School Programs Staff

Our Teacher Naturalists are dedicated professionals committed to supporting Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards through inquiry, observation, adventure, and discovery. 

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Casey “POPCORN”

Lead Teacher Naturalist, Evening Coordinator. Popcorn grew up in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. She earned a Bachelors of Arts in Evolutionary Biology at Knox College. Before moving to the beautiful hills of the Sonoma Coast, Popcorn taught environmental education in the glorious Sierra Nevada Mountains near Truckee and the majestic Rocky Mountains in Keystone, CO. Popcorn loves to go on long walks (like really long walks) and spend time at the ocean. She's down to throw a frisbee or a handstand at any time. 

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Colleen “Squid”

Teacher Naturalist. Squid grew up in Santa Rosa before moving to Santa Cruz to become a UCSC banana slug. Whilst examining real life banana slugs in the redwood forest and bobbing about ocean waves, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. She also studied Education and worked as an organizer for ESLP (Education for Sustainable Living Program), a student-led organization that provides experiential learning opportunities for other students. After graduating, Squid spent 2 years working as a Volunteer Coordinator for a local food pantry in Watsonville, CA. She enjoyed being deeply involved in her community, particularly working with elementary school service groups. She then began working as a special resources tutor and substitute teacher, and taught swim lessons for an after-school program in the area. After leaving Santa Cruz County, she moved to the small and beautiful mountain town of Portola to begin her naturalist career at Sierra Nevada Journeys. Squid is now happy to have returned to Sonoma County to work at the Woods. Hobbies include strumming the guitar, swimming, and eating large portions of chips and salsa.

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David "Redwing"

Senior Teacher Naturalist. Redwing hails from the Hardworking, Hard-rocking, and Everloving Detroit City, Michigan. He studied Environmental Education together with Global Cultures and Ecosystems at the University of Michigan School Of Natural Resources in Ann Arbor. Redwing has been facilitating Outdoor and Environmental Education programs with folks of all ages for twenty-five years, while studying fungal and forest ecology - from the Jungles of Peru to the Rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula to his Home here in West County, California. He has a love of Music in (and of) our Living Earth and Great Outdoors ~ Oh yes kids, the river IS singing!  

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Erik "witakae" 

Lead Teacher Naturalist, Senior Teacher Naturalist. Witakae, of Viking descent, was raised in the great city of Fairfield. Erik has led Westminster Woods in the adoption of cutting edge pedagogy and excellent character development programs. Wita has over fifteen years of experience in the Outdoor School industry and is a certified Leadership Trainer through Lawrence Hall of Science BEETLES program.  His favorite activities include scouring the web for bombastic pundits, investigating the philosophical nature of reality and watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

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Jefferey "whitebear"

Campfire Maestro. Whitebear was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended kindergarten through 12th grade in Cleveland, which was then a thriving steel town and ranked in the top ten highest populated US cities. After a 4 1/2 year tour in the US Coast Guard as an airplane mechanic which brought him out west, he received an AA degree from Santa Rosa Junior College and a Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Education from Sonoma State University in 1990. He has previously worked as a Naturalist/Musician at Ocean Song Farm and Wilderness Center, Land Paths and Acorn Soupe.  Whitebear loves playing music with friends and anyone ESPECIALLY outside on our beloved Earth. He also enjoys hiking, backpacking and otherwise adventuring to learn more about himself and our amazing planet which is his greatest teacher. Whitebear LOVES Life!

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Jesse "echo"

Challenge Course Coordinator. Echo was born and raised in Roseville, CA and graduated in spring of 2015 with a major in Business Marketing and a minor in Religion. He worked on the Summer Staff of Westminster Woods for four years and volunteered before transitioning to being a part of the year round staff. Echo also volunteered as a youth basketball coach while in high school. Some of his hobbies include playing the guitar and ukulele, playing basketball, and becoming absorbed in a good series/books/movies.

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Jessica “fox”

Challenge Course Manager. Jessica is a certified Challenge Course Manager and Social Emotional Intelligence Trainer and has worked in the outdoor adventure industry for over a decade. Her enthusiasm for outdoor adventure/challenge course pursuits has led her to explore other courses around the globe; she has even jumped out of a perfectly good airplane “just for the thrill of it.” She has an entrepreneurial streak and has explored many different, creative industries, but always gets drawn back to working with, and empowering, youth. Jessica feels that a ropes course can be a potent tool for gaining self-awareness and is moved by the immediacy of the experience she witnesses when running a program. In addition to managing the course at Westminster Woods, Jessica is the Director of the California Challenge Course Network conference. The annual conference draws challenge course professionals from all over the West Coast to share their knowledge, experience and love of “play.” When she’s not swinging through trees or gathering her peers together, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, sewing, gardening, dancing and building massive installation art at festivals.

(707) 874-2426 x633 | jessica@westminsterwoods.org

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Jonny "Chivo"

Lead Teacher Naturalist. Chivo is originally from Southern California and moved to Northern California as a transfer student to obtain his degree in Communication Studies from Sonoma State University. After graduating, Chivo spent the next year working in Skagway, AK, as a rock climbing and zip line guide, field instructor for an outdoor science school in Southern California, and Multi-Sport instructor at a summer day camp in Oakland, CA. Finally, he has landed here in Occidental to call these woods his home. His hobbies include cooking, rock climbing, reading, creating new friendships and spending time with friends and family. 

