WYP Welcomes New Board Members
Wilderness Youth Project (WYP), the leading nature connection organization in Santa Barbara County, is proud to announce the addition of Devon Azzam and Teresa Romero as Board Trustees.
With the addition of these two respected leaders, WYP is responding to our community’s increasing recognition that all children need nature. Their leadership will support WYP’s efforts to deepen opportunities for local youth to connect with nature.
Operating summer camps, an outdoor early childhood program, after-school nature-based programs, and a subsidized program called “Bridge to Nature” in local low-income public schools and at community partner sites, WYP brings nature connection to more than a thousand children a year on a weekly basis, building on the fact that nature connection makes kids “smarter, healthier and happier.”
“Devon and Teresa both have impressive histories of working in their communities to provide access and support for environmental education and nature connection." WYP Executive Director Dan Fontaine said. “Recruiting them to the board will help us serve local children even more fully."
WYP Board members oversee governance, finance, and fundraising, and act as ambassadors to the community. The Board of Trustees also includes Amy Schneider, April Price, MS, Brook Eiler, Carrie Kappel, Ph.D., Chris Ragland, Graciela Cabello, Kyra Rogers, MSW, Laura Russell, CPA, and Lena Morán-Acereto, M.A. Ed.
New Board Member Bios:
Azzam is overjoyed to be able to call Santa Barbara home after a long journey of finding her way back after graduating from UC Santa Barbara. Azzam majored in environmental studies and cultural anthropology and stayed at UCSB to earn her multiple subject teaching credential and master of education. With a passion for making connections between core content and outdoor experiences, Azzam taught in the traditional classroom for 8 years, then had the opportunity to work with schools in San Diego and Orange County to develop school garden programs. She was the co-founder of a non-profit aimed at greening schoolyards and supporting school gardens and worked as an outdoor education consultant. In 2019, Azzam and her family had the opportunity to return to Santa Barbara. Her two children have found community through participation in WYP programs. Through her work as Assistant Director of Outreach in the Gevirtz School of Education at UCSB, Devon is passionate about supporting WYP’s Bridge to Nature program and finding more ways to provide all children access to nature connection. Most recently, Devon has taken on the role of Regional Director of the California Global Education Project at UCSB and is beginning her journey as a doctoral student where she intends to knit together the ideas and experiences she has gathered along her career path in regards to early childhood, nature connection, and school environments.
Romero serves as the Environmental Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians; is an enrolled member of the Coastal Band of Chumash and is a member Syuxtun Plant Collective, a traditional plant collective focusing on tending, gathering and preparation of traditional plants. She has served on the MPA Statewide Leadership Team as a Southern California Tribal Representative since 2019; serves on the Executive Committee for the Central Coast Climate Justice Network; and is an elected representative for the Region 9 EPA Tribal Caucus and the steering committee for Central Coast Climate Collaborative. Romero has worked for over 20 years assisting Tribal Communities on projects, such as acquiring lands for the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, protecting Treaty Rights (Little River Band of Ottawa Indians), and preserving traditional cultural knowledge for her Chumash community. Romero has deep ties to her traditional homelands and resources. Romero, with three other indigenous women, created a non-profit, the Native Coast Action Network to help west coast indigenous communities build capacity and assist in implementing cultural and environmental initiatives. Romero enjoys time at the ocean, traditional gathering and spending time with her family and community.
More about WYP:
The mission of Wilderness Youth Project is to foster confidence, health, and a lifelong love of learning for young people and families through active outdoor experiences and mentoring.
WYP takes participants to resource-rich locations, such as creeks, beaches, mountain trails, and open spaces in Santa Barbara’s abundant front country. The core routines include child-centered exploration, awareness, and the building of naturalist skills. They use a nature-based mentoring curriculum that combines experience in nature with a hands-on learning process. Participants are with WYP many times over the course of a season, deepening connections with themselves, the group, their mentors, and the places they go.