GROWE Outdoor Education & Resource Staff

Meet the founder of Grand River Outdoor Wilderness Education (GROWE)... Tara Carpenter... along with interpretive program guides that make up the GROWE staff.



Tara Carpenter has had a love of nature and the outdoors from an early age, thanks to growing up on a Norfolk County farm and regularly engaging in wilderness camping trips with her family as a child.

Travelling many parts of the world for 17 years expanded Tara’s knowledge of the natural world and her love for this earth, we call home.

The most memorable experience of her travels was being a deckhand on a sailing ship exploring the Great Barrier Reef in Australia for 6 years.

Now being a mother to a very active, creative, and outdoor loving 7 year old, has inspired Tara to encourage other parents and their families to get outdoors.

She is a recent graduate of the Adventure Expeditions and Interpretive Leadership Diploma program at Fanshawe College, Simcoe Campus (video). During this time she received honors and multiple awards showcasing her leadership achievements and passion for environmental stewardship.

She also sits on the Board of Directors of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation. Tara holds certificates in: Wilderness First Responder, Team Building, Cross Country Skiing, Working on Ice, Introduction to Ice Rescue, Health and Safety, and Whitewater Rescue Technician. Being currently employed with Grand River Rafting as a supervisor, where hiking and river-guiding keeps her in the great outdoors. 

“My dream with GROWE is to instill in others the love, passion and respect I possess for nature. I believe that the benefits of engaging our youth in the great outdoors are immeasurable. I hope to inspire both children and their families to engage regularly in the natural world.”




Jessica McGregor has had a special connection to nature since she was born, having a particular passion for animals and water.

Jessica has been canoeing since she was 2 years old, and kayaking from the age of 9. As a child, she spent most of her summers in Algonquin Park bonding with her family and the environment. Jessica attributes most of her passion for environmental education to Algonquin Park.

She has graduated from the Adventure Expedition and Interpretive Leadership course at Fanshawe College (video). During this time Jessica learned business management, proposal writing, plant and tree identification, animal identification, environmental sustainability, advocacy & leadership, basic environmental law and program development. She is certified in Wilderness First Aid and ORCKA basic level 4. Jessica also received The Long Point Eco-Adventures Leadership Award.

Since finishing the Adventure Expedition and Interpretive Leadership program, Jessica has obtained certifications for Wild Edibles and Medicinal Plants, Plant and Tree Identification, Team Building Certification and Introduction to Beekeeping. Jessica has also completed the Safe Hiker Program and is a Certified Hike Leader.

Jessica has a passion for the outdoors and through GROWE wants others to see the beauty and peacefulness it can bring to our lives. Jessica strives to show others the importance of the environment, the creatures within it and how we are all connected. 



 Meet Vanessa...

Vanessa Stewart is a beekeeper and outdoor guide, who has led hiking, biking and paddling in Muskoka, Algonquin Park, the Grand River and Norfolk County.
She is the owner of Vanessa’s Bees a beekeeping business that provides interpretive hive tours introducing the unique behaviours of honey bees with hands-on beekeeping experience.
She promotes the conservation of all pollinating species through planting native gardens, raising monarchs and bees, and teaching others of their importance.



Jen has a passion for the outdoors and a love for all it has to offer. Jen has found her peace and connection with nature and loves to share these experiences with others through hiking, paddling, and camping. There is a therapeutic component to being surrounded by wilderness and such a blissful feeling listening to the world around you…. Or even in appreciating its silence. Jen thrives on allowing others to experience this state of pure leisure. 

Jen is bringing a background in Social Service Work and Recreation and Leisure Services. She has always had a passion for working with people and making a difference wherever she can. Whether through leadership, program planning/evaluation, education, or facilitation. She has done work with various organizations including Grand River Rafting Company, Nova Vita, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Tim Horton’s Camp, and House of Friendship. Jen has also done community development work abroad. Jen brings with her High Five Certification for healthy childhood development, HCP First Aid Certification, and Mental Health First Aid. 

There is so much we can learn from the world around us and it is important to give back to nature to preserve its gifts for years to come. In a time when technology is such a critical part of everyday life, Jen values and encourages taking time to break away from our devices and truly appreciate what is right outside our doors. 


GROWE Cancellation Policy: 

Full Payment Required upon booking. 

Groups of 15 or more need to pay 30% deposit  

Trips cancelled more than one week prior to event will receive a 70% refund. 

Trips cancelling less than one week will lose 50% of payment. 

Trips cancelled less than 24 hours in advance will receive no refund. 

Trips cancelled by Grand River Outdoor Wilderness Education due to weather can be rescheduled or fully refunded.


Risk Management: 

Our guides are highly trained, skilled and experienced in leading clients in the outdoors with the completion of many pertinent diplomas, certificates, training, and awards. 

  • We must stay together as a group as much as possible but if you are to ever go off anywhere by yourself we will have a buddy system that children will always follow.
  • No child is to go anywhere by themselves. Always leave space between you and the person in front of you when hiking in the bush.
  • Be aware of ticks and protect yourself by tucking your socks into your pants, checking your pant legs on a regular bases, and stay on the trails.
  • Poison Ivy is a three leaved plant that can cause severe reactions in some people. Stay clear of any three leaved plants by staying on the trails. Never pick any fauna without the guide’s instructions.
  • Allergies, asthma and all other medical conditions will be discussed and medications organized.
  • Always stay hydrated by drinking lots of water no matter what the weather conditions.
  • Always be aware of tripping hazards such as rock, sticks, logs, and slippery conditions on and off the trails.  



Always dress for the weather conditions.  

Dressing in layers is always a good idea since you can always take layers off along the way.  

Winter can be cold and damp so we recommend wearing: 

Undershirt, sweater, wool socks, snow pants, long underwear, scarf, buff, balaclava, toque, mitten/gloves, winter boots, and down filled winter coat/parka, waterproof outer shell.



Water, extra dry warm clothing, flashlight


For inquiries and reservations please email GROWE at

The GROWE Program is located in the Grand River Valley at the Five Oaks Centre located south of Paris, Ontario (locate on Google Map)... within a 1 hour driving radius from Toronto, London & Guelph.