Outdoor School Staff

DSC08959 2PamRick 2014

All staff at Walker Creek Ranch are employees of the Marin County Office of Education and are carefully screened, background checked and certified in First Aid and CPR.  The school staff are professional educators whose top priority is the safety and well being of each individual student.  They are dedicated, positive individuals who know how to make learning hands-on, fun and inclusive.  Each is truly gifted in their abilities to teach young people about our connection to one another and the natural world.

Pam Gambonini: Outdoor School Clerk
Pam is a native Petaluman!  She has enjoyed the many clients that have made Walker Creek their home for the past 20 years.  She enjoys swimming, kayaking, dancing, and Lake Tahoe!


Hoot (Rick): Naturalist
Hoot grew up in Campbell California, and has been leading students at Walker Creek for longer than he can remember.  He loves telling stories, music, hiking, biking, and hanging out with his cat. 

Turtle (Shelley): Naturalist
Shelley was born Jackson, Mississippi.   She earned her B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  She enjoys snowboarding, hiking and cooking. Her favorite place is Breckinridge, Colorado. 

Otter (Allie):
Allie hails from Southern California, a place of mighty oaks and little rain. In her college years, she dappled in Maine before returning to the golden state for her degree in Environmental Studies and Art History from Scripps College. At the ranch, Allie couldn't decide if her nature name identity was more of a river otter or sea otter. That is, not until one fateful day when she was creekside with a group of 20 students. On that foggy morning, everyone heard a splash and looked up to witness a river otter running through the shallow water, plunging into the creeks pools, and staring back at the group with playful curiosity. From then on, she knew. At the ranch, Allie's favorite naturalist moments are witnessing students catch dragonfly nymphs at Turtle Pond, and witnessing the students' proud expressions from the top of Walker Peak. In her free time, there is a 97.3% chance she is reading, writing, printmaking, or searching for a spot to swim in Tomales Bay. 

Birch (Kassie): Naturalist
Kassie was born in West Bend, Wisconsin. She earned a teaching credential and Elementary Ed. degree from Boston University in 2014. She loves the outdoors and has spent the past two summers leading camping and hiking trips in upstate New York. Her hobbies include hiking, writing, drawing, climbing trees, and roller blading. 

Sunflower (Kristine): Naturalist 
Kristine grew up in the small beach town of Dana Point before she adventured on to UC Santa Cruz, getting her degree in Environmental Studies. There she immersed herself in the study of natural history and fell in love with wild California. She enjoys yoga, hiking, reading, eating, dancing, adventure, all kinds of community, and chasing the sun. She can't wait to share nature with kids.

Popcorn (Kelly): Garden Naturalist
Popcorn was born a wee kernel in California and grew into a stalwart stalk in the corn country of Nebraska. Accustomed to heavy downpours, she visited her grandparents in the Bay throughout childhood and considers its watery haven her home. Previously, she attended the University of Oregon, where she majored in Environmental Studies and chose food systems transformation as her life’s work. She likes the way her agrarian journey sounds—Shadow Brook, Horton Road, Slide Ranch, Green Gulch—and she takes sonics seriously—as melodious seeds spill into the metal pan—with an MFA in Writing and Poetics in her pocket.

Cricket (Kaya): Naturalist Intern
Kaya grew up frolicking in the redwoods of Occidental where she fell in love with exploring in nature. She headed to the big city to attend college at UC Berkeley where she got a degree in Conservation and Resource Studies. After graduating she spent a year working with kids doing habitat restoration and teaching watershed science.  She spent her summers working at summer camps and can't wait to get to sing songs every week! She loves cooking, listening to podcasts, swimming, and dancing! 

Ashley bio

Petunia (Phil): Naturalist Intern
Phil grew up in Texas, but moved west to California for college, where he studied Communications and Classics at Santa Clara University. Growing up on a Bayou, the allure and fascination of the wild natural world has captivated Phil since childhood and he can't wait to share his enthusiasm about the outdoors. He loves backpacking, camping, books, podcasts, water polo, and bad jokes.  

Lupine (Rachel): Naturalist Intern
Rachel is a Pacific Northwest native, who grew up hiking, fishing, and skiing with her family in the Cascade Range. After graduating high school, Rachel decided to take a gap year and spent time exploring Southeast Asia and the Amazon. After her gap year, Rachel moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, to attend Northern Arizona University and to explore the Southwest. She graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology. During summers, Rachel has worked as a guide in Yosemite National Park, leading youth on backpacking trips in the Sierra High Country. She loves swimming in rivers, yoga, hiking, cooking and sharing food with friends, and playfully exploring the wild world. 

Mugwort (Steven): Naturalist Intern
Steven was born here in Marin county where he developed a love for the oak and bay forests of this region. He studied Philosophy at Lewis & Clark college in Portland, OR before returning to the Bay Area to pursue his interests in the outdoors, education, and the good life. In his leisure time — and now also for his job! — he enjoys playing the guitar, writing, cycling, looking up at the stars, dancing, and sharing knowledge & wonder with the people around him. 

Paws (Jordan): Naturalist Intern
Jordan grew up in a very warm place in the middle of California near two rivers. Since then, she has flowed to other rivers, to oceans, rainfall and has now arrived at creek and pond. She really enjoys swimming --  as well as just-picked fruit, movement and mindfulness, getting to know the piano, and connecting with nature.  She loves exploring her surroundings and learning from animals, plants, people, and places and has a background sharing this wonder in preschool classrooms and outdoor classrooms. She is so grateful to learn alongside youth and to land at Walker Creek.    

Persimmon (Julia): Extra-Hire Naturalist Persimmon  hails from Southern California, a place of mighty oaks and rare rain. After graduating from Scripps College with a B.S. in Environmental Writing, Persimmon has been loving her time as a naturalist at the ranch. Many of her favorite naturalist moments involve polar bear plunges, garden explorations, and banana slug hikes in the enchanted forest. In her free time, she enjoys painting, writing, printmaking, and finding wildflowers. 

Bobcat (Ashley): Garden Intern
Ashley got her start loving nature in the Great Plains state of Nebraska. She followed her first dream of leaving Nebraska to a rural Greek Island where she studied studio art, ate baklava and adopted a stray kitten. From there, her journey took her to Chicago to pursue a BFA in graphic design. After dabbling in commercial arts, she followed her next dream of further travel by moving to South Korea to teach English. Living and working in Asia was an unexpected delight, a rich time for personal growth and global awareness. Part of this new found awareness was realizing her next dream - to influence younger generations to become self sufficient, eat healthy food, and connect with the Earth. Upon returning the US, she then put down some roots in the Pacific Northwest, learning about growing food, living simply, and using her body for utility. Now at Walker Creek, she is able to put all her training into use in the garden, furthering her knowledge of growing practices, encouraging students to get dirty and to make connections to the food and world around them.

~ Walker Creek Ranch ~ 1700 Marshall Petaluma Rd. Petaluma, CA 94952 ~ 415.491.6600 ~
A program of the Marin County Office of Education
Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools