Naturalists / Instructors at Ardenwood Historic Farm

Ardenwood Historic Farm

Address: Ardenwood Historic Farm, 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont, CA 94555
Phone No.: (510) 544-2797

Sonja Gomez, Supervising Naturalist

Sonja has always enjoyed playing in dirt and exploring the world around her. She began her career when she became a cofounder of The Nature Club at age six. She has since earned a BS in Environmental Studies and an MA in Museum Studies, and has worked in a variety of settings, including agriculture, field research, and conservation education. She was thrilled to join the East Bay Regional Park District in 2016 and spent four amazing years at Coyote Hills Regional Park before joining the team at Ardenwood Historic Farm. When not at work, she can often be found tinkering in the garden or hiking with her family. She believes in building healthy, happy communities through positive experiences in our parks, and hopes you will come play with her at the farm.

Mindy Castle, Naturalist/Docent Coordinator

Mindy joined the Park District in 2012, but has been professionally romping through the Bay Area’s marshes, forests, grasslands, and estuarine waters since 2002, igniting excitement in kids and adults alike. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Principia College and has worked as an educator for National Audubon Society, Contra Costa Water District, and Marine Science Institute. Her favorite things are bright copper kettles, spending time with her family, baking delicious desserts, and Star Wars.

Christina Garcia, Naturalist

After stints as a seasonal campground attendant at Lake Del Valle and in the Visitor Center at Coyote Hills, Christina joined the Ardenwood staff as a naturalist in 1996. With a B.A. in zoology from San Jose State University, she previously worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as a wildlife resource analyst, where she trapped feral pigs, surveyed frogs and salamanders, and had her first mountain lion encounter. Since launching the Wednesday Walks hiking series in 1998, Christina has logged over 1700 miles in virtually every park in the District.  As an on-call firefighter/EMT for the District, her intimate knowledge of the trails was invaluable on many a late-night wildland fire or search and rescue call. At the farm, Christina enjoys cooking on the woodstove and leading bird walks as well as tours of the monarch butterfly overwintering site. Working with volunteers, including over 15 years as docent coordinator, has been an ongoing pleasure, and the opportunity to share in the wonder of the natural world with people of all ages and backgrounds has been the ultimate honor and an inspiration for lifelong learning.

Pia Loft, Naturalist

As a young preschooler Pia enjoyed chasing her classmates with big, hairy caterpillars. Although she no longer chases her friends with bugs, Pia combines her love for the outdoors with her passion for teaching. She holds a B.S. in Ecology and Evolution and a M.A. in Museum Studies and joined EBRPD in 2018 where she is excited to continue to connect people to nature and have fun with caterpillars.