Humble Oak offers learning opportunities to people of all ages

By Cassie Koehne


What started out as a backyard school has turned into a movement for a small but passionate group of people who believe that our culture has become too disconnected from nature, and that our exposure and experiences with the natural world are an essential part of our growth.

Jodie Janovec, Erin Houlihan, and Anna Zinga are the co-directors of Humble Oak Outdoor Learning & Arts Collective in East Troy. The outdoor-based educational program is made up of two branches – a Living School, and a Folk School – and serves both children and adults.

While enrollment for the non-profit began as a start up in 2022, the idea for the learning center formed in all three women’s hearts long before that time.

Erin ran a small backyard program called Violet Glen that Anna helped with and Jodie’s children attended. It grew into a dream to be able to have the space to welcome more children, and to nurture those children into adulthood and beyond.

Along with teaching at Violet Glen, Anna taught middle school and said she believed the kids needed something more than was able to be provided in a public school setting.

“Working at Violet Glen, it was so easy to see how the kids thrived when their days were spent in nature,” she said. “I wanted to be able to give that to as many kids as possible.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when the world was shut down and so many parents were struggling to help their children through the unprecedented crisis, Jodie said she knew they could make those community connections happen.

“We started to explode with requests to join during that time. Erin taught my youngest when he was in preschool, Anna had a background in education, too, and we all had a passion for incorporating daily learning into the practice of mindful living, so it felt like it was meant to be,” she said.

For the full story, please see the print edition of the East Troy Times/News.

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