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Brinkley Hutchings

Founder, Director, Owner

Brinkley spent most of her childhood exploring and playing on the beach along Mobile Bay. One of her favorite things to do was make bowls out of the natural clay found on the bluffs. Brinkley is inspired by children's sense of wonder, curiosity, and play, and she loves to share her enthusiasm for the natural world. Brinkley graduated from UNC Wilmington with a degree in Environmental Science. She has worked and studied extensively at multiple outdoor schools across the country and is so grateful to establish Nature Connect in her hometown. Brinkley is the director for both our Alabama and North Carolina chapters. She is also a certified coach and consultant for other nature schools.


Brittany Hultquist

Associate Director

Brittany grew up adventuring all along the Gulf Coast. One of her most treasured childhood memories is spending time at her grandparent's house on Tensaw Island catching fish and swimming in the river. She briefly left the Gulf Coast to continue pursuing her degree in Commercial Art and Computer Graphics in Birmingham, Alabama. It was there that she met her husband and started a family. Brittany now finds joy in her two children's sense of wonder for the outdoors in the same home she did on the river with her grandparents. If she is not helping her kids catch frogs in the backyard, she is photographing other families outdoors or enjoying a good book in her free time. She has worked in customer service for over ten years and specializes in organizational development and client management. Brittany is incredibly grateful to work alongside the team at Nature Connect!  


Jennifer Clark-Grainger

School Manager, Outreach Coordinator, Homeschool Teacher

Jennifer spent every afternoon in the creeks, forests and mountains of South Carolina as a young child, only willing to come in after dark. At 10, she moved to Louisiana, where she was instantly smitten by the Spanish Moss and various swamps. She moved to Alabama in 2005, where she fell in love with kayaking, exploring and learning about the vast number of local waterways. This curiosity motivated her to leave her job in marketing and go back to school for Archaeology. She now has a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Fine Arts from the University of South Alabama, where she worked with children for over 5 years in the USA Archaeology Museum. This is where she found her passion for education, programming and working with children. When her child started at Nature Connect, she knew she wanted to be a part of it. On the weekends, she can be found traveling, camping, attending ArtWalks, photographing, singing in a band or exploring with her friends, husband and daughter.


Meg Murphy 

Lead Kindergarten Teacher

Meg was born and raised in Arizona, where she grew up riding horses. After attending the College of Charleston, she realized how much she loved living near the water and moved to San Diego, CA. Meg then earned her Master’s degree in Elementary Education and taught for 12 years. In 2021, she moved from Arizona to Alabama with her husband and three children. They love being near the water and are enjoying the beautiful landscape here. Meg is passionate about finding new ways to educate children outside the traditional brick-and-mortar model. She believes children should be given a chance to explore and express their unique creativity.


Megan Davis

Lead Preschool Teacher

Megan grew up exploring the swamps of southern Louisiana before moving to Mobile with her family in 2003. She attended the University of South Alabama and received degrees in Philosophy and Elementary Education, leading to a career teaching kindergarten and pre-k in the Mobile County Public School System. She later earned a Master's degree in Elementary Education from Auburn University. After ten years in MCPSS and having three children of her own, Megan recognized the innate need for children to be in the natural environment and began seeking a school aligned with that need. She loves guiding the natural wonder of children to the development of deep learning that comes from authentic exploration of the natural world.


Susan Desmond

Lead Preschool Teacher

Susan was born on the Texas coast and raised across the southeast, living in the mountains of North and Central Alabama for most of her youth and adult life. She attended the University of Montevallo outside of Birmingham and received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and English. After the birth of her two boys and a career change, she earned a Montessori Teaching Credential, spending 13 years as a Montessori guide in Alabama’s first private, LEED rated PreK-8 Green School in North Shelby County. As a child, family camping trips were the way to explore the world, and after having children of her own, hiking the areas around Birmingham with her husband and two boys became a great way to get back to nature. Moving to Fairhope has opened up a whole world of new exploration into the biodiversity that is on the Gulf Coast, and she is excited to explore and learn about her new home. She strongly believes in environmental stewardship and is committed to helping the next generation learn how to care for our planet. She firmly believes in Dr. Maria Montessori's words-“A child needs to live naturally and not simply have a knowledge of nature.”