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Josh "Turkey"

Senior Teacher Naturalist. Turkey was born and raised in a tiny little corn patch in Topeka, Kansas. Turkey has a degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science from the Kansas State University. He is one of our most seasoned Teacher Naturalists and has experience at many places, including Walker Creek Ranch over in Petaluma, California.  Turkey is a proud Eagle Scout and brings a rugged sense of adventure and radical self-reliance to our camp.  He enjoys long walks on the beach, foraging for mushrooms and climbing trees.

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Justin “tarantula”

Teacher Naturalist. Tarantula is from the town of Mendocino. In 2018, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from UC Santa Cruz where he majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His field experience includes studying pumas and their interactions with deer populations on Mount Shasta and studying spiders and spider web morphologies in the canopy of a Costa Rican cloud forest. Prior to working at Westminster Woods, he worked with Bird School Project in Santa Cruz, taking experiential environmental education to schools in the Santa Cruz area. Tarantula’s favorite things to do (aside from exploring and talking about nature) are rock climbing and singing.  

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Olivia "Newt"

School Programs Coordinator. Olivia was born in Napa, California, where she spent her youth frolicking through the grapevines and exploring local creek beds.  In her early years, she enjoyed hiking, crafting, and archery at 4H Summer Camp and spent every afternoon at the local ballet studio working on her dance skillz.  As a young adult, she graduated from California State University, Chico with a degree in Environmental Studies and minors in Sustainability, Management, and Anthropology. Olivia also studied for a year at the University of Stirling in Scotland, the land of the unicorns and kilts, where she enjoyed dancing in the moonlight, and exploring old castles. Olivia has spent many a summer working at Connolly Ranch, in Napa, teaching farm animal care, gardening, and singing silly songs to bright-eyed preschoolers. Before coming to Westminster Woods, she worked at San Mateo Outdoor Education in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Olivia's top hobbies include: naps, ukulele, bubble baths, and dog petting. 

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phillip "petunia"

Lead Teacher Naturalist. Petunia grew up in Texas on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou, but moved west to California for college, where he studied Communications and Classics at Santa Clara University. After graduation, he bounced around the globe for two years leading active travel trips with Backroads. He then kicked off his environmental education career at the nearby Walker Creek Ranch. He loves backpacking, board games, books, podcasts, and water polo.

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Rebekah "redwood"

Senior Teacher Naturalist. Redwood was raised in Orangevale, California. She came to Westminster Woods in 6th grade for outdoor education and a few summers as a summer camper. She has worked on the Wood’s Challenge Course multiple summers. After earning a B.A. in Liberal Studies (Education K-8) from Azusa Pacific University and a special education teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento, she taught middle-schoolers for a couple years in the Sacramento area before joining the Wood’s year-round staff. She enjoys reading and outdoor activities like hiking and rock climbing.

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Rob "fish"

Challenge Course Technician. Fish was born in Stockton, California. His educational background includes a Masters in Metaphysics and Pastoral Counseling.  Fish served for eight years in the Air Force as a Rescue and Medic Specialist.  His other jobs include working for 10 years as a U.P.S. driver and 3 years as a Hawaii Scuba Instructor. Fish has worked off and on with the challenge course at Westminster Woods since 2000. His hobbies include hiking, swimming and inner exploration.

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Sam “Snapdragon”

Challenge Course Technician. Snapdragon was born in San Diego, where he lived until he moved to the North Bay Area to go to college at Sonoma State University. While studying at SSU, he worked as an Outdoor Trip Leader and as Coordinator of the school's Low Ropes Course. He loves music, and he plays electric bass guitar. His favorite color is green, and if he could only eat one food for the rest of his life it would be burritos.

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Seth “Lion”

School Programs Manager. Lion has been involved in camps since he was very little, first attending boy scout and church camps back in Ohio. He starting working at Chief Logan Reservation, the greatest boy scout camp in the world, as soon as he was sixteen. Since then, he has helped run programs for Ohio University's Teens on Campus, the Coloma Outdoor Discovery School, Point Reyes Summer Camp, the Outdoor School at Rancho Alegre and now Westminster Woods. Seth has worked as a Teacher Naturalist and Environmental Education Coordinator at the Woods and is now our School Programs Manager, assuring that things run smoothly and that students and teachers alike have a fantastic experience while they're here.

(707) 874-2426 ext 627 | seth@westminsterwoods.org

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Steven “Nautilus”

Evening Coordinator. Nautilus grew up in Yuba City, California. He went to Humboldt State University and received a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology while also minoring in Scientific Diving. Nautilus has a long history here at the Woods: he first came here as a high school camper back in 2007. He has worked as a Summer Staffer since 2011 and is currently the Jr. High Camp Coordinator. Nautilus started his Outdoor Education career just up the creek at our neighbor Alliance Redwoods working as a Naturalist and Challenge Course Facilitator for a year before finally coming home and joining the Wood’s year-round team. He loves spending time diving under the ocean waves helping Reef Check California collect data along our coast or looking for treasure.