Audra Barrios, Executive director
As a college student working as a preschool science teacher in the mornings and at a reptile pet shop in the afternoons, Audra found that the two fields soon began to blend together. Her pet tegu would come to school with her and kids would spend hours building mazes for him and petting his jowls. At the reptile shop, she saw ways meaningful education could help encourage ethical practices in the pet trade. This eventually lead her to start her own business in 2007, Lick Your Eyeballs, bringing critters to classrooms all over the bay area with the goal to increase understanding of herptile biology.
Through her travels to Madagascar and Mexico, Audra saw the amount of habitat loss the earth is facing. These experiences really sunk in and, although there were groups working to conserve certain species, she noticed that they were focused mainly on mammals. Seeing a need for a conservation organization focused on underrepresented critters such as reptiles and amphibians, she started Things That Creep as a way to bring these animals out into the world to create empathy and an understanding for why they are important.
Audra has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Biology from UC Santa Cruz. She has worked as a biologist and educator for over 12 years at various institutions all over the San Francisco Bay area.
Rachael Van schoik, President
Rachael grew up trailing behind her parents on hikes to the beach, swamp and through the woods of New York, California, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. Through those experiences, she observed and absorbed the ecosystems, both human and natural, of each place. This transformed into a lifelong love of the natural world with a deep passion to make experiences in the outdoors, that was formative in her early years, accessible and equitable for all.
Going to college in rural Indiana, Rachael studied biology and spend endless Saturdays in the woods. Her curiosity and love of travel took her to Menora, French Polynesia, China, and the Mexican-American border during school. In each place, Rachael saw and studied how animals and humans interact in each other. Since college, she completed her M.S. in International Environmental Technology Management and Suitability, gained a certificate in Strategic Nonprofit Management from San Francisco State, and has called the Bay Area home for over 10 years. Rachael carries with her a ‘think global, act local’ mindset.
Rachael has worked in non-profit management for over 10 years supporting missions that aid in the protection of people and the planet. Currently, she works as a Project Manager at The Energy Coalition and a co-founder of Notes on Nature. Most recently, she developed a cohort of environmental justice organizations across Contra Costa County and guided student-led climate action projects. Rachael is excited to support the ambitious goals of Things That Creep, locally and globally, through partnership development, strategic planning, and evaluative projects.
Nicole Chaney, Secretary
A third generation Bay Area native, Nicole has always held a fascination and love of all things “creepy crawly”. She began keeping invertebrates, frogs, and lizards from a very early age, and followed this interest throughout her career.
Earning a Bachelor of Science Degree at UC Santa Cruz, her thesis research focused on the Ecology of the Pacific Giant Salamander. Since earning her degree, Nicole has followed a career path strongly centered in the care and conservation of invertebrates and herptiles. This has included being a business owner, zoo keeper, biologist, and even a consultant for international projects.
Currently, Nicole works as a Senior Biologist at the California Academy of Sciences caring for a diverse living collection of amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, fish, and birds.
Recognizing the crucial importance of teaching nature literacy, she joined the Board of Directors of Things That Creep in December 2018. Nicole strongly believes that people save what they love, and supports any effort getting people to fall in love with “things that creep.”
Esther Tang, Treasurer
Esther is a bilingual educator designing and delivering multilingual experiences for onsite and virtual platforms in an informal science education setting. With an emphasis in providing tools and resources to other departments to expand multilingual and culturally relevant programs, playing an active role in regular programmatic evaluation, facilitating outreach efforts within the community, coaching museum educators in training and people with disabilities while providing an inclusive work experience internship.
Patty was born and raised in Berkeley, graduated with a degree in Parks Interpretation and recently retired from the City of Berkeley where for 38 years she created and ran recreational and environmental educational programs, shoreline cleanups, Berkeley Bay Festival, Kite Festival and managed the unique Adventure Playground. 120,000 people a year go through these facilities.
Patty developed Bay Interpretive Training program for Docents which she taught to over 1400 docents. Patty and her staff raised money to build the Shorebird Park Nature center’s two new buildings, a Straw bale interpretive Visitors Center.
Patty worked with the California Coastal Commission's coastal cleanup program for 32 years. We evolved to providing a monthly adopt a beach program and have created new "do it yourself" cleanup stations along the shoreline.
Patty was President of the board of The Aquatic Outreach institute- (now the Watershed project) for 7 years, On the Board of the Save San Francisco Bay Association for 5 years, the board of the Citizen for the East Shore parks board for 6 years. Patty is currently helping reestablish the Rotary Nature Center on Lake Merritt. For the past 38 years, Patty has been on the board of the Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland ‘s historic Cohen Bray house where her grandfather was born. Here Patty is currently developing a new docent training program as well as doing house maintenance, tours and outreach to the neighborhood and region.
Jason has over 25 years of professional experience in animal care and husbandry, primarily with reptiles and amphibians. His interest in wildlife was ignited by a visit to some tide pools as a three year old boy. He was immediately fascinated and has been passionate for all things creepy-crawly ever since.
His career began with a position as the Lead Reptile Keeper at The California Living Museum caring for a collection of native Californian reptiles and amphibians. Following years brought experience with many and varied exotic species in managed care, as well as teaching natural history and leading groups on naturalist tours to find and photograph amazing beasts in the wild.
An avid underwater photographer, Jason is most happy in a kelp forest or Indonesian reef, but most of days he can be found at Oakland Zoo working with their Animal Management team.
Sonia comes with over a decade of experience in informal education at nature centers, aquariums, and museums in the Bay Area. She attributes an early connection to nature to her summers spend around Lake Merritt helping out at the local nature center teaching toddlers about guinea pigs and caring for the program animals. Her role for the past 8 years at the California Academy of Sciences she has been developing accessible and entertaining presentations for all aged visitors. She also plays an active role in the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation which aims to spread best practices for communication about these complex topics to informal education centers across the country.