Name: Ben “Mountain Goat” Spring
Title: Education Coordinator
Ben “Mountain Goat” Spring – It goes without saying that mountain goats love the mountains. A little known mountain goat factoid, is that they also enjoy journeying down to the coast! Prior to relocating to Santa Barbara, Mountain Goat lived at the sea level, coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina, where he earned his degree in Anthropology from the College of Charleston. Mountain Goat loved searching for surf along South Carolina’s beautiful beaches, but lacked the physical adaptations to survive for long in such a hot, humid climate. Soon he realized his survival depended upon venturing to a part of the globe with a tectonic boundary capable of forming both a coastline and mountains. Mountain Goat discovered such a landscape in Santa Barbara, where he landed a job leading kayak and hiking tours of Channel Islands National Park. He loved every second of it, but would often catch himself longingly gazing upon Santa Barbara’s beautiful coastal mountains from his kayak. He yearned to share his love for the mountains and all their plant and animal inhabitants with others, and fortunately found an opportunity to do so at The Outdoor School. Mountain Goat still makes weekly pilgrimages to the ocean but is thrilled to be living and teaching in his natural, higher elevation habitat at Rancho Alegre.
Amanda “Mako” Chick – Mako comes all the way from the coast of Jacksonville, FL. There she learned about how wonderful a place this natural world can be. She traveled to the Appalachian Mountains, the Florida Keys, and Texas. During those adventures she gained knowledge of and found her passion for teaching about the outdoors. Along the way, she got a degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology from Eckerd College. Mako then got tired of being in the swamps of Florida and swam across the States, finding herself at The Outdoor School in the mountains of Southern California.
Danielle “Lynx” Broder – Lynx is a Southern California native. She grew up along the beaches, far from the cold, northern habitats usually inhabited by her kind. It wasn’t until college that she came to know tall mountains or large quantities of snow. She studied biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and fell deeper in love with the outdoors, even guiding groups camping and climbing in the nearby mountains. Upon graduating, she knew she wanted to work outdoors and stay in the wondrous location that is Santa Barbara. At Rancho Alegre she found that location, as well as a way to share her love of the planet we live on. She loves being on trail, sharing her fascination of native plants and creatures with students.
Michael “Thunder” Million – Thunder was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA. From an early age, his parents made sure to go on a lot of camping trips and take him on plenty of hikes with friends so he could enjoy the outdoors early on in life. Thunder’s mom has been an outdoor educator as long as he’s been alive, so he has always noticed and appreciated his connection with nature. When Thunder isn’t teaching and leading hikes at The Outdoor School, he’s rocking out – playing face-melting guitar solos. Music and education are Thunder’s greatest passions in life. After studying and pursuing music for the past few years, and getting to play the Santa Barbara Bowl, he’ll be following in his mother’s footsteps. To become certified in ECE and then get his teaching credential with an emphasis in Outdoor Education. Or, he may train to become as fast as his dad, Lightning.
Jake “Cypress” Castellanos – Reigning from the beautiful town of Santa Barbara, Cypress grew up with a fond appreciation for the outdoors. Whether it is going to the beach, hiking up the mountains or exploring a creek, Cypress usually finds himself outside. As a sixth grader he went to the Outdoor School and had the time of his life. Moved by the beautiful scenery of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the unique oak woodlands, he knew he would find himself back in this special place. Cypress graduated college with a degree in Forestry and Natural Resources. Shortly after his time in college, he went on to work in natural resources management and outdoor education. After working a year in San Luis Obispo County in the field of outdoor education he realized it was time to come back to his hometown and go back to the place where his passion for the outdoors started; The Outdoor School! Cypress enjoys connecting with his peers and students out on the trail and always loves to break it down on the little drum. Although Cypress has a range all along the coast of California, he is happy to spread his positivity and wisdom here at Rancho Alegre.
Maya “Sequoia” Morales – Sequoia grew up with wilderness all around her. Born in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, she ran through the trees at a young age. A few years later, her family uprooted and moved to Ventura, CA, where she found a deep love for the ocean and Channel Islands National Park. She learned to surf, to rock climb and to play in the wild. When the time came to pick a field to study in, she found a place at Humboldt State University, studying Environmental Education and Interpretation. And of course, her stay in the redwood forest gave her an appreciation for teaching and storytelling, two things she hopes to continue to do at The Outdoor School.
Jenna “Pika” Levy – Pika left the high mountains of Colorado to explore what California has to offer six years ago and has since found it difficult to leave. She found a home at Chico State where she studied Environmental Science and French. After several years there, she yearned for a great adventure and left for a semester in Madagascar to play with young lemurs and speak French with the locals. During her time in college, Pika was often found playing soccer or Ultimate Frisbee with friends, or returning to her beloved mountains. The call of nature beckons her to be outside and sharing her love of this planet is what brought her to the Outdoor School. When Pika is not working at the Outdoor School, you can find her in the high country of Yosemite National Park.
Monica “Monkey” Hall – Favoring warm and sunny afternoons to frozen tundra, Monkey hopped on a plane in Madison, Wisconsin bound for Santa Barbara. During college, she lived in Ecuador for a year studying tropical ecosystems and marine biology. Monkey had the time of her life in the Amazon Rainforest, a place home to endless tree palaces and exotic fruit. With degrees in Environmental Studies and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she’s ready to share the wonders of nature with younger generations. When not at the outdoor school, you can find Monkey taking photos of her scenic surroundings, relaxing on the beach, or eating bananas.
Corinne “Willow” Matovich – Willow has roots in San Jose, California and spent most of her time journeying to the coasts of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Big Sur, fully appreciating the waves, landscapes, and hikes they had to offer. She trekked down to Santa Barbara to further her branches of education, majoring in Sociology and Communication. Through building a working knowledge of the human experience while also spending any and all time she could in nature – camping, hiking, swimming – she has developed a passion for the systemic view of human as part of nature. Willow is looking forward to inspiring wonder, appreciation, and connectivity as a naturalist at The Outdoor School!