All Nature Connect staff are trained in First Aid & CPR.

Brinkley Hutchings

Founder & Director

Program Facilitator

Brinkley graduated from UNC Wilmington and while in school, she fell in love with the land and community. She loves to share her curiosity and enthusiasm for the natural world with people of all ages, and has worked extensively with children for over ten years. Brinkley is also a Life & Leadership Coach where she supports people to make the differences they would love to make in their communities. In 2017, Brinkley moved home to coastal Alabama to be with her family, and launched Nature Connect Alabama. She remains very active as a co-director for North Carolina programs, and visits whenever possible.

Kathryn Waple

Director of Homeschool & Internship Programs 

Program Facilitator

Kathryn has always been at home outdoors.  Some of her earliest memories are of spending time in the woods with her Grandfather and Dad, exploring the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. When she is not roaming the woods, she can be found in her garden or at the beach. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher and has been working with people, plants and the Earth for the last ten years. She has taken 8 Shields Art of Mentoring training and has facilitated the youth program for the Vermont Wilderness School's Art of Mentoring Program.  She has also worked with Earth Path Education's Growing Goddess/Moon Mystics Rites of Passage Camps. 


She has a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Herbalism from Appalachian School of Holistic Herbalism, and has apprenticed with Corinna Wood of Red Moon Herbs. She graduated from UNC Wilmington in 2007 with a degree in English Literature and a minor is Parks and Recreation. She earned her Teaching Certificate in High School Education from UNCW in 2010. Kathryn is the owner of Gray Cat Botanicals, a local herbal extracts business that focuses on the use of fresh, home-grown, food-like plants for making herbal extracts.

Alison Gordon 

Director of Farm School & Preschool Programs

Program Facilitator

Marketing & Outreach 

Alison was born and raised in the foothills of North Carolina and attended UNC-Wilmington

where she received her Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies. Her connection with nature began early, growing up on her grandparents' farmland, hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains and exploring the shoreline of the coastal Carolinas.


Alison worked for over 10 years in the education department at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida as an educator, grant coordinator and department manager, firm in her belief that caring for wildlife and wilderness begins with our youngest minds. She’s also worked as a development associate for Wildlands Network and naturalist for the Environmental Learning Center. Her passion for conservation education and stewardship is the foundation for cultivating strong community relations. Alison is a certified FL master naturalist and owner of Seahorse Stables, a farm and equestrian center in Wilmington, NC.

Britt Carpenter

Program Facilitator

1:1 Mentor

Britt is a Wilmington native who grew up exploring the woods near her home, and the marsh and beaches of nearby Topsail Island. She was raised to love and respect nature, which has influenced her active, outdoor lifestyle as an adult. She has also received 8 Shields Art of Mentoring training at the Vermont Wilderness School. She is eager to pass along her love of nature to future generations, especially since welcoming her daughter to the world in 2018, and is a firm believer in its healing powers. In her free time she enjoys hiking, swimming, kayaking, cooking, reading, playing guitar & mandolin, and singing.

Oana Duma

Program Facilitator

Oana was born in Romania and moved to the United States in 2013. She spent most of her childhood playing outside, and often attended summer camps in the mountains. She fell in love with the outdoors immediately and has continued to further her connection with nature ever since. Her favorite activities include hiking, camping, playing in the rain and cooking. Her favorite memories are long hikes with friends followed by camping on top of the mountains and playing the guitar by the fire. Oana believes that nature is a never ending source of wonder, love and energy. As a mother of two young boys, she truly thinks that every child should be able to benefit from the emotional intelligence that nature builds and all the joy the outdoor education brings!


Allison Lockshier 

Program Facilitator

Allison grew up in Northern Michigan and spent much of her childhood outside, and barefoot.  She has many happy memories of imaginative play fostered by the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.  As a mother of four children, Allison has observed firsthand the effects of outdoor play and connection with the natural world on children’s health, happiness, and development.  It is her desire that all children may find this sense of connection, and experience the many benefits it brings.  In addition to earning a degree in theater and drama, from the University of Michigan, Allison is a registered nurse.

Christy Porter 

Program Facilitator

Christy is a fourth generation Wilmington native who grew up fishing, digging up clam patches with barefeet in the salt marshes, exploring the barrier islands, and playing in the woods. Being a mother herself, she believes in the importance of exposing kids to the wonders of nature and all the emotional and mental growth that it fosters and is passionate about raising children's environmental awareness.

She has almost two years experience working with kids in nature and has completed the training In Bloom in Asheville: Promising Practice in Nature Based Early Childhood Education. She graduated in 2002 as a practicing LMBT and earned certifications in Aromatherapy, Ethics, and Nuat Boran/Thai Bodywork.

Katie Edson

Program Facilitator

Katie graduated from UNCW in May of 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Conservation. She began working with Nature Connect as an intern in August of 2019 and it helped her to discover a passion for environmental education. She enjoys spending her free time running outdoors and exploring new natural areas.

Staff Mentors & Inspirational Teachers


We are incredibly grateful to our teachers and mentors in this work. There are many people that we would like to acknowledge, and this list in no way encompasses them all. Nevertheless, we want to thank these mentors whose teachings we carry with us in our work with Nature Connect.

Tom Hutchings, father of Brinkley Hutchings (Nature Connect's founder) 

Wendolyn Bird, Tender Tracks Nature Preschool

Lauren Hage, Dave Hage, and Will Scott at Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education

Catherine and Jesse Wiens, Play in the Wild!

Maria Nemeth, Academy for Coaching Excellence

Jon Young, Tom Brown and 8 Shields community, including the authors of Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods

Lorene Wapotich, founder of Feet on the Earth

Mia Ander, Vilda Foundation

Keith Winsten, Executive Director of Brevard Zoo

Chris DeLorey "Dr. Dino", Educational Biofacts Inc

Beth Armstrong, Field Conservationist and Author ofVoices from the Ape House

Meet Our Staff

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Call Us: 910-707-3956