Staff


Nature Program Instructors

Eliot Rhodes, Nature Program & Archery Coordinator

Eliot grew up playing in the creeks and parks of Franklin, Indiana. He studied English Literature and Philosophy/Religious Studies at Elmira College in New York and then spent the next 6 years traveling around the country (and the world) studying and teaching environmental education, including stops at High Trails Outdoor Science School in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California and Hava v’ Adam, an ecological farm in Modi’in, Israel. He believes that spending time outdoors is important, and that everyone should learn a little bit about how to grow their own food and cook it, too. His hobbies include: making music, cooking, hiking, gardening, scrabble, frisbee, watching football and just being outside.

Sophia Fox, Garden Coordinator, Nature Program Instructor

Sophia grew up in rural Oklahoma camping, fishing, and gardening with her grandparents. She studied school counseling, and has a Masters in Education. Some of her experiences include: working with the youth of the Choctaw Nation in college-prep programs and facilitating challenge/ropes courses, a 6 month permaculture internship in Hawaii, and most recently teaching and administrative positions at two outdoor science schools here in CA.

Sophia is very excited to be spending her days at the ranch playing, sharing knowledge, and letting Mama nature be the lead teacher! She believes in cultivating a love and respect for our planet by allowing children to explore, and learn from their natural curiosities. Some hobbies include: yoga, crafting, baking, snorkeling, camping, disc golf, dancing, and reading in the sunshine. 

Paul Stoutenburgh, Nature Program Instructor & 7th-8th Science Instructor

Paul is fascinated with science, with discovery, with the wonders and mysteries of life. His childhood heroes are Steve Irwin, Bill Nye, and his grandparents – nature educators who worked to preserve thousands of acres of wetlands and forests.

Paul studied Conservation Biology at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, and then went on to travel the world while working with environmental and human rights organizations. In 2012, Paul formed Earth Soul Productions, which has produced dozens of short documentary films, including several which have won festival awards and influenced positive change.

Paul is currently completing his science teaching credential at CSU East Bay. He has taught science and nature education at summer camps, private schools, and public schools. Paul enjoys camping, playing music, and making art. Paul is thrilled about working at Sienna Ranch, exploring the hills for wildlife, and investigating the mysteries of the natural world.

Dimitri Papazoglou, Nature Program & Woodshop Coordinator

Dimitri grew up romping around in the woods of the Pennsylvania and Virginia. After graduating from George Mason University he spent a year traveling around chasing the best rock climbing throughout Appalachia. Eventually, making his way to California only to fall in love with the dramatic landscapes, gorgeous weather, and positive disposition of the west coast.

Having a strong desire to be outside as much as possible, he loves learning new skills that allow him to do so. He spends his free time reading, rock climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, backpacking, camping, traveling, kendama jamming, and having long conversations with his dog named Lady.

Dimitri has been educating in many capacities for several years and believes the the benefits of exploring our natural environments are endless.

Nature Program Instructors (continued)

Jessica Groetsch, Nature Program & 5th-6th Science Instructor

Jessica is an east bay native who’s steadfast love for all things nature has led her on many adventures, the most recent landing her at Sienna Ranch.  She has her Bachelors of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary biology from UC Santa Cruz. Birds are her greatest passion, spending two field seasons in Yosemite National Park working as a bird bander, collecting data from migratory passerines during the breeding season. This experience left her with a strong knowledge of local bird species and a love for leading bird hikes. 

Working as an Education Specialist at Lindsay Wildlife Experience she found her love for teaching and working with children. Lindsay gave her the avenue to fuse her two great joys; working with animals and sharing that passion with other people. Sienna Ranch is an exciting  venture for her where she can implement her previous experiences.   

Anni Mackin, Substitute Nature Instructor

Anni lives by the intention to “help connect people to themselves, each other, and the earth”.  Growing up all over the western half of America, her first memory is of waking up in a baby carrier on her mother’s back as they hiked through a forest.  It was one of many times her parents shared the beauty of nature with her.  

She attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington where she kayaked and hiked to and from school everyday, often encountering harbor seals along the way.  

After college, she lived in Portland, OR where she was a co-manager at a food co-op and spent her time gardening, biking, and communing with backyard goats and chickens.  She then hit the road in a van, traveling all across America over a span of a couple years. 

