boy sitting on a rock in the forest

About Thrive Young Leaders

We all have unique, important gifts to offer ourselves and the world. For the well-being and survival of our communities, it is necessary that we each realize and share our true gifts. At Thrive Young Leaders, we help teens and young adults overcome internal barriers and guide them into deeper connection with their gifts, life purpose, and inner knowing. By connecting with our gifts and living a purpose-directed life, we become empowered leaders of our own lives, and true leaders of our environment and community.

As a small group of passionate guides, mentors, tutors, teachers, and coaches, we connect teens and young adults to their self, community, and nature through 1-on-1 Nature-Connected Life Coaching, mentoring, holistic tutoring, academic coaching, events, group workshops, and retreats. We are trained in a variety of philosophies and disciplines, including ecopsychology, biological psychology, life-coaching, tutoring, ecotherapy, mindfulness, non-violent communication, physics, neuroscience, environmental science, leadership, outdoor education, coyote mentoring, the four shields model, ancestral skills, wilderness survival skills, and rite of passage.

Above all, we are in love with Earth and humanity, and we are dedicated to the health, well-being, and sustainability of our present and future planet.

About Our Guides



Deanna Falge

Founder, Director, Nature-Connected Life Coach, Mentor, Academic Guide

Deanna founded Thrive out of her love for connecting with youth. Today, Deanna’s passion and life mission is to help heal Earth and humanity by empowering and guiding Earth’s young leaders into deeper connection with nature, community, and self. Deanna has experience and formal education in psychology, ecotherapy, biological psychology, outdoor education, life coaching, mentoring, tutoring, academic coaching, scientific research, ancestral skills and history, wilderness survival skills, leadership, soul exploration, mindfulness, nonviolent communication, rite of passage, and nature connection. She earned a degree in Biological Psychology from UC Santa Barbara, and has years of teaching, coaching, tutoring, and mentoring experience. Deanna received her Certificate in Ecotherapy from the Earth Body Institute, and is currently earning her Nature-Connected Life Coaching Certification through a year-long intensive program at the Earth Based Institute. By combining her knowledge and experience with her deep compassion and passion for serving Earth and humanity, Deanna designs whole-hearted, transformational programs for every teen and young adult at Thrive. Besides her work at Thrive, Deanna also loves dancing, surfing, diving, traveling, playing music, hiking, exploring, learning, listening to nature, deep conversation, gardening, bonfires, ceremony, good food, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Elizabeth Patron

Tutor & Academic Coach

Elizabeth graduated from CSU Monterey Bay with a BS degree in Environmental Science Technology and Policy, and has worked for several non-profits and environmental agencies focused on ocean and environmental conservation. In addition to pursuing a PhD in Oceanography and Atmospheric Science, Elizabeth loves to teach and mentor youth. When she isn’t tutoring, coaching, or aiding in water quality research at Cabrillo College, you may find Elizabeth surfing and ripping waves across Monterey and Santa Cruz County.

Rylan Hunt

Tutor & Academic Coach

Rylan grew up in Santa Cruz and earned a BS degree in Physics at UC Berkeley. He has been tutoring and coaching students for many years, and especially loves to tutor AP Physics and math. When he isn’t tutoring, Rylan loves to travel the world, surf big waves, and forage for exotic mushrooms.

Emily Contreras (“Birdie”)

Outdoor Educator, Youth Mentor, Permaculturalist

Birdie (Emily’s nature name) has worked with youth for the past 8+ years as a mentor, tutor, gymnastics coach, nature-connection guide, and outdoor educator. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Birdie was able to connect with the natural realm through mud fights in her backyard, friendships with her pets, and regular visits to local parks, but was limited in developing a deeper connection with the more-than-human world until she moved to Santa Cruz in her young adulthood. Since beginning her work as an outdoor educator, Birdie has studied ecotherapy, permaculture design, ecovillage design, agroforestry, nature awareness, primitive skills, youth mentorship, and The Work That Reconnects, as a way to be of better service to the youth that she works with. She is dedicated to working towards a more sustainable and integrated way of living with our mother Earth and all of her inhabitants. By incorporating all that she learns in her environmental and social studies into her mentoring style, Birdie hopes to inspire and aid youth (including teen women) in connecting more deeply with themselves, one another, and our beloved planet.