A cornerstone of the Naturalists at Large safety philosophy is to provide a comfortable outdoor experience.
At a minimum, our instructors have Wilderness First Aid and CPR certifications. Most instructors possess Emergency Medical Technician, Wilderness First Responder certifications, or other advanced wilderness specific first aid training certifications as well.
Naturalists at Large staff members are experienced outdoor professionals. Our instructors possess four year degrees in teaching or outdoor fields, or possess an equivalent in outdoor teaching and guiding experience. They have skills such as rock climbing, backpacking, canoeing, mountaineering, snorkeling and kayaking, as well as knowledge of natural history and experiential education.
Our Naturalists have a lifelong enthusiasm for the outdoors, a special commitment to outdoor education, and a wealth of practical experience working with children and adults in a wilderness environment.
With their high comfort and experience in the outdoors, their passion for teaching, and a commitment to safety first, we have the foundation for a fantastic experience for you and your students!
Originally from Alpharetta, Georgia, Ally Littell graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in speech communications. She began working with Naturalists at Large in the Fall of 2002. After 5 years in the field, Ally began working in the office as a Field Coordinator.
Her passion for working with kids in the outdoors comes from time spent with them in the rolling hills and lakes of North Georgia, the rainforests and beaches of Costa Rica, and the rivers and rocks of Southern Montana. Ally has spent the majority of her time at NAL working on Catalina Island and the Colorado River.
Over the past few years, she has had the chance to travel to Central America, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Africa. She enjoys biking, swimming, yoga, and spending time on the beaches of Ventura.
Originally from New Jersey, Rachel graduated from Muhlenberg College with a degree in psychology. After her first season with Naturalist at Large in 2008, she couldn't help but fall in love with the west coast. Some of her favorite things to do are rock climbing, running, poi (fire spinning), music, laughing, and traveling the world! Since college, she has traveled to Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Morocco, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Mexico! She believes her passion for the outdoors originally stems from the summers she spent at an overnight camp in Maine as a kid. Camp helped her build self confidence, become more self reliant and accountable, establish life-long friendships, and develop an appreciation and respect for nature. As a naturalist, she strives to achieve these same things in the students she works with.
Nate Pakula was born and raised in the humble state of Rhode Island. As a youth, Nate spent many summers backpacking and canoeing in the charm-filled mountains and rivers of northern New England. In 2004, he moved to Burlington, Vermont where he attended the University of Vermont. Upon finishing his degree in Sociology at Vermont, Nate made the journey to California and quickly found a home at Naturalists At Large. Over the past 7 seasons he has filled virtually every field position at NAL and currently works as the Rock Climbing Coordinator.
During the NAL season Nate typically can be found working as a Program Coordinator or Climbing Instructor in Joshua Tree National Park, Pinnacles National Monument, and Yosemite National Park. When Nate is not working for NAL he can be found traveling the world following his deep passion for rock climbing in places like Argentina, Thailand, and the deserts of southwestern US. Some of his other passions include noodling on the guitar, catching a few snowboard turns in the backcountry, and guiding canoe trips on the rivers and lakes of Maine.
Nate is a certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor.
Bill Vecchiarelli is a transplant from Massachusetts, originally coming to California in 1991 to work at an outdoor science school in the San Bernardino Mountains. The warm, sunny climate was a welcome change from Syracuse, N.Y. where he got his degree in Fine Arts.
Bill first started at Naturalists at Large in 1995, working as a Naturalist, climbing instructor and commissary director, and even did a 2-year stint as the staffing manager from 1997 to 1999. Taking a break from administrative work at NAL, he went on to instruct mountaineering and rafting trips in Oregon with Outward Bound from '99-'03. He eventually became OB's program director in California for several years.
Throughout this time, Bill never strayed far from his roots at NAL, usually taking time to work a ski trip or rock-climbing program each season. These days, Bill can once again be found in the NAL office managing the logistics and working with some of our schools to plan trips.
Hailing from the Seattle area, Ellie Piper has been working for NAL since the Fall of 2009. After graduating from Montana State University in cell biology and neuroscience, Ellie has been busy traveling, skiing, rafting and spending time with her family.
Ellie finds NAL to be a perfect fit for her lifestyle, allowing the fulfillment found by working with children, the adventure of traveling through California, and the seasonal breaks that allow for a variety of work and travel.
Becky Rudy is a native Californian who grew up in the Mojave Desert and became a Marine Biologist (logical right?) She received both her B.S. and M.S. in marine biology of the Pacific Coast at Cal State Northridge. You will usually find her working NAL sites with either a desert or ocean nearby. She taught six years in the classroom (grades 1-2) and thus excels at packing everything anyone might need on a program. During Becky's off season she continues to do algal research at Cal State Northridge, and if you ever meet her on program she has an alter ego named The Tent Fairy!
Although born and raised in Washington DC, Anna Greenberg has deep family roots in California. As a child, she couldn't wait for the summer to come, which meant travels through the Sierras. After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies, she spent a few years traveling and working in places such as New Zealand, the Middle East, Thailand, and the Southwest, until she found her dream job working with NAL, in Spring 2009.
These days you can find Anna working and exploring all over California, especially in her beloved Sierra and desert regions. She loves canoeing, rock climbing, snorkeling, and kayaking, but her favorite outdoor activity is still simply to grab some comfy shoes and a water bottle, and go out for a wander. She also enjoys World of Warcraft.
After completing his undergraduate work at UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies, John Drips began working as an outdoor guide. He started here at NAL in 2009. During the summer John guides whitewater rafts in the northern Sierra and leads summer teen tours with The Wild Traveler. In the winter he volunteers for an outdoor adventure non-profit that leads ski trips for people with disabilities. While there, he composed "A Winter Natural History of the Ebbetts Pass Corridor".
He has traveled in West Africa, but you're more likely to see him on the Colorado River or at any one of our Northern California sites. With students, he focuses on bird behavior and plant identification.
Adele Schopf calls "home" Colorado but has also lived in California and Chile. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University with a degree in Business Marketing and has spent the past four years working in California.
Adele's traveled to many Naturalists at Large sites since starting in 2009. Her favorite sites are Joshua Tree, Pinnacles, and the Lower Colorado River. When not working for NAL, you can find Adele out and about in California following her love of climbing or on horseback in the backcountry of the Eastern Sierras.
Guided by the belief that having a wide variety of experiences and traveling widely helps to make a person a well rounded individual, David Gibbons left his home state of Wisconsin to adventure far and wide, while earning his master's degree in South Asian Religions at the University of Hawaii. Since graduating in Spring 2007, David has worked primarily in outdoor recreation throughout the United States. He has worked with Naturalists at Large since Spring 2008.
When David is not working with NAL he usually spends his summers instructing aquatic activities at youth camps. During the winter he is a ski patroller at Mt. Baldy. He also enjoys working as an extra on TV shows, soccer referee and serves as a Marine Corps Reservist.
Naturalists at Large is a leading outdoor and environmental education group in California. Since 1985, we have provided outdoor education programs for tens of thousands of students from over two hundred schools, offering custom client designed trips, flexible dates and locations, commitment to safety and comfort in the outdoors, the wonder of nature and the importance of outdoor and experiential education.