Staff 2019-2020

Lissa “Turtle” Gilmore


Lissa is excited to join the San Joaquin County Outdoor Education Jones Gulch team.  Lissa has been in the San Joaquin Valley for 20 years, first as a middle school science teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Tracy, CA, and most recently, as a Science Coordinator for STEM programs at SJCOE.  She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Marine Biology and received her Administrative Credential from the University of the Pacific.  She was inspired to be a science teacher based on her experiences from attending the Yosemite Institute science camp while in high school.  She enjoys camping, hiking, diving, and kayaking with her husband and two sons.


Allison “Sorrel” Collins


Allison is delighted to be the principal of here favorite place on Earth, San Joaquin County Outdoor Education Jones Gulch.   A naturalist at Jones Gulch from 2008-2011, Allison spent time in traditional education in Santa Cruz County before returning to the wonderful world of outdoor education. She is a a native of Monterey County, California and spends her free time exploring YMCA Camp Jones Gulch with her husband and her son, whose nature name is “Bug”.


Pierce "Willow" Bradner

Evening Director and Senior Naturalist

Pierce grew up in Richmond, VA with a neighborhood full of small creeks, lots of insects, and friends to explore them with. As a child she developed a love for being active outside. She was always either playing soccer or rock hopping on the James River. Every summer she attended a small all girls’ camp in the Appalachian Mountains where her appreciation for nature grew even stronger. She went to college at George Mason University in Virginia where she studied Neuroscience. Here she developed a better understanding of nature’s importance to positive mental health and development. Her life was altered when she spent one summer during college backpacking on the John Muir Trail. It was the first time she had been backpacking and the first time she had been to California and she was blown away. She loves to travel and went on a solo backpacking trip around Europe. She worked with a family in Sweden, at a bed and breakfast in Italy, and on an organic farm in Austria. After college she packed up her things and drove across the country to San Jose to work with elementary school students in an under-resourced school. She tutored third graders that were struggling in reading and taught fifth graders in the after school program. She spent last summer as an instructor at a summer adventure day camp and took kids ages 6-13 rock climbing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and hiking. She loves exploring new places, long hikes, the mountains, backpacking, coffee, and running. Pierce is incredibly excited to spend this year in the redwood forest and hopes to inspire kids to create their own curiosity and understanding of nature.


Samuel "Burl" Beeler

Evening Director and Senior Naturalist

Sam is a Senior Naturalist intern with San Joaquin County Outdoor Education Jones Gulch and is excited to be returning for his 2nd year.  From Ripon California, Sam attended Jones Gulch as a cabin leader in both Junior and Senior years of high school.  Last year Sam graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Environmental Science and Management.  While at HSU Sam was a 20-minute bike ride both to beaches and redwood forests; a very different experience from the Central Valley where most of his outdoor interactions growing up involved walking through almond orchards and cow fields.  This past summer found Sam working as an Interpretive Park Ranger for the US Forest Service at Lake Alpine and the summer prior as a tour Guide in Redwood National and State Parks where his knowledge of and love for the Sequoia Sempervirens grew.  He hopes to share with his students the importance of the Redwood and High Sierra forests, their inhabitants, and ecosystems.  Previous jobs have included Activities Assistant at a Nursing Home, Intern Wilderness Ranger in Stanislaus National Forest, and Tour Guide at Humboldt State University.  When not out on the trail or planning lessons, Sam likes to bake, sing karaoke, watch movies, and go hiking.  Sam is very excited to be returning to Jones Gulch as a Senior Naturalist and wants to help his students have as great and inspiring of a time as he did when he was here as a student.  


Will "Dogwood" Harmon

Health Clerk and Senior Naturalist

Will grew up in Independence, Missouri surrounded by Oak-Hickory forests and muddy rivers. He spent time exploring those forests as a Boy Scout and a runner through middle and high school. Towards the end of high school, he discovered his love for the mountains and photography, during a 12-day backpacking trip at Philmont Scout Ranch. He spent 28 days exploring the backcountry of Yellowstone and the Absaroka Range with the National Outdoor Leadership School, where his desire to work as an outdoor educator grew. While attending the University of Missouri, studying Environmental Science, he spent his summers working at Philmont Scout Ranch and at a University-affiliated challenge course. After graduating in May, he fully pursued his desire to work as an outdoor educator, by moving to California. He spent his first summer after graduation as a Wilderness Leader for Camp Tawonga, before beginning work for the year at San Joaquin County Outdoor Education Jones Gulch. When not looking at Banana Slugs or tidepools with students, he likes to spend his free time running, reading, and taking pictures.


Meghan "Sprout" Rondon

Senior Naturalist

Meghan is from Santa Rosa, CA, where she grew up playing soccer and exploring the local parks’ trail systems by foot and bike.   She developed her love for adventuring from a young age and became more aware and interested in reducing human impact after attending 6th grade science camp in the Marin Headlands. This is where she first joined the hard core apple club and has been an avid advocate ever since! Since graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Kinesiology, Meghan has worked as a camp counselor in the Tahoe National Forest and as an English teacher at an elementary school near Leon, Spain.   She is super stoked to be back in California this school year, living amongst the Redwoods and banana slugs, and looks forward to sharing these forest gems with the students!


