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Meet The Team

*Guest Instructors not Pictured Here

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Sam's deep connection to the natural world traces back to their childhood, a period marked by transformative experiences in the Philippines. Collaborating with their Grandmother, Sam engaged in field research amid the lahar fields formed by the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption. In this dynamic environment, the power of community knowledge and mutual aid became evident, leaving an indelible mark on Sam's perspective.

In their current role as a naturalist and community science program manager for the Natural History Museum of L.A. County, Sam draws inspiration from their family's traditional Indigenous ways of learning. This unique approach becomes a guiding force, shaping Sam's work and commitment to merging cultural wisdom with scientific exploration.

Beyond their professional pursuits, Sam embraces the joyful responsibility of parenting an awesome and energetic 6-year-old, passing down the love for nature to the next generation.

Sam's dedication extends to HFAdventureCommunity, where they actively contribute to the development of new Community Science and Environmental Justice programs. At HFAdventureCommunity, Sam is instrumental in teaching classes in chiropterology, tracking, and more. Their multifaceted role exemplifies a commitment to fostering an inclusive, community-driven approach to environmental education.



Meet Denise, an enthusiastic advocate for education and exploration, boasting 15 years of experience as a K-12 educator. Her educational journey kicked off as a teacher's assistant right out of high school, evolving into a full-fledged teacher armed with a B.S. in Child Development. Guiding young minds through their crucial formative years has been both a privilege and a profound passion, shaping Denise's perspective on life and learning.

Beyond the classroom, photography has become a cherished outlet for her creative spirit. Armed with a captivating photojournalistic lens, Denise specializes in seizing candid expressions and documenting the vibrant atmosphere of events. To her, photography is more than just images; it's about encapsulating the raw emotions that define a moment. A single glance at a photograph can transport individuals back, enabling them to relive the joys and sensations experienced.

In her role as an educator, adventurer, and visual storyteller, Denise derives immense joy from connecting with others through shared experiences, sparking imaginations, and crafting lasting memories.

Denise is our head event photographer providing awesome downloadable images from some of our events through our website.



Are you energetic, passionate about our youth and connecting them to the outdoors, and are looking for part-time and flexible work with a nature-based organization?

Maybe you would like to participate as a volunteer for our Gear Library?

Send an email inquiry to



Founder and program coordinator with over 20 years experience as an educator and athletic program director. She is a UC California Naturalist, student of Advanced Wilderness Medicine, a Leave No Trace Trainer, and a naturalist for L.A. County Parks and Recreation Nature Centers. She is also the founder of the HFAC Gear Library and an active member of Outdoors Empowered Network, a national network of community-led, youth-centered outdoor education groups that are dedicated to increasing access and diversity in the outdoors through gear libraries and outdoor leadership training. Beyond her professional endeavors, Suzy is a homeschooling mom driven by a profound passion for witnessing youth challenge themselves and embrace adventure in the natural environment. Through her work, she strives to instill in young minds a deep connection to the Earth and all living beings, fostering a sense of responsibility and appreciation for the world around them.



Gilbert is a passionate educator with over 20 years of athletic performance coaching and plant-based nutrition. He developed a psychomotor program for the LAUSD, holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University, and is an energetic motivational leader in his field. The youth love his positive energy and always feel encouraged to take safe risks while on outdoor adventures with him.

You may find him leading our high-ropes courses in Yorba Linda, guiding school groups, youth and adult rehabilitation groups, police cadets, and search and rescue personnel.

He is passionate about personal health of the people, all animals, and our home, the planet. You can see and feel his love for youth from the moment you meet him.

Languages: English, Spanish



Naturalist and nature-based educator in the Los Angeles area. He comes to us after working with the Aquarium of the Pacific in animal husbandry and currently is an outdoor educator with Los Angeles after-school programs, including the homeschool program for HFAdventureCommunity.

Specializing in entomology, Boaz is not only an insect enthusiast but also a prolific observer, with an impressive 18,000 observations on iNaturalist. He is an insect enthusiast and is always on the trails observing and photographing wildlife.

"As an educator, my vision is to show people how important the connections we make both to nature and each other are and how they can shape our future for the better."

Whether you are an adult or student with us, you will learn something every time you are on a trail with him! 

Read a Natural History Museum article featuring Boaz, here!

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Rachel’s background is in photography, with nine years of professional and academic experience, but her passions extend beyond that. She is an enthusiast and student of nature who can often be found on the local trails, photographing the life she encounters. She adores working with kids, and has many years of experience as a mentor, tutor, and caretaker. Having worked as a counselor at HAWKs LA, she has honed her teaching abilities, instructing students in everything from hiking conduct to the names and habits of local plants and animals. She is excited to use all her skills to inspire each child she teaches, and to be a member of the amazing community at Healthy Footprints.



Andrea is a certified Naturalist and Herbalist and the founder of Herb Club L.A.. Her gentle, sweet demeanor and a focus on land stewardship and community building is a gift to the children. Growing up as a first-generation immigrant of Native American descent, she also focuses paying homage and respect to Native American ways of living with the land. Through her own journey, she found deep healing reconnecting to more natural ways of living. She believes that caring for our inner world will be reflected in our outer world and vice-versa. By connecting with our plant kin, 

learning about nature and from nature, we can in turn learn to take better care of ourselves and each other. You can find her teaching classes with our Field Institute program on Thursdays.

Languages: English, Spanish

Read about Andrea in this LATV highlight, here!



"Barefoot" Joel is the director of Naturalist For You, a 17-year-old environmental education non-profit based in Orange County.  He has guided interpretive nature walks, reenacted living history, restored wildlife habitat, conducted biological surveys and organized environmental classes, workshops, presentations and events for the public benefit since 2001.  Prior to creating Naturalist For You, he worked for The Nature Conservancy, City of Santa Ana Parks & Recreation, Inside the Outdoors, The Wildlands Conservancy and California State Parks.  His services are appreciated annually by thousands of visitors to our local national forests, state parks, county parks and city parks in Southern California.  He enjoys foraging wild foods, birding, barefooting, hiking and camping with his family and playing music in his pirate band, Queen Anne's Blouse.

Languages: English, student of the Tongva language

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