Leadership Team

MARIE "PINEAPPLE" 

Director - Environmental Education

When did you start at Walden West?  This was my first teaching job back in 1991. I have been involved with Walden West for 30 years. I came as a classroom teacher with Hughes and Laurelwood. I came back as Co-Director from 2001-2004. I have been Director since 2016.

How did you get your nature name?  I decided to be Pineapple because my father emigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii to work on the Pineapple fields. Pineapple is my favorite fruit and it also is a symbol of hospitality.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  I love the ocean! I love to see all the animals and plants in the ocean. I am fascinated by jellyfishes and algae. I also love the redwood forest and everything in its ecosystem.

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I love the outdoors especially the ocean. I love to surf, kayak and paddle board. I enjoy photography and drawing nature that I observe and study. I love to dance the hula. I enjoy playing my ukulele with my family.

TAD "TUNDRA" 

Supervisor - Environmental Education

When did you start at Walden West?  I came to Walden West in 6th grade for science camp in 1992. I returned for my first time as a cabin leader in 1997, and volunteered for about a million more weeks until 2001. At that time I was hired as one of the ropes course facilitators for summer camp. In 2002, I helped create the cabin leader training program and became the first cabin leader advisor. After some time away between 2007 and 2013, I returned to summer camp and the ropes course, then in 2016 was hired full time as the Program Lead. I've been running our summer programs since 2019, and was promoted to Supervisor in October 2022.

How did you get your nature name?  When I came up to science camp in 6th grade, nature names had to start with the first letter of your first name. I wanted something different than "Tree" or "Tiger", and "Tadpole" was too easy, so my amazing field instructor suggested "Tundra" and explained what it was. I thought it was cool (literally) and kept it!

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  I am a fan of the beach and the ocean, I love the sound of waves crashing. My favorite animal is the orca or killer whale. But I also love the stars, as I am a fan of science fiction. I'd go to space if given the chance!

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I am a HUGE Disney fan and love going to Disney parks as often as possible! I guess I should note that I also enjoy creating and editing videos, since almost all the videos on our YouTube page were edited by me. And I love to create fun designs on Photoshop; some of the Walden West merchandise was created by me as well!

RON "SPIDER" 

Environmental Education Program Lead - Outdoor School

When did you start at Walden West?  I got my start at Walden West in 1997, back when students were still living in caves for their cabins with no electric lights and had to forage for their own food.  Only kidding, but it was a long time ago and I’m still alive and kicking up here after 25 years!

How did you get your nature name?  Early on, nature names at Walden West were alliterated, as in your nature name would start with the same first letter as your real name.  So originally my nature name was Ron Roadrunner!  Then on Halloween week of 1998 a group of us decided to rename ourselves after the tricksters in Native American folklore.  From that point forward we all adopted single word nature names, and thus was the birth of Spider.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  I am a big time fungophile – meaning I love hunting for wild mushrooms!  It’s like a treasure hunt out there after it rains.  I also like creek hikes and exploring new trails.

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I surf where I live in Santa Cruz and also mountain bike with my dog Maisie.  In the winter I get up to the sierras as much as possible to shred the snow on my snowboard and skis with my wife and son.  When I’m not out doing those things, you can find me on the couch at my house drinking coffee with a cat in my lap!

TODD "SQUIRREL" 

Environmental Education Program Lead - Outdoor School

When did you start at Walden West?  I started WW in 1999.  I guess that makes me pretty old!  I was a field instructor for about 9 years and then I transitioned into the office running the program for the past 13 years or so. 

How did you get your nature name?  I chose my nature name when I started WW.  I felt like Squirrel fit my personality quite well. I definitely thrive on being busy, I love to keep things nice and organized, I always like to keep my “den” (house) super clean and everything put in place and enjoy hanging with my other animal friends; JUST LIKE A SQUIRREL!

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  Growing up as a kid, my parents took me camping and fishing all the time. I love to be along side of a creek and watch the fish swim around. I have led and been on many backpacking trips all over the place and love to be surrounded by lots of trees! I really enjoy backpacking to a remote lake in the middle of nowhere and enjoy the scenery. Good times!!

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  Some of my favorite times is going camping and swimming in a creek with my dog. I like to go on bike rides, and enjoy fixing things. I am constantly keeping myself busy improving and customizing my life. I like to build things and create amazingness wherever I go. 

MORIAH "BLACK WIDOW" 

Health Technician

When did you start at Walden West?  I started as a volunteer in 2003, became the Summer Camp Lifeguard in 2006, and Health Technician in 2011, I moved away for 3 years and returned in 2018 to fill the Health Technician position again.

How did you get your nature name?  I was 15 at the time and wanted something dark and sinister, a staff member at the time suggested Black Widow. It stuck and I love it.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.   I am drawn to water. Lakes, oceans, ponds, creeks, I love them all and feel most centered with myself when I am around them. 

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I love to be creative and crafty- sewing, building, wrapping, printing, cutting, painting, arranging....etc. If it is something I can make I will, and if it can be rainbow-themed or color-coded so it will be.

MONICA "BLUE

Volunteer Liaison Recruiter

When did you start at Walden West?  I started at Walden West in June of 2022.

How did you get your nature name?  I was a camp counselor at YMCA Camp Loma Mar many moons ago. When we started staff training I had no idea that we were supposed to come up with a “camp name” and when we were doing staff introductions at the beginning of the summer, I said that I didn’t have a name yet. Since I was new, they tried to give me some really random name and I protested and said I’d be Blue.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.   I love the beach!

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I started playing the piano when I was 6 and have picked up a few instruments along the way. I’m also quite a crafty and creative person. These days I mostly enjoy relaxing with family during my downtime.