Meet the Team
Founder and Executive Director
Since my earliest memory, I have always been drawn to and nourished by the outdoors. My father instilled in me an appreciation of the simple joys that our world offers us. The sound of leaves underfoot in autumn, the warmth of the sun on a cold winter day, the scent of pine trees in the morning, and the mist from a moving creek against your face on a summer afternoon. These elemental pleasures, scientific research shows, are vital components of our physical and mental health. But society has veered sharply away from being outdoors. The average adult spends 93 percent of their time indoors, where they are looking at a computer or TV screen for 10 hours and checking their phone 80 times. It is my mission to bring the healing, restorative properties of the natural world into the lives of others through Nature Worx. I formed this organization drawing on my experience leading several other not-for-profit organizations focused on family support and outdoor recreation. I am excited by the team of professionals we have assembled, and by the positive impact we are making in peoples’ lives.
Director of Partnerships
When I was 19, I went for a walk in the woods alone at night time, I had forgotten my flashlight and I had to walk a quarter of a mile down a path in the forest to my home. I was terrified. But I knew myself better when I arrived home that night, I had felt the power of the natural world and the smallness of my "self" and realized that I was its student, not its master or competitor as I was raised to believe.
Since that night, I have shared countless experiences with people of all ages and backgrounds in various natural settings; each one unique, powerful, and humbling. My professional and personal life have afforded me experience with children to adults, at-risk populations, people with special needs, trauma, addiction, affluence, LGBTQ+, the full range of the Autism spectrum. I have worked as a rock climbing and back packing trip leader, camp counselor, special needs counselor, ropes course facilitator, team building facilitator, on duty interventionist, behavioral interventionist, mentor, coach, peer and friend to many.
I believe in Nature Worx’s mission to promote healing through intentional outdoor programs . The end-game is always the same: get people outside and let them see, feel, taste, touch and smell what is real and true. Hopefully this leads to healing, maybe change will come of it, at the very least, like my walk in the woods, it shows them they don't have to be afraid.
Lead Interpretive Guide
I am a founding member of the Eden Mill Nature Center in Pylesville, MD. I have more than 40 years of experience as a naturalist, instructor, guide, trip organizer, and nature photographer. I have led wilderness canoeing trips to Algonquin National Park in Canada, taught rock climbing, led caving expeditions and was a skydiving enthusiast with more than 100 jumps. For excitement these days, I like to stand still in the woods and take photographs of the natural world.
Dr. Heidi Schreiber-Pan
I am the Clinical Director of Chesapeake Mental Health Collaborative and I have dedicated my life to improving people's mental health. Through nature-based research , I have focused on improving upon our understanding of nature's ability to help individuals reduce anxiety and depression. I also help to shape Nature Worx programs drawing on my research and best practices.
I am an avid outdoorsmen, mental health advocate, nature therapy practitioner and the Owner/Operator of Satchel & Lahoma, LLC, an outdoor adventure and camping company.
I have has used nature and outdoor recreation to teach life lessons, survival skills, mindfulness and wellness, self care and to expose minorities to the wonders of nature. I also train Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) on Leave No Trace principles and to remain safe, dry and warm while enjoying nature.
I'm also a certified Maryland Master Naturalist through the University of Maryland, a certified Weed Warrior in Baltimore City and a Maryland licensed fisherman.
I have been a guide for Nature Worx since the summer of 2018. In addition to this role, I served as the Summer Camp Director at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center in northern Baltimore County. I have worked as a wilderness therapy field guide with adolescents on the autism spectrum in Utah and as a behavior interventionist with children exposed to early traumas at an alternative school in Vermont. In August of 2017, I completed hiking the 2,190 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 150 days, giving me even more time to experience the nourishing and healing power of nature. I recently completed my Masters in Social Work at the University of Maryland with a concentration in clinical, therapeutic practice and holistic treatment methods.
In the past few decades my jobs have varied greatly from military police to professional athlete to massage therapist; from cycling instructor to massage therapy instructor; and from waitstaff to dog handler. Over the years my passion for service plus my vocation in alternative therapies combined with my love for the outdoors have lead me to the path of becoming a certified nature and forest therapy guide.
