Core Staff

Very friendly, always polite. My daughter is so comfortable with everyone. We think it is a fantastic program and are very lucky to have you here in Newburyport.

Merrohawke Nature School staff represent a diverse background of skills and talents, but all have a true love for spending time outdoors and sharing great adventures with kids, families and adults.

Lead teaching staff all have advanced degrees in science or environmental education and/or significant professional and life experience outdoors with youth of all ages across all landscapes. In addition, all are certified in Wilderness First Aid, agree to criminal background checks and attend several hours of training in the classroom and in the field each year, including advancing their naturalist, wilderness, nature connection and field education skills.

Junior program staff, apprentices and interns are primarily teens and college students who once attended our programs and know first-hand the secret magic that makes for a great day in the great outdoors.

Our first priority is the safety and happiness of your child. Please don't hesitate to be in touch at any time.

Leadership Team

Kate Yeomans, Executive Director & Co-founder

Kate grew up along the Merrimack River messing about in family-owned boats among the Great Salt Marsh behind Plum Island and sailing the coast of Maine as far Downeast as Roque Island with her grandfather before heading to sea as a deckhand on the Newburyport Whale Watch boat Capt. Red at age 12, a seasonal job she held for more than ten years. During this time she attained, and still holds, a 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard captain's license.

In May 2011, Kate earned a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Education at UNH. In August 2011, Kate and Rob were mentored by Jon Young, an internationally acclaimed author, tracker, mentor and co-founder of the 8 Shields Institute. Kate has continued this journey with personal mentoring by Mark Morey from 2012 to present in order to deepen her understanding of creating high quality, meaningful nature connection programs for our community. In September 2015, Kate began studying Waldorf education as a means to further enrich the programs offered by Merrohawke. In 2017 and early 2018, Kate completed Level I & Level II certifications in Earth Medicine and training in Mentoring Girls. She is certified in Wilderness First Aid & CPR. Kate serves on the Advisory Council of the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, is on the leadership team of greater Newburyport's Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards, and serves in a leadership role at the Art of Mentoring in Vermont each autumn. 

Prior to co-founding Merrohawke, Kate spent 15 years working as an award-winning investigative journalist who wrote about the sea and the people who worked and played upon it. She is the former editor of Embassy Cruising Guides, a series of four bi-annual guides spanning the cruising waters from Canada to Alabama. She also holds a BA in Journalism (minor in marine biology) from UNH (1995) and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College (1999). Her award-winning work appeared in Boston Magazine, Boston Sunday Globe Magazine, Cruising World, Commercial Fisheries News, National Fisherman, Offshore, Professional Mariner, Robb Report, Voyaging and others. She is the author of the nonfiction book Dead Men Tapping: The End of the Heather Lynne II, published by McGraw-Hill in 2003.

Rob and Kate met in first grade at Newbury's Woodbridge School, only to later become high-school sweethearts at Triton Regional High School, where they first studied marine biology and oceanography together. Kate and Rob were married in 1996 and are raising two teenage sons, who have inspired all of Merrohawke's program development. Rob and Kate have owned the F/V Erica Lee since April 2005. Contact Kate by email.

Debbie_web_2015Debbie Lyons, Program Director

Debbie is a seasoned outdoor educator who teaches and coordinates a variety of programs at Merrohawke Nature School. Before joining our staff in May 2011, she earned an BS in Environmental Science from New England College. She was a seasonal park ranger for the US Army Corps of Engineers for three summers, at Hopkinton-Everett Lake in the Merrimack River Basin. After completing her MA in Environmental Education at UNH in May 2012, she became Merrohawke's Program Director. Debbie loves coming to work every day, but while she is not at work, she is foraging around Four Rock for her naturalists studies, snowboarding, or playing soccer. Debbie has completed Level IV of Kamana Naturalist training, is certified as a Cedarsong Nature School Level III Forest Kindergarten Teacher, and has Wilderness First Responder and CPR certification. As part of her work at Merrohawke, Debbie has assisted and served in leadership roles at other wilderness programs, including White Pine Programs, Coyote Camp and serving on the Ring 4 Acorn staff at the Art of Mentoring in Vermont. Debbie is studying of Waldorf education and has completed a 9 -month wilderness tracking apprenticeship. You can contact


