Foothill Horizons - Outdoor Education



The staff of Foothill Horizons is a dynamic group of people from throughout California and beyond. We pride ourselves on creating a safe and positive outdoor experience.


Current Staff

Principal: Jess Hewitt
Assistant Director: Diann Rastetter
Administrative Assistant: Shay Kaye
Nurse: Bette Blumenstein
Kitchen staff: Juan, Jandy, Carlee & Jim
Bus and luggage drivers: Phoebe, Linda & Ralph 
Health Clerk: Brianna
Naturalists: Josh, Allison, Korena, Sarah, Amy, Gabe
Naturalist interns: Alyssa, Isaac, Nina, Ashley, Shannon & Cara
Maintenance/Custodial: Patrick, Ralph, Davey & Leonard


Meet the Permanent Staff

  Jess Hewitt, Principal
In fall, 2014, Jess stepped up as principal after ten years of working at Foothill Horizons. She started as a naturalist intern in 2003, and worked as a permanent naturalist from 2004-2014. She also spent three summers using her imagination and creativity while working as a naturalist for Foothill Horizons Summer Camp. Jess continued to develop her teaching skills by earning a multiple subject teaching credential with CSU Fresno. This valuable perspective and study allowed her to start co-leading the internship program in 2010. Soon after she went back to school to complete an administrative credential in Educational Leadership. These experiences prepared her for her new position as Director of Foothill Horizons.  She looks forward to leading Foothill Horizons Outdoor School into a new era.
Diann, Assistant Director
Diann grew up cherishing the time she spent in her big backyard in northeastern Ohio, which led her to go seek a degree in Environmental Education, Communication and Interpretation. She moved to California in 1997. She spent 17 years working at and managing a residential Outdoor Science School program in the San Bernardino Mountains, then spent the last two years as the Naturalist Intern Coordinator at Sierra Outdoor School in Sonora. She is now the Assistant Director here at Foothill Horizons and is thrilled to be part of a passionate, experienced staff in such a beautiful location! Some things she likes to do: snowboard! make gourd art and drums, visit family and her wonderful nieces, mountain bike, hike, learn, laugh, and she also enjoys finding ways to make people smile. This year, she looks forward to making a difference in the lives of the students, counselors and teachers that visit Foothill Horizons and will strive to provide each of them with a positive memorable experience here in this very special place.
gabe Gabe, Naturalist
Gabe was born and raised in the cozy confines of upstate New York.  His childhood was chock-full of the outdoors, from early camping trips in the backyard with Dad to skiing on towering 800-foot slopes at the local hill.  Since studying at the University of Virginia, Gabe has worked, lived and traveled all over the world.  Aside from community organizing in San Diego and international development in India, he has facilitated experiential and environmental education programs in El Salvador, Israel, Colorado, the Sierra Foothills, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  Gabe is an avid skier and hiker, and has come a long way since bringing just a bag of crunchberries as his only food on his first backpacking trip.  Gabe is uber-excited to be back at Foothill Horizons, learning with and from the next generation of conservation stewards and outdoor enthusiasts.  Also, he loves carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
Korena Korena, Naturalist
Korena studied Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  Two highlights were a quarter studying Tropical Biology in Costa Rica and a quarter studying the Natural History of California while backpacking through its predominant mountain ranges.  Her love of experiential education brought her to Foothill Horizons for a naturalist internship in 2001.  She became a permanent naturalist at Foothill Horizons in 2004.  She is excited to share the mysteries of nature with students during their time at Outdoor Education. Her favorite topics to teach are night hike and dancing!
Sarah Sarah, Naturalist
Sarah developed a love for nature while growing up in the
foothill community of Paradise, California. As a youngster, Sarah enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities with her family and friends, including camping at Lake Almanor and hiking at Lassen Volcanic National Park. After finishing college, she took some time off to explore parts of Central America, Asia and Europe. While Sarah always knew that she wanted to teach in some capacity, it wasn’t until she returned from her travels that she decided to pursue a career in outdoor education. Sarah has been working at Foothill since 2008. In her free time Sarah enjoys playing basketball, reading, hiking, backpacking, traveling and dancing.
Brianna Brianna, Health Clerk
Brianna loves exploring and playing in natural environments. She has had the opportunity to learn from a variety of collaborative, outdoor jobs that have allowed her to work on salmon habitat in the backwoods of Maine, teach primitive living skills in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, and research threatened garter snakes in the central valley of California. After focusing on biology and experiential education in college, Brianna was thrilled to join the dedicated Foothill Horizons staff as a naturalist intern in 2012. Working as a naturalist and health clerk, Brianna is most excited to make outdoor education available to all students. When she is not working with 6th graders, Brianna enjoys back-country hiking, wildlife research, books on tape, and dancing.


