The Team | High Desert Center
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Meet the crew

Inspiring growth and possibility through quality mentorship.


Dev Carey


Dev loves adventure and the kind of learning that changes who we are and how we see the world. Dev earned a Ph.D. in ecology and later discovered that while chasing butterflies made him happy, education made him passionate. He’s been sharing adventures with young people ever since.  In the late 90’s he became an advocate for students and families learning outside of the classroom, and started The Vision Program, which utilizes public funds to support over 600 students in learning however and wherever they want while still earning a diploma. Dev has worked for Sterling College, with inner city youth as a VISTA Volunteer, as a counselor at Not Back to School Camp, and as a river guide. He is most fulfilled when working outside of traditional classrooms, mentoring students to figure out how to lead a life full of meaningful, wonderful moments.

Marian Pierce


Marian loves supporting young adults discover their strengths and passions. She believes that interacting with unfamiliar situations leads to a better understanding of the world we live in as well as ourselves. Marian has been recognized with a merit award for her work as a guerrilla gardener in Chicago and received a teaching fellowship from the National Endowment for Humanities in 2015. She is Wilderness First Responder Certified and has a background in web design. Some of her adventures include running a produce company, living in a tipi for several years, installing a photovoltaic system in India, and apprenticing as a home birth midwife. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Colorado College and enjoys growing greens, making pesto, skiing, and mountain biking. She loves that her work at the High Desert Center brings together her passions for sustainability, food, outdoor adventure, travel, and community.

Clayton Clemetson


Clayton was raised in the treetops behind his family’s homestead in Belfast, Maine. Leading an alternative education path as a homeschooler, he believes in the value of self-directed learning, in the importance of community, and that education should empower individuals to live healthy lives in support of each other and the natural world. He first began adventuring on a semester program in Ecuador with Kroka Expeditions and became hooked on high altitude mountaineering, trekking, cycle touring, caving, and climbing. A professional contra dance pianist and singer of international polyphony, Clayton has taught music camps in New England and Ireland, and has traveled through a dozen countries studying, performing, and teaching traditional folk music. He graduated from Marlboro college with a self-designed degree in Holistic Education.


Lainey Bein


Lainey started unschooling at the age of 10, diving into music and quickly becoming a multi-instrumentalist. Her love of music enables her to connect deeply with the world around her and foster community through shared creativity. Music plus connection made partner dance intriguing and since 2016 she has traveled the USA and abroad to hone her latest passion. Lainey also enjoys all things food, especially those using sustainably sourced organic ingredients.  She’s happiest when crafting delicious local meals, working with young people, doing yoga, eating cheese, and discussing LGBTQA topics.Past programs: Gap Year Participant 2016-17, Writing Retreat 2018.


Milla Von Tauber


Milla’s love of jazz and blues music started young and has only grown since her discovery of blues dancing four years ago. It was love at first dance, and since she has traveled all over the country to master and teach her greatest passion. Milla is a advocate of alternative education, LGBTQ+ rights, and anti-ageism.  She is most fulfilled when co-creating intentional spaces for community, passions, and personal growth to flourish.

Past Staff

Jenna Bradford
Dance Coach

Jenna is a dancer, clown, gardener, and maker. She lives at the Lookout Arts Quarry in the Pacific Northwest, cultivating gardens, exploring the forest, organizing festivals, making hats, and diving into clown and partner dance. Jenna is interested in exploring communication, consent and relationship through partner dance and clown. Past programs: Gap Year 2016, 2017

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Julie McPherson


During college, Julie worked as a backpacking, winter, and climbing guide, where guiding students, professors, and foreign exchange students across Northern California’s wildernesses constituted a normal weekend. She often travels from the mountains to the sea, collaborating with as many passionate people from all walks of life along the way. Most recently, Julie has served as a guide, instructor, program manager, and educator in various outdoors positions. She worked on a sailboat in the Puget Sound and now she’s writing about effective communication. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder, a former CPR Instructor, and a UC Davis graduate. Past programs: Gap Year 2015, 2017

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Blake Boles

In 2003 Blake was studying astrophysics at UC Berkeley when he stumbled upon the works of John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, and other alternative education pioneers. Deeply inspired by the philosophies of unschooling, Blake custom-designed his final two years of college to study education full-time. After graduating he joined the Not Back to School Camp community and began writing and speaking widely on the subject of self-directed learning. His biggest passion is sharing his enthusiasm and experience with young adults who are blazing their own trails through life.

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Amy Eddins

Dance Coach

Aimee has grown up in a variety of communities brought together by dance. Beginning with contra dance when she was 8, she continued that journey into many other styles including swing, blues, bellydance, capoeira, fusion dance, and more. She trained as an engineer in college and worked on robotics for space, and throughout, she has found opportunities to be a mentor and coach while facilitating happier, more inclusive and connected communities and people. She has tutored, mentored robotics teams and created the Dancing Root.   She currently teaches dance, creates inclusive communities and lives in Denver, CO. Past Programs: Gap Year 2016

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Abraham McClurg

Abraham has spent his life following his heart and passions and looking to make real connections along his path. Abraham has been a photographer and installation artist, a cook, a real estate broker, and an Apple technician. Abraham is a listener and a tireless advocate wherever he sees a need for one. He has recently taught at North Star Academy in Massachusetts, and advised at Not Back To School Camp, East Tennessee Unschool Summer Camp. He is currently homesteading in Southern Vermont with a menagerie of goats, pigs, chickens, sheep, honeybees, and Rebop (the cow). Past programs: Gap Year 2014, 2016

Chris Ferrer


Chris brings enthusiasm especially in the kitchen, on the dance floor, and for all our building projects. He is a union carpenter and has managed several professional kitchens. Past programs: Gap Year Participant 2015-16.

Cori Shooter


Cori grew up homeschooling in midcoast Maine. At age 14 she left home and family to spend a year abroad in Costa Rica, where her passion for adventure and the Spanish language and culture flowered. Since then she has independently explored France, Italy, Nicaragua, Belgium, Mexico, and most recently, Spain, where she spent three months solo-hiking the Camino de Santiago, backpacking around the country, and volunteering on organic farms. When not galavanting around the world, she loves frisbee, dogs, art, singing, dancing, and playing her guitar. Past programs: Gap Year Participant 2015-16.

Rae Govette


Rae brings her experience in managing kitchens, building, and her passion for group facilitation and community living. She has travelled the country dancing and has worked aboard a sail boat. Things that are important to her are being honest, making real connections, laughing really hard, getting lost in making art, existing in the woods around trees and mountains, taking a look at the stars when they’re out, and remembering that we’re all only human. Past programs: Gap Year Participant 2013-14.