Co-founder and Executive Director
Our Co-Founder and Board of Trustees
Ravenwood co-founder, Laura Strong, 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.
David remembers the moment he heard Brett describe his dream, the creation of Ravenwood! Since then, Brett and David have walked and talked their way through many more dreams as they became reality for Ravenwood, this being David’s second term on the Ravenwood Board. After receiving his BA in Political Science with a minor in English at the University of Alabama and his Masters of Theology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, David helped establish the Institute of Cultural Affairs on Chicago’s West Side. He then helped lead in its work that traveled and is still traveling around the globe. For ICA, he worked in village development and in teaching. In 1965, as a native Alabaman, he became one of the organizing team for the Selma March. Following his sixteen years in the Institute, he taught in Canada, and then moved to Missoula where he got his Doctorate of Educational Leadership. For 17 years at FVCC he taught religion, philosophy, ethics, and foundational education courses. Currently David serves on the board of Soft Landing Missoula, a local non-profit created to assist in the settlement of refugees in the Missoula community. David and Margaret, who live in Missoula, have four children and seven grandchildren. Sitting under the stars with Ravenwood kids sums up for David why Ravenwood has become an on-going calling.
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.
Margaret and Brett first met when she was teaching the University of Montana social studies methods class he was taking. She asked him to be her student teacher–and, as they say, the rest is history! It is no coincidence that Margaret and David, our current co-chairs, were among the first to hear of Ravenwood when it was in the vision stage and they have been a part of it ever since. Margaret got her BFA from Ohio University with a major in Art Education and a minor in piano; following this, she did graduate work at Northwestern University. From there, she spent a year as Associate Director of the Methodist campus ministry at Northern Iowa University which led to her taking 17 Iowa students to be civil rights workers in Mississippi during Freedom Summer 1964. Margaret has had a well-rounded educational career, teaching elementary students as her learning lab for herself and teaching language arts, social studies, and Indian Education at the University of Montana. In addition, she served as a teacher-consultant for the National Writing Project, working throughout the country teaching in-the-field teachers the teaching of writing, using videos from her Missoula classroom. She also led the development of curriculum in California called “Different Ways of Knowing” and helped lead the creation of Montana’s first Aesthetic Literacy Standards. Her last seven years of teaching were at Flathead Valley Community College where she taught Critical Thinking Through Reading and Writing in a program designed for those who had come to college without the necessary skills for college learning. At the top of Margaret’s most favorite teaching moments is whenever she is sitting with Ravenwood kids around the fire circle on Elders’ Night and pondering with them their giant questions about life.