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Ian graduated from UCSB in 2020 and recently returned to Santa Barbara after a two year hiatus doing seasonal work in avian conservation, as well as environmental restoration and education. When he’s not teaching Ian likes to be outside learning more about native plants, vegetable gardening, natural history, birds, and bioacoustics.
He’s beyond excited to be back in a place he loves while helping students connect with the natural world!
Chloe grew up in nearby Ojai, CA, which helped shape my passion for living a green lifestyle and conserving wildlife. Chloe loves animals and has fostered puppies and kittens for the Ventura County Humane Society for years. She also enjoys thrifting and vintage clothing, playing guitar, and anything related to gardening. Chloe loves helping foster the connection between children and the natural world.
Clare is a professional actress, a mother and a serial volunteer.
Clare was born the 7th of 8 children on a Catholic mission in rural Zimbabwe to a mission doctor father and school teacher mom. Raised in Santa Barbara, Clare enjoyed acting in plays, playing sports and gardening with her family in their backyard.
Clare started acting at Montessori Center School at age six; her first play was performed in a garden. An auspicious sign, to be sure. After graduating from SBHS, Clare went straight to Hollywood and within three years was on a network sitcom; “Coach”. After that, she spent many years acting in television shows and films. She got married in 2002, and had two kids: Lucy in 2003 and James in 2006. After having children, she did some of her best acting work: Weeds, Jericho, Aquarius, Crash, CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, to name a few.
While volunteering for the green team at her kids’ elementary school the idea arose to build a native schoolyard habitat adjacent to the edible garden, An education of sorts ensued, and Clare and two other moms spearheaded the building of the largest native garden on any campus in the LAUSD. She spent the next ten years dedicated to the garden, which she named The Walgrove Wildlands. Clare did everything from writing grants to consulting designers, enrolling environmental & ecological experts to researching and planning curriculum. She organized work days with the community, helped to maintain the gardens and built partnerships to supply the garden with plant starts, mulch and other essentials. As part of a task force clare was working with her school board member and experts in arts and special education to find a way to expand the use of school gardens in the district.
Clare moved back to SB five years ago so her kids could have some experience of living in this beautiful community. She is thrilled to turn her passion for school gardens into a job!
Bio- Coming Soon!
Vermicompost Coordinator (The Worm Lady)
Angie was born and raised in Santa Barbara. She studied Psychology at San Diego State and was a social worker in San Francisco for five years before she discovered her love of growing food. Angie learned how to grow vegetables with the Green Urban Lunch Box in Salt Lake City and then moved back to the Bay Area to start farming. Angie enjoys teaching students how to grow and harvest veggies, loves surfing with the leopard sharks at Devereux, and getting lost in the backcountry of Santa Ynez with her husband Chris and their little dog Lucy. Keep an eye out for Angie on the trails collecting seeds and smelling the sage.
Garden Education Coordinator
Alyssa Kassner was previously a Garden Educator at Explore Ecology, before transitioning to Fairview Gardens where she was the Education Program Manager.
Genevieve grew up in Carpinteria, CA where she spent many years building her tan, tough feet, and love of nature. She studied biological sciences at SBCC and UCSB, and graduated with a BS in Zoology. She spent quite a bit of time traveling and eventually found her husband in the rugged land of Wales. They have raised their two beautiful daughters in Carpinteria over the past 15 years. Genevieve got her first taste of teaching children about nature at her daughters’ preschool and hasn’t looked back since.
Genevieve started working as a Garden Educator in 2014 and became a Garden Coordinator four years later. Genevieve loves working for an organization that is so committed to helping children connect with nature and the food they eat.
Thea Cole got involved with Explore Ecology because she believes it’s our duty to give the next generation the tools they need to best care for the world they’re inheriting. Thea also believes it’s every child’s right to enjoy nature and consider a career in natural science if it brings them joy. Thea studied Biology and Ecology in university and is especially passionate about topics relevant to ocean conservation.
