Our Founders and Staff


Toni on her mare.

Our Number One Core Belief is if a student is passionate about what they are learning the outcome is going to be good and that the students get to study what they are passionate about. The following are projects or learning activities that our students have leaned from.

Toni King: Founder, COO, Mentor

Toni Lane Founder/ Operations Director/ Mentor I have worked with Toni since 2008 and NOLI is a reality because of her temperament, talents, knowledge, experiences, and vision. Toni’s past work included being a manager at Novell running an international education team, an owner of a high powered real estate firm brokering opulent homes; she founded and owned a full service brokerage firm again handling executive housing in Danville. She held positions of responsibility and leadership on professional and philanthropic organizations and brought those organizations to a much higher level of service. She has done the same with NOLI. Toni is a person of great integrity, work ethic, professionalism; a person that strives for perfection and in every detail. She believes that what we do here truly does make a difference in the lives of those we serve, that the most important task for little kids is to learn to play and explore, she is nurturing to the youngest kids, and believes that teens should have the opportunity to have the skills to run a successful business if they so choose. She leads by example and expects a high level of professionalism and ethics from staff and teens alike. Toni is currently a professional member of the American Camp Association and a member of their accreditation visiting team; she continues her education as a business owner, educational professional, and caregiver. In spite of her busy schedule she makes time to volunteer in hospice, palliative, and Alzheimer’s care at the VA. Toni has sponsored kids whose families are in need to attend both the school and the camps. We are lucky to have her leading this team. She is a master as logistics pulling all the components together at the right time and the right spot and the rest of the behind the scenes magic to pull together our superior programing. She is the person you will most likely make all arrangement with, her business is in the office but her heart is in the field, with the students, and the animals. She makes a point to see the parents and kids when she can. The kids know her as Bright Path and she always has a hug for everyone.

Brian King.

Brian D. King: Founder, Director of Education, Mentor

Brian earned a MS in agriculture science from Cal Poly Pomona, BA in industrial arts from Long Beach State, and has never stopped continuing his education and research. He started forming the concept of Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute when in high school. In choosing his course of study and his professional experience he has always had that mission in mind. Much of his masters work was designing facilities for what was going to become Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute. Though not currently enrolled in a PhD program, he continues to work to that goal of his raising the bar of the effectiveness of a paradigm of pedagogy that is based on long term success of the students that will see them through a life time. His codifying the work as a legacy for the education of generations. Since 2002 his work with students has been a proving ground for this pedagogy.

He has been spending much of his time learning what happens when we learn, how we learn and develop talent, what actually goes on in the brain, nerve bundles, nerve endings, and muscles. He has k-12 teaching credentials in agricultural science, industrial arts and technology, and vocational education. Brian started an apprenticeship as a preteen has continued to work in the areas he teaches so he teaches from experience in industry, agriculture, and education and a long list of skills and interests, of which he continues growing and learning from on a daily basis. If a student has an interest in a subject he learns it to mastery with the student.

What is important is to see his passion about getting kids to connect to nature, to themselves, to their ancestors. He is stalwart that kids need room to grow and grow having undirected and unstructured free play, by finding their edges, their fears, the end of their skill set and pulling the kids past these in a safe way, in an environment full of celebration and culture. He does not teach but mentors, believing that all learning is self-taught; he will model, answering questions by asking more questions, guiding them on a journey to learn what they are passionate about. When you are around Brian you will not hear him say “kids be quiet you need to learn what I have to say. “ No, you will hear kids saying “Brian what are you doing?” “Can you show me how?”

One day I saw him spin a coal to life the way I have seen him do it a hundred times before, he pulled some leaves from his pocket rolled it into a ball the size of a robin’s egg and gently nudged a glowing speck into the nest and nurse the tiny ember into a warming camp fire. This is a wow for the kids, it grabs something primal in them. A boy asked him “what is that plant I saw you pull from your pocket?” Brian did not give the child the name of the plant but reached into his pocket and gave the young man a sample saying, “it is really good for making a tiny coal get bigger” and then ask “Doesn’t it have a cool smell?” “What does it smell like?’ “What do the leaves look like?” “There is a bit of stem how does it feel when you roll it between your fingers?” “How would you describe the color?” “Have you ever seen anything like it as we have been hiking?” If Brian was to simply give the answer, mugwart, it would have been forgotten. In the way we he has them learn the children own their education, and remember it a life time.

As long as I have known Brian a big part of what he does is gives to those that need his time. As long as I have known him he has volunteer for the good of the community including hospice, palliative, and Alzheimer’s care at the VA . He teaches teachers how he teaches, farmers how he farms; he has taught kids how to learn. He has taught in orphanages, churches, community groups, and conferences. He also is a volunteer teacher for California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Brian has sponsored kids whose families are in need to attend both the school and the camps.


In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.

— R. Buckminster Fuller

Northwestern Outdoor Leadership Institute strives to grow our participants into happy ethical empathic leaders that are well informed well educated people with grit and capable of creative, critical, and divergent thinking while being good stewards of the land.

NOLI5.
"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."
—Benjamin Franklin