Meet Dusten Dennis

by Jan Whitmer

As one of our new teaching interns, Dusten Dennis has deftly managed to fit the Environmental Volunteers into his incredibly busy life. Though he lives in Santa Cruz with his wife Melissa and 5-year-old son Wade, Dusten regularly commutes to San Jose State University, where he is working to complete his multiple-subject teacher credential program. In addition to studying for and attending classes and interning for the Environmental Volunteers, Dusten supplements the family income by substitute teaching. And, when he has a spare moment, he enjoys volunteering in Wade’s kindergarten class. Whew!


Dusten has known he was interested in working with children for a long time, but only after graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies did he decide to pursue a teaching career. His experiences serving as a child development aide and setting up kayaking trips for kids helped to steer him in this direction. Becoming a dad made the desire to teach an imperative for Dusten.


A love of the outdoors comes naturally to Dusten, as he grew up in the rural Sierra near the town of San Andreas in the gold country. For many years his family lived in a cabin on 30 acres with no electricity. Dusten developed an abiding appreciation and enjoyment of nature and still misses the mountains and the seasons. Dusten’s love of the outdoors carries over into his favorite activities, which include mountain biking in the forest and white water rafting. He spent many a summer as a guide on the Tuolumne, Merced, and Kings Rivers, especially enjoying trips with kids because of their unbridled enthusiasm. He commutes by bicycle whenever possible, which includes dropping Wade off at school. Dusten also loves exploring communities and cultures abroad. He and Melissa most recently took Wade to Morocco and Spain. Though Dusten is eagerly looking forward to working with the Environmental Volunteers, it is we who will benefit from his enthusiasm and passion for children and the environment.


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