Naturalist Interns

Our 2016-2017 Naturalist Interns started their year off with a staff training in Yosemite National Park. Learn more about them below.


Brenna O'Halloran (Turkey Tail)


Brenna just graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a triple major in Conservation Biology, Geography, and Environmental Studies.  Last summer, she got to integrate environmental education activities into rural schools in three different communities in Ecuador while studying abroad.    She’s excited to come to California and teach and inspire kids to learn about and care for the environment.  She is a “Bird Nerd” and is looking forward to working with our Raptors and sharing them with the students.  Brenna loves to hike, mountain bike, play games and do just about any outdoor activity.   She is really excited to explore this area and then teach others about it!

Cassie Petrilla (Cricket)


Cassie holds a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in both Biology and Human Development from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL.  She has always had a love for being in the outdoors.  She has spent several summers working at ranches as a wrangler and trail leader in North Carolina, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah!  While working at the ranches, she enjoys seeing the visitors “unplug” and enjoy the great outdoors she loves so much!  Aside from her love for horses, she also enjoys hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and water sports.  She’s a hard worker and enjoys working as part of a team and will bring that same attitude with her when she comes to SOS! 

Amanda Colley (Salamanda)


Amanda just graduated from the University at Albany (SUNY) with a degree in Environmental Science (Biology Concentration) and a minor in music.  She has been working in the outdoor recreation field for the past 6 summers and has loved every minute of it!  She is a certified interpretive guide and a Leave No Trace Trainer.  Amanda loves backpacking, hiking, kayaking, singing, playing guitar, volleyball, and basketball.  She has had the wonderful opportunity of working as a naturalist in many beautiful places, such as Thacher State Park, the Adirondacks (both NY), and Mt. Cardigan, NH.  She has also had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador for a reforestation project and help plant 1500 trees.  Amanda’s greatest passion is to teach people about the natural world, so she is very excited to teach at SOS in this vastly different and amazing ecosystem.

Connor Reinecke (Lizard)


Connor has always held a deep interest in the natural world, and holds a degree in Physics from Western Washington University.  He is enthusiastically making a career change from the engineering world to the world of teaching kids!   He is excited to share his love of the natural world with them and inspire them to see what they can gain from it.  He has a diverse skillset that ranges from teaching laboratory classes to college students to teaching elementary students how to cook, to volunteering as a search and rescue team leader, to running his family construction company, to performing habitat assessments for endangered bird species… and more!  He enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, gardening, good food, making furniture, and music.

Elise Adams (Coyote)


Elise was born and raised in Davis, California, and adores all of the natural beauty that her home state has to offer. She recently graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, where she studied Human Biology with an emphasis in Cross-Cultural Health and Healing. Her diverse mix of outdoor and educational experiences include mushing and farming at a homestead in bush Alaska, trekking through the Amazon to study Indigenous medicinal practices, and tutoring at-risk elementary school students. Elise loves working with kids and exploring our wonderful and weird world. To her, combining those things is bliss. 

Kelsey Roberts (Goose)


Kelsey was born and raised in the mountain paradise of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She holds a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology with an emphasis in Neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Kelsey spent this past year as a Naturalist at YMCA Camp Seymour in Washington. In her experience as a naturalist, wilderness guide and working with children with differing abilities, she quickly learned that exploring and learning in nature is an invaluable experience for every child. She is very excited to continue to explore and pursue this passion here at SOS. When not teaching, Kelsey can be found making music, painting, cooking, and increasing her appreciation for the outdoors.

Lauren Black (Blackberry)


Lauren grew up in Oklahoma and attended the University of Oklahoma where she just earned her degree in Environmental Sustainability. She is super excited for the opportunity to impact the lives of kids that come to SOS.  She has a lot of experience working with kids, and has extensive hiking, camping, and backpacking experience. She has studied abroad in Ireland, and Tanzania and has done some field work in Colorado. She also spent some time working for a non-profit in her community where she helped develop a manual to educate elementary students how to garden and grow food! She loves to paint and do yoga and just overall likes to have fun and stay positive!

Robin VanHouten (Sun Dog)


Robin grew up in Baltimore, but headed west to attend the University of Puget Sound in Washington where he recently earned his degree in Biology with a minor in Mathematics. He has done a lot of work in the laboratory and has a good amount of experience with plant and animal identification, and is looking forward to combining his love of science with his love of teaching in the outdoors! He has been a Ropes Course and Zipline Manager and has extensive experience facilitating experiences on a challenge course for people of all ages. He is really looking forward to our Silent Mile class, our High Ropes class, our People of the Sierra class, and working with our Raptors! He plays the drums, guitar, mandolin, and enjoys journaling, camping and backpacking.

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