Education

We teach over 1200 students every year throughout Sonoma Valley. Our programs teach children and adults to care for our natural heritage through experiences that foster curiosity and reverence, and inspire action and caretaking. By educating our community we are helping to cultivate earth stewards — both young and old — who will be equipped to deal with the many environmental challenges we face in the 21st century.

K-6 Watershed Education Program

Since 2002, Sonoma Ecology Center has been the only organization in the Valley providing in-class environmental education programs specific to the Sonoma Creek Watershed. These programs are for Sonoma Valley youth and offered at no cost to schools. Reaching more than 1,200 students every school year, we provide in-class lessons and bring students to various natural sites and open spaces throughout the watershed.

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EnviroLeaders

EnviroLeaders is a unique program designed to foster diverse, environmentally literate community leaders by providing paid annual apprenticeships and summer internships. Sonoma Valley youth between the ages of 14 to 18 gain work valuable experience and gain the skills and tools needed to tackle the critical challenges they will face as tomorrow’s leaders.

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California Naturalist Program

Sonoma Ecology Center is teaming up with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to offer the California Naturalist Program, an accredited eight-week course held at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. The eight-week course results in real college credits, and it turns nature lovers into certified graduates of the UC California Naturalist Program, making them valuable authorities on California’s plants and animals, geology and soils, water, climate and biodiversity.

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NeWTs (Neighborhood Water Teams)

An exciting new project for the Education Program is NeWTs (Neighborhood Water Teams). This is a unique community-based program for saving water and building stronger neighborhoods.

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Summer Science Camp

Science Camp provides children with the opportunity to learn about science and connect with nature through adventures, explorations, and hands-on activities. This summer we will be offering six sessions of camp, based at either Sugarloaf Ridge State Park or Sonoma Garden Park.

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Other Community Education

Sonoma Ecology Center staff and outside experts lead numerous workshops, outings and other field experiences throughout the year that inform and inspire, offering participants opportunities to learn firsthand about the natural resources in our area. Our workshops are held at Sonoma Garden Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park or any of several other partner land projects in Sonoma Valley, such as Van Hoosear and Montini open space preserves. To learn more about upcoming workshops, outings and other events, see our events calendar.

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Education Staff

Holland Gistelli

Holland Gistelli

Educator

B.A. Psychology and M.A. School Counseling, University of Connecticut, NBCC National Certified Counselor, CT Certified School Counselor

Holland has worked through non-profit organizations, public schools and private schools to provide education and enrichment for youth. Holland has developed and facilitated school counseling programs, served as a special education assistant, and led children through adventure and nature camps. With a focus on the multidimensional value of environmental education, she leads family-oriented and public hikes, summer camp sessions, and teaches the SEC curricula in Sonoma Valley schools.

Tony Passantino

Tony Passantino

Educator

B.A. in Geography/Environmental Studies, UCLA

Tony worked on watershed conservation/education as an intern with Tahoe-Baikal Institute. Prior to joining Sonoma Ecology Center, Tony completed an AmeriCorps term in Lake Tahoe, working on building sustainable communities and developing plans for homeowners to prevent soil erosion and runoff from entering the watershed. He teaches in Sonoma Valley classrooms and at varied field sites, and oversees the EnviroLeaders and California Naturalist programs.

Partners

  • Sonoma Valley Unified School District
  • Kenwood School District
  • Hanna Boys Center
  • Valley of the Moon Teen Center
  • Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley
  • Master Gardeners of Sonoma County

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