Who Are We?

our Vision

Little Pine Learning sees children as curious and capable learners. When we support children by providing the time and space to have adventures and learn outside, we are removing some of the barriers inherent to learning in an indoor classroom. Place-based outdoor learning is a holistic approach to children’s development. We believe that Forest School not only affords children the best chance to thrive developmentally, but it also exposes them to the opportunities to connect with nature that will ultimately lead to their capacity to care for and about our environment.

Mission

To offer an alternative approach to learning by providing inclusive nature-play experiences that will foster a better understanding of how place-based learning leads to the healthy development of children and care for the environment.

Core Values

The team

Valerie Epp

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR, B.Ed.
CERTIFIED FNS PRACTITIONER

Val has worked with the early learning population since the early 1980’s and with early learners diagnosed with developmental delays since 1995. Val spent over half of her career coordinating inclusive educational programs and therapeutic supports for early learners with disabilities. From 2009 to 2020, she was an educator on an inter-disciplinary team supporting a diverse group of learners in a private preschool. She is currently focused on applying her Forest and Nature School practitioner training by providing inclusive outdoor learning opportunities for young children in the Edmonton area.

Jacintha Gurash

Therapeutic Recreation Graduate
Speech Language Pathologist Assistant

Jacintha is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s Therapeutic Recreation program and MacEwan University’s Speech and Language Pathology Assistant program. She has over 15 years of experience working in schools with diverse populations and over 20 years of experience working in outdoor settings with all ages. She believes deeply in the importance of outdoor play and the value of outdoor-based educational experiences. She is very excited to be part of the Little Pine Learning inter-disciplinary team to explore new ways of building connections with young children in the outdoors.

Sierra Harnaha

SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST ASSISTANT

Sierra is a graduate of Macewan University’s Speech and Language Pathology Assistant diploma program. Sierra has worked with children of all ages and is currently working in an early education setting. As a speech and language pathology assistant, Sierra desires to create a space where every individual can communicate and connect with the world around them. Sierra believes the outdoors are filled with wonder and delight that everyone should have the opportunity to experience. Nature is for everyone, there’s a place for you out here!

Candace Newton

Registered Physical Therapist (RPT) Community Rehabilitation & Disability Studies Graduate

Candace has been working with special populations for over 10 years and is passionate about supporting inclusivity and maximizing a child’s potential. As a Physical Therapist, she believes that outdoor play makes for a less restrictive environment in which children are motivated to persevere and develop self-confidence through fun and meaningful activities.  She has been working for the last few years on utilizing outdoor play to improve gross and fine motor skills while supporting improvements in attention, behaviour and learning in early education.

Sarah Valente

BSc. OT(c)
Registered Occupational Therapist

Sarah is a paediatric Occupational Therapist with a passion for fostering independent learning in children through outdoor play and exploration. She graduated from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta with a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Sarah has almost 20 years of experience working with a neurodiverse population. Her areas of interest and specific training include self-regulation and sensory regulation, vision challenges, feeding challenges and the use of multi-sensory activities to develop fine motor skills. Sarah works diligently to provide environmental supports and activity adaptations to support children in meaningful outdoor participation and is excited to be on the Little Pine Learning team.