Staff & Faculty

You will learn from well-rounded staff and faculty who all have real-world experience from diverse areas of the industry. We care about your journey in our program and work to prepare you for success.

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Heather Blume

Heather is the Horticulture Center Coordinator. She is a life-long plant enthusiast. She earned her Horticulture A.S. degree from Cabrillo after an extensive professional career in gourmet restaurants and hospitality. She previously was the manager at Dig Gardens Aptos and Owner of Blume’s Landscaping & Design.


Patrick Evans

Patrick (He/Him), Horticulture Programs Assistant, is the steward of the Horticulture Department’s Certified Organic farm and assistant for several classes. Patrick grew up with a love of nature learned from his parents.

Patrick has a B.A. degree in News and Editorial Journalism from Cal Poly Humboldt and worked for almost a decade as a local newspaper reporter. While attending Cal Poly Humboldt he worked on farms in Humboldt and Trinity counties. He returned to Santa Cruz in 2019 to take Horticulture and Spanish classes at Cabrillo, working as a cannabis grower and landscaper while pursuing his educational goals. Patrick was hired on as a staff member of the Cabrillo Horticulture Department in 2021 and moved into his current position in 2022. He believes in Cabrillo’s mission of empowering students and connecting them to career pathways, and he can point at his own experience as an example of student success.

In his spare time he surfs, spearfishes, is an avid bicyclist, and backpacks in the Sierras with his partner.

Additional Staff

  • Steve Evers

  • Paloma Garcia

  • Amber-Rose Torres



Sarah Patiño Hulick

Sarah, Department Chair, is a first-generation college student who grew up on a family farm in Upstate New York. She began actively farming at age 11 when she started a dairy goat herd and took over her family's market garden.

Sarah was a Research Associate for the Cornell University Reduced Tillage Program and Field Crew Lead for the Cornell Vegetable Variety Testing and Culture Lab while she completed her B.S. degree in Plant Science and Agricultural Sciences and her M.Sc. degree in Horticultural Biology and Farm Management. Sarah moved to Santa Cruz County, CA to be the Extension Specialist for Driscoll’s Global Agronomy Initiative, then served as a Horticulture and Agronomy Research Scientist at Dole Fresh Vegetables.

In 2017, Sarah joined Cabrillo College as the Agriculture Technology Specialist where she managed the expansion of our facility with a 2000 sq. ft. Ag Tech Greenhouse. Many more roles followed: managing grants, writing agriculture curricula, creating Ganas - a reentry student success program - and teaching Horticulture classes. Sarah created the world’s first quantified food waste tracking program, Verified Rescued ProduceTM, as the Grower Innovation Manager at Full Harvest Technologies.

Sarah believes in the ability of higher education to change a person’s trajectory and a family's quality of life. She endeavors to empower and create abundance and resilience for current and future students as the third Department Chair for the Cabrillo Horticulture and Agriculture Technology Program


Ken Foster

Ken was an apprentice at the U.C Santa Cruz Farm and Garden in 1985, and he received a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from there. Ken earned an A.S. degree in landscape horticulture from Cabrillo College in 1991. He has been teaching Permaculture Design Courses since 2008 and has taught the Permaculture class at Cabrillo College since 2012.

Ken is a landscape contractor, a certified permaculture designer, the owner of Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping, and a champion of ecological landscaping since 1988. Terra Nova has won numerous awards over the years, including Sunset Magazine's Western Living Award. Ken is a native of Santa Cruz, CA, and has a Permaculture demonstration garden with his wife, Jillian Steinberger. He has certificates in Permaculture Design, Advanced Permaculture design, and Permaculture teacher training. In 2018 Ken was awarded a diploma in Permaculture Education from the Permaculture Institute.

Ken served on the Board of Directors of the Ecological Farming Association for ten years and has served on the planning committee for the Ecological Farming Conference since 1994. Learn more about Ken's efforts on the Terra Nova blog and his book blog.


Nicky Hughes

Nicky has been an Associate Instructor at Cabrillo since 2016 and teaches Plant Propagation, Spring and Fall Plant Materials and Design, and California Native Plants and Plant Communities.

She grew up in rural north east England in a plant-loving family and was given her first set of gardening tools for her third birthday. In high school she had summer jobs picking strawberries, roguing fields of wheat, digging and bagging potatoes, and hand-harvesting research plots for the seed breeder Nickersons Seeds.

