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Stacey Gummey, Founder, Executive Director and Lead Teacher

Stacey is a certified Forest Kindergarten Teacher, a trained Pennsylvania Master Naturalist and herbalist.  She is also a native of Kennett Square, PA. Stacey began her studies at West Chester University in Pennsylvania with a focus on Art Education. She went on to MCCA Training Institute in Maryland and received her Early Childhood Education Development and Curriculum Teaching Certificate and also studied the Reggio Emilia Approach where she honed her skills as an Early Childhood Educator. After 5 years as a classroom teacher and 8 years as a Director at a large playgroup in Washington,  DC. Stacey Gummey founded Hickory Hill Nature School to meet the needs of families who value the Forest Kindergarten philosophies and to offer an alternative to a 4 wall classroom that does not fit all children's needs.  Stacey has come full circle in her love of nature as she experienced a very nature rich childhood in Kennett and Unionville growing up. Stacey and her husband Michael are also the proud parents of Endsley (10) and Hutch (7). They currently reside in Chadds Ford, PA. 

Jill Panunto

Jill’s love for nature began during childhood where she spent her days immersed in imaginative play on her family’s 8-acre wooded land in Pennsylvania. She could often be found building forts, climbing rocks or searching for turtles near the creek.


While earning her Bachelors in Business Administration and pursuing a career in real estate, Jill continued to seek solace in the natural world. She found hiking and running outdoors as a means to de-stress.


Today, Jill loves taking her four children to wander new hiking paths and swim in creeks, while striving to introduce curiosity and connection to the world around them. Jill credits time spent outdoors to an appreciation for what nature has to offer us aesthetically, physically and spiritually.


Jill works as a chapter leader with ICAN of Delaware and as a birth doula. During her free time, she enjoys quiet walks alone, reading, and wild edible foraging.

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Growing up in the woods instilled in Melissa a love of nature. Her family often went on camping trips and loves the outdoors. She has continued this tradition with her own family.  Her daughter Lily (9), son Emmett (7) and husband Alex love to take walks and go on adventures.

Melissa  enjoys cooking and baking and has earned a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts from Drexel University.

An ever curious lifelong learner when it comes to the natural world, Melissa is always seeking out courses, books and book clubs that will continue her education. She enjoys gardening and  identifying birds and plants, especially edible plants.

She is delighted to pass on this awe for nature at Hickory Hill Nature School.

Melissa Jenkins

Alyssa Molin

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Alyssa Molin got her start in Environmental Education working with children as a Summer Camp Counselor at Ashland Nature Center over 20 years ago. She followed with a Bachelors in Science from the University of Delaware in Agriculture and Natural Resources, with minors in Entomology and Art. She has worked in and out of the classroom; also earning her TECE 1 and 2 which certifies her as an Early Childhood Teacher and Teaching Assistant in the State of Delaware. In addition, she became a Certified Naturalist through the Delaware Nature Society in 2016.

She has worked for the Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County as a Teacher-Naturalist, as well as for the Delaware Nature Society at all three of their New Castle County sights. She continues to work for Coverdale Farm Preserve teaching programs and Summer Camps, and you can also find her teaching her Summer “Moth Club” program to adults at Ashland Nature Center.  In her spare time she enjoys staying active with aerial training, acting, kayaking, traveling, hiking, and chasing after her five year old Son, Ryker. She is happy and enthusiastic about sharing her Naturalist knowledge with the young learners at Hickory Hill Nature School!


Peter Thomas

Pete and his wife, Natalie, have three grown children and two grandchildren.  He is a long-time outdoors person with a degree in forest resources and a career in agriculture.  After retiring, he joined the Delaware Nature Society as a Teacher/Naturalist and teaches school groups and summer camps at Ashland Nature Center and Coverdale Farm Preserve.  He loves the wonders and joys of children and nature, and he is excited to join the HHNS teaching team!  Pete continues his own growth through regular naturalist classes, and he is often hiking, cycling, and enjoying nature.


Stacey Martins

Stacey earned a degree in Advertising Design, then spent years as a software developer creating games and learning experience for museums. After spending time in Colorado she and her family moved back to PA and searched for trails to explore. She loves taking her kids to bike the pump track in Middle Run and play in Stateline Woods Preserve. 

Stacey loves animals, horseback riding, mounting biking and hiking. She's excited to explore with the curious kids at Hickory Hill! 

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