Our Team


Stevie Shickel Lee

Director and Lead Instructor
Born and raised in Harrisonburg, Stevie's roots go deep in the Shenandoah Valley. She loves spending time with children and enjoys the wonder that kids bring to everyday life. She is a NOLS Outdoor Educator, Leave No Trace Master Educator, and Wilderness First Responder with CPR training for children. Stevie has over nine years of professional experience in outdoor education. She has a bachelor's degree in Sport and Recreation Management and a master's degree in Sport and Recreation Leadership. She has worked as a climbing guide in West Virginia, as well as a crew leader for Appalachian Conservation Corps. With more than 500 days logged leading participants in wilderness recreation, you can rest assured that your child will be well cared for under her supervision. Stevie's hobbies include mountain biking, rock climbing, XC skiing, kayaking, and spending time with friends and family. 

David Lee

Assistant Director
David plays a critical role in the planning, vision, and communication of Appalachian Forest School, and has since the very beginning. He will probably never write a bio. 
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Susannah Oda

Lead Instructor
Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Susannah has been living in Harrisonburg for the past ten years. She enjoys spending time in nature and sparking creativity in children’s lives through outdoor exploration. Susannah holds a MA in Teaching from James Madison University and is a licensed teacher in the state of Virginia. She is certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. Susannah spent two years teaching fourth grade with Harrisonburg City Public Schools. She has implemented place-based, project-based learning into her teaching philosophy and follows a restorative justice approach to social and emotional well being. In the past ten years, Susannah has worked as an adventure team director at a summer camp, a facilitator for an outdoor learning center, and a tour guide for rock climbing and zip lining in West Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys camping and hiking in the great outdoors, painting, and cozying up with a good book. 

Deidrah Velker

Lead Instructor
Another Shenandoah Valley native, Deidrah, grew up in the mountains surrounding Harrisonburg, partaking in all kinds of outdoor adventures. It was during those years she realized she wanted to give others a chance to experience the same love for the outdoors she has. Deidrah worked as a manager for the Adventure Program at JMU, leading trips for college students and for Camp UREC, a summer camp for 5-12 year olds. Deidrah loves working with kids, and especially enjoys the wonder and curiosity they bring to any situation. Through these adventures, as well as certifications in Leave No Trace, Wilderness First Aid, and CPR training for children, Deidrah has gained a confidence in leading in the outdoors. In her free time she jumps into any body of water she can, hangs out with her bike, Herb, adventures with friends and family, and is on the constant lookout for a dog to pet!
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Jessica Cooper

Lead Instructor
Jessica Cooper is a mother of two and has worked with children the past five years at the United Jewish Community Center of the Virginia Peninsula as preschool teacher and advocate of child-led, emergent curriculum, and nature-based learning. She received her Nature-Based Teacher Certification from the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools and has also worked as a Nature-Based Teacher Consultant for Smart Beginnings teaching webinars for local preschool and daycare providers on introducing nature-based learning to their classrooms in the Hampton Roads area before relocating to the Shenandoah Valley. She is happy to call Harrisonburg home and enjoys hiking and reading!
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Caroline Merrick

Assistant Instructor
Caroline was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia and spent her childhood traveling to the Blue Ridge Mountains to hike with her family which gave her a love for the Valley and outdoors. Caroline attended James Madison University where she majored in Elementary Education and ESL. While at JMU, Caroline learned even more about the world of outdoor recreation by working as a manager and trip leader for JMU's Outdoor Program. Through these roles she led hiking, biking, and water sport adventures for college students and received certifications in Wilderness First Aid and Leave No Trace. Caroline is eager to combine her two loves of outdoor recreation and teaching to help instill the same passion she has for the outdoors with her students! In her free time Caroline likes to bike, cook, and spend time on her grandmother’s farm.

Andrew Bollinger

Assistant Instructor
Born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley, Andrew has been romping in creeks and wandering through the woods since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. His passion for the great outdoors blossomed through a cumulative 15 years of participating and instructing in countless nature camps. Through these programs Andrew has led many adventure trips, and he has been certified in CPR, AED and Wilderness First Aid. In recent years, Andrew has spent time hitchhiking around the United States, working as a surgical Assistant in a veterinary clinic, and facilitating education on world hunger and poverty through Heifer International. Andrew loves the joy and wonder that kids bring to every day, and enjoys fueling their creative and intrepid natures with rock paint and wild stories. On a lazy day, Andrew loves to go hiking, create via any medium, bike around Harrisonburg and play board games.

Miriam Velker

Assistant Instructor
Another Harrisonburg native, Miriam has always enjoyed being in nature and in the community of the Shenandoah Valley. Her love for the outdoors started at an early age. She raced mountain bikes starting in elementary school and continued through high school for the Shen Rock Mountain Bike Team. After graduating, she carried on as a coach for the elementary and middle school Shen Rock teams. She has always loved working with kids. Previously a nanny, her goal was to spend as much time as possible outside exploring and creating with the kids. In her free time you can find her outside; mountain biking, camping, hiking, rock climbing, paddle boarding, or any other outdoor activity. She's also always down for a rousing game of spikeball. Any takers?