2013 Members

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Philip Armstrong, Research Assistant
SNAP Host Site: The Sierra Fund


During Philip’s years of service with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first in headquarters in Washington, D.C. and then in Region 9 in San Francisco, he helped in evaluating performance in water programs, in assessing potential  Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or “Superfund” sites, and in establishing state and tribal hazardous waste assessment and cleanup programs.   Regarding abandoned mine lands, he coordinated with federal agencies on behalf of EPA to address CERCLA hazardous waste issues affecting public lands in Region 9.

After retiring from EPA in 2008, Philip served a Peace Corps term that was split between two West African nations, Mauritania and The Gambia.  First working with local partners to teach elementary school students in Nouadhibou, Mauritania about the value of conserving the marine environment, Philip then assisted the National Environment Agency in The Gambia in studying coastal erosion and in evaluating the impacts on communities of cultivating “New Rice for Africa.”  These assignments drove home for him the massive social, economic, and environmental challenges that communities face in the 21st Century and the often scant resources available for addressing them.

With this awareness, he completed a Master of Planning degree under the Peace Corps Fellows program with the goal of assisting communities to approach the challenges in a more comprehensive way.   Following graduation in May 2012, he took time out with his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren in South Lake Tahoe while he studied ecology with a Sierra flavor at Lake Tahoe Community College.  Consequently, having reconnected with his family, Philip is excited that working on behalf of the “Reclaiming the Sierra” Initiative will afford him the opportunity to pair up his extensive experience and recent planning education to benefit Sierra communities.

Hillary Behr, Wetlands Restoration Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: Bishop Paiute Tribe


Hillary grew up on her family’s farm in a small and beautiful town in New Hampshire. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Conservation Studies from the University of New Hampshire. Hillary has worked in environmental education since graduating from college in 2008, at summer camps, after school programs, and various environmental non-profit organizations. She is passionate about fostering connections between youth and the natural world through direct and inspiring experiences in nature. She originally moved to the Eastern Sierra in 2009 and has been living in Bishop since 2011, when she served as Education Coordinator at Eastern Sierra Land Trust through SNAP.

Hillary loves bird watching, camping, xc skiing, wildlife tracking, naturalist studies of all kinds, reading novels and magazines, playing games and getting dirty, growing flowers and vegetables, and raising her 4 week old chicks.

As Wetland Restoration Coordinator at the Bishop Paiute Tribe, she will assist the Environmental Management Office with their Conservation Open Space Area native species restoration plan as well as create and lead environmental education activities on that site. Hillary greatly looks forward to learning about the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s community and culture and is happy to have a job where she can bike to work with a view of snow capped Sierra peaks.

Jaryd Block, Eastern Sierra Regional Program Assistant
SNAP Host Site: Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Eastern Office


I grew up on the Central Coast of California where I developed strong passions for surfing, rock climbing, snowboarding, hiking, and backpacking. After high school, I moved to Southern California to attend UCLA and pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science.

While at UCLA, I was introduced to the unique technologies of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing. The integration of scientific data analysis, cartographic design, and immense practicality quickly drew my attention and became my focus. I completed a wide variety of projects including the identification urban runoff hotspots in Los Angeles, modeling watersheds in the Los Angeles Mountains, finding premier locations for sustainable farms in Big Sur, and tracking wildfire risk in the Santa Monica Mountains. I worked with the National Park Service to create an environmental management plan for a specific site in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and I also partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop a new method to quantify carbon stored in tropical biomass.

Now, I feel so lucky to be serving the Sierra out of Bishop, CA. I’m excited to expand my technical skills while living and working with an awesome community.

Kristen Boysen, Stewardship & Education Assistant
SNAP Host Site: Sierra Foothill Conservancy


Kristen is excited to continue serving during her second SNAP term at Sierra Foothill Conservancy. Kristen, like the seabirds she used to study, has a strong affinity for water, and loves the Merced River that flows past her new home of Mariposa. During her last service term, Kristen helped with SFC’s outreach and education programs, planned several restoration events, and helped with long-term conservation planning. She also fell in love with the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), the Tadpole Shrimp (Lepidurus spp.), and the milkshakes from the Sugar Pine Cafe.

