Program Staff

NHAT-DZU "ALPHA DOG"

Environmental Education Specialist

When did you start at Walden West?  I first came to Walden West as a Cabin Leader way back in May of 2010! I was hired along with Lobster as Field Instructors in April of 2022. Now we’re buddies!

How did you get your nature name?  I wanted to have a distinct Nature Name that stood apart from my other Cabin Leader friends, and I thought Alphadog sounded cool (I was 15). According to something I read when I was younger, in a pack of dogs there would be an “alpha” who would lead the others. I thought that made a lot of sense as a name for someone who was going to lead other campers. Unfortunately, as I got older and learned more about environmental science, it turns out that the research I had read previously was faulty—apparently it was all based on observations of wolves held in captivity, so there’s no real evidence that this relationship exists out in the wild. It’s okay to learn from your mistakes! It’s also a reference to a song by Fall Out Boy, a band that I listened to a lot back in high school.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.   I love finding fun places to explore, like small creeks and waterfalls. Hanging out with friends deep in the forest while listening to the sounds of bugs, birds, and frogs is a wonderful thing. You should try sitting among some beautiful trees and drawing what you see.

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  Sharing a meal with friends and/or family, playing video games (big Nintendo fan, reading comic books, watching movies, and making a music playlist for myself or a loved one.

CASEY "LOBSTER"

Environmental Education Specialist

Bio coming soon!

JAMIE "JUNEBUG" 

Outdoor Recreation Specialist Sub

Bio coming soon!

DREW "OTTER" 

Environmental Education Specialist

When did you start at Walden West?  I started at Walden West in January 2014. 

How did you get your nature name?  When I first arrived at Walden West a coworker of mine wanted to call me dew. However,  I was not super inspired by it and after many weeks of thinking about which animal I should choose I thought Otter would be a great name.  Otters will play games with each other well into their adult life and I thought that sounded like something I was interested in.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  Some of my favorite things in nature are hiking in the redwoods after it rains.  I also enjoy camping in the desert with my family and experiencing the solitude and quiet silence.  I also enjoy mushroom season in the forest as there are so many different species to observe.

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  Some of my hobbies are surfing, photography, mountain biking, and backpacking.  I recently started to really enjoy cooking as well as watching cooking shows.  

APRIL "STARLIGHT" 

Environmental Education Specialist

Bio coming soon!

LAUREN "ISLAND" 

Environmental Education Specialist Sub

Bio coming soon!

PENELOPE "PURPLE CATERPILLAR" 

Outdoor Recreation Specialist

When did you start at Walden West?  I was a 5th grader at science camp and Guinea Pig was my field instructor. I got to hear Scooby Stories. My mom found out that Walden West had a summer program and I signed up for group 8. When I was 13, I got to do LIT with Scooby. I have been a summer counselor for 5 years. I have been a cabin leader 10 or 11 times. I was a counselor for Girl’s Plus, CORE and Wild Things (but only for 2 days). I started working here in Fall of 2021.  

How did you get your nature name?  I came up here as a purple headed weirdo for LIT. Scooby asked me, “What do you want to be?” Because of my purple hair, I wanted it to be purple…so I spit out Purple Caterpillar and that’s it.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  The number one thing that I love is when the forest meets the ocean. Santa Cruz is my favorite place. I am obsessed with whales even though I have never seen one in real life.  

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I am artistic and I commission work sometimes. I work in acrylic paints. I enjoy meditating in the forest all the time and hanging out with my dogs, snakes, bearded dragon and gecko.

HEATHER "PHOENIX FEATHER" 

Environmental Education Specialist

When did you start at Walden West?  I started working at camp in September of 2021, but my first time at camp was in November of 2004 as a camper! Then again in 2010 as a cabin leader.

How did you get your nature name?  I wanted to be Feather but another cabin leader took it. And I've always been kind of mesmerized by fire so I combined fire and feather to get to Phoenix Feather.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  I love all the different colors in nature and how drastically things can change depending on weather. My favorite things around camp include the mossy parts of the forest, redwood tree circles, and the creek!

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I love doing anything involving art! I have a degree in digital animation and love to paint and sketch in my free time. I also like playing MMO's online and playing DND with friends. You'll also find me cooking up huge portions of food for friends and family when I have a few days off from work.

MEREDITH "MEADOW" 

Overnight Program Specialist

Bio coming soon!

MICHAEL "COMET" 

Outdoor Recreation Specialist

When did you start at Walden West?   I was a camper in the 5th grade and then started volunteering in 2007. In 2011, I think I was a cabin leader 20 times. Then, I got hired as a substitute in 2013 doing night programs and summer camp.

How did you get your nature name?  First time I was a cabin leader, I named myself “Joe Dirt” after that movie. Then, when I came back in 2011, I was told that I couldn’t name myself after a movie. So a friend suggested “Comet” and it reminded me of the logo for a game called Final Fantasy 7.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  I really like the rain, the fresh air, and everything is wet. It is calming and soothing. I like hiking in the rain. It is a different experience with the sounds.

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I am a gamer and have been since I was 6. I like to play music at the Portuguese Mardi Gras where my family and I will play all night. I love to cook like my dad and I like to spend hours in the kitchen. In the last 6 months, I have been into cryptocurrency, a digital currency.

ANNETTE "ACORN" 

Environmental Education Specialist Sub

When did you start at Walden West?   I was hired at Walden West March 15, 2022 and my first day was March 18th.

How did you get your nature name?  I love oak trees. There are 18-21 species of oaks in California. I think they are gorgeous and I love how every species has a different leaf and a different acorn. The valley oak is my favorite tree/acorn.

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  I love finding fungus and slime molds. They are what I find most exciting these days. I also really like galls; I’m fascinated by how many different ones exist on the same tree. I’m still finding new ones on the valley oak! I also love the fresh smell, the feeling of solitude and the calmness that nature makes me feel.

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I love to read, get outdoors, play games on my iPad, watch tv (love Alone, Survivor and true crime (forensic) shows), play with my cats and occasionally play video games.

JEFF "JELLYFISH" 

Environmental Education Specialist

When did you start at Walden West?   I started at Walden West in January of 2007.

How did you get your nature name?  My nature name is alliterative to my name (and the story is told in my YouTube interview).

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  My favorite things in nature are probably trees and now slime molds.

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  I love travel, photography, and hiking.

DONOVAN "JUPITER" 

Outdoor Recreation Specialist Sub

Bio coming soon!

NIKOO "MOOSE" 

Outdoor Recreation Specialist Sub

Bio coming soon!

JOHN "CROW" 

Environmental Education Specialist

Bio coming soon!

DANIEL "MARMOT" 

Environmental Education Specialist

When did you start at Walden West?  I first started working at Walden West in 2000.

How did you get your nature name?  I've spent a lot of time in the mountains backpacking, climbing and snowboarding. So, I wanted a nature name that had to do with the mountains.  And, on a climbing trip to Yosemite, I stopped in the visitor center and they had a display on marmot's.  It said that marmots were one of 2 animals that could live up in the "Alpine Zone", above tree line. 

Describe some of your favorite things in nature.  Glassy waves peeling, sunsets and sunrises over the ocean, huge mountains, deep fluffy powder (snow), sleeping under the stars, full moons, being close to cool animals, canyons and mesas in the high desert, alpine flowers when the snow melts, huge trees, giant tropical leaves, giant bamboo, glassy lakes, big rivers, frogs croaking, crickets chirping, birds singing and coyotes howling. 

What are some of your hobbies or activities?  Stand up paddle (SUP) surfing, running with my dog on the beach, backpacking, traveling, reading and gardening.