Rachel Kippen is a coastal environmental advocate and artist with a background in public program development and nonprofit management in Santa Cruz, CA. She joins O’Neill Sea Odyssey with a local understanding of environmental education priorities and stormwater program design based on her experience as Director of Programs at Save Our Shores and recently through her tenure coordinating environmental initiatives at the City of Watsonville.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from University of Redlands and a Certificate in Strategic Leadership and Nonprofit Management from San Francisco State University, and focused her graduate research in environmental justice education through place and arts-based curriculum development in primarily agricultural and immigrant communities. Of mixed cultural heritage including Hawaiian, Rachel endeavors to create inclusive educational opportunities for youth that incorporate diverse perspectives and are representative of the dynamic community she serves. In her free time, Rachel enjoys creating artwork from plastic pollution and spending time on the water with friends and loved ones.
Tim O’Neill has been a surfer and sailor for most of his life, learning to surf and sail at age five. Tim graduated from Soquel High School, and worked at the O’Neill surf shop both during and after his years at Soquel High. Tim started running the Team O’Neill catamaran when it was launched in 1983. He received his 100 ton skipper’s license in 1992. Tim also serves as President of Team O’Neill and is in charge of the O’Neill fleet. He lives in Santa Cruz with his wife Lisa O’Neill, and his sons Riley and Connor and daughter Bridget.
Born and raised in Fresno, California, Mike’s family had a summer home in Santa Cruz. He has lived in the Central Coast area since 1982. Mike attended Bullard High in Fresno, and Orange Coast College near Newport Beach, California, where he raced sailboats. Mike Egan worked for O’Neill Yacht Center for five years, and has extensive experience in the Yacht business. Egan holds a 100 ton master’s skipper’s license. He is married to wife Jill and has two children: Ashley and Zachary.
Laura grew up in Santa Barbara where she became interested in the marine environment through diving, sailing, and exploring tidepools. Having been raised in a seagoing family, Laura has worked in harbors for most of her professional life. While attending San Francisco State University she supported herself with various maritime jobs such as sailmaking, spinnaker repair and hosting events for the San Francisco Maritime Museum Association on Hyde Street Pier. After graduating with a degree in Humanities from SFSU, Laura’s fondness for travel led her to Alaska and Canada where she worked as a wilderness guide and as a naturalist for a charter boat on Prince William Sound. Laura joined the OSO crew in 1999. In her spare time she enjoys dance, yoga, music and hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains
Patrice Riley joined the O’Neill Sea Odyssey in 2018 as an accountant, following working for nearly six years as Executive Assistant to Jack O’Neill. Originally from Massachusetts, she has lived in Santa Cruz County since 2006. Patrice earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA and an accounting certificate from UCSC Silicon Valley Extension. She has long felt connected to the ocean and its healing potential, and spends as much time as she can by the water. She loves that working at OSO gives her the opportunity to help the next generation fall in love with the ocean and realize our shared obligation to care for it.
Our Contact Info
2222 E Cliff Dr , Suite 222 Santa Cruz, CA 95062 (831) 465-9390
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Melissa was born and raised in southern California. Her love for the ocean and conservation started at a young age. She graduated from CSUMB in 2014 with a degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in applied ecology. She has worked on a variety of native plant restorations projects throughout Monterey county and has also taught surf lessons and manage a yacht maintenance business. She believes connecting the youth with the outdoors and science will lay the foundation for a happy and sustainable society. She loves being part of the OSO team and looks forward to sharing her knowledge and passion with every student.
Joey was born and raised in central California. He holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from CSUMB with a subdiscipline in outdoor recreation, education and administration. He is an ACA certified level 4 coastal kayaking skills instructor and has over a decade of professional water experience. His connection to the sea was cultivated at a young age, inspiring Joey to pursue a life as involved with the ocean as possible. His infatuation with the sea has led him to strive to introduce and educate the general public about the wonders that have molded his personal connection with our mother ocean. Joey currently resides in Moss Landing on his sailboat with his dogfriend Merle and is excited to be a part of the O’Neill Sea Odyssey.
TK grew up here in beautiful Santa Cruz and attended UCSC where he received a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Due to his affinity towards working with the youth and teaching, he has served as a counselor and leader for kids in camp settings for a number of years, as well as being a surf instructor for two years. His passions are being outdoors, surfing, rock climbing, playing music, and eating burritos. Aboard the Sea Odyssey, TK utilizes his love for working with kids and teaching in order to spread awareness of protecting our ocean and environment.
Marina is a native of Boulder Creek, where she learned to appreciate and protect the natural environment. Marina graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Marine Biology from UCSC in 2011. Marina loves educating people of all ages about the ocean and how we impact it. There are so many amazing and important creatures that live in the Monterey Bay, it makes it easy to show people how important this resource is to our communities. She hopes that her passion for protecting the ocean will inspire our young generation to do the same as they navigate through their life path. She enjoys painting, music, hiking and spending time at the beach.
Lauren has lived in Santa Cruz for over a decade and graduated from UCSC in 2002 with a combined degree in Biology and Environmental Studies. Prior to living in California, Lauren lived in Florida outside the Everglades and it was there that she developed a love of marine conservation and education. She has worked as both a volunteer and staff for a number of organizations focusing in marine research and conservation in the Monterey Bay. She has worked for Team Ocean Kayak Outreach for NOAA since 2002 and has over five years of professional maritime experience working in public education and marine interpretation. Lauren joined the O’Neill crew in 2005 and finds teaching for the Sea Odyssey Program to be “the most fun and rewarding job in marine education.”
Originally from LA, Nancy moved to Monterey Bay to attend California State University, Monterey Bay and graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies. Growing up in an urban area, any time she got to go to the ocean or river it was something she’d remember. Playing in the waves at Santa Monica beach with her brother was formative for her love of the ocean, facing its power at a young age with both caution and excitement.
She’s pushed herself as an adult to become comfortable and confident on the water as a kayak guide at Elkhorn Slough. She is a seasoned bilingual environmental educator currently working for MEarth in Carmel Valley fostering a connection to nature and food through experiential learning and formerly working for our friends at Return of the Natives Restoration Education Project. She is a huge plant nerd, enjoys hiking, writing, reading, listening to music, and planning dream trips with friends and family.
Nancy loves teaching kids about the ocean because “the ocean is like a portal to another world and getting the opportunity to explore it with great co-workers and curious children is amazing.”
On her first day at O’Neill Sea Odyssey she saw two humpback whales up close for the very first time in her life!
Eliseo graduated from UCSC with a degree in Biology. He's a skilled waterperson, an avid diver and Divemaster who "loves exploring new places both underwater and on the surface," and has spent extensive time traveling and learning abroad, even working as a Reef Science Educator in Indonesia. Most recently, he worked in the Underwater Explorers program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where he taught interactive marine science classes in both English and Spanish and surface SCUBA lessons for children of all ages in the Great Tidepool, focusing on California coastal biodiversity and kelp forest ecology.
“I grew up in Southern California where I would spend every other weekend playing around on the beaches of Santa Monica looking for little creatures in the sand and water. I fell in love with the ocean at a very young age which has greatly influenced my life and my career."
Eliseo's passion is written all over his face every time he leads one of our programs, and his engaging style has our students spellbound. "I love working with kids from all different backgrounds and ages and feel lucky to be teaching and inspiring the next generation of ocean scientists and conservationists, especially those who may not always see themselves represented in the marine science world."