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About Forest Friends


Laura Johnson

Program director and lead teacher

Hi! I'm Laura. I'm passionate about helping people connect with nature, with one another, and with their Creator. It's been a lifelong journey and passion of mine, and I hope you'll join me along the way!

At 16 years old, I worked at a school-year outdoor education center and loved every minute of holding snakes and leading hikes. I then pursued a degree in Forestry at Virginia Tech, reveling in the fact that I could study tree i.d. while out on my mountain bike! I loved nerdy stuff like maps and spatial analysis and followed up with my Masters' work.  I taught at the collegiate level for several years, wrote 4-H materials, and taught other teachers.

Along the way, I became a proud mom to three amazing and very different kids. When our middle kiddo starting having difficulty as an infant, I found that stepping outside - even in the dead of night - was one way to help soothe him. We then entered the world of parenting someone with autism. Nature and outdoor time has been the most effective tool I've found for calming, re-centering, and helping everyone in our family connect with our loving Creator God.

Through experiences with my adult students, my own family, and seeing first-hand the huge need for quality early childhood programs, the vision for Forest Friends school began several years ago. I pursued that vision through volunteer work and pilot programs in the community.


In August 2020, we had the opportunity to move just outside of town and tend some land. We made this move so that Forest Friends could have its first official "home"! We got busy cutting trails, finishing off a classroom, digging up a garden, bringing in animals, building a forest playground, and (whew!) opened Coeur d'Alene's first nature preschool in Fall of 2021. 

My entire family is behind this effort to share what we love and what we've learned with your family, and our community. I hope you will join me!


  • M.S. in Forestry

  • Certificate in Montessori Primary (age 3-6)

  • Over 20 years of Outdoor and Environmental Education experience

  • Pediatric First Aid & CPR certified

  • Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certified

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