15700 Old Oak Ranch Road Sonora, CA 95370  |  (209) 532–3691

Naturalists

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Naturalists

naturalists
Maggie Berisha (Monarch) Maggie Berisha (Monarch)
Maggie has worked for SOS since 1997. She loves working with the staff, interns and all the students that visit our beautiful site. You will find her teaching classes, driving the bus for field trips and in the native plant gardens. Maggie graduated from Humboldt State studying science education and outdoor recreation. She has raised her children here and enjoys spending time gardening, walking, bicycling and running.
 Phil McDonald (Badger) Phil McDonald (Badger)
Phil grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania. While earning B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Northland College in Wisconsin, he discovered the field of outdoor education and developed a passion for teaching. Working with the Great Basin Institute brought him west, and once he discovered the Sierra Nevada Mountains he never looked back. Phil has worked as an Interpreter Specialist for California State Parks, Development Manager with the Nevada Conservation Corps, and non-profit outdoor education centers. Phil is excited to be part of the SOS team and looks forward to helping students discover the outdoors and experience science in the field.
Thomas Forquer (Otter) Thomas Forquer (Otter)
Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County. He holds a B.A. in Communications from Santa Clara University and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of Redlands. He has worked in "traditional" schools as an 8th grade math/science teacher and has also worked as a special education aide. Thomas knows that ultimately he can best serve students by helping them make connections with their ancestral habitat, the outdoors. When not at Sierra Outdoor School he can be found kite-boarding at the beach, exploring desert canyons, paddling a river, climbing a rock, or cruising down the highway toward a new adventure.
Maddie Maney (Nova) Maddie Maney (Nova)
Maddie grew up in a small town in SW Ohio, studying Biology and Sustainability at Gearge Washington University in Washington D.C. Maddie enjoys hiking, photography, singing and playing the ukelele, alpine lakes, mountain vistas, ice cream, and learning about deep space. Most important, Maddie finds fulfillment not only in learning about the natural world, but in sharing that passion with all who are willing to learn.
Angel Olavarria (Bobcat) Angel Olavarria (Bobcat)
Angel grew up in a small town on the California Delta. He moved to Southern California where he studied Social Science at College of the Canyons. Angel joined the teaching team in the Fall of 2015 as a substitute naturalist and was hired full time in 2017. When he is not working at SOS he serves as in his local volunteer fire department, coaches his kids soccer team and loves exploring the Sierra with his family. 
Shawn Estes (Vortex) Shawn Estes (Vortex)
Shawn grew up exploring the woods, creeks and fields of southwest Ohio. After university he headed west stopping over in St. Louis and Phoenix. Eventually reaching the Sierra Nevada Mountains, he discovered outdoor education in Yosemite National Park, reoriented his life and became an educator. He has since worked as a naturalist and wilderness guide for non-profit organizations, an Interpreter for California State Parks and most recently was a Lead Interpretive Ranger for the Forest Service. In addition to raising three children, he and his wife enjoy music, storytelling and exploring.
Zion Dungo (Water Bear) Zion Dungo (Water Bear)
Zion is an outdoor fan. Raised in the city of Los Angeles he still found a  way to appreciate nature. Zion loves to combine his interest in art and nature. Being able to share the outdoors with the next generation is the best part of working at Sierra Outdoor School.
Corrie Billiet (Ostrich)
Corrie Billiet (Ostrich)
Corrie grew up exploring the beauty of many natural regions in California: body-surfing in the Pacific Ocean, hiking at Big Bear Lake, camping at many state beaches, rafting down the Klamath river...  She earned a bachelor’s degree at Whitworth and a teaching credential at Fresno State, taught 1st, 2nd, and sixth grades for Visalia Unified, and worked as a community organizer in downtown Visalia. She and her husband have been married for 26 years and are raising two boys together. Corrie is a lifelong learner and enjoys yoga, jogging, playing guitar and piano, and she has recently taken up painting. At Sierra Outdoor School, she loves learning from all the naturalists, admiring the view from the top of the mountain, and breathing in the fresh air created by the forest. 
Tom Gonzales (Just Tom)
Tom Gonzales (Just Tom)
If you have visited SOS in the past 27 years, chances are pretty good that you know Tom.  After working full-time as a Naturalist for 22 years, he retired and is now enjoying a part-time schedule as a sub.  He continues to enjoy driving a school bus for field trips and belaying at the High Ropes Course.
Rico
15700 Old Oak Ranch Road
Sonora, CA 95370
(209) 532–3691


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