Our Educators

We work together to create a positive and beneficial experience for all of our students.


Lauren Reynolds

Director of Education

An Atlanta native, Lauren has grown up playing and exploring the rivers and woods of Georgia. As a teen, she worked at High Meadows Camp in Roswell where she fell in love with gardening, exploring, and learning with children in the outdoors.

She took that passion and graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Outdoor Experiential Education in 2011. During which, she was a back country instructor for high school students and was an active member of several leadership teams for camps and outdoor education programs in Georgia, North Carolina, and New Zealand.

Lauren also learned how to incorporate environmental education into daily classroom learning and after school programming during her 6 years of teaching k-4th grades in Asheville, NC and in Atlanta. She returned to her first love of teaching in the outdoors when she joined the team at Blue Heron in September of 2016. When she's not teaching, Lauren loves reading, watching movies and going backpacking with her husband, Ben.

laurenr@bhnp.org  |  404.946.6394, ext. 1


Nicole Thurston

Director of Education

Nicole Thurston is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, where she spent most of her childhood playing outside. She received her B.A. Hons. in Anthropology from Saint Mary’s University, in Halifax. Her focus was archaeology, and she spent 6 years traveling the United States and Canada doing archaeological fieldwork. She received her masters degree in Museum Education from the University of Leicester, England in 2004.  

After spending a few years at home raising two curious minds, she returned to work as a lead teacher at a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool before training further as a naturalist. She is a GA Master Naturalist, a Southern Appalachian Naturalist, as well as a Certified Interpretive Guide.

Nicole is very passionate about environmental education through emergent curriculum and is happy to be part of the Blue Heron team. When not spreading her joy for all things outdoors, Nicole can usually be found hiking and camping with her family, or putting on her sneakers to go for a run.

nicolet@bhnp.org | 404.946.6394, ext. 1


Linda Reed

Environmental Educator 

Linda began her Environmental Education career when her daughters were in elementary school. They grew up loving the outdoors through hiking, camping and horseback riding. Linda grew up needing to be outdoors, in any weather.

Her earliest memories as a child are of being outdoors discovering plants and animals, and climbing trees. Linda enjoyed the freedom of riding her horse in the woods, and in the woodlands near the Chattahoochee River. Being a native Atlantan, she has seen the changes that come with city growth, and the shrinking natural areas around the city.

A graduate of Berry College with a BS in Animal Sciences, with emphasis on Biology and Chemistry, Linda had plenty of opportunities to be outside. She had the opportunity to study at the Gulf Coast Research Lab, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. She continues her training with the DNR, particularly with the Outdoor Wildlife Leadership School, in which they study Georgia ecosystems in the field, and is certified in many programs through the DNR and Forestry Commission. Linda began writing grants and teaching outdoors in the early 90’s, when she realized that fewer and fewer children were having ample quality time outdoors in Nature, and has taught through several Environmental centers around the city, including a wonderful summer along the Atlanta Beltline Arboretum, with Trees Atlanta.

Linda's love and respect for the outdoors, and learning how to protect and respect wild areas, reaches into her teaching. Whether adults or children, she see the benefits of time in Nature, and strives to share with Girl and Boy Scouts, Campers, Students and other explorers. In particular, teaching in and around the city has shown her that city people sure do love being outside! Please come join her at the Preserve!

lindar@bhnp.org | (770) 557-9972


Christy Baker Knight

Environmental Educator & Art Program Partner

As an Environmental Educator and Art Program Partner at Blue Heron since 2015, Christy has been part of a dynamic period of growth and worked as a Lead Instructor and Alternate Camp Director overseeing three program levels. A Georgia business owner at fieldandstudio.com since 1996, she founded a Sandy Springs Fine Art School in 2008 as a parent who wanted to make a difference in her community by offering quality fine art and nature programs, Paint Box Mystery Classes and Camps. Year round, Christy instructs a wide audience of all ages and abilities in drawing and painting techniques of natural history subjects.

Christy earned a B.A. with Distinction in Art from the Colorado College and worked as an Exhibit Designer for Fernbank Museum of Natural History, launching the Museum from the Science Center with a team of accomplished artists, scientists and educators. She has created illustrations and product design for clients such as Chronicle Books, The Nature Conservancy, and the Humboldt Field Research Institute, and been awarded commissions to produce murals for public libraries and private residences in Georgia while exhibiting and selling her botanical paintings nationally.

A life-long writer, Christy pens award-winning environmental fiction as @talkingflowers on Wattpad and as a featured writer for Chastain’s Around the Park magazine with “The Outside Art Table”, written for children. She enjoys going on outdoor adventures with her family and running on the river trails with a rescue dog who rescued her back.

christyk@bhnp.org |  (404) 217-2021


Sam Rafferty

Environmental Educator 

Sam Rafferty is a Georgia native who graduated from the University of Georgia in 2012 with a B.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies. After graduation, she worked as an environmental educator at Wahsega 4-H Center, in addition to working as a dance instructor and performer.

Sam’s passion for environmental education led her back to UGA, where, in 2016, she received a Master of Natural Resources degree. During her graduate studies, Sam created a program for the Metro-Atlanta Boys and Girls Clubs that used dance and creative movement to teach ecological concepts to elementary school students and was fortunate enough to present this curriculum at the National Dance Education Organization Conference in 2015.

Sam continues to balance her love of movement with her passion for the outdoors. She teaches Pilates in the Atlanta area and enjoys spending time outside with her husband and son. Sam is excited to be a part of the Blue Heron team, and enthusiastic about sharing the experience of nature with others.



Elizabeth Hornor

Born and raised in Ohio, Elizabeth has always been pulled between two passion: a love for nature and a love for dance. She spent her childhood hiking, rock climbing, and playing outside until the street lights came on.

She received her B.A. in Dance Education in 2005. While working in her bachelors degree, Elizabeth interned with a modern dance company and developed a love for teaching children. After graduating she taught dance for three years before moving to the Metro Atlanta area.

After staying at home for a few years to raise her two children Elizabeth moved into the education field and became a Kindergarten teacher aide and eventually a Pre-K teacher. Using dance as a way to get kids moving in the classroom Elizabeth wanted to do more to get them outdoors.

She participated in a Forest Kindergarten workshop and was a Fellow for the Blue Herons Fellowship in 2018, after learning and understanding how to incorporate nature into the classroom she continues to come back and work at Blue Heron camps to continue learning from the campers and staff.


Megan Clark

Environmental Educator 

Megan is a summer camp counselor and educator during the school year at Blue Heron. She started working at the Preserve in 2018, but has been involved in environmental education since I graduating from Auburn University in 2010. Her degree is in zoology, making animals her most favorite thing about nature.

She has worked in Atlanta, Georgia and in Reno, Nevada. In 2017, she lived in South Korea for a year teaching English. Connecting kids to nature is her passion.

When she is not outside, she enjoys playing volleyball, reading books, and exploring new places in the city with her friends.


Lindsey Avers

Environmental Educator

Lindsey loves to experience the wonders of nature. When she’s in nature, she likes to look at the wildflowers, listen to the birds, and splash in water.

Lindsey’s background is in outdoor education and horticulture. She is grateful to help kids foster their magical connection with nature.

Outside of camp, she tend to her garden, goes on hikes, and learns about wild plants.