Administrative Staff


Allison Collins | Director

Allison Collins

Allison Collins grew up outside of Salinas, CA, home of John Steinbeck ate more salad greens than you could ever imagine and is a graduate of UC Davis with a BA in Human Development and a minor in Education. She received her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Cal State TEACH and completed a Master’s in Educational Leadership with an Administrative Credential from San Jose State University. Allison’s passions in regard to outdoor education include increasing access and equity for all students and staff in the field, and a focus on positive social and emotional learning experiences.  Allison’s journey in outdoor education started right here at Jones Gulch as a naturalist intern in the 2008-2009 school year, and since then she has spent time as a naturalist, a 6th grade teacher, an afterschool programs coordinator, and as principal of San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Outdoor Education program.  She enjoys reading, cooking, running, looking under logs for critters and epic forest walks. Allison likes traveling by train and has been to all 50 states. She speaks Spanish, sings and plays the guitar. She has lived at Jones Gulch for 4 years with her husband Kieran and her son Liam who just started TK at La Honda Elementary. Allison’s nature name at outdoor education is Sorrel.

Steve Van Zandt | Program Manager/Principal

Steve Van ZandtSteve Van Zandt is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara in Environmental Studies/Geography. He received a multiple subject teaching credential from San Francisco State and an Administrative Credential from San Jose State. He worked as a Naturalist at SMOE, Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools, Youth Science Institute and as a Co-Director/Intern Coordinator at Hidden Villa. He also was a Co-Manager for the Pigeon Point Youth Hostel. He was a kindergarten, 3rd and 4th grade classroom teacher and a K-7th grade Life Lab/ESL teacher. As a member of the Banana Slug String Band he plays, guitar, banjo and harmonica and has written songs for 11 albums with an additional 300 from his personal songbook. He is returning to SMOE for a 29th year. He has three sons: Nathan 34, Colin 31, and Skyler 31. He enjoys music, writing, poetry, Ping-Pong, vegetarian/vegan cooking, surfing, river rafting and swimming under waterfalls. Steve’s nature name at outdoor education is Solar.

Amanda Lee | Outdoor Education Information and Registration

Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee grew up in San Francisco CA and is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Child and Youth Studies. She holds a site supervisor permit in early childhood education and has built her communication and leadership skills with over ten years of working with children and fostering relationships with families. As site coordinator at St. Francis Preschool, Amanda oversaw all program activities and events, managed staff and schedules, and led staff and parent meetings. She has also worked as both a teacher and coordinator at gateway Child Development Center and as a teacher at Balboa Preschool. Amanda has worked as a camp counselor, a site supervisor of a YMCA preschool and as a swim teacher working with children ranging from infants to teens. She is highly skilled at managing an office, using technology and interfacing with the public. Amanda grew up going on annual camping trips with her family and joining the Salesian Boys’ and Girls’ club on their sleep-away camps. She enjoys rock climbing, biking, baking, swimming, and traveling. Amanda likes to explore new trails and hikes throughout the Bay Area. She likes Disney and is also a Golden State Warriors fan. Amanda speaks and understands Cantonese. She has worked at the San Mateo County Office of Education for almost two years, and this will be her first year working with Outdoor Education. Amanda’s nature name at outdoor education is Panda Leaf.

Senior Staff


Ben Sehl | Naturalist/Village Leader

Ben Sehl

Ben Sehl grew up in Redwood City, CA and is a graduate of Purdue University with a B.S. in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Environmental Policy. He has done a variety of field research in places like Western Montana, Costa Rica and Indiana.  He has worked as an interpretive naturalist at Dunes Learning Center in Indiana where he designed and led outdoor education programs for 1st through 12 grade students including living history interpretation. Ben has worked as an interpretive naturalist at Sequoia National Park doing geology tours in Crystal Cave and leading astronomy programs. He enjoys birding, learning about new plants and identifying mushrooms, particularly the edible species. He likes surfing, hiking and playing the guitar. He is returning to SMOE for a second year. Ben’s nature name at outdoor education is Chanterelle.

