Meet Our Team

Cache Valley Forest School truly has the "dream team".  Our mentors come together with a variety of backgrounds and together we create a well-rounded diverse group of mentors.  Between us we have have experience as credentialed teachers, wilderness guides, science nerds, outdoor enthusiasts, homeschooling graduates, homeschooling parents, recreational managers, program developers and more!  All mentors have extensive experience working with children in the outdoors and have completed CPR/First Aid training.  All mentors strive to emulate the behaviors, actions, and words of high moral individuals and to be an example to the children in our influence.

Christina McDowell

Program Director

Hi, I'm Christina, the owner and director of Cache Valley Forest School. I was born with an innate love for nature and a reverence for all living things.  To be honest, I was raised as a city girl, but something inside me always led me to earth’s creations and I longed to learn about the wild!

While home educating my older children, a passion was lit inside of me and I knew my life's calling was to teach. I returned to school and received a BA in Educational Studies, where I was licensed as a secondary STEM teacher and extensively trained in Project Based Education.

While I have had the opportunity to work in various roles at a variety of charter schools over the years, my out of the box thinking left me wanting more!  My love of herbs, animals, and the natural processes of the world, combined with my knowledge of the value of place-based education led me to create the space and school that I wanted most for my own child. 

And so I put my heart and soul into the development and creation of Cache Valley Forest School-- a place where all are welcome and a place where even the city kids (like me) can reconnect with their primitive roots.

In my free time, I love learning, soaking in mountain hot springs, mountain biking, visiting the beach, spending time outdoors with my family, and sitting around a campfire.

Rachel Cox

Wilderness & Science Mentor

Hello, I'm Rachel. I love rainy days, trying new foods, and picking up rocks. I'm a mother, professional educator, and avid adventurer. 

I completed my undergraduate studies at Utah State, leading to elementary teaching licensure, and have taught in public, charter, and private schools, including my own outdoor preschool, for over 6 years. 

I have an M.Ed. in Advanced Teaching from University of the People. This program allowed me to explore many different philosophies of education and led me to adjust my teaching in a way that better centers around the child and subsequently also supports my experience as a life-long learner with my students. 

I am a proponent of teaching in ways that support the whole-child, including having hands-on real-life projects, opportunities for play, and rich experiences outdoors. I'm passionate about creating learning environments where students learn to value themselves, love learning, and have the social and emotional skills to thrive in any environment. 

I'm also a certified yoga teacher and will soon complete my certification as a Wilderness First Responder. 

Alex Ristorcelli

Wilderness & Science Mentor

Hello, my name is Alex and I was homeschooled! This has become a defining characteristic that I introduce myself with because I am so proud of my background. 

I grew up outside of Lake Tahoe, NV where my mom, a geologist, homeschooled me.  School days often consisted of skiing to learn about physics or visits to Mono Lake, CA to learn about the geology of the area.

I have a bachelor's degree in Outdoor Leadership and Resort Management from Western State Colorado University.  I have worked in the outdoor industry for my entire career.

I have been a summer camp counselor, raft guide, ski instructor, corporate facilitator, challenge course manager, and most recently, the program director of the local adaptive recreation organization. 

One thing I have really enjoyed is working in the outdoor industry with people with disabilities. Working with people of all abilities has allowed me to see the strength in every individual and to be able to foster those skills.

These days, I am a stay at home dad to my two beautiful kids, and I am so excited to be part of the Cache Valley Forest School.

Christina McDowell, CVFS Program Director

Welcome Letter

Hi, I'm Christina and I am excited to launch the Cache Valley Forest School!  I'm a passionate educator who has been working with the homeschool community for nearly 10 years!

As a licensed professional educator I promote methods that nurture the whole child. I believe in the importance of play for all ages, while also maintaining age appropriate academic rigor.  I also promote the teaching of authentic real life skills that will be used outside of the classroom.

I am an experienced science educator and I have an extensive background in program development, curriculum writing, and project based learning.  I have also had the joy of homeschooling my children!

My professional and personal background has afforded me the opportunity to explore many different philosophies such as Montessori, Place Based Learning, Expeditionary Learning, Waldorf, and Charlotte Mason.  

It is my hope to build the Cache Valley Forest School into something that will be of value to the community by providing rich nature based programs to the homeschool community.


Christina McDowell