Kristen graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Environmental Biology.

Adam Butler, Grassroots Organizer
SNAP Host Site: Trout Unlimited


Adam Butler was born and raised in the heart of the Eastern Sierras.  Growing up hunting and fishing in the Owens Valley near Bishop he developed a passion for the outdoors.  From the East Walker River down to the Owens River Gorge, he turned the landscape into his playground spending most of his days (when not in school) casting tiny dry flies to eager brown and rainbow trout.

After graduating from high school, Adam moved to San Luis Obispo, CA to attend California Polytechnic State University.   With no iconic trout streams in the area, Adam focused his efforts on fishing the local lakes for large and smallmouth bass.   In the winters, quick trips up the coast to pursue steelhead took the place of studying and doing homework.   Although most of his time was spent fishing in some way, Adam managed to complete his bachelor’s degree with a 3.7 cumulative GPA and also completed a minor in hydrology and watershed management.

While at Cal Poly, Adam also developed the first chapter of Trout Unlimited at a university.  Organizing and managing creek clean up days, invasive species removal, and habitat improvement projects throughout the San Luis Obispo area.  He was approached by Central Coast Salmon Enhancement and was asked to serve on the board.  A short time later he was nominated to be board president and he eagerly accepted the position.  As board president for almost a year, he worked closely with staff on their Trout In The Classroom programs, as well as, local stream habitat improvement projects.  He developed skills that allowed him to work successfully with the different stakeholders within the area.  He currently lives in Truckee, CA and is looking forward to serving to improve and maintain our waterways for future generations to enjoy.

Andrew Collins-Anderson, Watershed Coordination Specialist
SNAP Host Site: South Yuba River Citizen’s League

collins anderson

Andrew is very pleased to bring his passions for environmental stewardship and community building back to the South Yuba River.  As a Nevada City native,  he was inspired at a young age by the diverse forests and pristine rivers of the foothills to the Sierra Nevada.

Andrew graduated in 2010 with a degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ethics from Humboldt State University.  He graduated with skills and great interest in community organizing, sustainable agriculture, water advocacy and alternative living practices.  Andrew was President of the Civil Liberties Defense Center Humboldt Chapter, Co-founder of the Blue Lake Community Farmers and an active community member while in college.

After graduating he volunteered for several environmental groups across the country.  Andrew volunteered for the Meg Perry Center for Environmental Peace and Justice in New Orleans after the BP oil spill.  He also spent a month in Montana with the Buffalo Field Campaign to help protect the sacred and last 3,700 wild Buffalo.

In Nevada City Andrew has worked as an organic farmer, plays bass in his band Ghost Pines, works to bring diversity and resilience to the area, and is very excited to expand his commitment to the community and the amazing Yuba.

Jacob Dyste, Assessment & Restoration Assistant
SNAP Host Site: American Rivers


Jacob was born, raised, and educated in Eugene, OR and the surrounding mountains, rivers, and forests. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2009 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies.

He started out monitoring barriers to fish passage for the Long Tom Watershed Council. Next he worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Buffalo, Wyoming working on soil and water quality issues surrounding coalbed methane extraction. Following a desire to work for a non-profit again, he served an AmeriCorps term with the Bainbridge Island Land Trust in Washington working on conservation easement monitoring, invasive species removal, and volunteer management. He then returned home to work on large wood restoration projects with the Forest Service on the McKenzie River in Oregon. Along the way he has managed to sneak a couple of snowboard bum seasons in at Northstar and Jackson Hole.

Jacob is incredibly excited about the opportunity to serve with American Rivers and to engage in meaningful river conservation work. He is also excited to snowboard, fly fish, and hike all over the Sierra Nevada.

