Who We Are

Kuljis PhotoSara and Steve Kuljis
Executive Directors / Founders

Sara and Steve Kuljis are the founders of the ECOS Institute. Sara Kuljis is a second-generation director of Emerald Cove Camp, a program founded in 1972 by her parents Jim and Manya Slevcove. As a leader in youth and staff development, Sara has served on the board of the American Camp Association, Southern California/Hawaii Section, and is a frequent speaker and trainer for the Association.

Steve Kuljis brings extensive experience in building and facility management, business administration, and wilderness camping. Steve served as legislative chair for Western Association of Independent Camps, and as a board member of the California Coalition for Youth.

Steve BenzSteve Benz
ECOS Institute Program Director

For over 20 years, Steve has enjoyed connecting children and adults to nature. After receiving his B.A. in History from Pennsylvania State University, Steve was a teacher/naturalist at The Outdoor School of Horsham. Steve spent 12 years with the Orange County Department of Education’s Outdoor Science School before joining the ECOS Institute in 2015.

Jonny Hong
ECOS Institute Assistant Program Director

Jonny considers himself an amateur outdoorsman, but a die-hard for all things camp, and a lover of learning and growth. Jonny joined ECOS in 2015 after having spent six summers working with Emerald Cove Camps in a number of roles at Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp. Jonny has also spent three years as a Residence Director for Azusa Pacific University, supervising student activity while pursuing a M.A. in Leadership Development.

Jennifer Hall
ECOS Institute Assistant Program Director

Fortunate to have had the opportunity to develop a love of nature, Jennifer studied Recreational Administration and Leisure Studies at Fresno State and then joined the Orange County Department of Education’s Outdoor Science School before moving to the ECOS Institute in 2014. Jennifer has honed her skills in the world of outdoor education, developing a knack for both on-site operations and administrative duties.

Joe Zavella
ECOS Institute Assistant Program Director

Joe possesses a true love for the outdoors and an undying passion to connect others to it. Having studied liberal arts with an emphasis on child development, Joe has put his knowledge to good use, serving ECOS as an Instructor, Lead Instructor, and now providing leadership within his Assistant Director role. Joe professes that there is no more glorious place than the majestic San Bernardino Mountains.

ECOS Institute Lead Instructors

The ECOS Institute’s lead instructors – Brianna Ramsey, Cody Ervin, Sally Gose, Sarah Harris, and Tanner Stuber – are core members of the ECOS Institute staff, bringing experience, passion and commitment for outdoor education.