Meet the Staff of the Education Department!
Haylee B – Associate Director of Education
Haylee graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Animal Science and Management. She originally was trying to become a large mammal veterinarian specializing in chiropractic, but her passion for animals and desire to share that with others led her to a career in humane education. Haylee joined the Education department in 2011 and enjoys connecting people with animals and teaching compassion for all species! She has 2 cats but has grown up and worked with a lot of different animals. She has a special fondness for the animals that are the “unhuggables”, like sharks, snakes, and cockroaches. Haylee has been in San Diego most of her life and loves the great hiking trails and natural beauty here. She creates digital art in her spare time and enjoys reading and playing video games!
Michelle C – Education Assistant Manager
Michelle is a San Diego native and has worked at the Center since she graduated from UC Davis is 2014! She originally went to college with the idea that she wanted to become a vet and got her degree in Animal Science, only to later realize that she loves educating people about animals. Being part of the Education Department allows her to do that and she loves getting to work with all our animal ambassadors. In her free time she loves to explore San Diego, watch The Office, and play with her cat Oliver who she adopted from the Center in 2019.
Claire A – Education Assistant Manager
Claire is incredibly passionate about inspiring connections to and curiosity about nature. With a degree in biology from San Diego State University, she has worked primarily in conservation, animal care, and education. Her passion is strongest for the sea and sky, and thus she has worked as an aquarist, aviculturist, and biologist with sea turtles, birds of prey and endangered shorebirds. She likes to illustrate and draws inspiration from the animals she hopes to help conserve. She also enjoys being a cat-mom to her tabby, Marlin, and a plant-mom to her vegetable garden.
David S – Animal Care Supervisor
David studied Marine Biology at the University of Tampa and minored in Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has had a lot of animal experience, from working in a pet store from age 16-21, to participating in a program at the Shed Aquarium in Chicago, and he even was a tour guide at the San Diego Safari Park. In his spare time, he likes to play video games, especially Pokémon. A fun fact about David is that he taught ballroom dancing!
Christina W – Education Coordinator
Christina grew up in Southern California just a couple hours north of San Diego. Her family took every opportunity they could to visit the many amazing zoos in the area, which sparked her love for animals. Christina wanted to work with animals for as long as she could remember, first wanting to be a vet and then a zookeeper. She earned her BS in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution from UCSD in 2016, and decided she wanted to be able to share some of that knowledge she gained while there. Christina started working as a seasonal camp instructor shortly after graduating, and has been a part of the Education Department in various roles since! When she’s not with our amazing animal ambassadors, she spends time with her Pomeranian and 6 rats. Two of her rats, Acorn and Cider, participated in our Howl-O-Ween Harvest programs in 2021, so you may have met them! She fell in love with them during the month they worked in our education programs and knew she had to adopt them.
Liberty M – Animal Care Coordinator
Liberty grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and moved to sunny San Diego 3 years ago because of her husband’s military job. Growing up she opted for pet sitting instead of baby sitting and that’s when the seed for animal care work was planted. Over the years she has worked in a veterinary office, a grooming facility, a doggy day care, and she volunteered for a wildlife rehabilitation center. Her experience with pets on a personal level is quite extensive as she has always shared her home with many pets. Her home wouldn’t be a home without being in a constant state of “wrestle mania” orchestrated by her four large dogs: Ted, Gus, Frank, and Vern. When she’s not at work she is very much a homebody and spends most of her time caring for her jungle-like collection of house plants!
Samantha S – Education Specialist
Sam is currently in university studying clinical psychology in the hopes of one day pursuing her dream of being a licensed therapist. While in college she has worked as a tutor and mentor to high school students and now finds herself loving to educate people on animals and the world around us. Since she was very young, she has been drawn to understanding and helping animals in any way she could. She grew up with lots of animals around her and has spent many days volunteering and helping her aunt, a former head zookeeper at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary. Working around her at a very young age instilled the importance of learning, proper care, and understanding of all animals. Working with the Center’s Education Department, she now gets to share all that she has learned with young kids looking to ask the same questions she once asked. A fun fact about Sam is that once she spent Christmas with a porcupine!
