Amba DesJardins has degrees in Sociology and Child Development from the University of California, Davis. She acquired an early appreciation for the outdoors from adventurous outings with her mother and brother, and from her studies understands the importance of nature in children's lives. Amba frequently hikes at a brisk clip in Wilder Ranch State Park. Since 2005, she’s been a top producing Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Santa Cruz and the Silicon Valley. Her daughter has attended the program since its inception and prior, attended Flutterby, a Waldorf-inspired pre-school.

Kate Jaffe is the Founding Director of Santa Cruz Kids In Nature. She has a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Natural History and Environmental Education and is a certified California Naturalist through the CNP and UCSC Arboretum and an alum of the UCSC Natural History Field Quarter. Her senior thesis was written about this program and quantified the effectiveness of Forest- Based early childhood education. She has been teaching outdoors in farms, gardens and forests for over nine years for various programs including Life Lab at UCSC and Bayview, Fox Tracks Nature Program, Santa Cruz Children's School and UCSC as a TA and Lecturer. Along with teaching and playing with kids outdoors, Kate's passions include bike touring, weaving and spinning wool, and making natural medicines from plants.


As a Mentor, Kate is dedicated to creating a participatory learning experience that values the input of each person. By creating room for sovereignty in the learning experience, the children learn to think critically about the situations around them, to listen and respect their peers' ideas and opinions, to effectively communicate, and to trust themselves. She chooses the outdoors as the classroom for its natural ability to create teachable moments, to offer surmountable challenges, to fill us with joy, and to help us to find our place and take part in the enjoyment of and tending of our own habitat.  Kate is Wilderness First Aid Certified through NOLS.

Co- Founding Parents


Roger Schoenman is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has a long-standing interest in nature education programs as developed in Germany and Scandinavia and their impact on young children’s creativity, confidence, problem solving skills, and respect for community.