how we got our start.
BranchOut started as part of a Master's Thesis Project by a team of students from the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara.
The company was born from the shared belief that childhood is an especially critical time for nature exposure, as research shows that time spent in nature while young is the most direct link to a range of pro-environmental behaviors later in life— everything from recycling to environmental careers.
By providing fun, team-building activities set in nature, BranchOut reminds kids and adults alike that the outdoors is FUN! With our games, we nurture a lifelong sense of leadership, problem solving skills, and appreciation for the world around us.
Meet the Team.
Rick Thomas has a Master's degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara and a BS in Ecology and BA in Humanities from UC San Diego. He spent a number of years working as a soccer coach and camp counselor and has witnessed children’s shift away from nature firsthand. He conducted research on the health benefits of nature exposure at Stanford University and will be a co-author on an upcoming paper of the findings.
In his spare time, you can find Rick juggling or working on his environmental fantasy novel.
Favorite board game: Dominion
Favorite movie: Midnight in Paris
Nicole Poletto received her Master's in Environmental Science and Management in 2017 from the University of California, Santa Barbara and BS in Environmental Science from Villanova University in 2012. She has extensive experience as a program coordinator for an environmental education program engaging K-12 students in hands-on service learning opportunities. In addition to experience in education and community engagement, Nicole has co-founded two nonprofit organizations: one for teens with Asperger’s syndrome and the other focused on environmental service learning.
In her spare time, Nicole loves to pet every dog that walks past her or hang out on the beach with a good book.
Favorite board game: Clue
Favorite movie: The Wizard of Oz
Lindsay Martien received her Master's in Environmental Science and Management from UC Santa Barbara in 2017, a BS in Marine Biology from UCLA in 2013, and has completed coursework through UC Berkeley Extension’s Certificate Program in Landscape Architecture. Combining her background in conservation planning, community outreach, and landscape design, Lindsay worked with Petaluma non-profit Daily Acts to design and install a 3,000-square-foot native plant learning garden at a local elementary school.
In her spare time, you can find Lindsay gardening or feeding her beloved betta fish, Oscar Wilde.
Favorite board game: Scrabble
Favorite movie: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World