Samantha M – Instructor
Samantha has an Associate’s degree in Communication and has been in the animal field for just over 4 years. She has one dog at home, a rescue that originally came from the Humane Society. In her spare time she likes to read, hang out with her dog, and go to concerts. A fun fact about Samantha is that she swam with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium.
Monica S – Instructor
Monica loves animals of all shapes and sizes. She was raised in a big family where she often took care of little kids. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and loves talking about conservation and how we can all do our part. She loves horseback riding and exploring the outdoors. She comes home to play with 2 cats and 3 dogs.
Laura D – Animal Caregiver
Laura is a Cal Poly Pomona alumni with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Zoology. Her passion for animal care has been lifelong, but she first started as a volunteer at the Santa Ana Zoo where she gained insight into the hard work and dedication that is required to be a wildlife caretaker. After moving to San Diego, she furthered her experience in animal care through internships with Wild Wonders and The Living Coast Discovery Center. When she’s not caring for the education animals at the Center, she loves spending time with her cat, Barnaby, reading books, and practicing the violin. A fun fact about Laura is that she has 200 books in her personal library!
Devin R – Animal Caregiver
Devin is currently attending Cal Poly Pomona as an Animal Science major, and has worked extensively with animals big and small such as horses, birds, lizards, guinea pigs, hamsters, and tropical/saltwater fish. Her passions and hobbies include taking care of her own zoo of 10+ animals, riding horses, and taking her Belgian Malinois, Coconut, on hikes. A fun fact about Devin is that she’s been riding horses for over 5 years!
Taylor C – On Call Instructor
Taylor is studying at San Diego State University, majoring in Elementary Education. Through her college education, she has had the opportunity to observe and teach lessons on the core subjects in elementary school classrooms throughout San Diego County, and take courses related to classroom management and child development. She has been involved with the Center for six years now, beginning as a volunteer in the Adoptions department and eventually transitioning to Critter Camp, where she has worked over the past year. As a Critter Camp counselor, she has combined her love for education and wildlife, while also gaining knowledge and experience working with children and various exotic animals. A fun fact about Taylor is that she was named after a president!
Giuliana V – On-Call Instructor
Giuliana is a psychology student with over 6 years of experience working with kids! She specializes in play and education, and loves to learn things through fun activities. While she only has one pet of her own (a tuxedo cat named Gremlin), she loves riding horses and working with sheep. Her favorite hobbies are barrel racing, crocheting blankets, and cooking! A fun fact about Giuliana is that her favorite flowers are sunflowers because they’re bright and remind her of summer.
Mikayla L- On-Call Instructor
Mikayla is attending the University of Arizona, studying veterinary science, as she hopes to one day be a vet. She has always loved animals and she used to work at a preschool for a little over a year, so working with animals and kids is the best of both worlds for her! When she’s not working at the Center, she is a server at Olive Garden. Mikayla likes to go to the beach with her dogs or spend time with family and friends. A fun fact about Mikayla is that she is allergic to most animals, but she’s too passionate about their well-being to work in any other industry!
Jordan B – On-Call Instructor
Jordan is an Integrated Educational Studies major with an emphasis in community education at Chapman University. She is also minoring in language and literacy. She’s passionate about helping kids find their love for learning! In her free time, she loves to read and go hiking with her friends. A fun fact about Jordan is that she had never touched a snake until working at the Center!
Claire R – On-Call Instructor
Claire is currently a junior at USC majoring in Design at the Roski School of Art & Design. While she is pursuing a career in the arts, she has always loved animals and is excited to work with both animals and children this summer for Critter Camp. She grew up with a pet cockroach, millipede, stink bug, fish, parakeets, leopard gecko, and a dog. She also has experience working as a camp instructor for a summer Tinkering Lab course for children. Aside from art and animals, she loves to bake desserts and swim in the ocean!