Our Mission:

The Mission of Humble Oak Outdoor Learning & Arts Collective is to provide a space where individuals of all ages may practice working in good relationship with the natural world, as well as deepen their understanding and knowledge of themselves and their interconnectedness with the surrounding community.

Our Vision: 

It is our hope to offer an environment for all children and adults where they can feel connected to each other, themselves, and the surrounding community and land.  Through direct interactions with plants and animals, a wide exposure to craft and skill, and a deepened engagement with beauty, wonder, and awe, we invite a sense of imagination, responsibility, and joy.  Through active engagement in an Asset Framing mindset, we will strive to always see each individual’s best light and approach our work with humility, respect, and care.   

Our Approach to Delivering Quality Programming

It is our intention to offer an environment for all children and adults where they can feel connected with each other, themselves, and the surrounding community and land.  Through direct interactions with plants and animals, a wide exposure to craft and skill, and a deepened exposure to beauty, wonder, and awe, we invite a sense of imagination, responsibility, and joy.  We will strive to always see each individual’s best light and approach our work with humility, respect, and care. 

Programming concepts may include: using locally sourced resources, artistic expression, permaculture, land stewardship, indigenous recognition, glacial history, nonviolent communication, self-care and expression, and community building. We Believe in the importance of Interacting graciously with the world around us. Core qualities of our programming will consist of the following characteristics…

Board & Staff

Erin Houlihan

Erin has worked with children for most of the 45 years of her life.  She strives to create spaces where others can flourish and be themselves.  She believes in the essential gift of play for people of all ages and all abilities.  On her journey as a teacher in the Montessori and Waldorf environment, Erin has found kinship in this work with the outdoors.  It is outside where we can find great beauty, challenge, solace, and freedom to not only run, but also connect ourselves to the elements of the Earth, and the gifts they can share.  It is her life’s passion to do this work with families, and continue to see Education with fresh eyes, meeting the needs of children with the needs of the time.  When not outside romping around the woods with the kids or building fires, she continues to find her edge so that she too can be learning and growing.  Working in the realm of children is truly an honor.  She continues to explore how she can be an Elder to our youth and help guide them with wisdom and equip them with skills into a world filled with much challenge and joy.

Erin is a Co-Director, Teacher, and Board Member. Her main roles include Staff Support and Development, Parent Support, Lead Teacher, Wilderness Skills/Crafts, Peace Education, Games/Play, Land Stewardship/Site Development, Mission Development, and Ceremony/Coming of Age.

You can reach Erin at ehoulihan@humbleoak.org.

Anna Zinga

Anna has always had the love of dirt and the desire to help others as the driving forces of her being. These two life joys have intertwined in Anna’s work as a middle school science teacher. Anna strived to create a safe space in the emotional chaos of the world for the children to thrive and be themselves. Anna has also worked professionally in organic farming and special education and appreciates the impact these fields have had on her teaching.  Anna personally connects to science, the earth, and people by spending time on cave expeditions, in the woods, and trying to make people laugh in all aspects of life.

Anna is a  Co-Director and Teacher. Her main roles include Lead Teacher ESA , Co-teacher Adolescent, Socioemotional Development, Farming, Sustainable Living, Wilderness Skills, Adventure, Project Based Learning, and Community Engagement.

You can reach Anna at annaz@humbleoak.org.

Jodie Janovec

Within my 48 years on this planet, I have had a multitude of diverse work experiences and teachings that have culminated into my current role as an educator at Violet Glen. My focus is growing the fiber handwork and related component of the program and supporting the humble beginnings of Humble Oak with a group of passionate and dedicated individuals.  I’m mutually passionate about growing food though my concurrent work at theTurtle Creek Gardens biodynamic farm. I find great joy at the farm sowing seeds and tending to the young seedlings and plants in the greenhouse. As for my collective educational background and training, in 1999, I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and an Environmental Resources certificate from Kansas State University. Years passed, and I now find myself with my family of four in Southeastern Wisconsin, an area of natural beauty that I hold dear in my heart. In my time here, I have furthered my education by participating in the Lifeways Early Childhood Training program in 2012, and I was certified by the North American Biodynamic Farming Association within its Apprenticeship program in 2018. Career-wise, I have worked as a fresh-cut flower farmer, and a Waldorf-based childcare provider. In 2019, I launched Alice Hall Fiber Designs, LLC, a business which I oversee to market my unique, handmade, felted wool garments/accessories. My art is inspired by the designs, patterns, and colors of the natural world.  I am merging my passions for and knowledge of art, nature, and, of course, education. Along with my husband, raising two sons has allowed me to further realize the importance of the educational gifts and personal-growth opportunities that the natural world has to offer. It is truly beautiful to see young children learn how to better interact with peers, themselves, and with the world around them through projects, arts, games, and exploration within nature. It is my job as an educator to foster this learning and to teach children that being you is the only thing that you can be. 

Jodie is a Co-Director, Visual Arts Teacher and Board Member. Her main roles include Assistant Teacher for Kinderforest and Elementary and Adolescent, and Arts(visual) and Handwork coordinator and teacher support for all grades.

You can reach Jodie at jodiejanovec@humbleoak.org.

Monica Storey

Mo has a love for the outdoors that began as a child where she could be found running around barefoot, getting stuck in trees she climbed too high and singing in the woods. She named every tree and animal and may have even been caught kissing worms at an especially young age.

