Team

We are educators and teachers with a big heart and passion for children and nature. As we come together to support children's development and academic growth we foster the relationship to the natural world while utilizing the environment as our third teacher. Here children use all of their senses to embody their learning experiences and it becomes an integrated part of them. We understand the delicate way of listening to children's interests to build a curriculum and plan activities or projects to guiding them to greater horizons.

Today we had a lot of fun stirring water

All our forest school teachers are CPR + First Aid Certified and passed a DOJ and FBI background check. We train our staff in regards to outdoor safety and leading children to make their own informed decision in respect to risk taking. Children are at all times under Adult Supervision. We take your child's well-being seriously while affording them to explore freely and mindfully in Nature.

Director and Founder

Biljana Milasin

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"The Whole is More than the Sum of its Pieces."

                              - Piaget

"My deep roots and love for nature have been planted by the adults around me from the day I was born. My parents took me on walks and hikes to parks, dams, lakes, ponds, creeks, and rivers. The summers were spent in the country side in Bosnia (former Yugoslavia). This part is so remote that it just got a paved road in 2014. My hometown in Germany consists of 70% forest. And while growing up the schools and after-school care programs organized trips to the country side with scavenger hunts, large group games and overnight stays.

With all these experiences, my most fond ones are the ones in Yugoslavia. The only place were I had complete freedom as a child. I was free to walk around. Walk from my uncle's house to my great aunt's house, which were about 1/4 mile apart. And all in-between was nature. There weren't even street lights and the road was a plain dirt road.

I was free to explore, no adult telling me what to do, think, or say. I was even able to test out my own theories and make mistakes. The adults around us didn't try to 'save us' from having a 'negative' experience. Of course we were always safe and when night fell we had to stay inside.

My greatest memory of nature play was on a rainy day. My cousin and I slipped on the adult rubber shoes/galoshes and walked out the house. The rain had stopped and left a creek along the muddy, clay-like walkway leading to the house. We moved the mud and build dams. We watched the water move in different directions. We gave commands and followed requests. We got inspired and build a long wall to guide the water. The 'material', the clay-like mud was so smooth and slippery, yet strong and durable. We spend hours out there. All the adults did was to joyfully ask us if we were cold or hungry and respected our wish to continue to stay outside. So they let us be. We were submerged in our investigation and exploration; our constructing and deconstructing, our testing of thoughts and theories. We brought part of our inner self to the outer world and experienced the outer world as part of us. That day I felt very whole. And this is the magic of unstructured play."

Biljana Milasin is an early childhood educator and founder and director of Nature School LA for children ages 3-11. She is passionate about affording children to learn outdoors and received her Nature-Based-Education-Certificate from Antioch University in 2020. Previously she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Education in Germany and holds a Site Supervisor Permit from the State of California. She has been working in education since 1994. Biljana's experience includes a wide variety of programs with different approaches, curriculums, and school cultures, both in Germany and the United States. Her experiences range from traditional preschools, schools with a Reggio Emilia approach and mixed age groups in private and public settings. In the United States Biljana has also worked as a counselor in a boarding school for emotional growth supporting and guiding at risk youth. 

Biljana spends much time outdoors in the Angeles National Forest and Santa Monica Mountains and regularly visits workshops on native plants to learn about their properties and medicinal uses. Making baskets and learning about the indigenous people is another passion if hers.

Forest School Teacher

Megan Howell

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"If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees."

       -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Nature has always been my happy place and curiosity has always guided me toward discoveries of truth and wisdom. I was born in Tucson, Arizona on the Air Force Base.  My parents were Russian Linguists.  I was raised in Southern Indiana, but also lived in Minnesota for a short time.  As a kid, I was always outside exploring my surroundings which consisted mostly of forests, rivers, and lakes.  Our house was filled with music, art, sports, books and at least one animal. From playing in the woods, to fingerpainting my favorite animals with my favorite colors (all of them) and finding rocks for my rock collection (that I painted to make my own), I have always felt more at home outdoors than indoors. Today, some of my favorite outdoor activities include yoga, hiking, meditation, painting images of natural landscapes, going on roadtrips to new destinations, camping, swimming, crafting, canoeing, kayaking, and simply reading at the beach listening to the waves.  As an educator, my strength is gently guiding students towards their own discoveries and celebrating the wisdom they gain.  I enjoy creating a safe space for students to explore, create, learn, and play!  I truly believe learning is meant to be fun and there is much to be  gained from new experiences in the outdoors."

