Stephanie’s love for the natural world and movement began as a youngling; from playing in the dirt of their dad’s experimental veggie garden, to biking everywhere, and making “potions” with neighborhood friends. Stephanie grew up in the suburbs of silicon valley but rarely spent time engaging in outdoor recreation with their family for vacation due to growing up low-income. It wasn’t until college when Stephanie’s curiosity for environmental science was facilitated and then they developed an interest in California native flora and ecotoxicology research. Steph studied Environmental Science at UC Santa Barbara and got their A.S in Biochemistry at Foothill College. After that, Stephanie has done lab research projects in nuclear chemistry, ecotoxicology, molecular biology/neuroepigenetics, and microbe ecology. During their research experience, they developed a curiosity for mentoring students with interdisciplinary interests and decided to tune their teaching skills full-time. Stephanie has been a swim coach and private instructor for 10 years and currently is a climbing instructor. Stephanie has also done a handful of organic farming training and herbal apprenticeships in the Bay Area. They keep the practices learned from these trainings and the Native Plant Nursery by operating a small-scale medicinal native plant backyard nursery and apothecary. Steph finds a generous amount of wonder, sacredness, freedom, and play in the natural world. They love to facilitate people connecting to themselves, their bodies, and their environment -while also teaching the responsibilities of taking care of all living beings. At Hidden Villa Stephanie mainly leads the Youth Development program and supports the environmental education and summer camp programs. Stephanie was drawn to HV’s values in community, environmental education and dedication to stewardship.Stephanie’s favorite activities are Hidden Villa include visiting the animals, stretching outside, and taking long contemplative walks. We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina Love but ALSO the Midnight Library by Matt Haig.
Stephanie Austin (She/They)
Teacher Naturalist: Challenge Course Coordinator