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Cooper Helfet and Charles Post were both raised by families that knew the value of nature and time spent outside. Both grew up in the hills of Marin County north of San Francisco, and grew close in High School with their shared interest in the outdoors.

After Cooper played four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, which lead him to a Super Bowl Championship (XLVIII), and most recently a season with the Oakland Raiders (2016-2017), he realized the impacts nature had on his life, and was eager to find a way to create those opportunities for the underserved youth.

Meanwhile, Charles pursued a career in the sciences. After earning a Bachelor of Science and Master’s degree in Ecology from U.C. Berkeley, he went on to pursue a career communicating science through his films and storytelling.

Cooper and Charles’ passion for the outdoors, and creating opportunities for others to fall in love with nature have propagated their mission to create The Nature Project. It is a perfect blend of their two worlds. The Nature Project leans on Cooper’s community as a professional athlete, and Charles’ background in science, education and nature.


President of Board and Co-Founder

Cooper Helfet was a longtime American football player (TE #84) on the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks, a Super Bowl XLVIII Champion and 2x NFC Champion (2013-2014). Having grown up in Marin County, California with a family passionate about the outdoors, Cooper has taken it upon himself to create opportunities for underserved youth to experience the wonders of nature. Throughout his NFL career and up to today, Cooper has developed a strong connection with the outdoors, realizing that time in nature is of the utmost important for his physical, emotional and mental health. Cooper holds a Baccalaureate degree from Duke University and is now evolving into a career in Seattle’s rapidly growing tech industry.



Vice President of Board and Co-Founder

Charles Post is an ecologist and filmmaker, environmental marketing consultant, and Fellow of the Explorers Club who calls southwest Montana home. With nearly a decade of experience working as field researcher and studying at U.C. Berkeley while earning his Bachelor of Science and Master's degree in food web ecology, Charles leans on the power of storytelling to inspire ecological awareness and environmental action. As a consultant he partners with brands to to define, integrate and share their ecosystem minded purpose and story to drive growth and positive impact. Charles’ clients include YETI, REI, Patagonia, Sitka Gear, Toyota, National Geographic and Outside Magazine. Charles is an award-winning filmmaker, with recent films covering topics from bird of prey migrations, desert bighorn sheep conservation in West Texas and Hawaiian food security in the face of GMOs, to wild horse management in the Great Basin and golden eagles in Idaho’s Owyhee wilderness. He is currently working on a film that explores the role of disease in bighorn sheep declines across North America, and a conservation themed children’s book with his wife, artist, Rachel Pohl.



Director of Operations and Community Partnerships

Jane brings a wide and varied range of skills and job experiences to TNP.  She is excited to help the organization grow its community impact by creating more opportunities for teens to get outside and experience the power of nature. 


Jane co-founded Passages Northwest; a not-for profit organization dedicated to inspiring courage and leadership in girls through integrated exploration of the arts and nature. Bringing girls from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to work together and learn from each other while backpacking, kayaking and rock climbing. Recently with the goal of serving even more participants, the program merged with the YMCA of Greater Seattle. Passages NW  is now run as GOLD (Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) and is replicated nationwide in over 30 YMCA sites.


Additionally, Jane brings her skills in not-for-profit management to TNP from years directing a large NSF grant through the University of Washington. This 3 year project encouraged  first generation female high school students from rural areas across Washington State to engage in STEM programs in college. For over 15 years, Jane has shared the wonders of nature all over the globe working as a naturalist and lecturer on small expedition cruise ships. Jane has traveled to and taught about some of the world’s most diverse and unique ecosystems.

Jane has a BA degree from Colorado College and a Master’s degree in Forest Ecology from University of Washington.  Currently, she volunteers for the Seattle YMCA Camping and Outdoor Leadership Board serving on the Risk Management and Equity /Inclusion Committees.

Deion Collins


Deion Collins is a veteran of the U.S. Army where he was a public affairs mass communication specialist. He recently graduated from the University of Washington with a Master of Communication degree (digital media). He is the owner and creative director of Creators Cliff where he focuses on connecting brands to their audience through storytelling. Originally from Hawaii, he moved away to a place that did not have easy access to nature, so he knows the impact that can have on a young person. Deion's aim in creating content with The Nature Project is to help expand outdoor access for underrepresented youth. His favorite part of being outdoors is being able to hike and cool off by jumping into a body of water.


Curriculum and Evaluation Consultant

Kaleb is a lover of dogs, plants/animals and photography. He was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ and has come to Seattle by way of Philadelphia where he went  to the University of Pennsylvania to play football. Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis during college set him on his path to UW to work towards his PhD in Learning Sciences where he aims to design healing-centered learning opportunities. He also works at SESEC (Southeast Seattle Education Coalition) working on projects associated with coalition building and advocacy for policy change in education.


Currently, his projects focus on building storytelling spaces with young student-athletes to navigate situations of race, identity and racism, another project highlights the social and emotional learning of students at IslandWood and lastly a project focuses on places of belonging in community-educational spaces.