Megan received her Bachelors of Arts in German Studies Degree at the University of Southern Indiana.  Megan worked in the University Language Lab, tutoring college students who needed help with their German courses.  Megan volunteered with her local climbing gym and helped with route setting. Rock Climbing brought her to several beautiful outdoor landscapes including:  Jackson Falls Southern Illinois, Red River Gorge Kentucky, Fall Creek Falls Tennessee, Foster Falls Tenneesee, Obed National Park Tennessee, and New River Gorge West Virginia.  Megan was also a volunteer at her yoga studio, Yoga 101, as an energy exchange member.  Yoga has helped shape moments of calm during moments of stress through her life and within her accomplishments.  During a break in her studies, Megan was an Au Pair in Altenkirchen, Germany. There, she immersed herself in the language and culture, helped with the childcare of three children under the age of 11 while exploring the beautiful landscapes of Western Germany.  After this experience of being immersed in a different culture with a different language, Megan decided to earn her Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certification at the Tennessee Foreign Language Institution.  Following this credential, she completed a Transition to Teaching program at Oakland City University to earn her Indiana Educator’s Credentials.   Megan’s first teaching experience was at Harwood Career Preparatory Academy. Harwood is a Title I Alternative Education Public High School in Southern Indiana. In addition to working as a full time educator, she volunteered to coordinate the school's Certified Nursing Assistant program, helping many at-risk youth interested in the healthcare field earn college credits while in High School and pass their CNA board exams to become licensed professionals in the healthcare field.  Megan thoroughly enjoyed being part of the community and making a positive impact on the future of her community.  Megan’s next experience as an educator was as a Middle School Teacher in the Bloomington, IN area at a K-8 Charter School teaching Social Studies and integrating social emotional learning practices into the classroom.  She took the students on nature walks when the weather was nice and had the students perform historical plays on the outdoor stage.  This is where Megan knew Mother Nature was a phenomenal help towards achieving educational goals, while noticing the calm demeanor of students and staff. Nature, compared to being confined to four walls and fluorescent lights, fostered the perfect environment towards educational success & team-building.  When Megan isn’t teaching, she’s exploring new things.  She enjoys drawing, yoga, cooking, hiking, traveling, and spending time with her fiance, family, friends, & her fur babies.

Forest School Teacher

Jenean Thomas

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Jenean is an environmental educator who resides in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. Jenean completed her Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in natural resource management from San Francisco State University. Her time in the  Bay Area is where she began getting immersed into the environmental world. During her undergraduate studies, she began working for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for about a year and realized  that working with youth in the outdoors was what she loved to do.

Towards the end of her studies, she started working with organizations whose goals were to connect underserved youth and nature. Working with adolescent students over the years sparked an even deeper passion in Jenean. She enjoyed bringing youth out into nature who may have had little-to-no exposure to the outdoors previously. It felt great to be able to show kids that nature isn’t scary and to be able to help them feel a sense of belonging in the outdoors.

After graduating, Jenean worked for the education department at the Presidio Trust as a Park Educator. She taught many Environmental Education programs year-round as well as archaeology programs that focused on the history of the Presidio. 

During her downtime Jenean loves to hike; her time spent in the Bay Area's luscious landscapes was when she fell in love with hiking. She also enjoys spending time with friends and family, especially when it involves food.

Excited to be back in her hometown of Los Angeles after six years of living in the Bay Area, Jenean is excited to get kids out in nature. She is excited to discover and explore Los Angeles landscapes in a way that she never has before. Jenean loves to be able to inspire youth to enjoy nature and help them feel like a sense of comfort and belonging within nature.  

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."

                          -Lao Tzu

Forest School Teacher

Brianna Rivera

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"Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land."

                          - Aldo Leopold

“I have always enjoyed being in nature and connecting with plants and animals. One of my earliest and most vivid memories are of me and my family tending to our garden in our backyard. We grew all types of plants like roses, zinnias, lima beans, an avocado tree, and many others. This love for gardening translated into my present life as well, inspiring me to grow my own succulent garden in addition to a small selection of fruit trees. Seeing my plants grow throughout the years has allowed me to appreciate these natural processes that may seem insignificant to those who don’t take the time to take a step back from their busy lives and observe nature. I find gardening to be a peaceful hobby that can be very rewarding if you take the time to care for the gifts that nature offers us.”

 

Brianna received her Bachelors of Arts in Environmental Studies from California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. She has always found ways to incorporate nature into her formal education. When choosing classes at CSUDH, she would intentionally look for classes that were taught outside or offered field trips outdoors. Brianna learned about different ecosystems in Southern California firsthand during field trips to the White Point Nature Preserve, Topanga State Park, Yosemite National Park. During her 3-day trip to Yosemite, Brianna took measurements and calculated the water discharge from a specific section of Yosemite Creek. Brianna has also spent 2 years giving classes and volunteering for kid camps at her local Christian church Ciudad de Avivamiento. She worked with other volunteers in order to provide both fun and educational content to children of a variety of ages. Volunteering at her church and working with kids helped her discover her passion for teaching and helping others grow. In her spare time, Brianna enjoys hiking, gardening, playing video games with her siblings, and spending time with her pet rabbit Bun Bun. 

Forest School Teacher

Dariela Ascencio 

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"Having grown up in Los Angeles, nature has been an oasis of serenity amidst the busting city. It is where I could go within, see the beauty, and feel peace. Every summer I went on camping trips with my family and also visited their homeland Mexico. There I found a deeper appreciation and connection with nature. Over the years my love and interest in the natural world grew."

 

Dariela Ascencio graduated 2017 from Cal State Northridge with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Science. She has experience working with ages 3-12 years. Her career in education began at LAUSD teaching high schoolers the importance of nutrition and water preservation. Through a program of the Children’s Bureau she spend time with foster kids in the summers going to different museums and recreational parks. She used this opportunity to give emotional support and create environmental awareness. 

 

Dariela is excited to take her experience and share it with the children, parents and teachers at Nature School LA.

"The earth laughs in flowers."

                -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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