Our Staff2019-02-28T07:28:50-04:00

The Living Earth Year Round Staff


Kate with the biggest tree in the world – a sequioa giant

Kate Knott

Co-Founder/Co-Director of Living Earth School

Find Yourself Live Life Fully Be the Change

Kate is a visionary and change maker, on a mission to connect people back to living a life connected to nature, to their own inner journey and to their family and community around them. She sees life as a precious gift and knowing that we have a choice to live it fully or hide in our comforts or distractions. She actively chooses to live from her heart and to step into life fully.

She has built one of the leading nature schools in the country, from the ground up, and continues to be on the cutting edge of the national nature connection movement. She has been engaged on the nature connection journey herself for over 24 years and has touched the lives of thousands. Her path has led her to having a great passion for Rites-of-Passages and she aims to bridge the gap our culture neglects, by bringing meaningful initiations back to our people.

Kate loves to explore the wild with her family and to connect both of her daughters to the wonders of beautiful wild places. You will find her in her garden or foraging for tasty wild edible plants. She loves to stay fit, eat food that nourishes her body and soul and sing and dance in her kitchen, and yes you may find her floating and snorkeling in turquoise waters.


Hub Knott

Co-Founder/Co-Director of Living Earth School

Hub has been on a deep nature connection journey for over 25 years. He didn’t grow up in a world that felt connected to nature. He knew something was missing. In his late teens he started exploring the woods near his childhood home in Baltimore, and then expanded to some of the most beautiful wild places in North America. He yearned for the taste of the wild, the real, the mountain peaks and the rich valleys.

He has traveled to other continents and studied with many leaders and mentors to answer the question: what consistently connects people to nature, and their purpose? It is these findings that put him on the leading edge of the nature connection movement. Hub knows from experience how this nature connection journey can transform ones life, leading to more heart-centered relationships and purpose. He has mentored and taught thousands of people to connect in a deeper, more meaningful way with not only the natural world, but with themselves in balance with community.

Hub is great at bringing humor, curiosity and a light-hearted approach to loving this earth and empowering people to embrace their opportunity. Hub lives along the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wonderful wife Kate and daughters Violet and Phoebe. He loves pursuing his outdoor passions of gardening, tending the wild, wandering the mountains behind his home, trail running, paddling rivers, and saying “yes” to adventure.

Caroline Heins

Administrative Director

Caroline is native to Virginia but has lived all over North America from Mexico and the deep south to the Pacific Northwest. She’s hung her hat here in Charlottesville for more than 15 years now. After graduating from the University of Virginia, Caroline has dedicated her time and passions to creating community and to being a community activist in the Central Virginia region. Everything Caroline does has a focus and Kids and how children can be involved in the greater community as a whole. She has a family with two kids, two cats, a dog, and a husband and lives in the middle of downtown Charlottesville.


Erin Campbell

Youth Programs Coordinator, Overnight Camp Coordinator, Lead Instructor

Erin Maureen Campbell, aka Soupy, became wildly curious about the natural world during three years in the Pacific Northwest where she studied at and worked for the Wilderness Awareness School. There she sat against many a Western Red Cedar tree, curled up on rainy nights in shelters piled high with sword ferns, and followed wolves in the snow and elk on sandy river bottomlands. Soupy is a UVA grad from Springfield, and five years back in her native Virginia has helped her fall completely in love with these hardwood hills, humid summers, and swift-running streams. When she’s not scouring mud puddles for tracks or harvesting nettles to make pesto, Soupy can be found building her own tiny house on wheels, singing in harmony and writing snail mail letters.

Kelly Lecko

Day Camp Coordinator, Lead Instructor

Kelly is an Appalachian Transplant from California. From the moment she learned about headlamps and natural hot springs at age 18, Kelly has not had a job inside a building ever since. Kelly graduated from the University of Redlands and has been an outdoor environmental educator in six states from Maine to the Smoky Mountains. Kelly found a home in Appalachia and enjoys traveling, learning, hiking, biking, swimming, singing and connecting with many natural spaces these mountains provide. She expresses herself creatively through art, poetry, dance and food.