Claire Ellwanger, River Scientist
SNAP Host Site: Sierra Streams Institute/ Bear Yuba Land Trust


Claire grew up outside of Baltimore City, Maryland and fostered her passion for the environment and conservation in the Chesapeake Bay.  She attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and earned a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies.   Her honors thesis field work was conducted on a small island in the Bay of Fundy where she studied island populations of Blue Flag Irises.   She gained additional research experience modeling erosion for a land trust using GIS, conducting a field study on an Ecuadorian lizard species, investigating the feeding habits of manatees, and publishing a local plant guide.   After graduation in 2012, she worked as a field ecology assistant for the Maine Department of Conservation’s Natural Areas Program, aiding in the identification, monitoring, and assessment of natural plant communities, invasive species, and rare plants throughout Maine.  She is very excited to join Sierra Streams Institute and is planning to work on multiple projects including developing a method for stream bioassessment using diatoms, riparian community mapping, a watershed climate change plan, and native habitat restoration.

In her free time Claire enjoys hiking, cooking, eating, and biking – she cycled across the country from Oregon to Maine!

Taylor Fargo, Sustainable Sierra Communities Assistant
SNAP Host Site: Sierra Nevada Alliance/ California Tahoe Conservancy


Taylor is very excited to be serving as the Sierra Nevada Alliance’s SNAP member supporting the Sustainable Sierra Communities Program. Taylor graduated from St. Lawrence University, in 2010, and received a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Spanish. After graduating, she worked at The Island School, in the Bahamas, for a year as Sustainable Food Coordinator and Human Ecology Teacher. Taylor has spent time working, traveling, and studying in the Bahamas, Europe, and Central America and has a deep love of traveling.

Originally from Vermont, she first ventured across the country to explore California last winter. While in California, Taylor worked for the Alliance as their Regional Climate Change Intern and taught skiing at Northstar. At the completion of her internship, Taylor returned east in order to work for the Aquidneck Land Trust as their summer Land Steward Intern. As a result of her love for the region, Taylor traveled back to Tahoe this fall to work as Site Coordinator for the annual Sagehen Outdoor Education Program in Truckee. Now, she is thrilled to be a SNAP member living in South Lake Tahoe and working on watershed education, conservation, and sustainability initiatives in the region.

Bridget Harrison, Conservation Associate
SNAP Host Site: Shasta Land Trust


Bridget is very excited to be serving a second term as an AmeriCorps member at Shasta Land Trust (SLT).  She will spend most of her time supporting their mission of conserving the beauty, character, and diversity of significant lands in far northern California.  As the Conservation Associate, she will have the opportunity to be very involved with the outreach and education that Shasta Land Trust does with the community, as well as, oversee and implement the conservation easement monitoring program.  Bridget is excited to continue serving with the community of Redding and all of the wonderful volunteers and supporters of SLT.  Lastly, she has enjoyed many adventures thus far and looks forward to many more!
Bridget was raised in Southern Illinois in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, on the Lake of Egypt.  She was taken outdoors to camp, hike, swim, and explore as early as she can remember and because of this her love for nature started at a very young age.  Bridget received her bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University in biological sciences and environmental studies.  After graduation, she was ready for an adventure outside of school.  Bridget was hired as a fisheries biologist in Alaska and lived and worked on commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea.  She went back to Southern and recently completed her master’s degree in forestry with an emphasis on hydrology.

Jenna Hooper, Watershed Assistant
SNAP Host Site: California Tahoe Conservancy/ Sierra Nevada Alliance


Jenna is really excited to be serving as the Watershed Restoration & Monitoring Specialist at the California Tahoe Conservancy. Originally from Albany, New York, she got her start as a conservationist by “rescuing” worms that were baking in the asphalt after rainstorms.

Since then, she has worked for the Student Conservation Association, spending two summers on trail construction crews in Alaska and Virginia and one summer as an environmental educator in the Chesapeake Bay. Jenna earned a BS in Biology and Natural Resources from Cornell University. She spends most of her time running, reading, playing Ultimate, and searching for the perfect vegetarian chili recipe.

Having never been to California before starting service, Jenna is pleased to report that the Sierra is beautiful beyond all expectations or words. She is looking forward to exploring, serving, and learning about the incredible Tahoe basin!

