Co-founder and Executive Director
Brett Holmquist is Ravenwood’s Co-Founder and Executive Director. His leadership and vision have created treasured learning experiences for thousands of local children, parents, and community members. Brett has been invited to participate in state, regional, and national trainings and presents to community and professional groups regularly. In 2009 Ravenwood was named Business of the Year by the Montana Environmental Education Association. Brett’s at home in the woods where he shares his passion for building meaningful relationships in nature through bow making, basketry, fire skills, tracking, hunting, bird language study, and skills of awareness. Mentoring the growth of individuals and the strengthening of community means everything to Brett and he generously shares his many creative talents to meet these goals. Brett is a firm believer in the power of nature connection and good mentoring to bring forth health and positive development for all people, especially children, and carries a deep respect for the guidance of community elders as he leads from the heart to weave beautiful possibilities for today and the generations to come.
Jennifer Bresee was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. She graduated from New College with a degree in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community and went on to study tracking and nature awareness with Jon Young through the Regenerative Design Institute. She attended Lynx Vilden’s Living Wild Stone-Age project, where she lived under a tarp in the foothills of the eastern Cascades for six months while learning wildcrafting skills. She has worked as a nature educator and ancestral skills artist since 2007, with organizations such as the Regenerative Design Institute, Weaving Earth, the Riekes Center, Rewild Portland, and the Buckeye Gathering. Jennifer believes it is every person’s birthright to connect to nature. She also thinks that everyone deserves to have a ton of fun, and since nature is an endless source of challenge, exhilaration, fascination and amusement, we all deserve nature in our lives.
Our Co-Founder and Board of Trustees
Laura Strong Holmquist
Ravenwood co-founder, Laura Strong Holmquist, brings a wide array of skills and expertise from her career in the biological sciences. Her encyclopedic knowledge of our local ecosystem is a gift she shares enthusiastically with anyone fortunate to join her for a stroll in the forest or a picnic along the lakeshore. In her professional life as a wildlife biologist for the Flathead National Forest, she works collaboratively to create management plans that balance the needs of our human community and the complex web of life that exists in our treasured public forests. Laura is passionate about wellness, her two children, international travel, and sharing her love of learning. You’ll find her skiing, hiking, swimming, or sitting quietly in one of her many “secret spots” around the Flathead, connecting and renewing her spirit in the outdoors. For Laura, nature connection is about remembering where we come from, where we belong, and where we are going.
Gary Johnson is a Montana native born in Bozeman, graduated high school in Bigfork, then circled back to complete a bachelor’s degree at Montana State University. When not participating in board activities, Gary splits his time between raising his three kids, electrical engineering, and farming a cherry orchard on Flathead Lake. Having spent over ten years of his career outside the state and in various places in the US he has truly come to love the opportunities in nature that Montana so readily provides. Gary’s Ravenwood connection began with chaperoning his first son’s overnight camp where he immediately fell in love Ravenwood’s approach to connecting kids, and the rest of us, to nature.
Carrie Harper spends her days with 8-10 year olds, learning how to stay young at heart, wear funky clothing combinations, chat with various foreign accents, be brave, get dirty, play sand trap tag, be curious, and take herself a little less seriously. After 14 years in the classroom, Carrie continues to enjoy the wisdom of children. She loves exploring, playing, slowing down, drawing, listening, and running in nature. Carrie is most at peace and finds continual inspiration in the natural world. A loving and dedicated mother of two and revered teacher of many, she makes sure her kiddos are always getting plenty of nature connection. Carrie is honored to be a Ravenwood board member and feels proud to have been bringing her students there since 2006.
Matt Springer had the privilege of marrying into the Flathead Valley in 2009, where he currently directs a state-wide workforce initiative involving Montana’s 2-year colleges and the Department of Labor. Prior to moving to Montana, Matt worked for many years with youth and families in need in Oregon. That stint of direct service included leading wilderness-based work experiences with youth that left no question of the healing powers of community and highlighted how quickly community coalesces in natural settings. Matt believes in the profundity of conscientious self-discovery, working to harness our gifts to benefit our communities and the power of our communities to positively shape the world. Matt has begun seeing the natural world anew through the eyes of the twins he shares with his lovely wife Shareen. Matt and Shareen met while obtaining graduate certificates in nonprofit management, the most lucrative of post-secondary degrees.