Meet the Naturalist-Interns

Nina grew up in New England and earned her degree in English, Language, Media, and Communication at the University of Rochester in New York in 2017.  She applied to this internship because she finds it fulfilling to be working outdoors, closely with the environment.  She believes that if more children are encouraged to engage with their environment and think critically about their relationship to it, future generations will have a healthier connection to the earth.  She has spent the last year living and working in Groveland, CA as a garden manager and tree care apprentice. Some of her hobbies, interests and talents include: writing, journalism, rock climbing, trail running, backpacking, raising dairy goats, and gardening. She is excited to be at Foothill so she can share her passion and see her students smiling and laughing during her lessons!

Isaac grew up in Iowa and went on to earn his degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa in 2017.  Some of the many reasons he applied to this internship include: his drive to improve his teaching skills, learn from other Naturalists, and to live in a community with others who are deeply invested in educating the next generation of scientists and leaders. He believes that every child deserves the opportunity to be vigorously supported in their pursuit of education.  He has spent the last year working as a Community Educator for the Delaware Nature Society in Wilmington. Some of his hobbies, interests and talents include: running, trail maintenance, biking, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, and he is a voracious reader.  He is excited for this opportunity to live with a really cool group of people, share his excitement with our students and to explore the Sierra Nevada!

Ashley grew up in the Modesto, CA area and first came to Foothill Horizons when she was 12 years old.  She was inspired by her Naturalist and decided right then that, she “was going to do that.” She then returned to us twice more as a high school counselor and just earned her degree in Environmental Science from BYU in Utah. She believes that grades don’t, and should not, define education – that when the pressure of getting a good grade is removed, in such places like Foothill, learning can easily happen and connections with nature can be made.  She wants others to feel the same way she does about nature and wants to make a difference in the world through outdoor education.  She has spent the last year as an academic tutor, a research assistant, and teaching assistant.  She plays guitar and mandolin and wants to take on learning the banjo next. Ashley is excited to be at Foothill so she can change lives in a place that is dear to her heart.

Cara grew up in Washington and earned her B.S. in Environmental Science in 2016 and just finished earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Western Washington University.  She applied to this internship because she is very interested in the aspect of teaching kids about the environment in an immersive setting.  She is also looking forward to the abundance of personal feedback she will receive as she improves as an outdoor educator.  She believes that education should involve as many connections as possible and students should get to chew on concepts in as many ways as they can possibly think of! She has experience as a camp counselor, a farm hand, selling organic produce at farmer’s markets, and teaching dance.  Some of her hobbies, interests and talents include: improv, dancing, cooking and sharing food, frisbee, crafts, and loves identifying plants and mushrooms!  She is excited to be at Foothill so she can live and work outside and close to nature – and share the land with all who visit. 


Shannon grew up in Maryland and earned her degree in Environmental Studies from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland in 2014.  She has since gained experience working for John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, for Disneyland, and has spent about a year and a half working for Sultana Education Foundation as their onboard Education Director providing field-based enrichment programs for K-12 students while sailing on an 18th century schooner replica in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. She applied to this internship so she can continue her passion of teaching students about their surrounding natural world in a new region of the country.  Some of her hobbies, interests and talents include: running, hiking , swimming, playing board games, adventuring, and she has been trying to teach herself how to play the guitar.  She is excited to be at Foothill so she can continue to gain confidence in her teaching abilities, to grow as a leader, to develop lasting relationships, and gain writing skills that will allow her to thrive in the outdoor education field. 

Alyssa received her degree in Marine Environmental Science from Western Washington University. She applied for this internship because she believes the skill of teaching is essential for a scientist because they need to be able to present information in an interesting and clear way. Although much of Alyssa’s past work has taken place on the ocean studying whales, she has always had a love for all outdoor environments. She grew up in Southern California and many of her fondest childhood memories took place in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Alyssa is very excited to improve her teaching abilities and techniques, and share her passion for nature with the next generation. Scientific findings and knowledge can only go so far if it is not shared with others. It is through education that Alyssa believes actual change and improvements will be made for the planet. In her spare time, you could find Alyssa writing, running, reading, and looking for adventure!