Neil Richardson | Garden Coordinator/Naturalist

Neil Richardson

Neil Richardson grew up in Santa Clara, California and is a graduate of Humboldt State University with a B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection/Environmental Education and Interpretation. He received training in project WET and Project Learning Tree and served as a Project Learning Tree coordinator at local schools. As an Environmental Education Program Designer he created curriculum for 5th grade students and taught in a variety of habitats. As a Program Coordinator with Wetlands on Wheels he worked in the field and classroom to provide hands - on activities about wetland ecosystems for 5th

grade students. He has also worked at camp Galileo as an instructor and program director. He enjoys gardening, cycling and exploring remote places. He has a talent for building and fixing things from cars to computers. He loves riding motorcycles and bicycles and has ridden from Baja California to the Arctic Ocean. He is returning to San Mateo Outdoor Education for his eighth year. Through his work as the SMOE garden coordinator he has transformed the space into a rich educational environment. Neil’s nature name at outdoor education is nEel.

Ziggy Bates | Naturalist/Village Leader

Ziggy Bates

Ziggy Bates has worked as a Naturalist for three years before working as a Village Leader at San Mateo Outdoor Education. He has previously worked for Hidden Villa in Los Gatos and Exploring New Horizons in Loma Mar before returning to SMOE and he is excited to be teaching in the coastal rainforest and sharing his knowledge and passion with the students at this program. Ziggy believes that the best way to learn is through experience and play; he teaches natural history through stories, songs and exploration of the senses. He loves to introduce Next Generation Science Standards as well as social emotional skills to help the students under his care realize that they are a part of nature, not apart from nature, and that by working together can make this world a better place. When Ziggy is not exploring trails, he likes to travel, make artwork with various mediums, listen to podcasts and   play music with his educational and inspirational band Dafunkus. Ziggy’s nature name at outdoor education is Jackalope.

Miguel Salazar | Health Care Specialist

Miguel Salazar

Miguel Salazar grew up in Pacifica CA and is a graduate of Palo Alto University with a BS in Psychology and Social Action.  He has worked as a service shop manager, repairing marine electronics on private yachts and commercial vessels. He also has experience working on solar/wind power systems and de-salinization plants for drinking water. He served in the Navy from 2000-2005 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and was deployed to the Persian Gulf. After volunteering to work with veterans in the Portland area, he was inspired to change his career. He volunteered for the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, as a tutor at the College of San Mateo, and as a naturalist at Hidden Villa. He has traveled to Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, China, Singapore and Hong Kong. He likes long distance cycling and has ridden from Portland to Duluth. He also enjoys photography, sailing, reading, backpacking and music. As a Vallemar student, he attended San Mateo Outdoor Education in elementary school. He is returning to SMOE for his 3rd year. Miguel’s nature name at outdoor education is Synergy.

Tim Daly | Naturalist/Village Leader

Tim Daly

Tim Daly grew up in Los Angeles, CA and is a graduate of Willamette University with a B.A. in Environmental Science. When Tim was in 6th grade, he attended an outdoor education program outside of Sequoia National Park that inspired him to connect more deeply with nature and pursue a career in the sciences. As a young adult, Tim volunteered with numerous non-profits in the L.A. area to create greenspaces and community gardens around the city. Throughout college, Tim volunteered and worked at Willamette’s Zena Forest and Farm where he practiced and taught about sustainable agriculture and silviculture. Tim has worked in outdoor education for 5 years and his career has taken him across the entire West Coast of North America. After finishing his internship at SMCOE in 2016, Tim worked as the Summer Program Director of the Wrangell Institute for Science and the Environment in Kenny Lake, Alaska, and then taught at Exploring New Horizons, Loma Mar for 4 years. Additionally, Tim worked as the Summer Interpretive Specialist at Portola Redwoods State Park in 2018 and at Butano State Park in 2019. When he’s not teaching, Tim loves to find his way out into the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, and he enjoys mountaineering, rock climbing, scrambling, gravel biking and trail running. Tim’s nature name at Outdoor Education is Raptor.

Joshua Stacy | Naturalist/Village Leader

Joshua Stacy

Joshua Stacy grew up in Baltimore MD and spent his summers in the Appalachian Mountains of Maryland and Virginia. He is a graduate of Earlham College with a BA in music. While growing up, Joshua spent much of his free time exploring any green space and riparian sliver he could find within the urban landscape. He was mentored in wilderness awareness and tracking by his cousin and through his summer camp experiences. His work as a naturalist started with an internship with San Joaquin Outdoor School which turned into a 15-year career of being both naturalist and program director with Exploring New Horizons. He is an exceptional naturalist and through his many years in the field has mentored and inspired others in the understanding and love of the natural world. As an avid birder and photographer, Joshua has observed more than 700 species of birds and is able to identify birds by their calls. He participates in Sequoia Audubon Society events as well as other citizen science opportunities through eBird and iNaturalist. Joshua is a through-hiker completing over 20,000 miles on three continents including, the Pacific Crest Trail, The Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail. He has also traversed Iceland and the Cordillera Blanca Range in the Andes of Peru. Joshua has biked over 4,000 miles across the US from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. He has played the cello since the age of 4; touring and performing across the US as well as Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic. He’s particularly interested in adapting the cello to all genres of music. Joshua’s nature name at outdoor education is Bobcat.