Nicky earned an A.S. degree in business while working full time and developed a sound appreciation for the importance of good financial recordkeeping and customer service - which she finds are invaluable skills in so many aspects of horticulture and agriculture.

She returned to school at the University of London, Wye College to earn a B.S. degree in Horticulture with a focus on nursery production, propagation, and landscape horticulture. During the summer breaks, she fell in love with the greater Bay Area while interning with the National Park Service in San Francisco doing native plant propagation and habitat restoration. She established her own small nursery that specialized in water-wise plants that provide habitat for wildlife.

She’s a member of the International Plant Propagators’ Society, American Society for Horticultural Science, and the California Native Plant Society.


Michael Johnson

Since 2012 Michael Johnson, MSc, has developed and delivered high-quality instructional programs in eight distinct courses at the Cabrillo College Horticulture Department, including HORT 58 Irrigation, HORT 54 Business Aspects of Horticulture, and HORT 160B Edible Landscaping. Mr. Johnson strives to create significant learning experiences that encourage students to incorporate new concepts into their existing knowledge frameworks.

He has worked collaboratively to provide water management and plant sciences consulting services on a broad range of private and public sector projects and programs for the City of Watsonville, Santa Clara Valley Water District, the University of California Cooperative Extension, and local Resource Conservation Districts. Mr. Johnson has completed over 40 hours of water management training with the Irrigation Association and the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

In 2022, he helped launch the AGPS 415 Advanced Irrigation & Nutrient Management course at California State University Monterey Bay.


Rogelio Ponce, Jr.

Rogelio Ponce Jr., Associate Faculty member, is a third-generation farmer in Watsonville, CA. His farming career spans 20 plus years. Rogelio has farmed for various sized berry and vegetable companies in both Watsonville and the Salinas Valley.

He attended Cabrillo College where he obtained an A.S. degree in Business and then attended San Jose State University, where he obtained a B.S. degree in Finance.

Rogelio is experienced in growing, production management, finance, marketing, and sales. His early career focused on strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries but during the last ten years he has expanded his knowledge in farming by growing organic vegetables and has begun to grow organic raspberries, strawberries, and vegetables independently, under his family's own independent label, Sun Valley Farms.

Rogelio has chosen farming as his career because of his upbringing, love for the outdoors, and continuous learning that farming requires and commitment to his local community and employees.


Serena Pring Federman

Serena is the Internship and Work Experience Faculty Coordinator at Cabrillo College. She teaches the HORT 99, Internship and Work Experience class. She first joined Cabrillo seven years ago as a Job Developer and then Associate Instructor. Serena has worked with adults around the topics of self advocacy and empowerment in various capacities for over 20 years. She has worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Santa Cruz Community Ventures, and United Way of Santa Cruz County.

Serena is excited to combine her love for higher education and passion for social justice in the effort to transform systems and create career fulfillment and greater personal autonomy. She does this through connecting individuals with careers and by teaching noncredit workplace readiness courses. She is excited to support students in their journey to gain valuable work experience which they can apply to their professional career goals in her new capacity as the Internship and Work Experience Coordinator.

Serena holds a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from UCSC and a Masters degree in Public Policy from the Leon Panetta Institute of Public Policy at CSUMB.


Peter Quintanilla

Peter, Instructor of Arboriculture and Landscape Pruning, has been teaching at Cabrillo since 2011. He’s a ISA Board Certified Master Arborist and a pruning specialist. Before becoming fascinated with trees, Peter studied Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona and worked at an architectural firm in Los Angeles. He has an A.S. degree in Horticulture from Monterey Peninsula College and is on the Board of Friends of Carmel Forest.


Shanti Wertz

Shanti has been teaching at Cabrillo since 2019. She teaches Horticulture 65 and 66, Landscape C.A.D. and Landscape Design. Shanti holds a Bachelor's degree in Landscape Architecture from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a Landscape Contractors License. She has had her own Landscape Design Company (Evolve Exteriors) since 2011. She also taught high school organic gardening classes for ten years. Shanti has a love for plants, the outdoors, and natural ecosystems.

Additional Faculty

  • Dr. Alejandro Estrada

  • Dr. Anjali Misra

  • Dr. Peter Shaw, Chair Emeritus

  • Clare Taylor

Young plants in greenhouse
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