Matt Lasser, Conservation Assistant
SNAP Host Site: El Dorado & Georgetown Divide RCDs/ American River Conservancy


Matt is enthralled to be in the Sierra serving as the Conservation Assistant at the El Dorado County and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts. The Sierra Nevada is a new and enticing space for Matt who has previously only lived in New England. Matt grew up outside of Boston and then spent 4 ½ years living in Vermont where he attended the University of Vermont. At UVM he was a double major in Political Science and Sociology. While in Vermont, Matt spent a good deal of time in the thick forests, green mountains, and blue water of Lake Champlain. His time in these places sparked passions for the environment and for how people interact with the natural resources in their world. Now in California, Matt is ready to apply his knowledge and skills learned at UVM to a cause he feels strongly about.

Living in the Sierra Foothills is a different experience for Matt, who, along with his Subaru and camera, is looking to make the most of living in a new place. Despite the lack of snow in Placerville, and the intense heat of the summer, Matt is happy to be living in such a different locale than he is accustomed to. In his free time Matt enjoys exploring new places, hiking, producing music in his mini-studio, and cooking delicious meals.

Jeff Lauder, River Scientist
SNAP Host Site: Sierra Streams Institute/ Bear Yuba Land Trust


Jeff is happy to return for a second year of service with Sierra Streams Institute in Nevada City. He was fortunate to spend the previous year carrying out a pilot study assessing phytoremediation of lead from abandoned mine sites, baseline mammal population surveys using traps and cameras, and analysis of the correlations among benthic macroinvertebrate communities and environmental stressors such as water quality and anthropogenic impacts. These dizzying forays into freshwater and riparian ecology were a slight departure from his background in ecology, and primed him for a second year full of more fun scientific explorations.

Jeff grew up in Huntington Beach, CA, and has a BS in Environmental Science/Applied Ecology from Chico State University. His background is in forest ecology, with past research focusing on forest community composition in Papua New Guinea, Yosemite Toad habitat and plant communities in Yosemite National Park, and effects of mechanical or natural thinning on forest stand structure. He spends his free time hiking, biking, climbing, and playing with his two little pups, Nibbler and Honkytonk Hank.

Hannah Leigh, Education Program Assistant
SNAP Host Site: UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center


Hannah was raised in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Conifer, Colorado.  Living among ponderosa pines and black bears, she developed her passion for conservation and environmental stewardship at a young age.  This passion was nurtured during her summers on a chainsaw crew with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, where she cut down dead trees and maintained trails to reduce wildfire and health hazards.

She graduated with a combined degree in Environmental Studies and Sociology from Whitman College in the small town of Walla Walla, WA.  When she wasn’t studying or riding her bicycle through the wheat fields, Hannah was interning on a small organic farm, having dual-flush toilets installed on campus through the sustainable revolving loan fund, and rehearsing with her a cappella group.  She spent a semester abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, where she studied marine biology and current environmental issues in the region.  She also enjoyed backpacking and kayaking around the south island.  After graduating, she spent a summer as a naturalist in Ketchikan, AK.

Hannah is excited to return from rainy Ketchikan to serve as one of the education program assistants with the UC Davis – TahoeEnvironmental Research Center.  She is impressed with TERC’s commitment to researching and educating community members about the environmental issues facing Lake Tahoe, and looks forward to  serving and learning in the Tahoe Basin!

Emily Mathews, Community Engagement Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: South Tahoe Site- League to Save Lake Tahoe/ Tahoe Baikal Institute


Emily Mathews is excited to be serving with the League to Save Lake Tahoe as the Community Engagement Coordinator.  Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Emily has grownup camping, hiking, skiing, and exploring the Sierra.  Emily studied Marine Biology with a focus on conservation ecology at the University of California Santa Cruz.  During her studies she spent a quarter at the University of Queensland, Australia where she explored the Great Barrier Reef and researched the impacts of recreational fishing on scavenging fish and benthic communities.  After graduation, Emily spent time volunteering for Save The Bay in San Francisco doing volunteer coordination and habitat restoration.  Emily is excited to experience a white winter and learn new skills as she serves at  the League to Save Lake Tahoe.  As a part of her service with the League, she will help to reduce sediment loading in Lake Tahoe, assist with the organization of invasive species removal projects, and help develop a shorezone project to Keep Tahoe Blue.  Emily enjoys hiking, camping, snowboarding, and exploring new places.  During the next year Emily hopes to help preserve the beauty of the Sierra and hike the entire Tahoe Rim trail.

