A warm welcome to a woman who beats the living-life-to-the-fullest drum: Nora, aka @JustAskNora - an outdoor school educator, sustainable fashion advocate, blogger, influencer, and more.
Name: Nora Hapney
Location: New Hampshire/Maine
Business Website: justasknora.com
Personal Website: villagenestcooperative.com
WHAT IS OUTDOOR SCHOOLING ?...
Natalie: So we’re really interested in your current profession, can you describe your day-to-day life with your outdoor schooling? Tell us more about it.
Nora: I am the executive director of a small outdoor preschool/micro-school program in Eliot, Maine called Village Nest Cooperative. We are a play-based school with an emergent curriculum so we encourage children to cooperatively play and add lots of nature learning into our activities. Our kids nap in hammocks all year round with sleeping bags added in the winter. We live by the motto “there's no bad weather, only bad clothing” and our goal is to keep kids muddy!
THE CATALYST CAMPAIGN
Natalie: How did you initially stumble into becoming a blogger/ influencer? A billboard ad you mentioned?
Nora: Back in 2018 the bank I’ve been with since I was a child ran an ad campaign where I was featured on two billboards and in a commercial. The tagline was “wherever we go, you go with us, Just Ask Nora!” I took the Just Ask Nora and ran with it. At the start, I would interview boutique owners and artists and at the end of our interviews, I’d ask what they wanted to just ask me. Now I’ve transitioned to sharing more about my life as an outdoor educator and promoting companies that align with me like Jibs!
LIFE IN MAINE
Natalie: How do you find life in Maine? Would you say it is harder/easier to pursue outdoor schooling there? Social media influencing?
Nora: I grew up in Portsmouth, NH so after years of living in Bergen, Norway, and Portland, OR it feels so special to be back where I grew up helping to educate the next generation. There are not many influencers in the area but those of us that are here stay close and help each other out. This area is filled with female entrepreneurs so I’m in good company in both my fields!
THE SKY IS THE LIMIT
Natalie: What impact do you wish to make with outdoor schooling? What advances do you aspire for in the future in the field of education?
Nora: I have been dreaming of a day where outdoor education is the norm, not the outlier. I would like to see it incorporated into public schools and all preschools. I would also love to see a collaboration between public parks and preschools where children could have more access to nature on a daily basis. The sky is the limit with the outdoor education model and I live by the notion that anything taught inside can be done so outside with a little creativity and patience!
HERE AND THERE
Natalie: So we understand you’re passionate about traveling. What are some of your favorite places that you’ve visited?
Nora: There’s no place I’ve traveled to that I haven’t loved. One of the joys of traveling for me is meeting new people and immersing myself in that culture. The Scandinavian countries are close to my heart. My Grandmother grew up in Stavanger, Norway so I always feel at home in Norway. One of the most magical places to visit there is Lofoten but you can’t go wrong with anywhere in Norway. I also have deeply enjoyed trips to Iceland and Sweden. Recently I went on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica and it’s a beautiful place to visit as well. Don’t forget to pack your Jibs!
SIGHTS TO SEE ...
Natalie: What’s one of your most memorable memories from traveling? A shocking, or surprise, event that occurred on a trip?
Nora: One summer a friend of mine invited me on a trip where we drove the entire length of Norway up to Lofoten. We stopped along so many magical little places along the way but one thing that I’ll never forget is seeing highland cattle for the first time. They are free-range hairy cows with long antlers that are so beautiful and seem to be from another time. We ventured closer to them and they came up very close to us!
SAVY FOR SUSTAINABLE FASHION
Natalie: Tell us more about your sustainability philosophy and personal mission to make the world a better place for all to enjoy.
Nora: Part of the reason why I choose to be an outdoor educator is that I believe when children learn to respect and care for nature they will make our world a better place for years to come. I aim to share sustainable companies on Just Ask Nora and am a very conscious shopper. We have so much work to do to make our world more sustainable and it’s important to remember that the little things add up and we all need to do our part!
THE TOUGH QUESTIONS ...
Natalie: We are flattered to work with you, even more so the better we get to know you! How do you vet the companies/ brands you chose to partner with/ influence?
Nora: My social media manager Mary of Only Talent and I take great care to do our research before working with companies. We ask the hard questions and make sure our values align and that said companies are doing their best to leave a good imprint. We often choose smaller and more local companies and my passion is to work with female-owned companies.
The sky is the limit with the outdoor education model!
CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT:
Natalie: What’s your current favorite brand or product you’ve discovered? A staple in your closet? Something you couldn’t live without?
Nora: Other than my Jibs, my go-to style accessory lately has been the Wildwood Oyster Co Leather Original Tote Bag. It is designed and made in Maine, reminds me of the ocean, and will last a lifetime, I use mine all the time and it goes with everything!
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO...
Natalie: What’s your favorite aspect of your career? Something that’s impacted you?
Nora: There are so many pieces of both my Just Ask Nora influencer career and working with young children that I love but the biggest piece is the feeling of uplifting and up-leveling those around me. Knowing that I can help share sustainable amazing companies with my Just Ask Nora fans and teach children to respect mother nature in all her glory get me out of bed in the morning. I learn so much from these children each and every day and am grateful for the opportunity to share my knowledge in both fields.