Heather King

Heather King

Lead Field Staff, Director and Co-Founder

Heather King is most profoundly moved by the relationship between children and nature. “Nothing else has the same mirror to the nature of being human; A sense of calm, a surge of energy, a marvelous moment that lasts a lifetime, these are the gifts of nature, and I can only hope to create the space for that connection to happen more often”. Heather has two daughters (her best teachers) and is married to Greg Grant. With a Masters Degree in Outdoor Education Administration, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Education and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, she continues to seek new insight and knowledge of nature, kids and herself. She is a professional outdoor educator and mentor with over 25 years of experience. Her broad range of positions have included outdoor education coordinator and science teacher at Oak Grove High School, wilderness educator for the International Center for Earth Concerns on the Taft property in Ojai, the Sunbow Ecology Center in Ojai, and Naturalists at Large in Ventura among many other programs around the country and internationally. Currently Heather continues her work as Education Director and instructor for Once Upon a Watershed in Ojai, and in 2009 Heather co-founded Ventura Wild and continues as the director and lead instructor with a growing team of leaders and a community of families and collaborators. This is a heartfelt profession for Heather, who is committed to fostering a playful sense of discovery and wonder that leads to a joyful curiosity about life and learning.

Sara MacCracken

Sara has been a lover of the outdoors and nature since she can remember. From camping in Mammoth as a child to riding her horse for hours in the canyons as a teen. She has always found solace and connection in nature. Sara spent many years working with special needs children and at risk youth. She recently taught leadership and team building to students at Montessori School of Ojai. Sara holds a M.A. from Naropa University in Dance/Movement Therapy. It was here that she was introduced to wilderness therapy. Following the completion of her degree she worked with at risk youth for 5 years. During that time she developed and co-led bi-yearly backpacking trips for the youth. Later she led groups of young adults through Central America where they worked in National Parks, helped the plight of sea turtles and did other service projects. She has studied the medicinal uses of plants for the past 20 years. She is a bird watcher and has a great love for all creatures. Sara has led rites of passage programs for women and expressive arts therapy programs for pregnant women. She is very excited to support Mothers in their connection to the wilderness.Currently Sara is the mother of two energetic boys. She not only teaches cooking at the Montessori School of Ojai she also holds the position of Director of Development.  She recently completed her own 4 day vision quest in nature. She and her husband enjoy spending as much time as possible in nature with their boys.

Christopher (CJ) Cintas

Christopher (CJ) Cintas

C.J. Cintas was introduced to the Central Coast of California while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His love for the outdoors was sowed early in his life where the waves meet the shore on the Island of Hawaii. C.J.’s journey to Ojai was filled with many stops in places like Senegal, West Africa where he spent 2.5 years working as a volunteer with the Peace Corps and San Francisco, California where he tended and taught science based education in a school garden. C.J.’s love to share and create new experiences has taken him to Bishop to live and work.

Karen Nedivi

Karen Nedivi has years of experience working with children, ranging in age from elementary school to high school. She has taught English to school children in China, worked as an art instructor at Girls Inc., directed youth media training in New York and taught filmmaking summer camps at Brooks Institute in Ventura.

She has been working as a photographer and videographer since graduating from New York University in 2006. Her ability to pay attention to detail and stay present as a photographer has also been an integral part of working for Ventura Wild.  She lives in Ojai with her husband and two young kids. A few years ago they moved to Matilija Canyon, which is surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest. She has gained a connection and deep respect for nature and is always in awe that it comes so naturally to the kids who are a part of Ventura Wild.

Amy Davis

Amy has been a naturalist/educator/guide for nearly 20 years.  Her love of nature started in the Southeast in Charleston, South Carolina as she was earning a B.S. in Geology.  Shortly after graduating she started working at a Nature Center and leading canoeing, kayaking, biking and birding tours along with classes in the nature center.  After moving out to California to work as a naturalist educator teaching environmental education, she continued to be a kayak guide in the summer and winters.  The guiding took her to places such as Belize, Panama, San Juan Islands, Wyoming, Baja, Mexico and the Channel Islands.   She currently lives in Ventura and continues to teach outdoor education through several different organizations in Southern California along with leading hikes with The Nature Conservancy .  Birding is one of her biggest passions and loves to share that with others.  Her goal is to spread awareness of the natural environment in order to develop a deeper appreciation and love of the wilderness in hopes of conserving it.

David Lee

David’s love of the natural world goes back to roaming the oak woodlands of the Santa Ynez Valley. Accompanied by his father and biologist Richard S. Lee, David fell in love with Southern California’s plants, birds, and wildlife. His interests expanded to marine mammals while studying humpback whales in Glacier Bay, Alaska, and to tropical conservation while studying macaws in the Peruvian Amazon. David earned his BA in Biology from UC Santa Cruz and a Masters in Biology from Montana State University, Bozeman. Since then, he has taught natural history and environmental education for local school including the Wilderness Youth Project. David works part-time as a consulting biologist for the Davey Resource Group and writes blogs for his website, www.VenturaWildlifeGuru.net.
Tess Silvestri
Declan Blassini

Youth Interns! These wonderfully talented teens are all past participants of Ventura Wild or the Wilderness Youth Project (our sister program in Santa Barbara). We are honored and lucky to have them join us and be an incredible asset and support team.
Carly Leandro
Connor Greene

Joaquin Pearce

Alex Richardson
Keenan Porter
Lily Grant
Josh Cooper

Past Staff & Other Important People

  • Casey Murphy
  • Tessa Womack
  • Andrew Daigle
  • Jennifer Savage
  • Shawn Berry
  • David Parziale
  • Monika Rolstocki
  • Rita Maes
  • David White
  • Jeff Otterbien
  • Jessica Lindley
  • Anna Minsky
  • Venica Ftacek
  • Sara Benjamin
  • Camille Carlson
  • Suzen Harvey
  • Nash Rightmer
  • Brittany Cullen
  • Bridgit Banyai