Staff Biographies


Matt Miller

Co-Director & Lead Instructor

 Matt Miller grew up in Traverse City Michigan and always had a profound love for the outdoors. Matt is a graduate of the Wilderness Awareness School Residential Program & Anake Leadership Program, which are intensive immersion courses focused on naturalist knowledge, wilderness skills, and nature mentoring. Matt has completed Wildlife Tracking program at the Alderleaf Wilderness College. He has also attended a number of courses at Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker school, studying nature and the skills of survival. Matt is a student of nature and a certified permaculture designer, with considerable self training as well as having been an apprentice at the Eco-Learning Center. Matt takes great pleasure in sharing his love for the natural world with others.


Kriya Townsend

Co-Director & Lead Instructor

Kriya Townsend’s fondest childhood memories take place within the lakes, rivers, meadows, forests, and dunes of Northern Michigan. After highschool she took to the Appalation trail, traveled much of the US and Central America, Snowboarded the Mountains of Oregon, and studied for two years at the University of Oregon. Although she was tempted to finish school with a degree, something deeper stirred within and led her on a new path. Her love of children and nature led her to a little school in the foot hills of the northern cascades called “The Wilderness Awareness School”. Finally, after years of exploration, Kriya felt she was truely on her path. She learned many tools to deepen her awareness of the natural world, herself and her community. She tasted foods from the wild and tracked the animals upon it. She practiced primitive technologies and survival skills. She learned the ways of the “coyote mentor” to help faciliate great learning journeys for others. In September of 2010 she returned to Northern Michigan with the intention to continue her own naturalist learning journey and offer her unique and valuable skill set to this neck of the woods.


Chelsea Nester

Development Director & Lead Instructor

Chelsea is a forest rooted, tree climbing mother of 2 young boys who lives with her husband and a herd of Tibetan Yak in Leelanau county.  She has a degree from Central Michigan University in Outdoor Education.  Chelsea has been with the Human Nature School since 2011, before which she traveled extensively as a community organizer, learning about land connection through peoples’ experiences across the country and the world.  From farmers of the plains to Inuit peoples of the arctic, they influenced her decision to set off on her path of developing connection with place and community with children and adults alike right here in Northern Michigan.



Support Staff & Key Volunteers



John-Michael Musselman

Organizational Leader & Adviser

Brought up along the muddy waters of the Ohio River, in the undulating beauty of Kentucky’s hills and hollers,
John Michael grew a deep-rooted connection to Life. That initial connection sustained him invisibly through years of institutional education and social convention. After gradua
ting from college with a degree in Geology, he continued on to work for such organizations as The Nature Conservancy and National Geographic. Eventually, however, he knew it was time to take things deeper, wilder by heading out west to become immersed in an intensive primitive-living experience called the Four Season Prehistoric Project. There he went through the process of shedding his modern layers, little-by-little: learning to hunt, fish and gather his food; to make the fire and the vessels necessary to cook it; To clothe, shelter and keep himself warm; And, of most importance, how to live interdependently with a group of human beings under extreme conditions. John Michael now works to share and grow in these skills within this most fertile community and the land that holds it.


Scott Mills


Scott lives in the middle of the Leelanau Peninsula, where he spends a good deal of time wandering the forests, old fields and dunes, barefoot when possible. Since childhood, he’s been fascinated with the history of the land, and the way we can tune into different timescales by getting to know the rhythms of the water, the trees and the rocks. As the son of a teacher, Scott has developed an appreciation for all styles of interaction and learning, from quiet observation to gregarious engagement. When he’s not out exploring a newly discovered trail, Scott might be found writing about the day’s adventure, carving useful objects from green wood, practicing fermentation, working happily in the garden, or tucked into a good book.


Jack Hannert


Meet Jack.  Jack is Human Nature School’s newest instructor.  He joined us this spring for the Youth Homeschool Session, and the kids love him.   Jack has developed quite the following of HNS student woodworkers, and is beautifully guiding them in honing their carving skills while getting to know the trees they are working with.  We are so happy to have this deeply connected down-to-earth
homesteader in the forest with us!