Allison Melrose | Naturalist

Allison Melrose

Allison Melrose grew up in Waynesville, a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She is a graduate of the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Public Relations from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media. She spent a summer as a journalist where she developed her ability for asking good questions. This summer Allison worked on a conservation crew in Flagstaff, Arizona doing trail maintenance as well as adobe restoration at an 1800’s fur trading fort. She has worked as a tube park and lift operator at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and as an Aerial Belay Guide at a rock wall, zipline and high ropes challenge course.  Allison developed outdoor leadership skills and community building while working at Estes Park YMCA of the Rockies. She enjoys rock climbing and is skilled at top rope and lead climbing. As a self-proclaimed nerd she loves going out with a field guide and binoculars and seeing what birds she can identify. Allison also likes gardening and is working on becoming a master composter. She has a passion for reading everything from science fiction to natural history and has recently enjoyed reading the secret life of trees. She has biked across a third of the US from Virginia to St Louis and plans someday to make it coast to coast. Allison enjoys music and art and dance, knows some silly songs and played the French Horn for 7 years. Recently she has taken up playing the ukulele. Allison’s nature name at outdoor education is Igneous. 

Andrew Smith  | Naturalist

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith grew up in the small suburban town of Trumbull, Connecticut and is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a BFA in acting and a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Andrew also spent a semester abroad studying Shakespeare at the Theatre Academy of London. They were involved in both production and performance at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre and has served as co-director of an Improv Comedy Troupe. Andrew has also occasionally performed stand-up comedy at local venues. They are currently working on a Master’s in Early Childhood and Special Ed at the University of St. Joseph. As a summer camp leader, Andrew managed the ropes course and archery station working with pre-k to 9th grade students and worked with 3 to 6 year-olds and their parents teaching a Nature Nuggets class. They enjoy hiking and camping and as a naturalist particularly likes birding and mycology. Andrew is an avid runner and this summer completed a triathlon. They also have a talent for juggling and has gained expertise in the 3-ball cascade. Andrew also has a passion for cooking good vegan meals. Andrew’s nature name at outdoor education is Spore.

Nicole Chiu | Naturalist

Nicole Chiu

Nicole Chiu grew up in Foster City CA and is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Black Studies. She studied at the University of Ghana taking classes and volunteering with a non-profit to teach math, English and science in a near-by village. Nicole also developed curriculum projects to foster the academic, personal, and social growth of her students. She has traveled to over 20 countries including Ghana and Tanzania where she observed elephants and other big game in the wild. As a Site Coordinator for Playworks Education Energized, Nicole managed and engaged groups of 300-500 elementary students. She also created hands-on lessons for 100 students in student leadership and developed and implemented a consultive play-based program at four elementary schools that was geared to meeting student needs while addressing their social and emotional development. Nicole grew up camping and hiking and attended SMOE both in fifth grade and as a high school cabin leader. She played softball her whole life and enjoys watching and playing all sports. She also enjoys running, reading, used bookstores, taking care of houseplants and spending time in Yosemite. Nicole’s nature name at outdoor education is Shade.

Anna Twitty | Naturalist

Anna TwittyAnna Twitty grew up in Oakland Township, Michigan and is a graduate of Hope College with a BA in Women and Gender Studies and a minor in English. Through the Oregon extension program, Anna studied conservation and sustainability where she collected and presented data on the recovery rates of old growth forests and analyzed biodiversity and the restoration of native species. She also tended an organic garden and took care of goats and chickens. As a farm educator, Anna worked with adults with disabilities to give them hands-on experiences with agriculture and livestock care. She likes being involved as a political activist and on behalf of the Citizens Climate Lobby met with members of congress to gain support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Anna enjoys hiking and has backpacked through South-East Asia including Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. She has also road tripped across the country to explore various national parks, particularly the Tetons. Anna also likes cooking, embroidery, playing board games, laughing, and climbing trees. She has played the cello and is learning to play the banjo. Anna’s nature name at outdoor education is Ponderosa.