Courtney Aber is the National Director for BOLD and GOLD (Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) at the YMCA. She works to lead efforts across sectors to expand opportunities for youth to create a meaningful personal connection to the outdoors. BOLD and GOLD brings youth from numerous backgrounds together to build self-confidence, community awareness, and a sense of wonder for the natural world. In addition to running outdoor programs, she has been the Education Director for a maritime museum and worked for several years as a Learning Specialist. Courtney has been involved with outdoor programming since 1992 when she decided to take a summer “off” and lead outdoor trips before getting a real job.  Since then she has led trips on 3 continents, in 5 countries, and throughout the US. She continues to be amazed at the power of the outdoors to change lives and to bring out the best in people.



Born in Seattle and raised in Atlanta, Paul’s background is in natural resources tourism and environmental education. He returned to Seattle in his mid-20s for his graduate degree at the University of Washington. Paul is a co-founder and President of Onda Origins. Onda facilitates a social and financial transaction that allows businesses to deepen their relationships with consumers by authenticating their dedication to social and environmental best practices across remote supply chains (such as coffee). Paul also works on fundraising, strategy, and partnerships for IslandWood, a leading environmental education nonprofit headquartered on Bainbridge Island, WA. In addition to The Nature Project, Paul also serves on the board of the Washington School-Based Health Alliance. For fun, he skis, hikes, fishes, backpacks, runs, hoops, and spends time cooking, relaxing, and traveling with his fiancée Kathrin. 


Ben Klasky is the Founder and Principal of Seismic Philanthropy. He has been a social entrepreneur for 25 years, having served as the CEO of IslandWood, Net Impact, and other nonprofit organizations. Under Ben’s tenure, IslandWood was consistently honored as one of the Best Places to Work by Outside Magazine and won awards for its education programs, architecture, and efforts around diversity and inclusion. Ben has also worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help turbocharge the giving of some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, and has taught graduate courses on Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Management at the University of Washington.



Martin LeBlanc has been an active voice in the conservation movement for more than two decades. Throughout his career, he has successfully used the outdoors as a platform to empower military families and veterans, underscore the importance of science education, and close persistent opportunity gaps for culturally-diverse, at-risk youth. Martin is the Founder of LBC Action, a strategic advisory firm that helps organizations and businesses make a positive social impact through collaborative action.  He is also the former National Youth Director for the Sierra Club, the founding board member of the Children & Nature Network, and the Cofounder of the Outdoor Alliance for Kids (OAK).


Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Larry established and managed a global government relations team at Hewlett-Packard. While at HP, he served as an advisor to the company’s CEO and executive council on tax and technology policy issues in the U.S. and emerging markets. Larry received an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and graduated from Stanford University with a concentration in behavioral economics. Larry served on the corporate advisory board for the World Economic Forum and was a member of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s (SIFMA) retirement and savings committee. As a native of Bellingham, Washington, Larry has strong ties to the Pacific Northwest. Larry serves as a board member for the Seattle Symphony, Why Not You Foundation, KCTS 9, and IslandWood.


Sidney Rice is a South Carolina native, NFL Pro Bowl (2009) wide receiver and Super Bowl XLVIII champion with the Seattle Seahawks. Calling Seattle, Washington home, Sidney has become a TNP staple since he joined our advisory team in 2017. His commitment to helping TNP create opportunities for kids to connect with nature has been an invaluable factor in our ability to reach our goals as an organization. Sidney is an incredible role model, that person who's always smiling, and contributes a high level of energy and excitement to each TNP event he participates in, which helps us create unforgettable moments for everyone involved.



Lara is the Senior Executive Director with the Presidio & Point Bonita YMCAs- two branches of the YMCA of San Francisco- located in the Presidio and the Marin Headlands of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Lara leads the Nature Engagement strategy for the YMCA of SF, ensuring that thousands of youth and families have transformative outdoor experiences each year. She is passionate about partnership development and works with a number of Bay Area and national collaboratives to leverage shared goals in the outdoors. In addition to 18 years with the Y, Lara has also worked at the Nature Conservancy, the Columbia Land Conservancy, and the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and 2 boys, and loves hiking, running, and photography.


Marshawn Lynch has had one of the more storied, spectacular, and thrilling careers as a running back in the NFL in the past few decades. He was a 5x Pro-Bowler, 3x All-Pro, 2x NFC Champion, Superbowl Champion, and twice led the NFL in total touchdowns. What many fans are not aware of is that he has Co-founded a foundation out of Oakland, CA, called the Family-First Foundation. He has made a profound impact on the youth and families of his hometown. Marshawn has been aiding the underprivileged, underserved children that we are targeting for his entire career through his foundation and we are honored to have him as an advisor on our board. 




KJ Wright is a Mississippi native, and celebrated Seattle Seahawks linebacker. He is a Super Bowl Champion (XLVIII) and Pro Bowler. KJ has been a long standing supporter of TNP, having dedicated much time and energy into creating opportunities for underserved youth to experience the wonders of nature.



Jalen Richard is a Louisiana native and Oakland Raiders running back. Jalen brings a background in not just excelling as a professional athlete, but also his background in exercise science to our team of advisors. We are looking forward to working with Jalen to expand TNP into his home state of Louisiana.


Will Post is an outdoor enthusiast and technology expert. Will has 17 years of experience in Business Development, IT Development, and Project Management in Corporate America. As a weekend warrior, he enjoys camping and hiking throughout Northern California. Outside of his love of the outdoors, Will is passionate about the conservation of clean, natural drinking water sources, as clean drinking water is becoming one of the most critical environmental issues currently facing our planet.

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