She earned a BA in Early Childhood Education in 2015 but had a profound calling to stay home to raise her children. You can find her learning and exploring with her three children alongside her husband. She spent some time homeschooling with a nature-based education and is inspired by Waldorf and Montessori philosophies. She also spent a season as a Tinkergarten teacher before having her third child. She strongly affirms that children already have such an innate curiosity and love for the earth and feels not only honored but compelled to foster and nurture that sense of wonder.

Aside from kissing worms, Mo is also a lover of the arts and has many creative hobbies and interests. From learning to weave, to playing music with friends, she is always eager to dip her toes in new and various crafts! She has run her own photography business since 2017 where she works with families and has a lifestyle/documentary approach. She is beyond excited to be a part of the Humble Oak community!

Mo is the Music Teacher. Her main roles include Assistant Teacher for Kinderforest, Elementary and Adolescent programming, Music coordinator and teacher support for all grades.

You can reach Mo at mostorey@humbleoak.org.

Noel Battista

Noel has worked as a Lead Teacher in a kindergarten classroom for the past five years. She spent this time focusing on social/emotional learning and forming strong bonds with her students. She strived to incorporate nature into her classroom in many forms. Growing up, Noel was always outside with her siblings playing and exploring. Together they tried every idea in their survival guide book making forts, homes for animals, inventing new ways to catch fish and more. Reflecting on this time, Noel remembers the joy and excitement she felt with every new outside adventure. She continues to carry this excitement for nature into her adult life. 

Noel was drawn to outdoor education to blend her love for supporting children and the outdoors. She hopes to guide young learners to find the same excitement in nature that she has found. Noel believes that nature is a critical component to life with many lessons to share. A belief she wishes to share with those around her. 

You can reach Noel at nbattista@humbleoak.org.

Morgan Janovec

Humble Oak has grown as I have grown. This collective movement feels like kin, as I too have roots that tether me to the geographic and spiritual location in which Humble Oak lives. Since the age of one, this region of Wisconsin has felt the stamp of my footprints and the reflected light of my curious eyes. The lands and animals of the forests, prairies, and waterways of this regions were amongst some of my first teachers and companions, engaging me in the eternal curiosity and imagination that is intrinsic to the human experience. As I entered adulthood, I left the family nest in search of independence and adventure. The dramatic landscapes of the Western US have provided me with this independence as well as a better understanding of who I am and how I can best be a contributing member of this planetary community. I am currently attending the University of Montana with the intention to eventually work as a professional counselor. Until then, I am interested in channeling my energy into outlets that allow me to engage with people in therapeutic and educational contexts. One of my guiding beliefs is that much of the pain and fear that we experience as a society is due to the degree of disconnect that we feel within ourselves and within our human and greater-than-human communities. In my experience, engaging in art, outdoor play, mindfulness/yoga practices, and environmental stewardship has allowed me and others to bridge these gaps and serves to create a richer and more interconnected existence both within our inner private worlds and the physical shared world. At Humble Oak, it is my intention to help provide a communal space where young and growing humans can engage in such methods of connection, shared growth…and fun!

Allison Pratt-Szeliga

Allison grew up chasing salamanders, skipping stones, and building bridges in a ravine behind her childhood home in Upstate New York. As an adult, she still loves to play in the dirt. Allison is currently the Corn Breeding Program Manager at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI). Prior to her time at MFAI, she worked in Niger, West Africa as an Agriculture Extension Agent with the Peace Corps on issues of food security, value added agricultural products, and with field crops of sesame, millet, and sorghum. Previously she co-managed approximately 30 acres of organic urban and suburban community gardens at Capital Roots in Upstate New York. She now uses her home vegetable garden as a setting to teach her young children how to grow food, respect nature, watch insects, make mud pies, and play in the dirt.

Allison is a Board Member. 

Rebecca Rohrer

Rebecca has always loved the natural world. This love resulted in a childhood spent outside exploring the kettles of Southeastern Wisconsin and eventually lead her to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point where she earned a biology degree. This was followed by a Masters in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. 

After nursing school she spent time organic farming, milking both cows and goats and raising many types of fowl: chickens, turkeys, geese and guinea. She also invested in her community with the opening of a family farm to table cafe. 

Most recently she spends her time raising her three children working to also provide them with a childhood immersed in the natural world. She is honored to be part of the Board of Humble Oak bringing to life a vision to benefit the community and the environment. 

Rebecca is a Board Member. 

Chanda Droske

Chanda has a passion for learning and helping others. As a small-town kid, she played outside daily and has come to appreciate the importance of connecting with the earth as an adult. Today, Chanda is a local farmer, mother, and artist. Her degree in Fine Arts Ceramics and Art Education led her to working with children as an elementary art teacher for several years. She has taught art to people of all ages in public schools and community education classes. Since becoming a mother, her focus has shifted to raising her son, Leon. Her passions include growing organic food with her family, making pottery, and going on adventures with Leon. She and her husband continue to develop a small farm where they offer fresh, homegrown, organic food to their local community. 

Chanda is a Board Member. 

Ross Wiemer

Ross Wiemer lives in Burlington with his wife, Jenni, and children Reid and Jolene. 

Ross has degrees in Secondary Education and Biology from Valparaiso university, where he was also a 4-year letter winner in Football. 

Ross started his professional career as a high school science teacher and now works as a Sales Manager for an accounting & finance services company. 

Ross is in involved in the Burlington area community through LifeBridge Church as well as being a co-owner in Burlington Coffee Company. 

Ross is a board member.