NiN Leadership

Sensei Mark Roemke

15th Dan, Dai Shihan, Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu

Pathways Dojo was founded by Sensei Mark Roemke. He is a 15th Dan practitioner of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, the way of the ninja, and an unreasonably happy person. Those who know Sensei Roemke will tell you that he is always stoked with a true passion for learning, sharing and life in general. He is the driving force of Ninjustu, or the art of the ninja behind the Ninjas in Nature program and is the lead NiNstructor for the west coast NiN programs based out of Santa Cruz, California.

He has been passionate about martial arts since before he started formal training at age 7. As a youngster he was New York state Tae Kwon Do champion, and began study of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu as a young adult. He currently holds a 15th Dan rank with a license to teach from Grand Master Masaaki Hatsumi.

Sensei Roemke believes strongly in keeping an open mind when it comes to martial arts training. As a result, he continues to learn new techniques and styles whenever possible. His open minded “no ego” philosophy has enabled him to study extensively in numerous other martial arts including Enshin Itto Ryu Battojutsu (the art of sword drawing and cutting), Kenpo Kung Fu, DeCuerdas Eskrima, Seibukan Jujutsu and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

As an instructor, Sensei Roemke has a gift for conveying the knowledge and skills he’s acquired through decades of enthusiastic study and training.  Mark has built a community of gifted mentors who share Sensei Roemke’s belief that connecting people to nature is key to reviving the 18 “lost” skills of the Ninja.

Kenneth Clarkson

NiN Program Director, Nidan, Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu

Kenneth is the enthusiasm infuser of all things nature behind the Ninjas in Nature program. At an early age he was immersed in nature in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia by way of canoeing, backpacking, birding, native plant studies, fishing, and hunting. As a young adult he ventured to Alaska to become a federal wilderness ranger in the arctic following herds of caribou and tracking and avoiding grizzly. He thawed out later as an endangered species biologist in Hawaii before moving to California where he worked as an environmental education specialist and then a nature program director.

He has been teaching youth since his first job at age 13 as a  coach and then as a music instructor. He has been studying martial arts (karate, and now Bujinkan) since living in Hawaii. He has achieved Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt) in Shorinji Ryu Karate, and more recently Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Bujinkan.

His greatest skills and passions lie at the intersection of the pathways of nature connection, martial arts, and youth mentoring.  Together with Sensei Roemke, they have combined forces to create the Ninjas in Nature program. 

Kenneth has a M.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He is a former biologist for the Kona Forest Unit of the Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge on the Big Island, and an Environmental Education Specialist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service's San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. He was a backcountry ranger for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and for 11 years prior to moving to the Boston area, he was Nature Awareness Program Director for the Riekes Center in Menlo Park, CA. He lives in Concord, MA with his wife, two kids, 8 chickens, rabbit, and banjo. He is the author of The Burn Basket and co-author with Mark Roemke of the Guardians Guide: NiN Basics Pathway.

Rob Riman

Lead NiNstructor, 2nd Kyu 

Rob Riman passed his youth roaming Lake Michigan’s upland ravines and paddling tributary headwaters of the Mississippi. Following studies in geology, he spent a decade leading expeditions among remote alpine heights and through coastal backwaters, from Alaska to Mexico. A subsequent phase in NYC, building traditional wooden boats with urban youth, led him to graduate work and professional pursuits in architecture and sustainable design. Today, Rob delights in his role as place-sourced educator, embracing landful living practices, while working to decolonize his own learning. Homeschool dad to two semi-feral children, and dedicated student of the protector arts, Rob resides along the former shoreline of the Quinobequin’s impounded estuary, on traditional territory of the Massachusett and Pawtucket people.

Melissa Winchell


Melissa Winchell is an educator, a nature aficionado, and mother to a seven year old wild child. Growing up near conservation land, she spent countless hours romping through the forest, picking black raspberries, catching frogs, and foraging for tender fiddleheads. While education and learning has always been a passion of hers, she repeatedly felt disappointment with the limitations of a traditional education system. This drove her to major in Resilience Education in college where she delved into the world of pedagogy for student empowerment and exploration of alternative learning models. After graduating, she implemented what she’d learned by working for a girls wilderness empowerment program in Western Massachusetts for six years, and separately, leading backpacking trips for campers at Farm and Wilderness in Vermont. She is excited to return to NiN and dive into wilderness and community again!


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