Meet the Team

Sophie Nichol - Manager at Park Academy's Nature KindergartenSophie Nichol – Manager at Nature Kindergarten

Hi, I’m Sophie. I hold a BSc in Environmental Biology and a PhD in Marine Ecology and have been working in youth environmental and outdoor education since 2004. I feel so lucky to have been able to blend my love for nature with my passion for education and over the past decade I have developed and delivered educational programmes and training to children, educators and the general public on behalf of numerous national organisations.

I joined the Nature Kindergarten team as Manager in 2017 and am responsible for many different areas, from forest management and health and safety, to coordinating learning opportunities in accordance with the Nature Kindergarten curriculum. I have loved the natural world since as far back as I can remember and relish any opportunity to be outdoors. Most especially though I love being in woodlands and spending time with my dog Kodi and horse Shadow in the Wicklow countryside. Therefore I’m extremely passionate about facilitating learning environments where children can also explore and connect with nature, in tandem with developing essential life skills. I believe that the Nature Kindergarten affords children a unique opportunity to grow and develop in our magical forest, giving them the space and freedom to explore, discover and learn about the world around them. This is rare in our changing world and I’m honoured to be a part of it.

Andy Noble – Team Leader at Nature Kindergarten

Andy Noble - Team Leader at Park Academy's Nature KindergartenHi I’m Andy and I’m a Team Leader and Outdoor Educator at Park Academy’s Nature Kindergarten. I have been working with the Park Academy for over four years, having started my career in the After-school Club at Eden Gate. In September 2014, I was given the exciting opportunity to join the team in Ireland’s very first Nature Kindergarten and I jumped at the chance. I have always loved the outdoors and my background in farming has given me a wealth of skills and knowledge that I can share with the children. Since studying for my FETAC Level 6 Certificate in Childcare, I have now been able to merge these two areas and this has given me great career satisfaction. I am also a trained Forest School Leader. Since Nature Kindergarten first opened, what has amazed me most is how the children have accepted ownership of the forest. I am also fascinated by how their imagination grows each and every day. From their stick puppets to ‘Loggy’ our pet dog (a rope tied around a tree trunk!) the children’s creativity is endless. I truly believe that the Nature Kindergarten is a wonderful place where children get to explore their strengths and interests without restriction. Every time I see a child petting or feeding Loggy, it furthers my belief that the Nature Kindergarten is the future of childcare.

 

Mateja Trpin – Early Years Outdoor Educator at Nature Kindergarten

Mateja Trpin - Early Years Outdoor Educator at Park Academy Childcare's Nature KindergartenHello my name is Mateja. I have many years of experience in education and training, working with both young people and adults. It has always been my goal to make a difference in people’s lives and I have spent a large part of my career working with those who have experienced social exclusion. Through this work I have assisted asylum seekers and facilitated inclusion workshops for schools. In my personal life, I have always been closely linked with nature and have enjoyed exploring and learning about the natural world. I have also taken advantage of fun outdoor pursuits such as white-water kayaking, mountain biking and climbing. After moving to Ireland from my home country of Slovenia, I decided that I would like to pursue a career which incorporated my love of outdoors and my desire to raise awareness of nature conservation. I got an opportunity to do so while working as an Education Guide in Wicklow Mountains National Park and this led to my position at Park Academy’s Nature Kindergarten. Working with the children at Nature Kindergarten means that I can now use my knowledge and experience every day and make a difference both to their future and to the future of their planet.