Staff Bio

Mary L. Russell, Owner and Director

I am an out-of-the box educator and former professional recreation specialist. I have a BS in Recreational Sports Management from the University of Vermont, hold a Colorado K-6 Teaching license, am Director qualified for large, early childhood centers, and have a Masters in Education, with a concentration in Educating for Sustainability, from Antioch University New England.  It was there that I realized my whole life’s purpose was to explore the world of nature pedagogy in early childhood education.

Recently, I became a certified Cedarsong Way Teacher. Learn more here:

I don’t come into this field without experience. My own childhood was spent exploring and playing in the woods, mountains, lakes and rivers, and ski slopes of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. I turned my passion for play and adventure into careers in the ski, inline skate and aquatic industries. In my twenties I worked at nature and aquatic centers, college intramural sports departments, summer camps, ski resorts and traveling the US. In my thirties I moved to Colorado and spent summers operating my own in-line skate school in Summit County, and working at local ski areas during the winters. One of the most memorable jobs was as a snowcat operator at Beaver Creek, while working as a nanny for two, active boys. 

I finally put my teaching license to use as a professional teacher when I moved to Hotchkiss and became a one-room schoolhouse teacher at The Learning Cooperative (TLC). That year I led my students on weekly explorations and adventures on the Grand Mesa, all around Delta, Mesa and Ouray counties, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing, biking, and hiking. We even attended the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, integrating learning goals into the adventure of meeting world class athletes in a world class venue. 

I moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2005, after a two year stint in Saratoga, Wyoming as Recreation and Aquatic Director and Branch Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters. In Carbondale I taught middle school science for five years, integrating outdoor learning into my curriculum. 

I left the public school arena in 2011 while completing my masters degree, and discovered the joy and excitement of working in early childhood education. In 2014 I entered the field of nature pedagogy as the “5’s Teacher” at Carbondale’s Waldkinder Adventure Preschool. In 2016 I expanded my skill set, and moved to Italy to train the Director of an Italian preschool to implement a nature preschool. I returned to Colorado three months later, and moved to Boulder. For a year I worked as an infant teacher at the Commerce Children’s Center, then in 2017 I was hired to start and run a nature and place-based preschool program in Louisville, CO. I am now operating my summer, kinder and after school nature and place-based programs, through my business Journeys Out Yonder, LLC.

Watch me describe how my life’s choices led me to creating JOY during my guest appearance on my sister Mercy’s podcast, Remarkable Relationships.


B.S. in Education, with a focus on Recreational Sports Programming, University of Vermont

M.Ed. in Education, with a focus on Educating for Sustainability, Antioch University New England


CO K-6 Elementary Teacher 

CO Early Childhood Director Qualified

ARC Child and Adult CPR/AED and 1st Aid

CO Driver’s License

Cedarsong Way Teacher