Kelsey Poole, Education Program Assistant
SNAP Host Site: UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center


Kelsey was born and raised in the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee, and from a young age developed a passion for wildlife and ecology. She graduated from American University in Washington, DC, in 2010 with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Spanish. After graduation Kelsey spent two years in Santiago, Chile, teaching English, learning Spanish, and traveling the region. She is excited to combine her love of the environment and education in her new capacity as Education Program Assistant at the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. In her spare time Kelsey likes to salsa dance, watch comedies and sports, and read anything she can get her hands on.

Marianne Pott, River Monitoring Specialist
SNAP Host Site: South Yuba River Citizen’s League


Growing up in the Midwest made Marianne long for the mountains, forests, rocks, and streams that she glimpsed on family vacations to the Appalachian Mountains.  She joined a venture crew in high school so she could return to those areas and camp, mountain bike, raft, and kayak.  Such experiences instilled in her a deep connection to the natural world and an eagerness to learn all about it.

That eagerness brought her to Valparaiso University in NW Indiana.  While not studying for her B.S. in environmental sciences, Marianne spent her time playing in the dunes along Lake Michigan and kayaking the remains of the Grand Kankakee Marsh.  Summers afforded her the excitement of escaping the Midwest and working in other parts of the country.  She researched brackish marsh communities of coastal Louisiana at the National Wetlands Research Center and tidal wetlands of the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York.

After graduating, she continued her track in the watershed field with a position as a water quality analyst for a county government outside Seattle.  A job in Montana working with a citizen-based watershed group and a statewide water education organization allowed her to sustain her stay in the west. Marianne is very excited to be serving at SYRCL as the 2013 SNAP River Monitoring Coordinator.  She looks forward to learning about the area’s history, exploring the Sierra Nevada, and connecting people with the incredible Yuba River!

Kristen Powell, Stewardship & Outreach Assistant
SNAP Host Site: American River Conservancy/ El Dorado & Georgetown Divide RCDs


Kristin has had a love of the outdoors since she was a small child on family camping trips. After graduating high school she was entranced by the Humboldt Coast and attended Humboldt State. Eventually she transferred to Sonoma State where she majored in Hutchins School for Liberal Studies, minored in Environmental Education and obtained a certificate in the Collaborative Autism Training and Support Program. Kristin interned at the Sonoma County Regional Parks as an environmental educator and she spent many of her summers in the Sierra backpacking and volunteering or working at overnight summer camps such as Camp Jack Hazard.

As the Stewardship and Outreach Assistant with the ARC, Kristin loves the opportunity to utilize all her skills, and develop new ones, in organizing volunteers and events. “This amazing opportunity to serve with the ARC is truly life changing; it is opening up many different paths for my life that surpass my professional goals.”  The opportunity to serve as a SNAP member has made Kristin’s dream of starting her own outdoor sports, environmental education and farm school even more of a realization.

James Ray, Watershed Outreach & Education Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: Sierra Institute for Community & Environment


After migrating north from San Diego, CA to Tacoma, WA and earning a degree in Natural Science from the University of Puget Sound, James decided to continue his journey northward and work as a Naturalist in Juneau, AK.  An extremely wet summer in Juneau made him realize that something was missing from his life, sunlight.  This is one of the many reasons he’s thrilled to be back in his home state of California as a SNAP member with the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment.

As an undergraduate, he was able to study political ecology in Tanzania and conduct research on wood usage within a rural community.  He has also been fortunate enough to participate in the Biosphere 2 REU program where he researched carbon cycling within the Valles Caldera, NM.  However, what he misses most is rassling with Grant’s gazelle in Kenya in order to collect horn samples.  These experiences have helped develop his interest in conservation and getting people involved as environmental stewards, which is why he’s so excited to have the opportunity to bring about positive change for both the rural communities and environment within the Upper Feather River Watershed.

