Naturalist on a Mission

Known to generations of schoolchildren simply as “Ranger Winter,” Crystal Cove State Park’s Interpretative Naturalist Winter Bonnin has been the driving force for the Park’s interpretative programs for the past 17 years.

Today, Winter runs interpretive school programs for over 5,000 students each year. The most rewarding aspect of her work is the moment when she sees the light bulb turn for students.

“If I can help someone get it, that ‘ah-ha’ moment, that they understand, love, appreciate and want to protect this place, that’s the best part of my day,” she says. “That’s what I want people to take away when they come here, instilling that that little fire in people and stimulating them to keep learning.”

Winter originally began her career as a documentary producer, but decided to change her course after spending a season at the Virgin Islands National Park. Although she had never put together an interpretative program, she used her background in communications and love of being outdoors to teach people about nature.

Winter’s passion and positive energy eventually led her to Crystal Cove, and she hopes people will love this special place as much as she does.

“I love interpreting this beautiful place we call Crystal Cove,” she says. “Working here is fulfilling. I don’t feel like this is work: this is my dream job.”

Winter shares her wisdom and musings every month in her Words from Our Naturalist column. Head over to the CCSP website at the beginning of each month to learn more about Crystal Cove’s all-star naturalist!

Top image: Ranger Winter inspiring schoolchildren at the Berns Environmental Study Loop


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