Staff


Instructors

Noah Hardy

Noah Hardy

Nature Program Instructor

Noah is a child of the East Bay, who started working in outdoor education at 14 and has fallen in love with the California forests in the decade since. Though he’s spread his wings north and south along the coast, both the intricacy of its nature and the passion of its people forever draws him back to the Bay. He is a staunch believer that real social change stems from teaching children to care about one another and their environment. Through nature, he hopes to break down walls and bring people together (metaphorically, of course, please social distance responsibly.) Above all that, though, his foremost goal in life has always been to make children laugh, and if he can do that in a day then he will be happy with the difference he’s made.

Sophia Fox

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.

Nicole Landau

Nature Program Instructor

Nicole was born in Nicaragua and has lived between her birth place and the Bay Area. She grew up in a multicultural household with music, art, film and dance as constant themes throughout her life. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Film and Digital Media in 2008. At Santa Cruz she discovered farming and got involved with agroecology and sustainable living practices. After college she volunteered in organic farms in Italy through the WWOOF program. Inspired by her experience she decided to continue her studies, which led her to Chiapas Mexico where she researched the impact of school gardens on children’s eating habits and perceptions. After obtaining her Master’s in Science degree for Natural Resources and Rural Development at the Colegio de La Frontera Sur, Nicole moved to Nicaragua where she worked at different educational gardens, helped run an Ecocultural farm and founded a Pedal Power group for rural women. Nicole move back to the Bay Area in 2018 and is excited to teach 5th and 6th grade science at Sienna Ranch.

Brennan Fischer

Nature Program Instructor

Brennan was born in Santa Cruz, CA and was imbued with a deep appreciation of the natural world at Mount Madonna School, and through playing on the beautiful beaches and forests near his home.  After his family moved to Upstate New York at age eight, he learned to appreciate the seasons and the majestic waterfalls, lakes and rivers of NY in the Hudson Valley, where the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers intersect.  His college years at the University of New Hampshire brought with them the thrill of snowboarding in the White Mountains.  His journey brought him back to California to reach for new opportunities and adventures in the Bay Area.

After a short stint working at a farm in Shingle Springs, CA, Brennan learned the therapeutic benefits and satisfaction of growing food, working the land and tending animals.  Brennan wanted to share these experiences with children, and entered the world of education as Garden Educator for the Climate Corps Education Outside Program; teaching science, agriculture, nutrition, and eco-literacy to Pre-K through 5th graders through hands-on garden lessons and activities.  He was inspired by the many ways in which urban youth could connect with the natural world by growing food and flowers, and observing and studying critters.  Prior to this, Brennan had ten years of social work/human services experience helping children, families, and adults work towards stability and self-sufficiency, live and thrive with mental health/developmental/behavioral issues, and achieve their goals.  Brennan has a BA in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire.

Brennan has lived a life full of diverse creative and physical outlets.  Brennan is a (now part-time) professional photographer, Black Belt in Okinawan Karate, and has been a hip hop dancer and college rugby player.  Brennan currently lives in Oakland and spends a lot of time gardening, hiking, camping, biking, cooking, and spending time with his partner and friends.

Brennan is excited and humbled to be a part of Sienna Ranch’s amazing team, and hopes to continue helping children follow their inquisitive spirits towards connection, awe, knowledge, and joy.

Emily Fuentes

Woodshop Coordinator & Nature Program Instructor

Emily Fuentes is a Bay Area native, avid gardener and tinkerer. Her enthusiasm for outdoor education was nurtured while studying at UC Santa Cruz and afterwards spent over 5 years teaching in school gardens in Oakland, Ca. She got her curiosity for woodworking at a much younger age when she got her first taste of saw dust and building as a child during weekend visits to the Berkeley Marina Adventure Playground. Since then she studied furniture making at Laney College and has had a blast teaching woodworking in a variety of schools and summer camps in the Bay Area. She excited join the Sienna Ranch community and continue to learn and grow with everyone.

Meghan Arthur

Nature Program Instructor

Meghan has been an outdoor enthusiast since she was a little girl in suburban Chicago. In her twenties, Meghan was a white-water raft guide on the Arkansas River in Colorado and a snowboard instructor at Purgatory in Durango Colorado. Additionally, Meghan teaches voice and guitar lessons. Meghan left the law field in 2014 to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Human Development at U.C. Davis. Meghan is excited to be part of the Sienna Ranch family and looks forward to sharing her love of the outdoors with children of all ages!

Shoopie Panholzer

Nature Program Instructor

Shoopie grew up in Carmel Valley where she spent her days watching wildlife, playing under the oak trees and catching lizards. She fell in love with protecting nature when she held a poison dart frog in Costa Rica at age 9 and has been on a journey to foster that love in others ever since. After many inspiring science teachers convinced her to do so, she went to Saint Mary’s College of California to study environmental science and dance. During college she was lucky to find Montecito Sequoia Lodge and Family camp where she found her joy of showing young people the amazing things nature has to offer. She has learned to follow her heart and do things that scare her everyday through experiencing nature and hopes to inspire others to do so too. She believes Sienna Ranch is the perfect place to do just that. Outside of work Shoopie enjoys walking her dog, hiking, dancing, attending performing arts shows, and being with her family.

