Education is central to the mission of Sonoma Ecology Center. 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 myriad of challenges that we face as we move farther into the 21st century.

K-6 Watershed Education

Since 2002, Sonoma Ecology Center has been the only organization located in the Valley providing in-class environmental education programs—specific to Sonoma Creek Watershed—for Sonoma youth, offered at no cost to schools. Reaching more than 1200 students every school year, we provide in class lessons and bring youth to various natural sites and open spaces throughout the watershed.


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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Community Education

Sonoma Ecology Center staff and outside experts lead workshops, outings, and other field experiences that inform and inspire, offering participants opportunities to learn firsthand about the natural resources in our area. Our workshops are held at our our Sonoma Garden Park or Sugarloaf Ridge State Park projects — or at our partner land projects, Van Hoosear, Montini, or others. To learn more about upcoming workshops, outings and other events, see our events calendar.

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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 2017: Save the Dates!

This summer we will be offering six sessions of camp, based at either Sugarloaf Ridge State Park or Sonoma Garden Park. The following are our 2017 dates and themes! Please stay tuned for details and registration information.

  • Sugarloaf Introductory Backpacking Adventure (Sugarloaf Ridge State Park) : June 13 to 15 (ages 10-14, 3-days, 2-nights)
  • Sugarloaf and Hood Mountain Advanced Backpacking Trek (Sugarloaf Ridge State Park) : June 27 to 30 (ages 13-16, 4-days, 3-nights)
  • Harry Potter Camp: Sorcerer’s Stone (Sonoma Garden Park) : July 10 to 14 (ages 6-12)
  • Harry Potter Camp: Deathly Hallows (Sonoma Garden Park) : July 17 to 21 (ages 8-12, one overnight camp-out)
  • Creek Camp (Sugarloaf Ridge State Park) : July 24 to 28 (ages 8-12)
  • Harry Potter Camp: Goblet of Fire (Sonoma Garden Park) : July 31 to August 4 (ages 6-12)


Education Staff

Holland Gistelli

Holland Gistelli


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


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 lessons in Sonoma Valley classrooms and oversees EnviroLeaders.


  • 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