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 listing 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

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 3-9. She is passionate about enabling children to learn outdoors and received her Nature-Based-Education-Certificate from Antioch University in 2020. Previous to that 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 has included 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.

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.  

Forest School Teacher

Emma Sheridan

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"I have always had a strong relationship with nature. I was born and raised in Los Angeles,

California, so some of my earliest memories are at the beach with my dad. Growing up, it was only a five-minute walk from my house to the beach, so my dad and I used to go almost every day. From playing in the water, to building sandcastles and finding seashells for my collection, being outdoors has always been ingrained into my identity. Also, my grandmother owns a horse farm in Minnesota. As a child, this allowed me to further my relationship with nature by forming a bond with these animals, and now as an adult, I love learning and being around all types of animals. Today, some of my favorite outdoor activities are surfing, hiking, taking photos of wildlife, especially butterflies, and taking my dogs on a walk or to a dog park. My goal in life is to educate the youth on environmental topics and to help children form a strong relationship with nature, just as I have been able to in my life."

Emma Sheridan received her Bachelors of Arts in Communications and Business at Lake Forest College. Further, she has an extensive background in academia and working with children. Emma was a Communication and Education intern at Lake Forest Open Lands Association, an environmental nonprofit in Lake Forest, Illinois. There, she helped develop lesson plans and create education events for elementary and middle school children in the local area. Emma was also an intern at the environmental nonprofit Friends of Ballona Wetlands in Playa del Rey, California. During this internship, Emma had many responsibilities such as habitat restoration work, learning about native California plant and animal species, assisting in education events, and educating the public about the Ballona Wetlands. Lastly, Emma has many years of experience being a camp counselor and tutoring elementary and middle school children in all subjects.

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.

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