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
Kathleen Mitchell has been the Outdoor Science School Lead Teacher for 32 years. 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 California State University, San Bernardino. 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 California Naturalist Instructor (a program from the University of California). For the two summers, Kathleen taught a California Naturalist class for a group organized by the 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 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 32 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 near 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. Rachel has spent some time on a ranch in the beautiful Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming as a hiking guide and naturalist while running a kid’s program. She has also been an outdoor science school instructor in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Recently, she completed a course to become a certified California Naturalist. This past summer, Rachel worked at the University of Washington’s Botanic Garden teaching outdoor summer camp for first through sixth graders. While there, she was able to explore the wonders of the Pacific Northwest. During her free time, Rachel loves to botanize, collect rocks, go camping and backpacking, read, play with dogs and horses, and learn. This year is Rachel’s fourth year working at the Wrightwood site and she is still so happy and excited to be here.
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 four summers, Bobby has worked whale watching and guiding kayak tours on Orcas Island, off the Washington coast. This is Bobby’s fifth year in Southern California Outdoor Education, his fourth (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.
Ashley Dang, Naturalist Instructor
Ashley Dang is a recently transplanted Texan, though she grew up in the Bay Area. She earned her B.A. in biology and linguistics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. After graduating, Ashley moved around the country working as a botanist and wildland firefighter for the National Park Service. She has also been an outdoor educator at several locations, most recently at an outdoor education center near Houston, Texas. When she is not working on coursework towards her teaching certification and Masters of Education from Stephen F. Austin State University, Ashley enjoys watching plants grow, listening to birds chirp, and eating tacos.
Bridget Manjarrez, Naturalist Instructor
Bridget is a Southern California native. She attended California Polytechnic University, Pomona where she earned her B.S. in Environmental Biology in 2018. In college, she stumbled upon a passion for blending science with communication and began nurturing science and conservation in her community. Throughout the years, Bridget has worked as a 5th grade STEM teaching fellow, taught science at a performing art school, interned on an environmental research & education project for NASA, and hosted school visits to Cal Poly's ethnobotany garden. She has also spent her past three summers working for the National Park Service as interpretive park ranger in Wyoming where she facilitated the unique story of the geology, ecology, and human history of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Presently, she is focused on encouraging pathways to higher education for the youth, empowering communities to address environmental challenges, and developing her genuine passion for resource protection. She is thrilled to be home in Southern California and to continue connecting curious minds with our most valuable resource— nature.
Tara Harmon, Naturalist Instructor
Tara grew up in the high desert near Wrightwood, and attended Outdoor Science School here in 5th grade. After returning not one, not two, but three times as a cabin leader, she moved to the Bay Area to earn a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a minor in Forestry at UC Berkeley. In college she taught a Food Justice and Urban Gardening class, worked as a range ecology research assistant, and spent summers working in Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks. For her thesis project, she studied the impact of prescribed fire restrictions on Native Californians, who consider fire an essential part of their culture and ecosystems. After graduating, she worked at an experimental forest in the Sierra Nevada, where she assisted with prescribed burns and research relating to fire effects, soil compaction, bark beetles, and dead trees.
She is excited to be back in the Southern California mountains and working as a naturalist for LACOSS, the program that sparked her love for nature and the environment!