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.


Laurel (Lo) Silberman

Nature School Substitute Teacher

Child/Adult CPR/First Aid Certification/Trustline Registry

Lo first began working with and teaching children as a teaching assistant or madricha (a word that comes from the Hebrew word meaning ‘to lead’) at Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego, California. They also worked as a Junior Counselor at a preschool summer camp at Congregation Beth Israel.

Lo’s reverence for and deep love of nature is a major component of what makes their life truly magical today. An avid hiker, adventurer, and lover of rocks, plants, animals, and insects, Lo believes that nature has played a vital role in their development. Plants, in particular, have fascinated Lo since childhood, and this fascination inspired them to study at Self Heal School of Herbal Studies and Healing in San Diego, California. In addition to plant studies, Lo also brings their love of yoga, meditation, and music to Nature School. The great outdoors has always held a special place in Lo’s heart, and Lo feels passionately about being a part of a school that recognizes the nurturing and limitless potential for exploration and growth bestowed by nature.