Rancho El Chorro Staff

Program Director - Celeste Royer - (805) 782-7334

CelesteCeleste Royer (Blue Sky) is the Director of Environmental Education and has been with SLOCOE for 30 years. She directs the Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience about outdoor and environmental education to the program. Celeste serves on the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI) Committee, provides leadership to the California Outdoor School Association (COSA), California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF), UC Berkeley's BEETLES Project, Youth Outside, and teaches Wilderness & Environmental Education at Cal Poly SLO. Celeste earned degrees from UCLA, San Francisco State University, and Cal Poly SLO. Married with two adult children, Celeste enjoys nature, family and pet time, traveling, and reading.

Administrative Assistant - Amie Linscott - (805) 782-7336

AmieAmie Linscott (Meerkat) has worked for the County Office of Education for over 20 years. She keeps herself very busy with all the “behind the scenes” work needed at Rancho El Chorro but she always find time to stick her head out of the office to enjoy the children, animals, and day-to-day magic that happens here. Meerkat has been known to cook breakfast for the students, run the student store, and write the Rancho E-newletter (all in one day)! She’s been married to her favorite guy for over 30 years, has two wonderful “big” kids, a cat and two dogs.

Naturalists - (805) 782-7335 or (805) 782-7336

Karen PolandKaren Poland (Koala) grew up in Oregon and Alaska. Having always loved animals and the outdoors, she wanted to find a career that combined the two. This led her to Humboldt State University in Northern California where she received a B.S. in Wildlife Biology. After college, Karen joined the U.S. Peace Corps where she spent 2 1/2 years in Mongolia. She has enjoyed working with the students and animals at Rancho El Chorro for 19 years now. During the summer , Karen likes to travel and learn about new places and cultures. She has traveled to Russia, China, Costa Rica, Europe, and of course Australia! Koala now has a little Joey - that's what you call a baby koala, at home. Karen's neice wanted her to name her baby, Koala. She compromised and said she would use Koala as her camp name.

Clara GonteroClara Gontero (Owl) was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA and has called Morro Bay home since graduating from Cal Poly. She has a B.S. in Biological Sciences from U.C. Irvine and Applied Art & Design from Cal Poly SLO, a M.S. in Biology from Cal Poly SLO and a CA Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. A perpetual student, she has recently completed the California Naturalist Program. She attends nature conferences, volunteers at beach cleanups and non-native plant removal, and recycles anything CRV to raise funds that help feed the animals at Rancho El Chorro. In her spare time, she enjoys birdwatching, hiking and walking on the beach. Any animal in need can always find a place to recuperate at Clara’s place. The highlight of her day is to share the wonder, complexity and the beauty of the natural world with her students. Clara loves working at Rancho El Chorro because each day nature reveals one of its myriad of secrets to the watchful eye, the open mind and the listening ear.

Norma OchsnerNorma Elliott (Pika) developed a love and a curiosity for nature at an early age and was lucky enough to spend her childhood climbing trees, playing in mud puddles, and pretending to be various animals in the woods of Colorado. During college, while studying abroad in China, she realized that many children are not so lucky and are instead experiencing Nature Deficit Disorder. Upon returning, she earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from CU Boulder. She was then determined to find a career where she could do her small part to foster connections between children and nature. She worked as a Naturalist for three years in Colorado before moving to California specifically for a position at Rancho El Chorro. She believes she has the best job in the world! In her spare time, she enjoys trail running, hiking, and playing board games. She enjoys learning new jokes, riddles and puns. When you visit, be sure to share one with her!

Maddy Dalgarn (Seahorse) fell in love with the ocean and all its critters during a family vacation to Hawaii.  She remembers learning about the conservation issues regarding all marine life and feeling a need to protect and help these incredible animals. This deep respect for animals and nature led her to pursue a degree in Biology at the University of Washington. She is excited to share her knowledge with the students at Rancho El Chorro and hopes to inspire them to conserve and protect all kinds of wildlife. In her free time, Maddy enjoys relaxing with a good book or exploring the local beaches and hiking areas.

Will GeikenWill Geiken (Barnacle) grew up in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and went on frequent hikes with his family as a child. Eventually going on hikes morphed into going on runs, and from age 13 onward Will has been an avid distance runner with an affinity for long ascents. Being near the beaches in Santa Cruz also gave Will the opportunity to learn to surf, so whether it’s in the water or out in the hills, Will is happy just to be outside. This appreciation for nature also carried into his studies at Harvard, where he majored in Environmental Science and Public Policy to learn about climate science and the increasingly important role that humans play in the environment. With that as his background, Will is excited to share his excitement for the natural world with enthusiastic students of all ages. He’s also fond of camp songs and would love to add new material to his repertoire.

Kayna AndersonKayna Anderson (Lynx) was born and raised in Minnesota. She grew up spending time outdoors with her family and developed a passion for the environment and the natural world. She earned her degree in Environmental Science from Gustavus Adolphus College. After earning her degree, she joined the Peace Corps. She lived and worked in Panama teaching environmental conservation. Kayna continues to follow her passion as a Naturalist at Rancho El Chorro sharing her love of nature with students.

Interns - (805) 782-7349 or (805) 782-7335

Maintenance - (805) 782-7336

Dave HeitDave Heit (Mountain Man)






Food Services - (805) 782-7337

Shaun Daniel Shaun Daniel (Cypress) spent many of his younger years living in Half Moon Bay but he eventually landed in San Luis Obispo.  He developed a real passion for cooking and worked at Camp KEEP and really loved it.  He also worked as a Cook at Camp Westwood on the Oregon coast near Lincoln City.  He really enjoys the atmosphere and values taught at outdoor schools and feels very fortunate now to be cooking closer to home at Rancho El Chorro.

Anita DefreeseAnita Defreese (Badger) grew up right here in San Luis Obispo County. As a young girl, she learned to cook from her mother and has enjoyed preparing meals ever since. Anita has spent her career working in food service including preparing meals at other outdoor schools. She is proud of the healthy and delicious food prepared and served to the students and adults at Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School. Anita's hobbies include reading and travel.


Substitute Naturalists

Dave ShoemakerDave Shoemaker (Bear) has worked at REC since 1998. He earned a Liberal Studies degree and Multiple Subject Credential from Sonoma State University. Dave has worked with kids in a variety of situations for over 30 years. He also worked in the woods in Northern California, fished commercially, and is currently a Docent with Friends of the Elephant Seals. Dave brings his real life experiences, enthusiasm, and support of the environment to the instructional time with his students. Go Rancho!

Tom ReillyTom Reilly (Ocean) - Tom’s love of the outdoors was fostered early on through the Boy Scouts of America. After reaching the rank of Eagle Scout, Tom realized how important nature was to his everyday life. This led him to complete a B.A in Environmental Studies at UCSB. Tom’s experience working with students began in college through their campus Ropes Course. He later became the lead instructor and helped to create a 5th grade team building course for local schools. He spent five years working for Island Packers and the Channel Islands National Park as a Naturalist and an Underwater Camera operator. This experience led Tom to pursue and complete a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Tom joined the Rancho El Chorro Staff in 2000 and continues to share the importance of science and nature to students of all ages.

Angela Schultz Angela Schultz (Manzanita) is a California native and has always enjoyed getting her hands dirty and staring at bugs. She has been teaching outdoors on farms and in community gardens since 2014. She loves exploring how food and farming connects us to the natural world. Angela can talk endlessly about bees, compost, and how the lunar tides effect the growth of plants. She hopes one day to study the art of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (aka ocean permaculture), and teach kids about culinary kelp.

Rick Hernandez Rick Hernandez (Octopus)