The Resiliency Institute is an educational nonprofit focused on inspiring others to integrate permaculture into their lives.  We are dedicated to offering classes, workshops, field trips, and demonstrations taught by knowledgeable and experienced instructors. Our faculty bring a diverse range of skills and knowledge into each class.


Pat Armstrong

Pat Armstrong
Founder, Prairie Sun Consultants

Patricia Armstrong has a Master of Science degree from the University of Chicago in Ecology (Biology-Botany). She previously taught multitudes of nature classes at the Morton Arboretum for 16 years, plus Botany, Ecology, and Geology at the University of Wisconsin Extension, and Michigan State University's Juneau Icefield Research Program in Alaska.

Pat's knowledge and understanding of all things wild and free comes from a life-long personal and intimate relationship with Nature that is passionate as well as scientific. She lives in a home she and her husband designed and built to fit into the natural ecosystems of northern Illinois. It is active and passive solar, energy-efficient, and landscaped with over 300 species of native trees, shrubs, prairie grasses and wildflowers approximately 40% of which are edible. Pat is actively involved in living joyfully with Nature. She runs a consulting firm, PRAIRIE SUN CONSULTANTS, to educate and assist others in appreciating and using native plants and wild edible plants in home landscaping.


Connie Kollmeyer
The Resiliency Institute Program Coordinator
Owner, Organic Grower & Permaculturist, Copper Fox Farm

Connie has been an organic gardener for 25 years and runs her own small suburban-scale farm, Copper Fox Farm, using her years of experience and learning, plus knowledge gleaned from her 2014 Permaculture Design Certificate (hosted at The Resiliency Institute) and her Master Urban Farmer training through the University of Illinois Extension. You can find her at local farmers markets selling fresh heirloom produce, herbs, and flowers, plus foraged items and herbal remedies. To broaden her foraged and herbal knowledge and offerings, she completed The Resiliency Institute’s Edible Wild Plants Certificate course and the Bioregional Herbalism Certificate course. Connie is a Master Naturalist, Environmental Educator, Adjunct Sustainable Urban Agriculture Instructor, and a volunteer at many natural areas and gardens dedicated to underserved communities. She is currently exploring beekeeping as well, and additionally works as a Bookkeeper, Accountant and Realtor.


Allison Mitch
Physical Therapist, Shamanic Practitioner, Yoga instructor, Reiki Master, Ecologist, Professor

Allison is a holistic healthcare practitioner with a diverse educational and professional background (wildlife ecology (MS), yoga teacher training (RYT 500), doctorate of physical therapy (DPT), reiki master, shamanic practitioner, ordained reverend, herbalism), part time professor, and mom – an eclectic professional and personal mix that birthed her own WILD woman through the recognition of the connection and depth with all of life. In her circles and yoga classes offered at TRI, she seeks to create a sacred and inviting space for self-reflection, meditation, healing, and reconnection with nature for the return of soulfulness, or “re-wilding”.  Allison is also committed to increasing the connection of her community with nature by offering family-friendly nature excursions (Naperville Family Nature Meetup, Free Forest School, and children’s gatherings) in Naperville.  Allison offers one on one sessions and groups sessions for holistic health and well-being, using a variety of modalities (ex. therapeutic and functional exercise, yoga, meditation, reiki, shamanic practice, herbalism, nature therapy, sexuality counseling), depending on the client’s goals. For more information, visit her website www.ignitewell-being.com or find her on Facebook @ignitewellbeingpllc and Instagram @ignitwellbeingnaperville (Photo taken by Charlotte Watts Photography https://charlottewattsphotography.com/ )


Dave Odd
Owner, Professional Forager, Odd Produce

Dave Odd grew up in Skokie, Illinois just a couple blocks away from a 13-acre nature park called Emily Oaks. He spent many of his summers catching frogs and turtles around the pond, and on fishing trips with his brother. He was absolutely fascinated and obsessed with the natural world. He also loved cooking and being in the kitchen, so when a friend's mother introduced him to the art of foraging it was a natural fit. Dave foraged and hunted mushrooms as a hobby for years and now supplies over 200 Chicago area restaurants with over 500 ingredients, hundreds of wild products, and hundreds of greenhouse and garden products.


Jackie Reeves
Shinrin-yoku/Forest Therapy Certified Guide

Jackie has a Master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. She is a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, and completed her certification with the Association for Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs in November of 2017.  Jackie incorporates her strong listening skills, compassion and practice of acceptance into her approach as a guide.  The opportunity to practice Nature and Forest Therapy has allowed Jackie to bring together her love for nature with her ability to assist others in their growth process.



ellyn-schmitzEllyn Schmitz

Ellyn is an avid student of nature, particularly edible and medicinal plants, and the philosophy of living close to the earth.  She helps others discover and deepen their connection to the healing power of plants and nature.

She has studied extensively for over 20 years with Tom Brown Jr., a world-renowned tracker and wilderness survival expert, who was taught the ancient arts of living close to the earth by a Lipan Apache medicine man. She continuously studies with numerous edible and medicinal plant experts including, Karen Sherwood, Kathleen Wildwood, Richo Cech, Paul Bergner, Matthew Wood, Christopher Hobbs, 7Song, and others.

She is a member of the Keepers of the Plant Wisdom Medicine Society, has served on the board of directors for Medicine Waters Conservancy since 2001, and actively participates in United Plant Savers herbal conferences. Ellyn holds certificates from the Resiliency Institute in Edible Wild Plants and Bioregional Herbalism.


Brenda Spitzer
Certified Forest Therapy Guide

Brenda is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, Mentor, and Trail Consultant.  She trained and was certified with Cohort 3 in 2015.  She has assisted at Forest Therapy Guide Training Workshops in Illinois in 2017 and in Minnesota in 2019.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in Art from Northern Illinois University and Certificates in Natural History and Botanical Art and Illustration from The Morton Arboretum.  She introduced the “Nature Rx: Forest Therapy Walk” program at The Morton Arboretum in 2016, and has been guiding forest therapy walks at that location for the past 4 years.  She also guides walks for The Western DuPage Special Recreation Association.  Brenda offers Forest Therapy in Wheaton, Illinois and surrounding areas and you can visit Brenda's Facebook Page at Shinrin-yoku Nature and Forest Therapy - Wheaton.


Jodi Trendler
The Resiliency Institute Co-Founder & Executive Director

Jodi completed her Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) in 2012 through Midwest Permaculture and her Permaculture Teacher Training Certificate in 2017 at Cascadia Permaculture. She also holds certificates in edible wild plants, bioregional herbalism, and Shinrin-yoku.  She is currently Co-chair for the Naperville Environment and Sustainability Task Force and the DuPage Clean Energy Coalition and an adjunct faculty member for the College of DuPage Sustainable Urban Agriculture program.  She also contributes to the DuPage County Food Security Council.  She served five years as Vice-President of the non-profit organization Naperville for Clean Energy and Conservation, worked for the City of Naperville Renewable Energy Program, and was a member of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Green Leadership Council. Prior to completing her PDC, she wrote and project led a state funded $10,000 Zero Waste grant for which she developed and implemented several waste reduction programs including full lunchroom and school wide composting.