Firekeepers is a bunch of playful folks who care about people and the earth.
We’re a not-for-profit, incorporated organisation that wants to bring humans back to nature. Our goal is to repair the damage of separation and to build nature connected communities (that’s way more fun than it sounds, by the way).
This work is inspired by the 8 Shields mentoring model. Our programs support people to deepen their love for the natural world and to find their place in it.
Firekeepers is an inclusive, progressive organisation that will speak its mind, wear its heart on its sleeve and call out injustices. But mostly, we just play outside.
We’re stoked to have skilled people who love nature and have put their hand up to keep the fires burning. The Firekeepers Board has implemented a holistic management strategy to guide our work.
Michelle Kovacevic (she/her) is an experienced communicator, science enthusiast, project manager, facilitator and mum based on Bunurong Country.
Her passion for storytelling and curating playful, surprising and transformative experiences for diverse groups of people has taken her on many adventures over the past decade – she has run science shows in Melbourne, leadership programs for student climate activists in Norway, and environmental steward workshops for kids in Indonesia. She also co-founded the Youth in Landscapes Initiative – a growing global movement of 60.000 young people bringing positive change for the sustainability of their landscapes.
Michelle participated in Nature’s Apprentice and Firekeepers’ Rewild Fridays program, where she rediscovered the love for nature that she had in her childhood. She joined the Firekeepers team in 2020, to help bring this important work to Melbourne’s western suburbs. She has since joined Firekeepers’ board and is currently serving as board chairperson.Michelle holds a first class honours degree in neuroscience, a diploma in Indonesian language, as well as an advanced diploma of group facilitation. Her full portfolio can be found at www.michellekovacevic.com.
Carissa Taylor (she/her) is an early childhood educator with a focus on community and nature as foundations for children’s social and emotional wellbeing. She works in a kindergarten with 100% culturally and linguistically diverse children where she has implemented a successful bush kinder program as well as a range of other sustainability programs. She has a background in creating and offering other nature-based and sustainability-centred offerings within her community. Carissa is currently completing her final year in a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary).
Through Firekeepers Village Camps and other programs, Carissa has found a sense of community for herself and her young son. She has been inspired to enter into her own journey of deep nature connection. Since coming along to her first camp, Carissa has done training with Jon Young and the 8 Shields Institute (US) and has stepped into the role of nature connection mentor at recent village camps.
Carissa believes deeply in Firekeepers’ mission and has joined the board with a lot of enthusiasm to support the growth and sustainability of the organisation. To the role of secretary, she brings previous experience as secretary on the board of her son’s Steiner kindergarten.
Nolan Bear (he/him) grew up in Melbourne, free to roam and with annual holidays ranging over land and sea at the Cumberland River on the Otway coast. He has had a career as an engineer in financial control of major projects, followed by retirement and part time teaching at Swinburne University. A father, grandfather, and dedicated custodian of 64 hectares of covenanted bush in Victoria’s central highlands, he has been treasurer of the Firekeepers Board since February 2018. Nolan cherishes the magical and connective times he has enjoyed while participating in and mentoring at Firekeepers Village Camps over the past 4 years. His inner child loves to come out and play when adventuring in the bush with children and fellow mentors!
When not exploring, playing and tending to the land in his custodianship, Nolan spends his time contributing to the governance of Engineers Australia, studying crystals and rocks and looking at the world from above hang gliding or paragliding.
Claire Mosley (she/her) is an artist, educator, mentor and a deep lover of anything wild. She grew up and lives on Wurrundjeri country, and her love of the outdoors began when walking through secret valleys with her Grandfather.
Claire loves merging her experience of education, art and her love of outdoors to provide wild experiences for children and families. One of her biggest gifts is making art in natural places, she feels most connected when sketching the places she inhabits and sharing this with those around her.
Claire is deeply committed to Firekeepers’ mission to celebrate nature and our connection within it.
Mel Turnbull (they/she) is a wild, queer creature of earth. They are the founder and CEO of Firekeepers. Mel grew up in a large, nature-loving and rambunctious family as the eldest of five siblings in Narrm on unceded Wurrundjeri, Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung country. They have worked with people for over 25 years as a nurse, circus trainer, gymnastics coach, social justice mentor, outdoor educator, gardening instructor, queer leader. They are neurodiverse and passionate about building community and bridging connection between humans and the more-than-human world.
Mel’s work arises from the mycelial networks of 8 Shields, Possibility Management, Wollangarra, School of Lost Borders, Queer Nature, YARN Australia, Youth Passageways (US), Human (NZ), Koanga (NZ), Art of Mentoring Australia, School of Shamanic Womancraft, Bluegum Bushcraft, Nature Philosophy, Nature’s Apprentice, Jon Young, Tom Brown, Wildraft Australia, Permaculture College Australia, Nature Academy, White Awake (US) and Weaving Earth (US).
Mel is a step-parent and aunty and embodies clarity, love, community, transformation, and radiance.
Firekeepers gets its spark from enthusiastic volunteers and a thriving community that co-creates amazing activities. But we’ve also got experienced folks who make the good stuff happen by developing and delivering our programs.