Meet the Staff

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 Founder/Teacher:  Rachelle Laster

Hi! My name is Rachelle and I am the founder of and head teacher at Sweet Pea. I have worked in the early-childhood field with children (infant to 10 years old) for the last eleven years. I have an Applied Science and Associate of Art Degree and I have completed courses in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. I also have CPR and First-Aid. I recently have found my passion of teaching children in a natural, outdoor environment. Being able to witness first-hand the growth and confidence that takes place on a daily basis pushes me into a deeper pursuit of connecting children with nature. Beyond my love for teaching I enjoy gardening and have incorporated a gardening program into Sweet Pea. I have a knack for canning, baking, hiking, x-county skiing, and enjoy spending time with my husband and all of our animals. I feel honored to be a part of this wonderful community and have enjoyed getting to know all of the beautiful people that inhabit it.

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Ingrid Nussman: Lead Teacher

Hello, my name is Ingrid Nussman! I have a degree in Environmental Studies and a background working in state parks and forest service.  I was born and raised in northern Illinois where I grew up hiking, camping, traveling and gardening with my family.  Those memories and nature based adventures are my roots and have helped shape me into the person I am today.  In 2009 I moved to Florida where I began working for Tomoka State Park and various parks throughout the state as a Ranger and Wildland Firefighter.  Aside from the physical work, I spent a majority of my time putting on Interpretation Programs for visitors, youth programs, local scout troops and schools about the park and environment.  I decided to make a 180 degree change and found myself working for the Montana Conservation Corps here in the valley.  My hobbies include hiking, backpacking, camping, skiing, rafting, biking, fly fishing, cooking and crafting. My husband and I call Montana home more than any place we have lived before and it is truly a delight to be a part of this community.  I am so grateful to be a part of Sweet Pea Outdoor School. I absolutely love the opportunity to help children grow and I strongly believe in the power of the direct exposure to nature and that it is essential to our physical, emotional and spiritual development.

Abby Karns: Preschool Teacher/Afterschool Teacher

Hello!! My name is Abby. I grew up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I moved to Boulder, Colorado after graduating high school. There I studied pottery and literature at Front Range Community College. I have also taken several online parenting courses and am CPR and First Aid certified.  In 2014 I made the move to Bigfork, MT. While living in the valley I have had the privilege of becoming a mom to an outdoor loving boy. This area has so much to offer and has taught me so much about the importance of connecting with nature and enjoying the outdoors.  I also live on a farm where I care for pigs, goats, and chickens. I have been a nanny for over 10 years and adore working with children. I also enjoy yoga, gardening, cooking wholesome food, writing, photography, hiking, and reading books. I am thankful to have the opportunity to care for the children in the valley, and watch my own child grow to have a love an appreciation for the outdoors.