid &  CPR

Owen Kohout

Owen began nature awareness and wilderness skills studies at Oyase Community School when he was eight years old. He has had many great mentors who have shared their love for, and understanding of, the natural world. Oyase instructors encouraged him to learn important survival skills like friction fire and shelter building, tracking and wild edible harvesting. They also challenged him to test his boundaries. Grandparents took him hunting, his Father has shared his skills as an avid fisherman and birch bark canoe builder, and his Mother has taught him a great deal about plant medicine. Owen has continued his passion for being in and with nature by mentoring at Flying Deer Camp in New York, The UK Art of Mentoring Teen Program, Oyase Community School, Groundhog Camp, and Earthfriend Discovery Day Camp. He particularly enjoys getting kids fishing and teaching lots of fun games.

Asst. Instructor Otter Day Camp
Assst. Instructor Earthfriend Discovery Day Camp
Asst. Instructor Oyase Community School

First Aid Certification: ARC Wilderness & Remote First Aid & AHA CPR

Louisa Pugh

Louisa.PughLouisa came to Vermont five years ago to attend Marlboro College where she spent the first two years studying a mixture of music, the environment, education and anthropology. She first visited Oyase with former staff member, Liz Crain, in the winter of 2008, and immediately decided to stay on as the Hemlock Clan’s intern. Her experiences with Oyase that winter inspired her to intern at several other camps and schools in the area, all that teach a sense of place and of the environment. Her final projects at Marlboro integrated those experiences into a larger study of “place based education”. In 2009, she joined the Oyase staff with the Beech Clan. She spends the rest of the week living in cabin in Guilford, knitting, contra dancing and playing the fiddle.


Assistant Instructor Oyase Community School

First Aid Certification: ARC First Aid & AHA CPR

Connor Stedman

ConnorConnor is a wilderness educator, ecological designer, and cultural creative. He formerly served as Executive Director of Vermont Wilderness School after many years of involvement with the school. Connor has mentored students of all ages in nature awareness since 2004, and leads courses in wilderness skills and regenerative land use throughout the northeastern US. As an ecological designer, Connor specializes in agroforestry, habitat restoration, and regenerative forest management.  He co-organizes the internationally acclaimed Carbon Farming Course; has served on leadership teams for Art of Mentoring workshops in Vermont, California, Idaho, North Carolina, Ontario, and the British Isles; and is a graduate of both the Wilderness Awareness Residential Program and the Regenerative Design and Nature Awareness program. Connor holds an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist and Ecological Planning program and a B.S. in Eco-Social Design from Gaia University International.