IMG_1860Capt. Rob Yeomans, Maritime Director & Co-founder

Capt. Rob has worked aboard the Erica Lee for 37 years, 26 of those as captain. He holds a 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard captain's license, and has decades of experience fishing for a variety of New England species in the Gulf of Maine.  In fall 2007, Rob and his wife, Kate, formed BOAT CAMP, later known as Merrohawke Nature School, in order to further pursue their passion for marine education by expanding nature-based education opportunities for all ages, tots to teachers, in the greater Newburyport area. Rob has been the owner/operator of the Erica Lee since 2005. During the school year, Rob serves on the faculty of High Mowing School, a Waldorf high school in Wilton, NH. Rob taught Biology, AP Biology and Marine Biology at Newburyport High School, from 2006-2015 where he served as chair of the science department from 2011-2014. He taught biology at Lynn Classical High School from 1996 to 2005.  He earned a BA Biology (1996) and a MA in Teaching Biology from Salem State (2000). During the summer of 2009, Rob also worked as a high school curriculum development consultant for a National Marine Fisheries education project on the Atlantic Sturgeon.

Rob was a 2009 recipient of the Swasey Grant for curriculum development at Newburyport High School. In November, he traveled to Monterey, California, to study humboldt squids. This trip included tagging the giant squids with Stanford University's Dr. William Gilly and his staff from the Hopkins Marine Station. Rob returned with squid to be dissected with his high school marine biology students, as well as great connections and ideas to bridge the east and west coast ecosystems for his students at N.H.S. and at Merrohawke.

In late fall, 2010, Rob received a second action research Swasey Grant to fund an trip to Tahiti in early January 2011 with Sea Education Association of Woods Hole's Colleagues SEA Semester for one week. While there, Rob sailed aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans. During the 2011-2012 school year Rob was awarded his third Swasey Action Research grant to study wildlife tracking with White Pine Programs in Cape Neddick, Maine.

In April 2012, in recognition of his life-long passion for educating kids about the outdoors and the sea, both in the formal classroom and outdoors aboard the Erica Lee, Salem State University honored Rob with a Friend of the Earth Award. Prior award recipients include "A Civil Action" attorney Jan Schlictman, Congressman John Tierney and Governor Jane Swift.  Rob is the first public school teacher to be honored with this award. Contact Capt. Rob by email.

Mark Morey

Mark Morey is dedicated to leaving the world better than he found it. He fosters regenerative leadership values, practices and learning systems for communities and workplaces.

For the last 30 years, Mark has been a leader in the international nature connection movement to reconnect humanity to the natural world. He has done this though several organizations that he has founded as well as facilitating 100 Art of Mentoring workshops in five countries. Mark has facilitated life-changing retreats for adults and youth of all ages with the intention to empower the individual to be a leader in cultural change. His work has ranged from 200 person, week-long events with families of all ages, to adolescent rites of passages, adult leadership immersions, business consulting, public speaking, and organizational network leadership on an international scale. Mark’s passion for environmental healing and cultural consciousness has gained wide recognition as a leader in earth-centered leadership development.

Most recently Mark has fully engaged in the social-cultural emergence at Standing Rock. After volunteering at the water protection camps at Standing Rock in September, Mark began organizing short-term solutions to the dynamic events in North Dakota. He raised $20K and spent 100% of the proceeds on immediate resources wanted, such as winter shelters, wood stoves, firewood and food. He co-created a team of volunteer leaders nationally that organized to put systems of communication and resources into place, such as the 8K+ member Standing Rock Action Network Facebook page, organizing caravan conference calls, on the ground relational leadership communication, camp wifi router technology, Horse Nation resource coordination, defund DAPL campaigns, street protests, radio interviews and public talks.

We Are Nature Rising is a collaborative project between Founder Mark Morey, Executive Director Kate Yeomans and Merrohawke Nature School.  In October 2016, after visiting the water protection camps at Standing Rock, North Dakota, Mark Morey reached out to Kate and together they envisioned a new direction for the nature connection movement, inspired by the youth of Standing Rock and the principled leadership of this indigenous led movement. We Are Nature Rising is a regenerative leadership project about awakening youth to their ecological identity, immersing them in regenerative culture over time and fostering the leadership skills to act on behalf of the planet.

In addition, Mark serves the Merrohawke community by mentoring Merrohawke staff in nature-connected leadership, organizational culture, and new teen programs planned for Summer 2018. 