Since landing two years ago in the Bay Area, Anni has dedicate herself to mindful outdoor education.  She has taught at the Shorebird Nature Center in Berkeley and taken mindfulness education and diversity courses.  She also substitute teaches and works for an arts education center.  Currently she finds joy in learning the ukulele, jewelry metalsmithing, singing, dancing, and painting.

Riding and Horsemanship School

Chelsea McMullen, Horse Riding Instructor

Chelsea has been riding horses since she was five and has been part of the Northern California equestrian community riding, attending and recently teaching at Dreamcatcher Ranch near Sacramento since she was 9.  She was a camper for many sessions each year, then moved into a CIT after attending counselor training.  After a year a Senior Counselor, Sienna Ranch is excited to have her since Fall 2015 in the Riding and Horsemanship School as a Riding Instructor.  Chelsea has a compassionate heart and builds close relationships with her students and co-workers.  Chelsa loves to be a kid and bring fun and enthusiasm to our camp.  She has owned her own horse, Dillon, for 7 years and is a member of Pony Club. 

Amity, SRRHS Instructor

Amity grew up roaming the hills of Lafayette with her older brother in search of lizards, snakes and any other wildlife that could be caught, inspected and released.  She was often seen on the back of her horse, Freckles, with a gopher snake wrapped around her wrist.

After discovering Sienna Ranch, Amity says, “Everything I know and love is all within this one place.  To learn respect for animals and the world around them is something that many kids are missing out on today.”  The ranch is offering all this for kids to discover.

Mel Hill, Special Events Instructor & Pony Ride Staff

Howdy! Mel is a transplant from Houston, Texas, where they grew up on a cattle ranch. Mel has been working with horses for most of their life, with 25 years Western riding experience and 5 years learning natural horsemanship training.

When they’re not doing that, Mel can be found tramping through the woods, backpacking, and climbing trees. They’re a decent archer, and they enjoy dabbling in many outdoor skills, from basketry, firestarting, and whittling, to leatherworking and edible plant identification. Self-sufficiency is fun!

Mel is a graduate from Rice University and is an accredited public school teacher. Their most favoritest thing to do in the whole world is share the wonder of nature with city kids who don’t ordinarily get to experience it.

Special Events Staff

Stefani Buzzard, Special Events Instructor

Stefani comes to the ranch as an active advocate for all animals.  From fostering kittens, rallying for the support of no-kill animal shelter programming in Contra Costa county and being part of a team that helps relocate pets in need, she appreciates a chance to facilitate public interactions with the animals at the Ranch.  Look for this smiling face at Sienna Ranch Birthday Parties, Family Days and Camp Outs.    

Domonique Williams, Special Events Instructor and Facilities Assistant

Domonique is excited to join the Sienna Ranch family and is thankful for the opportunity to continue teaching, learning and sharing experiences with the youth that use the ranch.

Born and raised in Southern California, Domonique moved to Northern California in 2004. She currently attends CSU, East Bay as Environmental Studies Major with a focus on Sustainable Resource Management. Her knowledge of plants and the Bay Area terrain have grown tremendously since moving to the East Bay. This has instilled in her a passion for park services. Domonique has extensive experience working in outdoor education and park stewardship, she has worked for both Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park and East Bay Regional Park District.

Lindsay Shannon, Special Events and Wellspring Enrichment Instructor

Lindsay grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts. What was supposed to be a temporary move to the Bay Area turned into a 25 plus year love of California. She graduated from Hayward State University with a degree in Social Services and Psychology. She enjoys hiking, reading, sewing, riding horses, walking her dogs and hanging out with her two daughters. Lindsay worked as a ABA Behavioral therapist and behavioral consultant for over 15 years and her love of working with children with autism, as well as other special needs, has been a long lasting passion that continues to grow. Lindsay started working at Sienna Ranch in the summer of 2016 as part of the Special Events staff and now has a group during the week. Her love of nature, animals, children and Art has given her the opportunity to continue to nurture these skills with the wonderful staff and amazing kids at Sienna Ranch. 

Barbara Jerabek, Special Events Instructor

Barbara was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area on a garden and animal-filled acre of the Los Altos hills.

From horse back trail guiding near Shasta, to roller skating to work at a Montessori pre-school in Monterey, she grew from a shy student into an outgoing, yet nurturing educator. Having most recently developed a Nature Program at Redwood Day School, she’s spent sixteen years empowering students to know that if they can think it and they should try it! Learn by doing!