Liliana Gilster | Naturalist

Liliana Gilster

Liliana Gilster was born in Santa Cruz, CA and grew up in Bellingham, WA. She is a graduate of Whatcom Community College with an AA in sciences and she holds a BA in Environmental Policy with a minor in Geography from Western Washington University. As a student volunteer with the Sustainable Health Empowerment program at UCLA, Liliana delivered triage care in Cambodia to over 3,500 patients. This also involved making presentations on environmental health/safety as well as cardiovascular health. She has also been trained as a Student Mitigator in Environmental Dispute Resolution. While in leadership positions with the International Organization of the Rainbow for Girls, YMCA, and Girl Scouts, Liliana led community outreach and provided mentorship for young girls. Working in non-partisan positions for two Washington State legislative sessions, where she researched environmental toxins and their effects on children and adults inspired her to continue to serve and teach. Liliana loves to travel and explore new places, people and foods. During the summer of 2019 she traveled solo to 14 countries in Europe. She has also spent time in Jalisco, Mexico where some of her family currently resides. She enjoys reading, kayaking, paddle-boarding, swimming, skiing, hiking, biking, and backpacking. For 17 years Liliana has been involved in musical performance and choir along with several years of swing dancing and dance fusion. Liliana’s nature name at outdoor education is Glacier.

Connor Laine | Naturalist

Connor Laine

Connor Laine grew up in Pleasanton CA where he hiked its hills and climbed its valley oak trees. He spent three months this last summer working with A.C.E (American Conservation Experience) where he did backcountry brush and cross-cut log removal, set pheromone traps for bark beetles and reapplied adobe to a historical fort. Connor has spent time in Prague and Ecuador. He has attended or worked in camps since he went to Exploring New Horizons as a fifth grader. Connor worked for many summers in the Cazadero redwoods at Camp Royaneh running programs ranging from climbing and high ropes to basic scouting skills. As a group facilitator at the YMCA of the Rockies, he led groups on weekly adventures including hikes through Rocky Mountain National Park and in special projects with Habitat for Humanity and the Denver food pantry. As a student naturalist at Shady Creek Outdoor School, Connor gained skills in outdoor teaching and managing classes with 20-30 fifth and sixth graders. Connor enjoys hiking and backpacking and is a skilled rock climber as a BSA level 2 instructor. He speaks Spanish and is excited to chat with Spanish speaking students this year. If you hand him a yoyo, you’ll be amazed with what he can do with it. Connor’s nature name at outdoor education is Basalt.

Derek McGovern | Naturalist

Derek McGovern

Derek McGovern grew up in Walnut Creek CA and is a graduate of UC Davis with a BA in economics and a minor in education as well as a MA in education along with a multiple subject teaching credential. He holds a single subject teaching credential in life sciences from UC Riverside and English Language Learner (ELL) authorization. Derek completed a graduate program course at Campbellsville University earning an environmental education endorsement. Derek has a passion for teaching and through his experience in various school settings and educational programs he is always reminded that students learn in different ways. While working as a lead instructor at Galileo summer camp, Derek led outdoor activities and taught science to 3rd through 6th grade students. He developed and taught project-based learning units while working as a 6th grade Montessori teacher. Derek has also worked as a soccer coach for 8–10-year-olds, a student council supervisor with 4-6th graders and a talent show coordinator. He gained an appreciation for outdoor education and hands-on learning by volunteering as a high school cabin leader with Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School. This summer, Derek worked as an environmental Educator for Nature Bridge at the Marin Headlands Coastal Camp. He enjoys long distance trail running, biking and playing the ukulele. He loves swimming in cool lakes and rivers and has some favorite spots on the Yuba River. Derek’s nature name at outdoor education is Tide.

Lauren Sawyer | NaturalistLauren Sawyer

Lauren Sawyer grew up in Fair Haven, New York near Lake Ontario and is a graduate of State University of New York with a BA in Outdoor Recreation and a concentration in environmental and cultural interpretation. As a sailing instructor and educator for 4 years, Lauren believes that her work has gone beyond just teaching students how to sail but has helped them to develop a sense of confidence, knowledge and independence while working in a group setting. She has a rich background in working with students of all ages and has gained insight to the various student learning styles, became skilled at group management and is keenly aware of student health and safety needs. This summer Lauren worked as Trip Leader and Adventure Survival Instructor leading two-week backpacking trips into the back country including, paddling, hiking, repelling and trail building. She has a love for adventure and traveling and any place around water will bring her happiness. Lauren enjoys sailing, paddling, swimming, and yoga. She is interested in geology and is a rock climber. She looks at the world with an artist’s eye, making jewelry and candles, watercolors, painting and drawing using different mediums and fiber arts. Lauren’s nature name at outdoor education is Luna.