Nature and I have been friends my whole life, though it is only relatively recently that I have come to think of myself as a "nature person." As my own awakening occurred, I came to see my relationship with nature as just that-- a relationship. Nature accepted me as I was and didn't need me to be a certain way to enjoy her. I came to find that the more time I spent in Nature, the more I became aware of her dynamic and healing powers.
These days, time in Nature sustains me in a way I didn't know was possible. Whether it is out on the Appalachian trail or in the privacy of my own backyard, I lean on Nature as a tool for self-reflection, revitalization, and peace. In my work as a mental health therapist, one of my greatest joys is connecting my clients to the healing power of Nature and watching them build their own relationship with her. It is an honor to be a part of the Nature Worx team and join in the mission of connecting individuals to Nature!
I’ve been an outdoor enthusiast all my life. From camping to horseback riding, geocaching and white water rafting, I’ve found participating in nature to be a vital part to staying mentally as well as physically healthy. I especially enjoy going to new places and learning about their unique history and characteristics. I spent several years leading college outdoor adventure trips and am a professional business coach and strategic consultant.
I have a deep trust in two things. The natural world and mindfulness. The natural world is where we come from and our provider and is really who we are. Mindfulness invites us back to the present moment with kindness, leaving behind all stories of the past or future, so that we can experience the world fully and truly. I am grateful to lean on my experiences of being a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program Participant, Peace Volunteer in Jamaica, a bachelor's degree recipient in Environmental Studies from University of Vermont, a Masters of Science recipient from UMBC in Instructional Systems Design with a focus on mindfulness, environmental educator with the Audubon Society and Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and a recent completion of walking the 2100 miles of the Appalachian trail to inform my experience. I am thankful to have the opportunity to explore these two loves of the natural world and mindfulness in community with the people we work with as a guide for Nature Worx. The intention? Provide a sense of safety so that we can feel comfortable to experience ourselves, and all beings in the natural world with care, so that a natural sense of connectedness and belonging emerges!
I inherited my love of and appreciation for nature from my parents. Together we would explore the local woods in my hometown New Haven, Connecticut. We'd crunch through the fall foliage, go on week long camping trips and enjoy hot days by the beach.
Today, being outside is my favorite place to be when I'm not working. Simple walks in my city neighborhood or sitting on my porch is enough to connect me to the ever present tranquility of this natural world. My hope for all those who work with me is that they can re-discover the universal healing and invitation of nature wherever they are.
My favorite childhood memories are the times my dad and I spent exploring nature together. Play & adventure were instilled in me from a young age and I have carried these valuable traits with me through my degree in Therapeutic Recreation, as a Registered Yoga Teacher, a retreat facilitator, and a nanny. I truly believe life is better when we spend intentional time connecting with nature and using our senses. While I love spending days at a time in the woods, I find that simply feeling my feet on the grass is enough to nurture my connection to nature. The more time I spend immersed in the natural world, the more I understand myself, others and the world we inhabit. I am honored to be spreading the light & mission of Nature Worx.
Dr. Mark S Johnson
Understanding and appreciating our natural world has been a lifelong personal pursuit. After a brief career repairing office machines, I decided to pursue higher education in hopes of learning more about nature and helping my best to live sustainably with it. After obtaining my bachelors of science in biology at Towson University, I obtained a master’s degree while studying the population ecology of Wood Thrushes at University of Delaware and a Ph.D. at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech exploring effects of military unique chemicals on wildlife models. My passion are birds and biodiversity and have traveled in the tropics and elsewhere observing and studying them. I currently operate two bird banding stations that serve as monitoring posts to track migrants.
Born and bred on the west side of Baltimore City. I've always had a deep love of the outdoors and being in nature. I worked for an outdoor organization for three years and was able to see first-hand how much of an impact spending time in nature has on an individual. I would lead 5-12 day backpacking/canoeing trips and run high-ropes challenges. I moved on from the organization hoping to deepen my facilitative skills and find other ways to engage folks in nature.