Our Staff

One of the lasting legacies of Guided Discoveries is our faculty. Our instructors all have 4-year degrees in the Sciences (or a related field) and serve over 45,000 students every year at our 5 facilities. With safety being one of our primary goals they are also required to have First aid, CPR-PR, and Waterfront Lifeguard certifications as well as comprehensive on-site training.

Our Guided Discoveries Alumni is far reaching with hundreds teaching in schools throughout the country. Many of our former faculty can also be found in major aquariums, national sanctuaries, and at science centers and museums throughout the US. The growth and development of Guided Discoveries is a direct result of the energy, enthusiasm and contributions of our many faculty over the years.


Employment Opportunities


Dave Work Site DirectorDave Work

Director, Catalina Island Marine Institute 

“If our program cycled through new clientele all the time, I’m not sure it would be as gratifying.  But there are many group leaders that have been coming as long as I’ve worked there. Seeing them year after year, and having started with many of them when we started our Cherry Cove program, reinforces that what we do is substantive and makes a difference.  We all do it for the kids, but when teachers say it is a big part of their life, you know you’re on a good wicket.”

Dave joined Guided Discoveries as an Instructor in 1989 at Cherry Cove.  He enjoyed teaching biology on a remote island and being part of the unique CIMI community.  He soon advanced to Assistant Program Director at then to Program Director at Cherry Cove.  During the 1990’s Dave also worked the summer at Catalina Sea Camp as the Program Director.  Dave became the Program Director for Toyon Bay and in 1999 was asked to become the CIMI Director.

As the director of the Catalina Island Marine Institute, Dave oversees the operation for CIMI at Toyon Bay, Fox Landing and Cherry Cove.  He directly supervises the department directors and the financial operations of the program.  Dave also works closely with the GDI Project Director on all facility improvements and renovations.  During the summer, Dave teaches scuba diving at Catalina Sea Camp along with his other management duties.   Dave is a very thoughtful individual who has great insight into the overall CIMI and Guided Discoveries operations.

Dave spent his early childhood in Sacramento and spent his high school years in Ohio.  He earned his Bachelor of Science with honors from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, and with a Bachelors of Science in biology and wildlife management from the University of Wisconsin. While with Guided Discoveries he also earned his scuba certification and became a NAUI Scuba Diving Instructor.   Dave is also a USCG Licensed Captain.  He lives at Toyon Bay with his wife Katie, who he met at CIMI.

Dave is an avid nature lover.  He spent much of his youth hiking and fishing in the out of doors.  While in Africa he went on safari and worked as a guide in a game park after finishing the university.  He has explored Catalina on land and by water.  Scuba diving and boating are among his favorite past times on the island.

Contact Dave at dave@cimi.org or 310.510.1622



Jeff Chace program director ToyonJeff Chace

Program Director, Toyon Bay

“Guided Discoveries is an amazing company with a worthwhile mission. We work hard to provide kids with an opportunity to explore nature and spark their curiosity. … I love to hear our students talk about how this great experience has made an impact. I love to hear kids talk about schools of leopard sharks, squishy algae and vibrant stars. I am not sure that you could find all of these elements in any other job!”

It wasn’t exactly schools, but more like schools of fish that got Jeff Chace interested in marine science. Jeff grew up in a Boston suburb and spent summers on Cape Cod, spending his hours investigating tide pools, fishing, swimming and sailing. When his parents bought him his first fish tank, Jeff was, well, hooked.

As Cherry Cove Marine Science Instructor, Jeff is in charge of a staff of 28 and the educational areas that provide the outdoor education program to students. He hires, coaches, leads, develops curriculum and implements programming ideas while taking charge of students’ safety and medical needs. He also captains boats and leads the island scholar program.

His experience with Guided Discoveries has been in roles including Assistant Program Director and Aquarist at Cherry Cove; Toyon Bay Aquarist, Dive Staff, Boat Captain, Science and Adventure Director and Program Director; and Fox Landing founding Program Director.

Since the early 1990s, Jeff has worked or volunteered in marine science education at places including the New England Aquarium, Cape Outdoor Discovery, Newfound Harbor Marine Institute, Stephen Birch Aquarium, San Diego Floating Classroom and Seacamp San Diego.

Jeff has a bachelor’s in Zoology with a minor in Marine Biology from the University of New Hampshire. He is certified in CPR, pediatric first at and holds a 50-ton captain’s license.

Contact Jeff at jeff@cimi.org or 310.510.1622


 

Ben-KasowskiBen Kasowski

Food Service Director, Toyon Bay

“I feel like the diversity of my whole life has led me to this work and my position with Guided Discoveries. I love the Island deeply and enjoy the logistical challenge of living both on an Island and the particular challenges that exist at Fox Landing, which is accessible only by boat.  I love providing good meals for the students, teachers, parents and staff.”

Ben is originally from Southern California but was raised in Seattle Area.  His cooking career started while he was in high school working in local restaurants.  He worked with some “amazing chefs” and eventually managed restaurants at an early age.  Ben eventually moved to Dutch Harbor, Alaska and worked in the fishing industry for three years. While in Alaska, Ben met a chef who worked at the Catalina Island Marine Institute and offered him a position at the camp.  Ben joined the CIMI at Toyon Bay kitchen crew in 1999.

Ben soon became the Assistant Food Service Director at Cherry Cove.  He moved back to Toyon Bay as the Assistant Food Service Director and Chef where he remained for 7 years.  In 2009, Ben was chosen as the Food Service Director and Head Chef for CIMI at Fox Landing. He is known for his creative food and excellent service.  He will take time to speak with any teacher, parent or child about their special dietary needs.  Just email or give him a call.

Contact Ben at ben@cimi.org