Learn More About Our Philosophy


Patti Shields, Founder/Lead Teacher:

Adult / Child CPR and First Aid Certified / Live Scan Clearance

M.A. Human Development, 30+ Years of Early Childhood Experience

Ever since Patti was a young child, she has felt connected to nature. As a parent, she took her sons hiking and camping and now does the same with her grandsons. Watching them explore, rest, and make their own discoveries convinced her of the importance of including nature in our lives.

Patti has been working in the field of early childhood education and parent education for over 30 years. In 1988 she developed an outline and curriculum for a new class to be offered through the parent/child participation classes at the San Diego Community College. They called it Outdoor Experiences and she envisioned parents and their young children exploring the wild areas, open spaces, beaches and canyons of our county. For Patti, teaching the outdoor parent/child class was such a joy. Each week brought new discoveries, a sense of connection with each other, new skills and abilities to try something that may have seemed too difficult before such as balancing on a log or crossing a creek on stones.

As a preschool teacher in local programs, Patti has taken children hiking and exploring the canyons and wild areas of San Diego. In nature she sees how children become connected to the plants, sounds, birds, insects and all living things around them. They so quickly feel “at home” in the outdoors, which is how she came to choose At Home in Nature as the name of this program.

Patti’s intention with At Home in Nature Outdoor Programs is to create opportunities to share nature with children and families. Providing a space away from all of the distractions of our modern lives, a place to enjoy being together and embracing all there is to gain from having a real connection to the natural world.


Katie Castilleja

Adult/Child CPR and First Aid Certified/ Live Scan Clearance

Katie is returning to teach with us again this year, bringing her ukulele, her storytelling skills, and her kind and caring approach with the children. Katie has been passionate about helping young children learn and grow since she could remember. She has experience providing private child care for children and their families in their homes, teaching at a large corporate child care center, and interning at a college child development center. She has an Associate degree in Social and Behavioral Science and a Child Development Master Teacher Permit. She will soon be graduating from Point Loma Nazarene University with a Bachelor degree in Child Development.
Growing up, Katie spent all of her summer vacations enjoying nature with her family. Her greatest pastimes include camping and spending time at the Colorado River. As an adult, she enjoys spending her free time outdoors, playing music, and spending time with her niece and nephew. She cherishes the beauty and peace found in nature. Katie was an intern with At Home In Nature during the summer of 2018. During her internship she was able to experience the magic and joy of experiencing nature with children. One of her favorite things about children is the way that they view the world with excitement and wonder. She is so grateful to be able to help foster the love of learning in children.


Libby Brydolf

Educator / Parent / Naturalist

Pediatric CPR Certified / First Aid Certified / Livescan Clearance

Libby taught kindergarten in public schools for nearly 10 years and now is excited to be working outdoors at last. Cultivating the curiosity children naturally feel about their world has always been a favorite part of her teaching.

Libby welcomes the change to be outdoors with the Nature School, giving children a chance to explore, problem solve and create. She sees her role as watching and guiding the children to help them learn about our natural world through discovery and play with their friends, developing their minds and bodies in the process. Libby is a regular hiker and knows our local canyons and open spaces well. The children know her love of dragonflies and sycamore leaves.