Founding Director

Tara Habeck is passionate about early childhood education and the rich connections between communities, individuals, and the environment. She founded the Ann Arbor Forest School, then called Florecita, in 2012 after studying outdoor education with her mentor and neighbor, Jeannine Palms of Blossom Home. Tara is a world traveler and an avid learner. She is a bilingual Spanish speaker.


  • B.A. in Psychology with minor in Spanish, University of Michigan
  • Associate Degree, Child Care Professional, Washtenaw Community College
  • Permaculture Design for Educators certificate training
  • Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach training
  • Tom Brown Tracker School training
  • Non-Violent Communication training


WEMU’s Green Room radio interview: “Learning Without Walls, The Local Programs Where The Outdoor Rules!”
Ann Arbor Family MagazineAsk the Expert: Nature As Classroom: A Glimpse Inside The Ann Arbor Forest School


Curriculum Panel, Washtenaw County Association for the Education of Young Children

Tara is available to consult or speak at your event. Email:



Program Director

Catherine is a lifelong nature enthusiast. She grew up playing and exploring in the sand dunes along Lake Michigan. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a dual degree in German/Arts and Ideas in the Humanities, she moved to Washington State, where she worked for a number of years in Youth Advocacy and Arts Education. She returned to Michigan four years ago to be near family and to bring some of her magic back to the Midwest.

In addition to her work with the Ann Arbor Forest School, she also currently works with young people, teaching outdoor skills for the Nature Learning Community; co-leads the Teen Theatre Apprenticeship Program with the Ann Arbor-based Spinning Dot Theatre Company; and is an enthusiastic Music Together Teacher. She has worked extensively with young children, and finds them to be an absolute delight.


  • B.A. in German/Arts and Ideas in the Humanities, University of Michigan
  • Music Together Teacher



Animal-Assisted Therapist

Justin is a musician, teacher, and editor. After earning his Bachelor of Music degree, Justin taught kindergarteners in Los Angeles and worked with students at a nationally renowned center for autistic children. After graduating with a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University, he worked as a freelance trumpeter with groups such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Michigan Opera Theatre. Justin has taught music at the Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor, and he is an English tutor for students at J2 Academy in Ann Arbor. His dog Rocky is a favorite among students.


  • Master of Music, Northwestern University
  • Teacher’s Credential, partial fulfillment, California State University Los Angeles
  • Bachelor of Music, The Juilliard School




Emily is a sophomore studying photography at Washtenaw Community College. She loves playing, teaching, and working with children. Emily was an assistant director for the children’s theatre group at Homeschoolers of Ann Arbor. She has been a counselor for the past three years at The Creature Conservancy’s summer camp, which helps teach children about wildlife and animal welfare. Emily currently provides part-time childcare for families in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

Having been homeschooled for most of life, Emily appreciates giving children the freedom to learn in a way that fosters creativity and self expression.


  • Sophomore, Digital Media Arts, Washtenaw Community College

Interested in learning about the Forest School philosophy?