Certified by the California Department of Education
The Los Angeles County Outdoor Science School is regularly certified by the California Department of Education to provide outdoor science field study programs, and is a member in good standing of the California Outdoor School Administrators (COSA).
Kathleen Mitchell, Lead Teacher
This will be Kathleen’s 30th year as the principal of the Outdoor Science School. After earning a BA in psychology at UC Davis, she worked for three years as a naturalist for an Outdoor Education Program in Texas. Back in California, Kathleen worked for both the state and national park system and earned a teaching credential from CSU Sacramento. Kathleen also has a master’s degree in Environmental Education from CSUSB. In addition to her degrees and credential, she has extensive course work in various sciences. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder, and a California Naturalist and a CA Naturalist Instructor (a program from the University of California). This summer Kathleen taught a California Naturalist class for a group organized by the U.S. Forest Service for the San Gabriel Mountain area.
RT Hawke, Lead Naturalist Instructor
RT Hawke keeps track of our plants and rocks here at Wrightwood, along with being the Lead Naturalist Instructor. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Natural History. RT has taught for the L.A. County Outdoor Science School for 29 years. He has also taught for programs in Santa Clara and Monterey counties, National Audubon’s Camp in the Rockies, and Victor Valley College. RT loves plants, birds, rocks, traveling and playing bridge.
Rachel Bateson, Naturalist Instructor
Rachel Bateson grew up in the foothills below Wrightwood. In sixth grade, she attended Outdoor Science School right here at the Wrightwood site. She earned her B.S. in Wildlife and Wildlands Conservation at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. While in school, she spent a summer on a ranch in the beautiful Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming as a hiking guide/naturalist while running a kids program. After finishing school, she became an instructor an outdoor science school located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, horseback riding, camping, boating and playing with her dogs. This year is Rachel’s second year at our Wrightwood site,l and she is so excited and happy to be back.
Bobby Pfeiffer, Naturalist Instructor
Bobby Pfeiffer is a converted East coaster. He spent his first 23 years in New Jersey biking, skiing, and kayaking. His introduction to outdoor education came as a sixth grader when he attended Stokes Outdoor School, the same program he returned to in high school as a cabin leader. Bobby graduated from Rutgers University in 2011 with a B.S. in Animal Science with a focus on pre-veterinary medicine. Upon graduation he spent two years working in the education department of Adventure Aquarium, teaching and learning about all types of sharks, fishes,and marine invertebrates. Craving the adventure offered by the west coast he moved to Catalina Island in 2014, where he worked as a naturalist for the Catalina Island Conservancy. During the previous two summers Bobby has worked whale watching and guiding kayak tours on Orcas Island, off the Washington Coast. This is Bobby’s third year in Southern California Outdoor Education, his second (of hopefully many) working at LA County Outdoor Science School. In his free time he enjoys photography, traveling, and all manner of adventure. He is thrilled to be back in Southern California in such an interesting and diverse area.
Chris "Sierra" Willoughby, Naturalist Instructor
Chris Willoughby (Sierra) is originally from the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California. This is Sierra’s third year at our Wrightwood site, where he enjoys living on an active plate boundary. Sierra studied neotectonics, earthquake geology, and paleoseismology while earning his M.S. degree Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno. For his thesis research, he investigated an active fault in the Ruby Mountains of northeast Nevada. Sierra has worked as a consulting geologist for landslide and slope stability investigations in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also taken time off to travel, exploring high mountain ecosystems in North America, South America, India, Nepal, and New Zealand. Sierra has also lived and worked in for the National Park Service 15 years as a lead interpretive ranger at Mount Rainier, Pinnacles, Yosemite, Santa Monica Mountains, Denali, and Glacier Bay national parks. In his free time Sierra enjoys photography with his Canon 5d Mark III DSLR and hiking in wilderness areas. He especially is drawn to high places and alpine ecosystems, and feels right at home here in the San Gabriel Mountains of Wrightwood.
Ben Seipel, Naturalist Instructor
Ben Seipel grew up in Utah where he earned his B.S. in conservation biology from Brigham Young University. He also has a M.S. and teaching certificate from the University of Idaho in natural resources with an emphasis in environmental education. This is Ben’s second year teaching here at our Wrightwood site. He has previously worked for a year at the McCall Outdoor Science School in Idaho where he worked with elementary students outdoors. Ben has also taught at the college level as a TA for both the wildlife ecology and wildlife conservation classes. Ben has worked for three summers as a biologist for the U.S. Forest Service, on a one year mule deer research project for BYU, and one summer working for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center studying the wood thrush. He also has worked in Costa Rica studying toucan behavior and their influence on seed dispersal. This past summer Ben was hired as the lead raptor / wilderness survival instructor at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. Ben’s hobbies include camping, hiking, and backpacking and other similar outdoor activities. He also enjoys swimming, running, reading, nature photography, and playing music.
Nina Vuoso, Naturalist Instructor
Nina was born and raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles, and spent her childhood exploring tide pools, playing in the garden, and catching California fence lizards. Having earned a B.S. in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Davis in 2011, Nina chose to blend her passions of promoting science literacy and nutrition. From 2012-14 she served two AmeriCorps terms as a Youth Education Coordinator at Veggielution Community Farm in San Jose, CA, where she lead the garden program at nearby Aptitud Elementary school. This is Nina's 3rd year teaching at our Wrightwood site, which she attended in 5th grade as a Cornerstone Elementary School student in Palos Verdes, CA. Nina is a Wilderness First Responder, and spends her summers leading farming and gardening programs for kids