The Story of Ventura Wild

The Beginning:

Ventura Wild was founded in 2009 by professional outdoor educator Heather King and local parents Rita Maes and Alison Bradley, and with support from Sara Benjamin, another outdoor educator. Ventura Wild began under the non-profit umbrella of Oak Grove School, a private school located in Ojai, California, offering 2-3 weeks of day-camps in the summer. Heather King worked as director and lead instructor to build the program and the staff.

In 2014, in an effort to expand into other seasons and to reach the broader communities of Ojai and Ventura County, the program moved to the umbrella of the Ojai City Recreation Department, which offered our programs year-round as part of their recreation activity guide.  Growing from 2-3 programs a year to as many as 40 programs annually, Ventura Wild became an even stronger organization with committed leaders, strong content and a strong vision to bring nature connection to our local communities long term.

In 2020 we made the move to a non-profit parent organization, the Ventura Land Trust, to raise money for scholarships and capacity building. Our mentor organization, Wilderness Youth Project in Santa Barbara, continues to offer their support as we grow and evolve. We have received “miracle grants” from Patagonia for scholarships and many families as well. We would love to keep growing our “support community”, so join us with a click: DONATE HERE, and thank you.

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The Present & Future:

Ventura Wild is now a program of the Ventura Land Trust (VLT). This means we are the educational component of the VLT mission along with “Nature By Design” (school based field trips and session long programs). Our ultimate goal is to create highly impactful comprehensive nature based learning experiences. A consolidation of talent and credibility bolsters the quality and capacity of our programs, and we are so excited for all the possibilities to bring more people into awareness, knowledge, skill and stewardship.

Since 2003, Ventura Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been protecting and preserving the beautiful open space in Ventura and the surrounding region. To date, we have permanently protected 30 acres of open space in the Ventura River watershed, managed 60 acres more and are currently working on the purchase of 2,100 acres of prime hillside property with the goal of opening the first large-scale, publicly accessible hillside nature preserve in Ventura.


Accessible hillsides, oak groves, flowing creeks and rivers, fields of flowers, and ranch and farm lands. Ventura Land Trust is working hard to preserve what makes Ventura such a great place to live, work and play and we need your help! We invite you to join Ventura Land Trust as a member, volunteer or both! Working together, we will protect what makes Ventura beautiful today, tomorrow… FOREVER!


Ventura Land Trust Tax ID #: 01-0769456