Art From Scrap Sales Associate
Emma Serr is an artist and a student studying Studio Art at SBCC. Emma has a background in art and customer service, having worked as a camp counselor at sewing camp and assistant for sewing events and classes, and display manager and cashier in previous positions, and was recently a nanny to several young children. Emma first found us as a customer who loved what Art From Scrap represents!
Jeremy is a Senior at Santa Barbara High School and has a background in dance. Jeremy started as a volunteer and was quickly hired as an employee. He enjoys painting and reading in his spare time.
Art From Scrap Store Associate
Paloma is a Chicagoan who came to Santa Barbara to chase the sun and sea. She has always had a passion for the arts and discovered Art from Scrap during one of her visits to the city. It is such a special community gathering spot, and walking in for the first time she knew instantly this was the artistic-minded city she wanted to live in.
As an abstract artist, jewelry maker, and avid sewer, the philosophy of reduce, reuse, and recyle resonates deeply, and she encourage all artists to do their part for Mother Nature.
Art From Scrap Creative Reuse Store Director
Bio- coming soon!
Veronica grew up in San Diego and spent her last four years in San Luis Obispo studying Animal Science at Cal Poly. As an undergrad she learned lots about livestock, agriculture, and wildlife. Veronica is very passionate about conservation and sustainable agricultural practices. Veronica has spent many summers working in environmental education at various zoos and museums and loves introducing kids to the plants and animals that coexist with us. In her free time, she likes to sit at the beach and read, take dance classes, roller skate, and walk around fancy neighborhoods to look at the houses.
Lu’s love of all things Earth began at James Madison University in Virginia, where they got their Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Lu has a Master’s degree in Spatial Ecology- the study of how creatures interact across landscapes- from East Carolina University, where they studied rock pools along a river and the critters that dwell in them. Lu is thrilled to be teaching budding scientists about the Earth and why it’s important for us to protect and preserve the environment.
When they aren’t teaching, Lu enjoys hiking, bike riding, laying in a hammock near the beach, and listening to one of their 20+ music playlists!
Environmental Education Coordinator
Lydia Ballantine grew up in New Hampshire, where she developed a love of nature playing in the woods and fields and going on outdoor trips with her school and summer camp. She moved to Colorado for college, and while there began working at an environmental education nonprofit. After moving to Santa Barbara in 2019, she found her way back to environmental education and joined the Explore Ecology team first as an educator and then as a program coordinator.
In her free time Lydia enjoys surfing, rock climbing, and spending time with her dog, Scrappy Coco.
Rachel is an artist and arts educator who loves to see people access their innate creativity and jump into the fun of making. Rachel’s own creative practice centers around fiber arts and the magic of natural dye. When she isn’t in her small dye garden or working on a project, she’s most likely on a hike, or at the beach with her dog Kiko.
Jill loves educating about nature through all forms of media. She’s a UCSB grad, with additional training in Environmental Horticulture, Documentary Film, and Permaculture. She is the host and producer of Sustainable World Radio, a long running podcast about the natural world, plants, and Permaculture. When she’s not hanging out with plants, you can find her reading novels (or seed catalogues) and concocting herbal remedies.
Melissa grew up loving art and nature and was a Fine Arts Major at UCLA. As a child she would dream of making the world a more beautiful place. After graduating, she began her career in Los Angeles as a free-lance designer, then segued into the advertising, marketing, and development fields. Melissa is a singer and musician. She also loves her chickens!
Director of Programs, People & Culture
Jenny joined Explore Ecology first as an Environmental Educator, then as a Program Coordinator, and most recently moved into the newly created Programs, People & Culture position. Prior to Explore Ecology Jenny worked in science research and consulting, however her passion has always been science education and outreach. Jenny loves all things related to the ocean, especially free diving, and enjoying the beauty and wonder that is the underwater world. Her greatest life passion is traveling, which she hopes to do more of again soon.
Lindsay grew up in Colorado, where her passion for the outdoors and the wonders that our earth holds started during weekend camping trips in the Rockies and winter ski trips to Colorado’s best ski areas. When Lindsay’s not working, she spends time with her family in Santa Barbara, traveling, exploring, and doing beach cleanups like this one with her son Wyatt.