Alex "Volcano" Lanthier


Alex was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was moved to California as a young child a grew up in Tracy, CA until the age of 10, then moved to Murphys/Hathaway Pines, CA.   He graduated from CSU, Chico in 2018 with a degree in Natural Sciences with an emphasis in Environmental Science.   During his time at CSU, Chico he volunteered in several classrooms at the local middle schools and high schools.   He also participated in an Internship in Science Teaching, and Leadership in Science Teaching, which took place in the Hands-on Science Lab on campus.   He was a member and served as an officer in two clubs at CSU, Chico: Vice President of the NSTA Club, The National Science Teacher’s Association Club, and AGES, the Association of Geological and Environmental Students. He loved to ride his bike to and from school, which was about a 10-minute bike ride from campus. Alex loves to travel and has seen the majority of the United States of America, has been to Canada many times, been to Mexico many times, went to Australia as a student ambassador for a month, and has traveled to Hawaii as well.   Alex loves to play ice hockey, hike, practice photography, journal, and read in his spare time. Alex is excited to build connections with his students and share the joy and beauty that nature can offer the soul. 


Andrew "Huckleberry" Piepenburg

Naturalist Intern

Andrew grew up in Dallas, Texas, and graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2015. Though they lived in a big city, he and his family would get out of town every chance they had. Whether they were visiting one of the many Texas State Parks, or somewhere up in the Rockies, or even the Georgia coast.  Andrews childhood was full of exploring nature with friends and family. Every year, Andrew attended an all boy’s summer camp in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, where he was allowed to run around exploring every nook and cranny, learning the rocks and rivers, and catching as many critters as he could. It was there, in those limestone bluffs and cool blue creeks, that he really grew his love for the natural world. His goal in life is to share his passion for being outdoors with as many people as possible, educating them on what this beautiful world has to offer, what makes it work, and how we can better enjoy and preserve it. Through it all, he hopes to inspire a respectful appreciation for this place we all call home.

Victoria "Lavendar" Frichner

Naturalist Intern

Victoria was raised for most of her life in Temecula, CA. Since childhood, Victoria has loved playing and exploring in the outdoors. This love was fostered through many cross-country RV road trips and frequent trips to the small town of Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains. The mountains and pine trees always provided a beautiful oasis from the desert heat and a natural playground for many adventures. Fast forward several years, Victoria attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where her curiosity for nature was fueled to a new level. San Luis Obispo County is a dynamic natural treasure of the Central California coast with innumerable opportunities to explore different ecosystems including beaches, sand dunes, eucalyptus forests, and rolling green hills. Victoria fell in love with the town as she was intellectually challenged working towards a major in Liberal Studies (Elementary Education) and minors in Child Development and Psychology. She believes her education and experience at Cal Poly has given her a strong foundation for the next chapter in her life: working as a Naturalist Intern at San Joaquin County Outdoor Education Jones Gulch. The redwoods provide a peaceful yet playful environment to learn, grow, and help children do the same. Her goal is to bring positive change to children’s lives as they and she learn together from the greatest teacher of all— nature. 


Kate "Ember" Eldridge

Naturalist Intern

Kate or “Ember” grew up in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up loving being outside, imaginative games, and being center stage! Throughout her middle school and high school years, she played softball, acted in plays and musicals, and sang in choir and an a cappella group. During the summers she attended a backpacking and canoeing Quaker summer camp that she later worked at after her first year of college at the University of Pittsburgh. She quickly learned that she had a passion for challenging kids in ways that they might not be challenged in their day-to-day lives at “indoor” school, and decided that after she graduated (with a degree in Anthropology and Childhood Studies!) she would look for a job similar to working at her Quaker camp! She luckily found San Joaquin County Outdoor Education Jones Gulch through a coworker at her camp and was able to follow her dreams right after graduation. She is very excited to inspire, challenge, and foster growth with every student who joins her at Outdoor School this year!


Kat "Shark Bait" McGivern

Naturalist Intern 

Kat was born in Wheaton, Illinois, where she grew up playing soccer and running. As a child, Kat loved playing outside with her siblings and attending summer camp in Wisconsin. She attended college in Pennsylvania at Bucknell University where she studied Education and History. At Bucknell, she led incoming college freshmen on backcountry trips, such as caving, climbing, paddling, and backpacking. Kat studied in Athens, Greece for a semester as well as worked on a blueberry farm in Eastern Oregon for three months, and a goat farm in Northern California for one month. In her senior year of university, Kat interned at an outdoor Montessori Preschool where she learned that the outdoors and classrooms could be combined for more engaging learning. Kat is pumped to be a part of the San Joaquin County Outdoor Education Jones Gulch community; she can't wait to explore and learn with students while encouraging them to be a positive force in the web of life.  


Kiera "Granite" Jordan

Naturalist Intern

Kiera grew up in Auburn, California hiking the American River and exploring the nearby Sierras. She attended UC Santa Cruz where she majored in Earth Science and Anthropology. She spent one semester abroad studying in Oslo, Norway and traveling in Europe. After school, she moved to Tahoe to spend her winter working at Heavenly Ski Resort and getting her fix of pow days. This last summer she attended an archaeology field school in Belize where she helped excavate Terminal Classic Maya sites and then crossed over into Mexico for some traveling. She's eager to be living back on the coast and to be a part of exposing students to all of the beautiful aspects of nature.

Rachael "Orchid" Brard

Naturalist Intern

My name is Orchid and this is my first year as a naturalist at San Joaquin County Outdoor Education Jones Gulch. Originally from Arizona, I graduated from Arizona State University in 2018 with a B.S. in Conservation Biology and Ecology. Part of my education involved working with Garden Pool and Conservation International in fields of sustainable agriculture and conservation. Just before coming to Jones Gulch, I was a naturalist in Monteverde, Costa Rica for 6 months, doing field research and leading tours for tourists and college students through dense montane forests. I decided to become a naturalist here in California because some of my earliest memories of forest exploration were here in these coastal mountain ranges. I am so excited to engage with younger students this year and influence the next generation of environmental stewards.


Corinne "Gray Jay" Garber

Naturalist Intern

Bio coming soon