Founder and Program Guide
Combining her passion for scientific understanding of the natural world with the emotional draw that brings us to the forest, Katie launched In Your Element to help people rediscover a sense of belonging in wild nature settings, reduce technology induced stress and anxiety, and better understand the human connection to nature. Whether you’re interested in launching an inclusive & unique Workplace Wellness program or you’d like expand your personal wellness practice by attending one of our community classes or special workshops & wellness events, Katie will be your guide.
Katie is an avid world traveler and has explored nature across five continents, from the Sahara Desert of Africa to the Amazon Rainforest of South America. She began her career as an engineer and environmental specialist, working for over eight years in the realm of environmental protection, while also expanding her experience as a yoga teacher, a forager and lover of wild foods, and a backcountry hiker. Combining all that she has learned in her travels, professional experience and education, Katie believes that there is an entry point for everyone to connect with the world of wellness that waits in nature – her mission is to hold open the door!
- Certified Forest Therapy Guide, trained by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.
- 200-hr Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), trained with an emphasis on therapeutic yoga with Soma Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. Katie has five years of teaching experience & a dedicated personal practice of 13 years and counting.
- Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering, specializing in water resources from Michigan State University.
- Trained in Wilderness First Aid Basics and First Aid/CPR.
- Lead instructor in sustainability, nature, and wild plants through the Boy Scouts of America at Adventure Point in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
- Katie has served on the Board of Directors for the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum & the Michigan Recycling Coalition.
Program Assistant & Co-Guide
Luke Venechuk is an avid hiker & outdoor enthusiast. He is a Certified Wild Mushroom Identification Expert with the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, and is also certified in Wilderness First Aid (WFA) with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Along with Katie, he has traveled back country in Patagonian Chile and Argentina, throughout the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States and more.
Luke holds a strong passion for time spent in nature and enjoys reading about the great naturalists and adventurers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Luke assists in our programs in a variety of ways; you may spot him enthusiastically teaching about wild mushrooms during one of our foraging and wild tending classes, brewing tea at one of our Forest Therapy Walks, or waiting at the trailhead to guide you to class if you’re running late. Luke is also a helpful hand in the case of a first aid emergency in the forest.
When asked if there was anything else he’d like to share about his love of nature, Luke offered up his favorite quote:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” ― John Muir, The Mountains of California