Amy Smith

Homeschool Teacher

Amy grew up on a series of parks near Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans and spent her childhood playing outside with her four siblings and neighborhood friends. She remembers that when the grass was freshly mowed, they built farms with the “hay”; when storms blew down palm branches, they constructed huts with the limbs; when heavy rain flowed, they splashed in makeshift swamps. Then and now Amy loves being outside, whether it's running, biking, boating, hiking, or just watching her three children play in the yard. Until a few years ago, Amy and her husband were raising their children on these same parks when they received an opportunity to move to Germany. Filled with excitement for this new adventure, they set out at a rapid pace to explore as much as they could. After the first six months, they had visited six different countries! While life in Europe was exciting, they hoped to eventually settle in Fairhope to enjoy everything that the Gulf Coast offers. They received the opportunity in January, 2019, and have enjoyed getting to know this beautiful area of gullies, creeks, rivers, and bay. 

Amy has a B.A. in communications/journalism and an M.F.A. in creative writing. Throughout her career, she has written for a variety of publications, including Mobile Bay Monthly. She also worked for eight years as a public relations coordinator and volunteered as a Girl Scout leader for four years. Now settled in Fairhope, Amy is excited to be a part of the Nature Connect team. Her three children have all come home happy, dirty, and full of excitement after their days in Nature Connect programs!


Andrea Herring

Homeschool Teacher

Andrea finds beauty, peace, and joy in the outdoors and experiences its positive effects on her and her children. She grew up spending her summers on a lake in NY enjoying water sports and nature. She has been fortunate to live in several different coastal communities in her travels as a military spouse. Each community has unique experiences from the sugary sands of the Gulf Coast to the overwhelming mountains and sights of whales breaching in Alaska. Whenever possible, she tries to visit national and state parks to pass along the experience of adventure and outdoors to her 3 daughters. Andrea’s curiosity and fondness of science led her to get a BS in Biology. Working with children is both a rewarding and continuous learning opportunity for her. She has volunteered in her children’s classes, assisted and enriched her children’s virtual school experience and worked as a preschool aide and teacher. She is excited to be a part of the Nature Connect team to inspire the leaders and explorers of tomorrow!


Meet Our Staff


Samantha Frey

Preschool Teacher

Samantha grew up in south Florida, where she spent every moment she could exploring the swamps, forests, and beaches near her home. When she was eleven years old, her family bought a house on Lake Logan Martin in Pell City, Alabama. Samantha enjoyed spending all her time on the water - boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking. She helped homeschool her younger siblings, which led her to become a preschool teacher. She is very excited about her new adventure teaching at Nature Connect. Samantha loves to garden and raise chickens.


Alicia Beauvais

Preschool Teacher

Alicia grew up in western Massachusetts, where she loved camping, horseback riding, and stargazing at night. Her husband’s job moved them to Alabama two years ago, and they and their two kids love exploring the state parks, playing at the beaches, and learning about all the plants and critters that call this area home. She has a degree in nursing, with most of her experience spent in pediatric home care, tending to patients one-on-one at home and school. Working in a school setting piqued her interest in education, and she is so excited to learn and explore alongside all the children who attend Nature Connect.


Marsha Chinal 

Preschool Teacher

Marsha was born in Louisiana. She grew up with a pasture and a pond, so nature was a daily enjoyment. She loved riding horses, fishing, observing wildlife, watching meteor showers, gathering rocks, and digging for fossils. This led to pursuing a degree in Biology/Biological Science at Louisiana Tech University. Shortly after college, she married and lived in Monroe, Louisiana, where she accepted an opportunity to teach kindergarten for one of the 4 prestigious Little Red Schoolhouse locations. Although she had not planned a career in education, she realized her passion for working with children. Since that first kindergarten class, she has taught at Classic Montessori School, Incarnation Parochial School, and Dallas Public School. She studied Montessori Education at the University of Plano and was observed by St.Nicholas of England. In addition to schools, she wrote, produced, and directed for White Rock Children’s Theater (Dallas, Texas) in 1992. She began a dream come true positive for a museum recently enlarged and renamed, Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas. This opens an opportunity to study all sciences with specialists in their fields and teach in-house and outreach classes of all sciences, from paleontology to dissecting hearts. This piqued her interest in all of the biomes of Texas, so she became a master naturalist. When she had the pleasure of meeting Brinkley, she couldn’t wait to be a part of Nature Connect. She grew up learning by exploring and discovering nature and believes that every child will flourish and reach their potential by being allowed to observe and investigate nature freely.


Kim Noblitt

Extended Day Teacher

Kim is originally from Gadsden, Alabama, where she grew up exploring the creeks and canyon of Noccolula Falls on Noccolula Mountain. Her adventurous and curious nature led her to Auburn University, where she earned her BS in Environmental Science. She homeschooled her three now-grown children when they were younger, which is how she realized kids learn best through play and exploration. She is excited to join the Nature Connect family and learn with the children!

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