The Venture Team

Jenny and Zoe met seven years ago in the woods and soon found that they shared a passion for natural education and parenting. Almost two years later they agreed to lead the local preschool together which was on the brink of closure after an unsuccessful Ofsted inspection. Within a few months, Jenny and Zoe transformed the preschool and gained a ‘good’ Ofsted report. Their practice has been increasingly influenced by the approach to education seen in Scandinavian outdoor nurseries and kindergartens and they have seen first hand the benefits to children of spending their days learning autonomously outdoors, leading them to establish the South Hams’ first fully outdoor kindergarten.

Zoe Purkis

Founder of Venture Outdoor Kindergarten

BEd (Hons) Primary Teaching
BTec Level 3 Forest School Leader
Paediatric First Aid Qualified
Safeguarding Level 2 Qualified

Zoe has worked as a primary school teacher, pre-school leader and as a home educating parent to her own five children. She is passionate about getting children outdoors believing that this is the key to a happy, healthy and fulfilled childhood. Zoe has spent many years studying how children learn and is an enthusiastic advocate of autonomous education. She loves exploring with her family and their dogs and is a member of several local singing and amateur dramatic groups.

Jenny Papenfus

Founder of Venture Outdoor Kindergarten

Ba (Hons) Communication Studies and Theatre
Level 3 Childcare and Development
BTec Level 3 Forest School Leader
Paediatric First Aid Qualified
Safeguarding Level 3  & Special Educational Needs.

After studying for her degree at University in London, Jenny moved to the West Country and for the past 10 years has worked in schools and pre-schools. Jenny loves to follow a child’s interests and is a natural at understanding and nurturing children’s emotional well-being. In her spare time Jenny likes to run, wild swim and spend time with her family at the beach or roaming the countryside.

Megan Heathman

Lead Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

BA (Hons) Children's Physical Education
PGCE Primary with Early Years specialism
Safeguarding Level 3
Paediatric First Aid Qualified

After completing her PGCE, Megan worked as an Early Years teacher in a small primary school. She grew up in Devon, spending her childhood on the beach and exploring the countryside. Megan truly believes that children become inquisitive, independent and resilient learners when they are given the freedom to lead their own learning in an outdoor environment that nurtures their innate curiosities. She is passionate about nurturing children as they develop and supporting their emotional well-being. In her own time Megan loves to explore the coast and spends her time camping and paddle boarding.

Cathryn Burner

Home Education Lead Outdoor Practitioner

BEd Primary School Education
Paediatric First Aid Qualified
Safeguarding Level 3
Yoga Teacher Training Foundation Course

Cathryn has taught in several primary schools during her career; abroad and most recently at a very popular local school that prides itself on offering a broad and balanced curriculum. During her time as a teacher and since becoming a mother back in 2013, she has increasingly realised how beneficial learning outdoors and at an individual’s own pace, can be. Cathryn believes that children should be given the space, time and guidance to develop at their own speed and uses Mother Nature to inspire and enrich children’s learning experiences. She has practiced Yoga for the past 12 years and nears the end of her training course when she plans to incorporate the key elements of Yoga (not just physical) into her teaching practice. She has recently decided to home school both her 7 and 5 year old and is very excited at the thought of following their interests and curious minds to aid the learning process. When she is not teaching, you can find Cathryn on her flower patch, in the garden growing veg, or down at the beach with her family who are all learning to surf!

Vienna Dodman

Deputy Lead Practitioner

BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies QTS
BTec Level 3 Forest School Leader
Paediatric First Aid Qualified

Vienna has worked as a Primary School Teacher for eleven years. She is dedicated to ensuring that each individual child reaches their full potential and has a keen interest in and knowledge of supporting children with special educational needs. After having her own children, Vienna extended her training to working with children in the outdoors, leading Forest School sessions in local schools, and has loved every minute of it! Vienna enjoys outdoor adventures with her family and running in her spare time. Her two children have both been fortunate enough to attend Venture Outdoor Kindergarten, which is what originally inspired her to join the team.

