A Program 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).

Colby Ranch Staff

Shaun Hawke, Lead Teacher

Shaun Hawke, Lead Teacher

Shaun Hawke, Lead Teacher

Shaun grew up in west Los Angeles, but loved visiting beaches and mountains. She earned her Bachelor’s degree, as well as a graduate certificate in education, from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She also has training as an Emergency Medical Technician. She taught for Santa Clara County’s outdoor science program and for National Audubon’s Camp in the Rockies. She has worked for Los Angeles County Outdoor Science Schools for 23 years, opening three different sites as the lead teacher. Shaun likes flowers, star-gazing and hiking, so she loves working at outdoor science school.

Kyle Rector

Kyle Rector

Kyle Rector

Kyle's introduction to the outdoors began as a young child, exploring the various ecosystems of California with his family. His love for nature led to a BS in Zoology from UC Santa Barbara, where he became heavily involved in the outdoor recreation community by leading and teaching kayaking courses to community members. Post-college, Kyle has worked with a variety of programs, in the northern Sierra Nevada, on Orcas Island, WA, and with LACOSS starting January of 2017. When he isn't working, Kyle enjoys hiking, climbing, and finding small coffee shops.

Cisco Palmer

Cisco Palmer

Cisco Palmer

Cisco has always loved the outdoors.  He grew up in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley which was the perfect setting for him to grow up exploring local creeks, ponds, woodlots and fields.He earned a B.S. in biology at Virginia Tech and shortly thereafter began his teaching career, first as a substitute teacher, then as a tutor and eventually as a middle and high school science teacher. His love for outdoor education began when he went to Massachusetts and worked a season with Nature’s Classroom. In 2004 he moved to California to be an outdoor science school instructor with Orange County Outdoor Science School.  After six years with their program, he moved on to LA County Outdoor Science School, and this is his eighth year with LACOSS!

Brie English

Brie English

Brieanna English 

As a California  native, Brie grew up with a passion for the outdoors and an overall love for nature. Brie earned her degree in Biology from Pepperdine University; and feels fulfilled sharing that knowledge with the youth. Her weekends are spent surfing,  climbing, crafting skateboards, kayaking or diving. Brie is very excited to share her passion with the students this year at the Colby Ranch Outdoor Science School.

Rebecca Irigoyen

Rebecca Irigoyen

Nina Vuoso

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 led the garden program at a nearby Elementary School. Though this is Nina's 1st year in Malibu, it is her 5th year with LACOSS, having spent her first years teaching in Wrightwood. Nina is a certified Wilderness First Responder, and spends her summers leading farming and gardening programs for kids.

Chaz

Chaz

Chaz Topacio

Chaz was born in the Midwest but was not destined to stay. His wanderlust took him to the woods and water as he was constantly exploring to observe the creatures he could find under rocks and logs. He studied geology at St. Norbert College in De Pere,Wisconsin and underwent various field studies taking place in Arizona, Oregon, and Montana before graduating with a Bachelor of Science in 2014. Having a great passion for teaching, he started his career as a field station educator, teaching marine ecology for Chincoteague Bay Field Station in Wallops Island, Virginia. After two years of getting his feet wet in the realm of education (pun intended), he switched coasts to continue his passion as a naturalist with Los Angeles County Outdoor Science School. His free time is often spent hiking, swimming, playing Frisbee, and rocking some sweet tunes on his guitar.

Adam Wickstrom

Adam Wickstrom

Adam Wickstrom

Adam was born in Indiana and attended college at Indiana Wesleyan University where he received a degree in Child Psychology.  After living in Indiana surrounding by corn fields I’m extremely excited to live and work with students so near to the mountain. Since college I have had the opportunities to work with students in settings ranging from cruise boats, the mountains, and now the beach. This will be my third year at LACOSS and I’m excited to be able to share my love of learning with our guests.

Khalena Wicktrom

Khalena Wicktrom

Khalena Wickstrom 

Khalena Wickstrom grew up on a small farm in Pennsylvania and spent her childhood traveling, working and learning how to work hard and play hard in the outdoors! Through those experiences she developed a great love for the outdoors, experiential education, science and traveling through weekly family hikes and road trips to national parks. Khalena earned her bachelor of science degree in Parks and Resource Management with an emphasis in Environmental Education from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. Since then Khalena has been working at camps and environmental education programs all across the country sharing her love of education, science and the great outdoors.