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.

Our Staff


Guadalupe (Lupe) Rivas

Educator / Student / Parent / Naturalist

Adult/Child CPR and First Aid Certified / Listed on the Trustline Registry

Guadalupe Rivas was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, and there learned to love nature. She used to climb trees, go on hikes with her brothers and dogs in the mountains and canyons.

After immigrating to the United States in 1996, she completed her GED and enrolled in San Diego City College. Earning her AA in Child Development in 2015, Lupe was now ready to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher. Lupe began as an intern with Nature School and was hired the following semester. Her interest in nature, and her enjoyment of sharing in the children’s discoveries are two of her assets. Lupe genuinely loves working with the children and delights in their individuality. She has wonderful skills in supporting the children to creatively solve problems.


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.


Jackie Chang

Acorns Class Teacher (Beginning Fall 2018, Monday – Friday)

Adult & Child CPR Certified / First Aid Certified

Jackie was born in Taiwan and grew up in Los Angeles. Though raised in big cities, Jackie is always looking for outdoor adventures outside the city limits. She earned her BS in Psychology/Public Policy Analysis from Pomona College in 2018. During college, Jackie spent a year in Denmark to study Scandinavian child development and education. There, she witnessed the benefits of “udeskolen” (outside schools), where young children fostered their motor-skills, confidence, and community through nature play, such as building shelters from branches. Inspired by Denmark’s “udeskolen”, she wrote her BS thesis on the effects of US outdoor education on student motivation and teacher engagement.

At Home in Nature’s Nature School is an exciting opportunity for Jackie to share her skills in teaching and her love for nature with a team of dedicated educators. Jackie loves working with young children and delights in supporting their growth, particularly through arts and team activities. She dreams of making outdoor education accessible for all communities. Jackie will be attending Johns Hopkins University in the fall of 2019 to earn her MEd.


Jakelin (Jaky) Macias

Acorns Summer Camp Assistant Teach 2018

Jakelin Macias was born and raised in Tijuana Baja California. At age of 12 she came to the United States to continue her education. Now a San Diego City College student, working on general education and planning to transfer to a university to follow her dreams to become an elementary teacher. The love of working with children led her to participate for three years in an association called “Hombro a Hombro Enlanzando Vidas A.C.”, (HOENVI) which promotes art, culture, and altruism in Tijuana. In HOENVI, they raised money to help children in orphanages, making different events for the community, clubs for teens, where everyone helped each other. Jaky participated in two summer school programs which included reading, drawing, crafts, painting and sports classes. Nature school reminds Jaky of her childhood, “when technology was not so important, when we enjoyed playing on top of the trees and could invent any game. I will have the opportunity to participate in this summer camp 2018 and start a new adventure in nature.”