Yearbook15volunteersLATO Staff (Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County Oak Education Manager)

Buster and BJ

Beverly Gingg in her garden with Buster, unofficial LATO mascot : )

Beverly earned an M.S. in Biological Sciences from Cal Poly in 1989 and has been involved in community leadership and science education, in the classroom and outdoors, for more than 30 years. Early experiences growing up on a Paso Robles area cattle ranch provided endless opportunities for outdoor exploration. An inspiring high school biology teacher (Thank you, Mr. John Jenkins!) further stoked interest and curiosity about the natural world. She worked under the direction of University of California Natural Resource Specialist Dr. William Tietje and many partners to establish the Learning Among the Oaks (LATO) program at Santa Margarita Ranch (2005-2011). This work was supported by two multi-year grants from the California Wildlife Conservation Board to the University of California, Berkeley. LATO, now in its 11th year, is recognized as a unique and successful place-based learning program with a nonprofit home within The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.

Building LATO has been and continues to be a huge team effort and an amazing adventure. I’m filled with joy and gratitude for all that we’ve accomplished together.

Past Cal Poly Biology Interns – Through 2015

Keelan Dann, LATO Program Biology Intern (3rd year of service for LATO)

Keelan at Wind Wolves Preserve in 2013.

Hi, I’m Keelan Dann, a Cal Poly senior studying field and wildlife biology. I love field research and environmental education. My fascination with nature and science came from playing and exploring in my neighborhood. But, it was a few mentors who made me see that a career in ecology was possible. My favorite part of LATO is the questions students ask because they make me look at the world in new ways. Thanks Oak Ambassadors and the rest of the LATO team, for sharing your passion for nature!

Elizabeth Saldo, LATO Program Biology Intern (3rd year of service for LATO) 

Sand Crab

Elizabeth holding a sand crab.

Hi, I’m Elizabeth Saldo, a Cal Poly senior studying biology. I was inspired to major in biological sciences by my high school biology teacher. One of my fondest outdoor experiences involved hiking high up a mountain in Mesa Verde National Park, where we listened to a Native American play the flute and sing; the notes of the flute and the ancient language echoed beautifully across the canyon. If I could be a child again, I would want to be 4: the age when I was overcome with wonder and curiosity for the natural world. I am so excited to be working directly with the Oak Ambassadors!

Ryan Russell, LATO Program Biology Intern and Chief Deputy Nature Detective (2nd year of service for LATO)

ryan and elizabeth

Ryan Russell and Oak Ambassador Elizabeth teaching on the trail (3rd grade adaptations hike) in May 2014. This is Ryan’s second year of LATO service.

Howdy! I’m Ryan Russell and I am a 4th year biology major at Cal Poly. I have a passion for trying to understand the world we live in which has caused me to develop a love and appreciation for science and nature. I hope to follow the example of great naturalists like John Muir by dedicating my time and energy to exploring, protecting, and sustaining the diversity of life around us. Some of my happiest memories were formed on yearly family summer vacations to Sequoia, walking the same gorgeous trails that John Muir helped to preserve. I’m thrilled to have the honor of applying the coolest title of all time, Chief Deputy Nature Detective, to myself this year as I attempt to produce Nature Challenges tricky enough to fool such smart students. Best of luck young detectives! You’re gonna need it.

Meghan Perfect, LATO Intern

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Meghan working with her Oak Ambassador team to learn about rattlesnake adaptions.

Hi, I’m Meghan Perfect, a 4th year Cal Poly liberal studies major hoping to become an elementary school teacher. In 5th grade I was able to go to an overnight outdoor school at Camp Arroyo and then later had to privilege to serve as a counselor for a similar program at Walker Creek Ranch. I loved going on hikes and learning about all of the organisms (we even licked a banana slug to learn about their adaptations!). I am so excited to be working with the Oak Ambassadors this quarter and to learn even more about the amazing oaks and the organisms past and present that make their home along the trail.


Meghan once licked a banana slug to learn about their adaptations!

Sarah Slabaugh, LATO Intern-Program Assistant and Fall 2014 Head Coach for Oak Ambassadors

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Sarah enjoying time at the seashore.

72465_1713959051534_1314924444_1828372_7415338_nHi, I’m Sarah Slabaugh, a senior at Cal Poly, majoring in Liberal Studies, with a minor in biology, seeking to become an elementary school teacher. My love for teaching and the outdoors began at a very young age, and has only grown since. In junior high, I had the opportunity to travel to both Yosemite and Catalina for a week and learn about California’s diverse environments. Furthermore, I have worked in outdoor, recreational summer camps the past few summers, only giving me more experience outside with children. My love for adventure varies from snow skiing all the way to surfing and wake-boarding. Overall, I just enjoy spending my time with the people I care about in this beautiful place we get to call home.

Trisha Huynh, LATO Program Intern and Fall 2014 Oak Ambassador Earth Sciences Team Coach 

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Trisha Huynh boiling tiger bones at Cal Poly. This was part of the job for the tiger re-articulation project.

Hi everyone! My name is Trisha Huynh and I very recently graduated from Cal Poly SLO. My favorite outdoor education experience was getting to go to Yosemite in the 8th grade to hike the trails and learn all about the plants and animals that lived there! That’s when I first knew I really liked science, and now, years later, you can find me researching jellyfish in the San Francisco Estuary, putting together a tiger skeleton for Cal Poly, or helping students discover the wonders of science at LATO!




Cal Poly Liberal Studies 462 ~ LATO Senior Project Students, Winter 2015

Thanks to Cal Poly Science Teaching Specialist Anne Marie Bergen and to key LATO volunteers ~ retired teachers Mike and Ruby Klatt for this successful collaboration adventure which began in Fall 2013. 

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Under construction – April 2015

In the meantime, see many volunteers and interns in the photo collage below. LATO is primarily powered by teams of dedicated volunteers and donations to The Land Conservancy.