Amity

Horse Riding 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.

Kinsey Dunne

Horse Riding Instructor

Kinsey was born in London, England and has grown up in Orinda, California. She currently attends Miramonte High School. Kinsey’s hobbies include art, horseback riding at her barn in Briones, yoga, cooking, baking, meeting new people, and teaching kids. At Miramonte, Kinsey works on metalworking, sculpting and pottery in her 3D crafts class. She has six years of experience in both English and Western style horseback riding and loves being around horses, dogs, cats, chickens, and pretty much all animals! Kinsey also loves spending time with kids of all ages, as she currently works as an assistant art instructor at the Orinda Community Center after-school art class. Last summer, Kinsey was an assistant teacher for a summer school class for special education middle schoolers and had so much fun doing so. She is really excited to bring together all of her hobbies at Sienna Ranch this summer!

Lindsay Shannon

Special Events & Nature Program 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. 

Jessica Groetsch

Special Events 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.

Annette Dale

Nature Program Instructor

Annette strives to be the best version of herself every day, inspiring others to do the same. She grew up in a close-knit family where she was taught to look for the beauty in every moment and in everyone. Her childhood was spent immersed in arts and crafts, including building radio-controlled airplanes, weaving, painting, ceramics and sewing. She relishes the outdoors, growing up riding bikes, backpacking, camping, sailing, hiking, stargazing, and watching clouds. She received a degree in psychology and earned her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at UC Davis. She taught grades K-3 for 11 years. She has worked in all areas of education, including as a home and hospital teacher, reading specialist, tutor, and special education substitute. Since 2008, she has focused her energy on being a mom. She is proud to be a Lifetime Girl Scout and has been a Girl Scout leader since 2015. She enjoys helping children to create a solid foundation of academic and social/emotional life skills. She is grateful about working with people of all ages, seeing the joy in their faces when they learn something new.

Administration, Facilities & Animal Care

Julie Sanders

Business Director

Julie grew up in the East Bay and just returned from living abroad in Glasgow, Scotland for two years. While she was there she worked alongside youth from many different communities and backgrounds in Glasgow taking them on outdoor adventures and teaching cooking skills, life lessons, and mentoring youth on how to be the best versions of themselves. Prior to moving to Scotland Julie studied Business at the University of Oregon and is a proud Duck fan. In her spare time she loves hiking, camping, and being outdoors with her friends and family. Julie is passionate about building communities and connecting with everyone she meets. Julie is excited to be working at Sienna Ranch and exploring more of the East Bay hiking trails!

Alison Gould

Education Director

Originally from Nashville, TN, Alison first began working with children in high school as an art teacher for an after school program. She has a B.A. from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA and a certification in Permaculture and Naturalist Mentoring from the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA. She has also studied tracking and wilderness skills with Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA and Boulder Outdoor Survival School in Boulder, UT.  Alison has taught naturalist skills to kids for over a decade and has been with Sienna Ranch since its inception. In her free time she enjoys hiking, rock climbing and yoga and believes that there is always more to discover and learn about the natural world.

Bridgett McGrath

Operations Director

Bridgett loves working with Communities to create sustainable futures. Her background in architecture and sustainable building has influenced her passion for land stewardship. With an education background in environmental studies and geology, she loves exploring the many timescales of our earth, from soil to cliff faces. She is excited to take on the new Operations Director role and continue to plan for Sienna Ranch’s future.

Nick Jennings

Facilities Director

Nick has lived in the East Bay Area for most of his life, and spent much of his childhood and teenage years right here in Lafayette. While he attended Acalanes High School, he often looked over at Deer Hill Road and wondered, “What is that place with the white gate and weird telephone poles?” Little did he realize, he’d one day be working there.

Nick was introduced to Sienna Ranch in 2013 by his brother Mike after returning to the Bay Area from attending CSU Chico, where he studied geology. He began helping out with projects here and there, and by Fall of 2014, was a full time employee. He loves the unique challenges the ranch provides daily as well as the endless opportunities to learn new skills. In his time here he has picked up everything from carpentry and plumbing to welding and even beekeeping. He enjoys figuring out how things work and is always looking for something new to learn.

In his free time, Nick loves camping and playing music with his family, enjoys hobbies such as leatherworking and antique collecting, and is an avid player of board games and tabletop role-playing games.

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.

Ross Carter

Animal Care Manager

Ross is a positive, adventurous and nature-loving Bay Area explorer that has had a passionate love for animals since a very young age. In high school, he got a taste of ranch life feeding horses at Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center in Orinda and additionally has provided cuddles to many passing cats and dogs. Privileged to visit Costa Rica on a school science trip, Ross was introduced to the care and release of newborn sea turtles at a wildlife refuge which further reinforced his love for animals, nature and travel. His connection with nature blossomed while participating in Boy Scouts. He backpacked portions of the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail, rafted the North and South Fork of the American River and went snow camping in Dodge Ridge. He loves anything outdoors and leads a very active lifestyle: Hiking, motorcycling, camping, rock climbing and running across the Bay Area while frequenting Oregon and the Mt. Shasta area on longer weekends. In addition, he enjoys photography, cooking with family and friends and traveling whenever possible. Ross is nurturing his love for animals and nature and hopes to instill that love in others while working at the ranch.