Recently WWOOfing in Homer, Alaska, Barbara continues to value time outside her comfort zone and applies a renewed sense of empathy for farmers, workers, and my students at school who are constantly being asked to step outside their comfort zones too. In life she strives to look for the underdog, the sensitive child, or the one with boundless energy and support them in their journey of learning to navigate and explore the natural world around them.

In her down time Barbara loves to draw, take light hikes with her Labrador basset and family and loves to swim in open water!

Animal Care,  Facilities & Administration

Mike Jennings, Facilities Coordinator

Born and raised in the east Bay Area, Michael enjoyed hiking, camping and gardening throughout his childhood. He studied horticulture in Santa Cruz and the Sierra Foothills before attending Prescott College in Arizona, where he received a degree in agroecology and permaculture design.  He has 14 years of experience in horticulture and has also worked as a botanist for the National Forest Service–in Sonora and the Lake Tahoe Basin.

A member of the Sienna Ranch family since May 2012, he is thrilled to put to use his expertise in sustainable land stewardship. He enjoys using his plumbing and carpentry skills to maintain and improve amenities at the ranch.  He is also excited for his daughters, Lillian and Alice, to attend Sienna Ranch once they are old enough.

In his spare time, he enjoys plant propagation, especially edibles, succulents, and native plants. His garden in Lafayette is a yearly stop on the East Bay “Bringing Back the Natives” garden tour, where his passion for drought-tolerant, sustainable gardening is on display.  A self-taught musician, he loves to sing and play the guitar, mandolin, banjo, and piano. 

Amy Roth, Business Manager and Special Events Director

Amy earned a degree from Westminster College in Elementary Education and a Pennsylvania teaching certificate for grades K-6.  Student teaching at the McKeever Environmental Education Center in Slippery Rock, PA, led Amy to her first job at the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute, where she taught marine science in the Florida Keys.  Next, she moved to the mountains of Southern California to teach and direct at High Trails Outdoor Science School outside of Big Bear for six years taking on the roles of Medical Director, Program Director and Site Director for 50 staff and 10,000 public school visitors each year!

Amy enjoys riding her bike over the hills from Oakland when she is not returning emails and phone calls. She strives to spend weekends camping as often as possible.  Amy is grateful for her family’s love and support as she travels and works far from home.  Stop by and see the new shipping container office Mike and the facilities team renovated for her and Chris next to the green yurt!

 

Chris Lauf, Director

Chris grew up in Australia where he spent most of his childhood weekends in the shed, building go-carts, toys and tree forts, doing science experiments, or backpacking in the mountains around his hometown of Canberra. As he grew up, the urge to build things, experiment and explore the world never left him.

 

While studying Biology and Jazz at UC Santa Cruz, Chris began teaching basic bicycle mechanics to developmentally disabled adults, sharing the feeling of empowerment which comes from the building process. He also studied education theory and philosophy which led him to complete a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication at the Australian National University. 2008 he co-founded the Cycling Scientists, a 100% bicycle-mobile educational organization which ran hands-on science and technology workshops for remote Indigenous schools in the Australian Outback. In 2009 Chris lived and worked in Jakarta, developing and delivering a wide range of programs with the Indonesian National Science and Technology Centre.

Chris began working at Sienna Ranch in 2010.

Katie Corrigan, Animal Care and Education Manager, Apprentice Supervisor

Katie grew up in the Chicago suburbs, learning all that she could about horse care, training, and riding. She feels fortunate to have been able to work with a variety of horse breeds, from draft foals to newly adopted mustangs. She attended Georgetown University where she started the school’s equestrian team. Since graduating with a degree in psychology, Katie has kept horses a part of her life by coordinating equestrian camps, leading trail rides, and continuing to take riding lessons herself.   

For the last decade, Katie has been teaching about wildlife and conservation to all ages, hoping to inspire a greater respect for our planet and its inhabitants. Prior to Sienna Ranch, Katie visited schools all around the Bay area as an educator for a wildlife hospital. She also cared for rescued, non-releasable exotic animals that had been smuggled or abandoned, and given sanctuary at an environmental science center. She strives to meet the needs of whichever creature is in her care, whether it is a bobcat, parrot, tarantula, alligator, iguana, or a duck!