In 2012, Nordhoff Alumni Brian Holly and Brandon Titus, founded Pax Environmental, Inc. an Ojai-based environmental consulting firm offering a range of professional services including ecological restoration; water quality analysis; wildlife biology; environmental regulatory permitting; GIS services; and, multidisciplinary project management.
As friends growing up in Ojai, “....we were always outside, backpacking, and looking for opportunities that put us in the natural environment around us" Brandon remembers a time they attempted to navigate San Antonio Creek as kids, but were stopped by the bamboo-like plant, arondo. Now, their firm is removing the invasive reed that from the watershed as part of a restoration effort in partnership with The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and The Crew.
While at Nordhoff, Brian participated on the Volleyball team, and went on to become a member of all-team CIF his senior year. Brian remembers Mr. Hoj, Mr. Andrews and Mr. Bohney as teachers who inspired him at Nordhoff and noted he enjoyed the community feeling of the school and the close relationships with classmates and teachers. After graduation, Brian attended the University of Oregon, and transferred and completed his Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Conservation Biology at UC Santa Cruz in 2004. He received his Masters Degree from Duke University in 2011 in Ecosystem Science and Conservation.
Brandon played for Ranger JV and Varsity Football all four years, and served as co-captain of both teams. He notes that Coach Cliff Farrar instilled in him and his teammates the values of hard work, discipline, attention to detail, teamwork, and sportsmanship. In his senior year, Brandon received a Letter of Nomination to The Military Academy at West Point from Senator Barbara Boxer. He graduated from US Military Academy in 2003 with a B.S., Systems Engineering. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation in 2003, Brandon served several tours in Iraq, and upon an honorable discharge, finished his Masters of Science degree in Environmental Engineering/Sustainability Management in 2014.
Brenna Furness met her husband, Jon while both were working for the same faith-based NGO in the Amazon Basin, building water filters, teaching English and assisting in dental and medical clinics. While in Brazil, the couple drank cafezinhos, and developed a passion for coffee. While state-side the two began to research businesses, and decided to open their own coffee house, with the stipulation the coffee had to be organic and that as many of the beans as possible needed to be Fair Trade Certified,“ says Brenna, noting “We share a deep love for our community, we believe that coffee brings people together and when people are together, united by even something as simple as coffee, we are the best versions of ourselves”
Coffee Connection opened its doors in March 2006, on a Saturday. “We were afraid no one would come in, so we priced every drink at $1. We made a $100 that day!!”
At Nordhoff, Brenna participated in Lady Rangers Basketball and “Koinonia”, a Christian fellowship club. She notes that her favorite experience at NHS was being part of Inter-disciplinary, Cross-Cultural , Education Experience, (ICE). “The program was made up of all demographics of students in each grade level. Each student in the ICE program would attend math and PE during first and second periods, and third through sixth periods were in the ICE building where we learned Science, Art, English and Spanish” Dr. Kurtz, Mrs. Taylor, Mr. Mohney and Mr. Musick taught this program, with an emphasis on cross-cultural inclusion and community. Brenna’s favorite memory is when “..... History teacher Greg Bayless made a shirt that said ‘Attitude is Everything’ and he recognized me at a rally in front of the whole school. That was a real defining moment for me as a student”
After graduation, Brenna attended Ventura College and transferred to Bethany College, receiving a B.A. in Social Science. She is also a graduate of the Summer Institute of Sustainable Development in Jaguar Creek, Belize and a certified Mediator through the Conflict Resolution Institute in Camarillo. Brenna received her Juris Doctorate in 2018.
Tait Rains is a 5th generation Ojai resident, and attended OUSD schools through graduation at Nordhoff High School. During her time at NHS, Tait participated in Dance, Volleyball and Swim Team, and was inspired by her Spanish Teacher, Señora Coronel, including her "... passion for the Spanish language and dedication to her students' success" Her Senior year, Tait earned the Ojai Rotary West and Diamond in the Rough scholarships, and was on the President's Honor Roll.
Tait graduated Summa Cum Laude from CSUCI with a BA in Liberal Arts and attended UCSB's accelerated program to receive a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Masters of Education. Tait is currently a third grade teacher at Hueneme Elementary School, and also a certified spin instructor, has competed in 7 triathlons and is currently training for a half marathon. "I incorporate exercise into teaching everyday, whether it be through dance, PE, or yoga," she says. "I want to teach my students that a healthy body translates to a healthy mind which in turn keeps us eager to keep working & learning". Tait also coaches Hueneme Elementary School's 5th grade girls basketball.
An OUSD student from Kindergarten, Corey Coffee attended Topa Topa Elementary, Matilija Junior High, and Nordhoff and Chaparral High Schools. Cory developed a passion for BMX riding early in life, and was already competing in the demanding sport when she started high school. Because of her busy competition schedule, and the ability to earn college credit while attending high school, Cory decided to move to the independent study program at Chaparral, a move which also allowed her to graduate early. “This gave me more time to improve my riding,” she said. English teacher Ms. Cromwell inspired Cory, “(Ms. Cromwell) was very passionate about teaching English, and really helped me” Cory went on to compete in BMX races as a member of the USA Cycling team, and recently took 4th place in the Kalashnikov Cup international race in Russia.
Cory and her husband have three daughters who say mom “rides ramps” for a living. She recently shared with USA Cycling Magazine, “During my first year on the World Cup tour I made the podium a lot and was able to return home with medals,” she said. “I would place the medals around their necks and they felt amazing as if they had won something. That was a lot of fun” Cory holds a B.S. in Fire Protection Administration & Technology, CSULA