Our Field and Program Directorial Staff

Lena Olson (she/her)

Lena Olson (she/her)

Co-Program Director & Field Staff

Lena grew up in Bigfork, MT connecting to nature with her family through the seasons, picking morels in spring, fishing in local lakes in summer, hunting in fall, and skiing in winter. She inherited an immense curiosity and love for the history of the American west from her father. Lena and Brett Holmquist met when she was a student in his 3rd grade classroom, where Lena was inspired to learn how to make rope from wild plants.
After studying abroad in Chile she found her way back to Ravenwood as a volunteer where passion for wilderness and nature was rekindled and she was forever changed by the new perspective she experienced during that summer. Upon returning to college that fall, she deepened her studies in craft, botany, the early Americas, and the syncretism found in the New World. After she graduated with her BFA in Fine Arts in 2016, she participated in the Art of Mentoring on Salt Spring Island. Once again, her perspective of humanity and nature broadened and deepened.
The following year, 2017, she became a mentor with Ravenwood. The children she works with are a blessing in her life. She shares her gifts openly and freely and has been able to pursue crafts that bring her closer to nature such as natural dyes, wool spinning, weaving, basketry, stone pigments and ceramics. Camp is an incredibly fertile place to develop her passion for theater and vibrant play in improv, dance, music and storytelling. Lena feels deep gratitude for all she has learned about being human on this earth through her experiences with Ravenwood.
Kell Brooks (they/them)

Kell Brooks (they/them)

Co-Director of Programs & Field Staff

Kell is a friendly woods folk who enjoys tea, books, wild edibles and storytelling. 

They have over a decade of teaching experience in a variety of educational settings, ranging from special needs and alternative classroom environments to outdoor education. After they received their bachelor of Zoology at the University of Maine in Orono in 2016, they lived abroad in Ireland learning folktales and serving tea. Kell loves to share their passions, and forge deep connections that profoundly changes the lives of students they have the pleasure to teach. Is the great mystery of the world that surrounds us best explained by science or magic? Kell thinks both are necessary to connect us.

Jennifer "Jay" Bresee (they/them)

Jennifer "Jay" Bresee (they/them)

Program Co-Director & Field Staff

Jay was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. They graduated from New College of CA with a degree in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community and went on to study tracking and nature awareness through the Regenerative Design Institute. They attended Lynx Vilden’s Living Wild Stone-Age project, where they lived under a tarp in the foothills of the eastern Cascades for six months while learning wildcrafting skills. They have 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, the Buckeye Gathering, and of course Ravenwood. Jay believes it is every person’s birthright to connect to nature. They also think 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.

 

 

Administrators and Support Staff

Brett Holmquist (he/him)

Brett Holmquist (he/him)

Co-founder, Executive Director & Field Staff

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.

 

 

Tony Ten Fingers (he/him)

Tony Ten Fingers (he/him)

Indian Education For All Consultant

Tony grew up north of Oglala, South Dakota, along the Wite River, learning the Lakota language, stories, and ways of life from his grandmother, a fluent speaker of both Lakota and Cheyenne. She taught him where to find medicine, how to track animals, horseback riding and much more. He learned the stories of the Deer Nation and Buffalo Nation, and stories of his family’s history from ancient times into modern times. As a young man, Tony met Chief Jake Swamp, Gilbert Walking Bull, Ingwe, Tom Brown, Jon Young, and other founders of the 8 Shields Nature Connection movement, and started running nature connection programs with them. Some of the programs that had the most impact on him were his work with justice-involved youth, and his work with fathers and sons. Tony has since completed doctoral coursework in Clinical Psychology at John F. Kennedy University and earned a Masters degree in Public Health, Community Health Development. He has brought his considerable educational and therapeutic experience to bear serving students at Oglala Lakota College. Tony considers it a calling help Ravenwood start our Indian Education For All program.

Matt Covey (he/him)

Matt Covey (he/him)

Development Coordinator & Field Staff

Matt Covey grew up in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas.  He was always outside as a kid and continued to enjoy the outdoors as a teen when he and his brother both became Eagle Scouts.  He went on to study physics and music at Washington University in St. Louis then spent several years working in biomedical research at Columbia University in New York before realizing that he wasn’t on the path he was meant to be on.  He had the opportunity to reconnect with nature by moving to Montana in 2015 and took it.  After a few seasons working at ski resorts and breweries, he became a District Executive with the Boy Scouts of America Montana Council and realized he’d found his calling in nonprofit management and development.  Matt joined Ravenwood as the Development Coordinator in June 2021 and looks forward to ensuring that Ravenwood gets the resources that it needs to keep growing.  He firmly believes in Ravenwood’s mission and is dedicated to sharing that mission with as many people as possible.  Matt and his wife Rachel have two children, James and Charlotte, and take every opportunity they can to take their kids into the woods to look for mushrooms. 

 

Our Co-Founder and Board of Trustees

Laura Strong (she/her)

Co-founder

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.

Kelly Coloff (she/her)

Board Member, Acting Secretary, Program Volunteer, & Substitute Field Staff

Bio coming soon!

Gary Johnson (he/him)

Board President

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.

Christopher Rankin (he/him)

Board Member

Photo and bio coming soon!

Emeritus Board Members

David Scott

Board Member and Program Volunteer (Elder’s Initiative)

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.

Margaret Scott

Board Member and Program Volunteer (Elder’s Initiative)

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.