Field Staff

Ariadne Nevin, Program Manager

Aria grew up in West Gloucester roaming the beaches, marsh, and woods. Many hours were happily lost in the course of an excellent childhood. Her BA from Smith College in the fascinating umbrella field of Cognitive Science was eventually followed by a Masters program in Waldorf education from Antioch University, and teaching at the same Waldorf school she attended for 10 years as a child. An educator no matter where life takes her, Aria has also spent time teaching people of various ages about reading, yoga, the wisdom of ancient cultures, swimming, exercise, soccer, running a farm stand, and living a good life that benefits us all. She attended the Art of Mentoring in Vermont Since 2016 and has earned certifications in Wilderness First Aid Afloat, lifeguarding, and CPR. Her namesake, the Greek goddess Ariadne, helped the hero Theseus find his way through a labyrinth to do the task he was there to do. Being a big believer in enabling others to develop their own capacities rather than just handling their needs for them, Aria is honored to have joined Merrohawke in spring 2016 and now be in a position to help children grow into their fuller selves through nature exploration. Contact Aria by email.

Photo Mar 10, 3 08 29 PMSarah Sullivan, Field Staff/Birthday Coordinator

Sarah grew up in Newburyport where as a child she could have been found running around Maudslay State Park, one of her favorite places to visit. She graduated from NHS, earned an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Northern Essex and is now pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education at Salem State University. Sarah has been with us for five years working a variety of programs year round, including leading our Song Sparrows program in summer. She attended Vermont Art of Mentoring in 2014 and 2015. Sarah has also completed Kamana I Naturalist Training. She is Wilderness First Aid and CPR certified. She loves hiking, camping and traveling when not outdoors with youth at Merrohawke. Contact Sarah by email.

Trevor Updike, Program Manager

Trevor graduated Lyndon State College in 2016 with a BA in Natural Science and a minor in Geology. He holds a License to teach grades 6-12, and has certifications in Wilderness First Aid, CPR and lifeguarding. Trevor has been working at Merrohawke since 2013 and leading youth programs since 2014, including a two day overnight exploring the rivers of the greater Newburyport area. From 2009-2013, he was a swim and tennis coach for children ages 4-14 at the Olde Town Country Club. Outside of Merrohawke, Trevor taught under the guidance of Mark Morey at Coyote Camp in 2015 out west and again in 2017 right here in Newburyport. He has attended VT Art of Mentoring for Four years to hone his naturalist, earth, and leadership skills. Contact Trevor by email

Catharine Simmonds, Program Assistant

Catharine grew up in New Brunswick, Canada, where she mucked about in the woods and shores of the world around her,  exploring with her brothers or finding quiet nooks to read alone,  whether in her own backyard or further afield camping with her family. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, Catharine set out to find her place in the world, teaching English in Taiwan then landing back in Nova Scotia, Canada, before  heading south of the border to Massachusetts where she worked at St. Ann's Home and School in Methuen, providing care and support to children and adolescents as a child care counselor while pursuing her Masters of Social Work at Salem State University. Upon graduation, Catharine became a child and family therapist in the residential, outpatient, and school settings at St. Ann's. In 2010, Catharine ventured into a new world of being a stay-at-home mom and is now thrilled to be mucking about in her backyard again with three little ones of her own. Catharine is so pleased and grateful to be a part of the Merrohawke community, as a parent with children in year-round and summer programs, and as a program assistant, anywhere else she can meet a need, often with her own children in tow. Contact Catharine by email.

Yeomans Boys

willow_day1_027_aJack (15) and Cody (13), sons of Rob & Kate, are growing up on the water messing about in boats and in the forest. Both are aspiring naturalists, have an eagle-eye for catching crabs and a patient jig for catching mackerel, enjoy carving, making cordage, climbing trees, avoiding shoes on their feet at all costs, camouflaging up with mud or charcoal anytime, learning wild edibles, in debris shelters, and helping other youth just like them to do the same when enrolled in our programs. They are the inspiration behind the founding of Merrohawke Nature School, and the motivation to do more and more with kids in the wild. They attended "Ways of the Wild" White Pine Programs during the school year for five years, participated in the Art of Mentoring youth programs and teen rendezvous for four years, and follow their natural curiosity at home at their sit spots and big backyard where they harvest wild acorns, chase chipmunks, grow vegetables for the family, and tap their own maple syrup each spring. They attend High Mowing School, a Waldorf school in Wilton, NH.