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Science educators Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins stand behind their triceratops skull at the couple's ranch south of Santa Paula. The two want to launch a science museum for kids in Santa Paula...

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Inspiring a love of nature and science for all


To ensure citizens have the knowledge they need to meet the challenges ahead in the 21st century, we must create opportunities outside of formal education to engage citizens in science literacy and self-reliance.  There are 140,000 students in 20 school districts in Ventura County that we will work to prepare them to lead with innovative solutions and critical thinking to meet the challenges in an increasing complex world. Three big ideas are foundational to this work: Restore the Biosphere, Design the Future, and Elevate all People. 



Understanding and shaping the influence of new technology and industry on society. The pace of technology is accelerating, and so does the risk of how it might be used, so citizens must understand and manage it well.



Equity is access to science learning so that our democratic processes function well and so that the potential of all citizens might be realized.  The next Nobel laureate could be anywhere.



Understanding a body of knowledge and the systems that keep the planet’s biosphere functioning efficiently. We must protect that which enables living systems to thrive. 


Marcus Eriksen, PhD
Executive Director of Leap Lab

The desire to build a science center goes back 3 decades to early expeditions excavating dinosaurs in the badlands of eastern Wyoming. His work in environmental science has led him to lead sailing voyages around the world to research ocean plastics. In addition to his research publications, he’s authored books detailing adventures down rivers and across oceans. He now lives with his wife and daughter on their 15 acre farm.

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Anna Cummins
Director of Leap Lab

She has over 10 years of experience in environmental non-profit work, education, writing, and campaign development. She has worked in marine conservation, coastal watershed management, sustainability education, and high school ecology instruction. Anna received her undergraduate in History from Stanford University, and her Masters in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute for International Studies. In 2001, Anna received a fellowship from the Sustainable Communities Leadership Program, to work with Santa Cruz based non-profit Save Our Shores, coordinating bilingual outreach education and community relations.

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Melissa Baffa

Executive Director, Ventura Land Trust

Melissa Baffa is the Executive Director of the Ventura Land Trust. She has worked in nonprofit management for 15 years, most recently with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Girl Scouts of the USA. Baffa has spent more than a decade in the classroom, teaching middle school science in Simi Valley, marine biology with the Upward Bound program at California Lutheran University, and adult classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University, Channel Islands.

Additionally, Melissa served as a Science Communication Fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust, exploring the deep sea as part of Dr. Robert Ballard’s Corps of Exploration in 2015, 2016, and 2018. She is also active in her community and has a long history of serving on boards and committees throughout the region and the state. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from California Lutheran University and a single-subject teaching credential through California State University, Northridge.

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