Team

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MARIA JOSE OBANDO

She/Her

Co-Founder and Educator

I am a nature lover. I love to be outside. I love adventures. I love rainy and sunny days. 

I grew up in Ecuador, a place surrounded by so many beautiful landscapes and unique biodiversity. As a child, I played, explored, got muddy, climbed trees, and had so much fun in the countryside of Ecuador.

Nature to me has always been a place to admire, take care and learn from. 

My love for nature led me to Canada where I got my master’s degree in Environmental Education.
As an educator, I am committed to helping children to explore and learn in nature. My passion is connecting children with their environment through experiential education and unstructured playing.

Nothing brings me more happiness than seeing the growth and evolution of my students in the outdoors.

Certifications: 

- Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Engineering

- Master's Degree in Educational Foundations with a cohort in Ecology and Environment

- ECEA (Early Childhood Education Assistant)

- Responsible Adult Course in Child Development

- Forest School Training Certification

- Standard First Aid CPR/AED Level C

- Wilderness First Aid Certification

- English/Spanish

ANA MERCHÁN

She/Her
Educator

I grew up in the countryside of Cuenca - Ecuador where I was always surrounded by animals and nature and learned the importance of taking care of the environment. I got to play with dogs, chickens, guinea pigs, horses, and rabbits next to a forest by the river. My parents and I traveled a lot around the country when I was a kid and as an adult, I have visited many countries which changed the way I see the world today.

 

As a co-founder of “Kea” preschool in my hometown and as a psychologist I know the impact early childhood education has on kids and families. I believe in hands-on learning, project-based education, play-based education, and learning by making so kids can shine and learn at their own pace while connecting to their surroundings.

 

I´m constantly learning and looking for new pedagogical approaches related to kids’ development, this is why I feel so drawn to outdoor education.

 

Exploring nature in this beautiful country has motivated me to pursue my dream to be an outdoor educator.

 

Certifications: 

 

-Bachelor´s degree in Psychology

-Master´s degree in Family Intervention and Counselling

-International Certification Infant and Child Sleep Consultant

-Montessori Methodology Diploma

-Co-Founder of Kea Preschool

-Standard First Aid CPR/AED Level C

-Spanish/English

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MARCO URFER

He/Him

Co-Founder and Admin

I had the privilege to grow up surrounded by nature in a beautiful area known as "the gate to the Swiss Alps". I remember these exciting times as a child running through fields, building forts in the forest, and exploring mountains in hiking shoes or on skis. 

Today, I still can't get enough of outdoor activities - I am a nature lover and I want to give everything it takes to protect the environment. 

Founding Little Paws gives me the joy to contribute to a healthy community more connected with nature. I love to see how children are becoming and already are stewards of the great outdoors while providing them a natural experience I enjoyed when I was little. 

With my background as a Business Engineer, I bring some valuable skills to the administrative work and support the operations of the programs behind the scenes.