Mica Hastings | Naturalist

Mica Hastings

Mica Hastings grew up in Portland, Oregon and is a graduate of Bard College with a BA in Cultural Anthropology including coursework in climate change, LGBTQ issues, youth and politics and education. As part of the Sea Education Program, she sailed on board a 134ft sailing ship in the Caribbean to conduct oceanographic and natural history research. As an outdoor school leader in Portland, Mica taught water science to 6th grade students at the Sandy River. She has many years as a summer camp counselor where she gained skills in teaching and experiential education, group management, awareness of student health and safety, conflict resolution and social emotional learning. Mica has worked with youth 9-15 years old leading multi-day backpacking trips and kayaking. With skills gained from many years of musical theatre she co-created an online improv class for 10 fifth graders that included improvisational games, character reenactment and the writing of an original play. Mica enjoys playing ultimate and was captain of the frisbee team. She also likes camping, hiking, running and she swims every chance she gets. Mica loves to sing and she plays the guitar. She’s lived in Morocco, has traveled to Australia and she speaks conversational French. Mica’s nature name at outdoor education is Rhubarb.

Kaylee Reynolds | Naturalist

Kaylee Reynolds

Kaylee Reynolds grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa and is a graduate of Iowa State University with a BS in Animal Ecology and a focus of Interpretation of Natural Resources. She is also licensed as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) for implementing behavior analytic services and therapy to individuals with developmental disabilities. Throughout college, she worked with Story and Pottawattamie County Conservation agencies in Iowa where she directed community programs, facilitated summer camps, and created lesson plans for K-12 students. After graduating college, Kaylee worked as a naturalist at Foothill Horizons Outdoor School (FHOS). There she worked with classes of up to 35 students where she developed and taught NGSS lessons, led hikes and evening programs, and facilitated field trips at a state park and through a cave tour.  Shortly after the term at FHOS, she received her RBT certification and worked with adults and children with disabilities in Nebraska and Colorado. She loves working with underserved communities in any capacity and getting to work in these positions amidst the pandemic was one of the most rewarding experiences she's had so far. Wanting to get back to the world of outdoor education, Kaylee recently completed the Heather Campbell Chaney Environmental Educator Fellowship at Catamount Institute in Colorado Springs, CO. Though her favorite ecosystem had always been the restored native prairies in Iowa, she now finds herself in love with coniferous forests and oak woodlands, especially in alpine locations. In her free time, Kaylee enjoys reading, cooking vegetarian meals, creating collages with pressed flowers, playing ukulele, and hiking new trails. However, her favorite hobby is pushing herself on new climbing routes, both in outdoor settings and the climbing gym. She also speaks intermediate Spanish and is currently working to become more fluent.  Kaylee’s nature name at outdoor education is Darner.

Ania Golos | Naturalist

Ania Golos

Ania Golos grew up in Connecticut and is a graduate of the University of Lynchburg with a BA in Environmental Studies and a Master’s in Public Health. Through the University of Georgia, Ania studied in Monteverde Costa Rica where, with the goal of creating citizen engagement and stewardship of local streams, she worked with local communities by studying community health, freshwater macroinvertebrates and water quality including wastewater/grey water issues. During this time, she conducted water quality workshops and lab demonstrations for both school aged students as well as University students. Much of Ania’s work was in the Bell Bird biological corridor where she saw and heard a variety of birds including Bell Birds. As a naturalist with the Nature Foundation at Wintergreen she developed plans for environmental education programs for the Virginia public school system, presented environmental education programs to visitors ages 6-70 including interactive nature hikes. Through advanced courses and trainings, Ania deepened her knowledge of medicinal and edible plants, mycology, geology, limnology, ornithology as well as local flora and fauna. She enjoys hiking and being in nature, inspired by her childhood summers spent at her grandparent’s home in the mountains and countryside of southern Poland. Ania hiked 8 hours to the crater of Volcan Conception when she visited Nicaragua. She also likes reading, painting, biking, photography and yoga. She speaks Polish and Spanish and plays the guitar. Ania’s nature name at outdoor education is Caldera.


Allison Collins

Director, Outdoor Environmental Education


Phone: (650) 747-9581

Steve Van Zandt

Manager, Outdoor Education


Phone: (650) 747-0414

Amanda Lee

Administrative Assistant II, Outdoor Education Information and Registration


Phone: (650) 802-5360