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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

Jessica Gonzales

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

       -Rainer Maria Rilke

“Born and raised in the East Los Angeles area, the natural world always fascinated me, seemingly so different in contrast with my developed city surroundings. There was a disconnect initially with my relationship to the outdoors, having parents who only knew the city, there was some lack of exposure, accessibility, and culturally with the ‘ten cuidado’ mindset when it came to anything wild. However, my mom would find any opportunity to share the outdoors she did know with what she could and what was within our reach, whether that be gardening, encouraging outdoor play, taking me and my siblings constantly to the park, the beach, botanical gardens, natural history and science museums. My appreciation and connection grew for my community and land around me, as nature is so very humbling, healing, and a teacher to all who are willing to learn. Inspired to know more, I pursued a higher education in biology and wildlife conservation, along the way I’ve had several educator positions that I truly enjoyed. With my background and understanding I would like to bridge the gap for children and provide the accessibility and exposure to explore and nurture our understanding of the natural world, while implementing the importance of connecting to the land. Things I also enjoy are camping, climbing, making crafts, cooking, gardening, expanding my identification and foraging skills, sharing all these experiences with loved ones and walking my scruffy dog Rusty.”


After transferring from East Los Angeles College, Jessica graduated as a first-generation college student from California State University, Chico with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences with a concentration in ecological, evolutionary and organismal biology. Amongst her studies she gained experience in educational outreach to the public and youth. While working at the Chico Creek Nature Center, she cared for native raptor species, and aided in visitor education of the nature center and of native raptors. She interned at the Vertebrate Museum on her college campus where she managed the museum collection, prepared specimens for displays, used specimens as educational tools and gave museum tours to audiences of many age groups and backgrounds. Other educator experiences she had during her undergraduate time were tutoring K-12 students with diverse learning needs and in various subjects, and had spent two years volunteering at a local elementary school’s kindergarten classroom as a supplemental aide. Since graduating, Jessica has had several biological technician positions, monitoring aquatic macroinvertebrate and threatened species such as Chinook salmon, and the Mojave desert tortoise. While these positions have been rewarding, teaching with Nature School LA provides the opportunity to combine her knowledge and love for both the outdoors and education outreach. 

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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