Huckleberry Forest Nature School

at Mckenzie River Community School

Where the wonder of childhood is met by the wisdom of the forest.

“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.” -Richard Louv


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Huckleberry Forest Nature School offers two half day nature immersion mornings on Tuesdays and Thursdays for children ages 2.5 - 6.

Huckleberry Forest Nature School is a classroom without walls. It seeks to provide children with the opportunity to learn and explore among their peers where nature is one of their teachers. We come together in song circles and share meals in reverence. We model community in relationship to the land. It is a program rich with song, rhythm and story as well as movement. Huckleberry Forest's simple and consistent daily rhythm provides stability so children can confidently experience the wonders of the forest throughout the changing seasons. A holistic approach to engage the hands, heart and head will ignite a love for learning and a foundation for a lifetime of success. A parent orientation and a series of workshops will provide resources to guide caretakers on how to appropriately prepare their children to thrive in the elements. Parent workshops will introduce themes that compliment the programs curriculum and are open to all caretakers of small children in our community.

Huckleberry Forest Nature School's program is entirely outdoors taking place on McKenzie Community School's beautiful campus along the Elk Creek Trail.

Culture, communication, imitation, modeling rich and correct language, oral traditions, melody, acute listening, hot and wholesome meals are included in the program.

Ensure your child gets this magical experience! Enroll today as space is limited.

Can't afford enriching experiences for your young child? Please inquire about financial assistance. We endeavor to make this program accessible to every child.

Our Daily Rhythm

Daily Rhythm

8:00 Drop off, Greeting and Free Play

8:20 Opening verse and song

8:25 Movement, Cooperative Circle Game and Warm-up Walk to Forest Clearing on the Elk Creek Trail

8:40 Hearty snack served with hot tea and a story told by way of oral tradition

9:00 Forest Exploration, Craft Station, Open-Ended Observations, Free Play , Rotating seasonal craft and handwork stations (examples: clay or beeswax modeling, finger knitting, charcoal drawing, woodworking)

10:00 Walk to bathroom, wash hands

10:25 Trail Walk and Seasonal Circle in the Meadow

11:00 Enter the Family Resource Center, Wash Hands, Change Clothing and eat a Hot and healthy lunch served and eaten with reverence, round-table sharing time

11:30 Lunch Clean up (washing dishes is a part of our curriculum) , free play in the Family Resource Room

11:50 Clean up toys and Closing Song Circle

12:00 Pick-up Time

Children enrolled in full-day programs will be walked by a teacher to the Little Eagles Preschool

Cricket ClarkeProgram Developer and Substitute Teacher
Cricket grew up among sage brush and live oaks, raised with the English custom of sipping tea hourly while listening to stories of London during World War II. She romped in the hills with her sister and neighbors, barefoot and mud splotched, searching for The Evil Caterpillar who sent them messages through a ball of sap. She brought the Fairy Queens of the Magic Tree flowers and left bundles of grass on the doorstep of the Old Grey Gnome.
Cricket received a B.A. in Spanish Language and South American Literature from UC Santa Barbara. She studied abroad in Spain, Chile and Guatemala during her undergraduate years, then moved to the pristine Gaviota coast. She has trekked in the Himalayas, the Sierra Nevadas and the Andes and has biked across several small countries.
While living beach side in a VW bus, Cricket worked in school districts across Santa Barbara and taught at an outdoor adventure school called Ocean Futures. She quickly realized her life path was to work with children and music. This life work, among other things, drove Cricket to the Eugene Waldorf Teacher Training. She has taught third grade and sixth grade at the Live Oak Waldorf School in Meadow Vista, California. Upon completion of her teacher training, Cricket and her partner took off for Central and South America to find the place of their dreams to settle and teach. It was a wide, long journey that led them full circle close to where they set out from, to Blue River, Oregon.
Since settling in Blue River three years ago, Cricket became a mother of two boys. She has been involved in the Family Resource Center, holding the Little Eagles Parent-Child meet-up group and Play Day in the Park as well as helping to open Azul, a local art gallery in our little Downtown. Dreaming of a nature school for much of her life, The Huckleberry Forest Nature School will be an accumulation of Cricket's life work in collaboration with the visions and strengths of her coworkers and this unique community. She looks forward to deepening her life with the beautiful families of the Mckenzie River Valley.
Alicia ThorndykeInstructor at Huckleberry Forest
Alicia was born in the land of enchantment and raised in a barn. She spent the better part of her childhood out of doors making potions and adventuring through chili fields overlooked by the Sandia mountains with her three sisters and horse named Sourdough. As she grew, her family moved around a lot following her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and eventually landed in a quaint little beach town on the northeast coast of Florida where she finished high school. She had aspired to get a liberal arts degree from Flagler College but life threw a curve ball and she became pregnant with her first son, and embarked on her mothering journey instead. Having a child impassioned Alicia to learn everything she could about childbirth and early childhood development. She felt that her birth experience lacked something and wanted other women and babies to feel empowered in birth. She studied Midwifery at The House of La Matrona in Asheville, North Carolina and has held a small doula practice since 2009. She has helped women feel sovereign in their births and has helped ease families transitioning to life with a baby. Alicia and her son traveled coast to coast in search of a place to put down roots. They chose Blue River, where her life has unfolded so uniquely and has included having two more very powerful and extraordinary births of her own later on. Her study of the awe inspiring passage of birth and of life continues.
Now a dedicated mother of three, Alicia spends most of her time out of doors with her children, making art and sharing in the wisdom and wonder invoked by the wilderness and the innocence of childhood. She is still just as enthused as ever about childbirth and early childhood development and seeks to correlate the effects that nature has on both. She is currently earning a Nursing degree to compliment her skill set in Midwifery and Holistic Health and plans on using it to empower people to be in their best health, autonomously. On a regular basis she is among the wild on a forest trail or in a natural hot spring or even just simply becoming in deeper relationship with the land on which she lives with her family, their dog, and four goats. They enjoy living with the land and honoring the wheel of the year in all of it’s bountiful blessings and glorious challenges.
Alicia is inspired to share the magical simplicity of nature with children in the community and is thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in raising up the next generation of stewards to this beautiful place. Alicia is certain that children need nature and the planet depends on them being in right relationship to it.

JoAnne AuchtungInstructor at Huckleberry Forest

JoAnne has always been drawn to teaching children. From making her own pretend school complete with different lessons for her siblings when she was 10 years old, to creating a babysitting business at the age of twelve. She was so inspired by The Babysitters Club books that she even created her “kid kit”, a box that the characters from the books create with fun crafts and projects for kids to do.
When JoAnne became a mother, she decided to homeschool her children. She created lesson plans, joined homeschooling groups, and fostered her children’s love of learning by supporting them with all of their interests and passions. Music, art, dance, gymnastics, science, wilderness camps, sports, and days just exploring in the forest were a large part of their learning.
After 11 years of homeschooling, her children decided to go to McKenzie School. JoAnne started her own business creating herbal bath and body products with eco- friendly packaging. She also started a cleaning service for vacation rentals in her community. In addition, she is currently enrolled in her second year at Lane Community College where she has been taking classes on early education, health, and nutrition.
JoAnne has always been a lover of nature and beauty. She is an avid hiker, backpacker, mushroom hunter, and world traveler. She loves adventures, plants, and new experiences. She has completed two years at Colombines School of Botanical Studies Herbal Concepts. She loves to learn about the plants in our forests. Her greatest passions are nature and teaching children. Teaching at Huckleberry Forest, helping kids to connect with nature, is the most meaningful way for her to integrate the things that are most important in her life.