Paul Cipriani

Lead Instructor

Paul has been studying primitive technologies for over 15 years. Apprenticing at schools such as Wilderness Awareness School and The Tracker School, Paul has also studied how to mentor others in these ancient skills. Knowing this is his life’s work, he has nature mentored children on the high seas upon tall ships, in the deserts of Utah with troubled youth, at various summer camps across the country, as well as at his own school in Florida. When not leading youth around the woods, Paul loves to fish, hunt and rockhound. Leatherworking and blacksmithing are also hobbies of his.

Amalia Harte


Amalia is a deep lover of nature. To her the forests hold a wisdom that our ancestors knew, one of medicines, food, means of survival, and many other mysteries. She received her BA at the University of Virginia where she studied sustainability. Here she learned about the power of living in community and of native peoples and their vision quests. Amalia sees journeying into nature and connecting with its lessons and love as one of the most powerful ways back into truly being alive. She is grateful to be in the LES family, sharing this woodland magic with children!

Peter Yencken


Peter is a master bowmaker and craftsman. He has instructed at wilderness schools across the United States and Australia, bringing the satisfaction of materials such as leather, wool, wood and metal into people’s hands. Peter brings humor and wry wisdom to his classes, and is known for his probing questions that make crafting class double as Philosophy 101.


Jack Antes


Jack was once a camper at the Living Earth School, and his experiences here meant so much to him that he wanted to help spread them to others, becoming a CIT, and eventually an instructor. He believes that the earth has many great, unspoken lessons, and the feelings of wholeness and aliveness that comes with nature connection and community are what he wants every camper to take home with them. He loves to follow deer trails, listen to crows, and sing songs around a campfire.


Grace Carbeck


Grace was born and raised swimming in the sweet, fresh waters of the Great Lakes in Northern Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan to study Anthropology and Environmental Studies and became curious about all the connections threaded between humanity and the natural world. Since then, she has worked at various environmental education schools and organizations from Maine to Utah. Grace now lives at the back edge of a cattle farm and also works at Free Union Country School as a Naturalist teacher. She loves swimming in the cool mountain streams, reading lots of books, gardening, and making big breakfasts.


Luke von Hemert


Luke von Hemert started going to the living earth school when he was around 10 and quickly fell in love with what was taught at the school. He then went on to attend every camp that they offered, and when he heard he could become a CIT (consular in training) he jumped at the idea. After graduating high school, and seeing a bit of the world he has signed on to be a natural mentor for kids, and plans to do so in the future.

Luke really enjoys rock climbing, and ascending huge walls out in Utah has been a big highlight in his life. What he really likes about working for LES is sparking kids connecting to the earth, and seeing them really start to care for it.

Snow Bear, Steven Taylor

Summer Camp Elder, Veteran Summer Camp Instructor

Snow Bear has been with LES for many years and is now our designated camp Elder. He shares his loving and caring ways so eloquently with the campers and they seem to be greatly drawn to the deep earth skills and gentle ways in which he shares his knowledge.

Joey Murray

Veteran Summer Camp Instructor

Joey has been with LES for 17 summers and it just wouldn’t be the same without him! Joey has a love of the wilderness that was fostered since he was a child. He has had the opportunity to travel all over the world learning from Indigenous elders and nature connection leaders and has constantly asked the questions: What brings people closer to nature connection? What brings people closer to themselves? It is the drive to answer these questions and especially the community of friends that he works with that has put him at the cutting edge of the nature connection movement.

Joe realized that deep nature connection mentoring and community are the most important ways for our children and adults to grow in a very deep way to connect with the earth and our hearts. He loves to care for the land and when he is not teaching he is learning. Over the span of his career he has trained many instructors and helped start a number of wilderness schools. More close to his heart has been the thousands of children he has helped mentor into becoming fully alive amazing beings.

He is a co-founder of Ancestral Knowledge 501(c3) and has been mentoring deep nature connection since 1997. In his free time he loves to spend time in nature alone or with his family, students, community of other nature connection mentors.