Natalie Fenwick

Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

PGDip Early Years with Initial Teacher Training (awaiting)
BA (Hons) Dance
FD Photography
Safeguarding Level 2

Natalie made the move to early years after returning from travelling with her family in Scandinavia. The time away sparked a lifestyle change that enabled more family time and included aspects of Scandinavian culture, most significantly embracing the outdoors, whatever the weather! Natalie has worked in primary, secondary and tertiary education and is very excited to now be working within the early years and embracing the child-led ethos of Venture. A self confessed learning addict Natalie is always taking on new challenges and lately loves growing vegetables and flowers, keeping chickens, and sewing clothes. In her free time Natalie enjoys walking with friends, playing on the beach with her family, rowing to Salcombe for croissants, sharing home made, wood-fired pizzas in the back garden and snuggling up by the fire with a good book.

Jessica Willow

Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

BA (Hons) Early Years Education with QTS

Jess trained as an Early Years Specialist Teacher in Bristol. Since graduating in 2010 she has taught in a number of different schools across the UK. Having grown up in West Devon, Jess spent her own childhood climbing trees, building dens, whittling sticks and romping around on Dartmoor. These experiences have transferred into her career where she has always sought roles within schools which offer forest school or outdoor learning. Jess is passionate about letting children play spontaneously and following their interests to guide their learning and understanding. At home, Jess loves nothing more than splashing in muddy puddles and making mud pies in the garden with her own two children; one of whom attends Venture Outdoor Kindergarten too.

Chris Latham

Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

Level 3 Diploma Early Learning and Childcare (In progress)
Foundation Degree in Photography
Emergency First Aid

Chris has lived in Devon for over 20 years after moving down from Shropshire to study photography. Having fallen in love with the wilds of Dartmoor and the rugged coastlines, Chris has planted his roots and made a family with his wife Emma and their daughter Tilly. Chris has a background in health care, most recently with young people with Autism, complex health needs and learning disabilities. this has given him an understanding in slowing down and allowing people to process the world in a way which may not be obvious to others. Chris believes in the Venture ethos of ownership, confidence and independence, allowing children to learn from their failures and triumph in their successes. When he is not at work, Chris loves to be on his mountain bike, bivvying on Dartmoor or walking through the woods with his family.

Gabrielle Sumner

Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

Level 3 Diploma Early Learning and Childcare
Level 3 Forest School Leader
Level 3 Award for Home Based Childcare

Paediatric First Aid Qualified

Gabrielle has a wealth of experience working with children in a variety of roles across nurseries, primary schools and charities both in the UK and overseas. She has also been a registered childminder and has run her own children’s entertainment business. Most recently she’s been working in an outdoor nursery in Bristol where she helped establish and lead the provision for younger children. She’s a firm believer in the importance of play and giving children the freedom to express themselves as individual learners. Gabrielle has recently relocated to Devon from Bristol, she can’t wait to explore the beautiful local area with her family and their pet dog.

Charlotte Meads

Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma Early Years Educator

Charlotte has been passionate about early years education since becoming a mother in 2011. She fell in love with Germany’s outdoor preschools while traveling and was inspired to dedicate her career to promoting the same here in the South Hams. She recently worked at a popular local pre-school where she built an allotment and implemented a recycling scheme. Charlotte believes childhood should be wild, magical and empowering! Her spare time is spent writing fairy tales for her own children or exploring forests and rugged coast paths with her dog. She plans to develop her professional skills by becoming an accredited Forest Bathing Guide which is a practice she feels deeply connected to and influences her work.

Laura Kirkland

Outdoor Early Years Practitioner

Level 3 Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling
Level 3 Counselling Studies

Laura has worked with children since she was 16, both as a nanny and in school environments. She is passionate about helping children develop their own sense of responsibility and enabling them to explore the outdoors. Laura loves seeing children develop at their own pace and in their own style in natural environments - discovering the person they are and can be. She is rarely far from her four legged friend Midge, who often makes an appearance at Venture. Laura loves camping, sea swimming and pretty much anything to do with the outdoors.