Evan Reimondo, Assessment & Restoration Assistant
SNAP Host Site: American Rivers


Evan is performing his SNAP service as the Assessment & Restoration Assistant with American Rivers.  He is excited to work on projects ranging from meadow restoration to the establishment of Blue Trails in the Sierra.  Originally from Buffalo, New York Evan would generally prefer his winters to be white and wintery, but is stoked to be living in Nevada City, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra. He is unsure of whether rain or snow would be easier to cope with while living in a canvas tent, but regardless of the soggy ground around it, he attests the tent is quite cozy most of the time.

Evan completed his Bachelor’s in biology at the University at Buffalo, and recently received his Master’s in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Northern Arizona University.  He has worked for the Forest Service and National Park Service in various functions and locations since moving out west.  Evan hopes to bring his perspective and past experiences to bear on environmental issues in the Sierra, and looks forward to gaining new experiences, relationships, and memories along the way.  Evan enjoys filling whatever free time he can with trail running, reading a good book, cycling, rock climbing, skiing andadventuring in the mountains.

Justine Reynolds, Program & Community Outreach Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: San Joaquin Valley Leadership Forum


Justine is happy to be serving as the Programs and Community Outreach Coordinator for the San Joaquin Valley Leadership Forum in Auberry, CA.   Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Justine attended North Hollywood High School’s Zoo Magnet, adjacent to the LA Zoo.  Justine recently obtained her BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Justine has pursued a variety of interests, from producing UCSC’s production of The Vagina Monologues, to working as a test proctor for disabled students; from staffing several LA area sci fi/fantasy conventions, to working as a research assistant collecting samples for a study on the effect of invasive species on serpentine grassland.   Justine completed a full time summer fellowship with Organizing for America, the grassroots campaign for President Obama’s re-election.  She assisted graduate students with their research on Mimulus and Clarkiaspecies.  She also volunteered at the National Marine Fisheries Service, collecting data for a study on benthic macroinvertebrate diversity.

Justine is particularly interested in insects, land stewardship and habitat restoration, and the plant Fetid Adder’s Tongue.  In her spare time, Justine enjoys hiking, cooking, crafting, and spending time with friends and family.

Adele Rife, Restoration Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: South Yuba River Citizen’s League


Adele was born and raised in Texas. In Texas, she grew up exploring the outdoors while fishing and camping with her family. She recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Geography and the Environment, where her love of the environment and her professors spurred her in the right direction. Adele was lucky enough to study abroad twice during her undergrad, in Mexico and in Chile, and loves to travel and practice her Spanish. During her studies, she discovered her passion for rivers and focused on fluvial geomorphology and river science. She completed an honors thesis entitled “Deforestation Impacts on Fluvial Systems in the Amazon River Basin.” Adele plans to continue her studies with graduate school in the near future.

Adele is very excited for her introduction into the environmental and river science professional field at SYRCL. She feels truly fortunate to begin a new chapter as the Restoration Coordinator at SYRCL and be a SNAP member for the 2013 year. Adele is very enthusiastic to get outdoors and experience the Yuba River and Sierra Nevada first hand with like-minded people!


Elise Robinette, Education Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: Eastern Sierra Land Trust


Elise hails from the land of rolling green mountains, wagon wheels and Nascar tracks, also known as northeast Tennessee. Growing up in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, she developed an affinity early on for chewing tobacco (just kidding) and running wild in the Great Outdoors. After attending East Tennessee State University and studying Art and Photography, Elise did a complete 180, took a job in Colorado as a conservation corps member and never looked back. Since then she has been leading conservation crews all over the state of California, building and maintaining trails, fighting the eternal battle against invasive species and scouring wilderness areas from the mountains to the coast. She is thrilled to be back on the east side and looks forward to bringing her field and leadership experiences to her new position with Eastern Sierra Land Trust.

In her spare time Elise can be found indulging in her latest love affair with her road bike, clinging to rocks or exploring new trails. She will likely always be seen with a clunky film camera around her neck.

Hannah Saltman, Volunteer & Service Learning Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: Sequoia Riverlands Trust


Hannah hails from Boston, MA and is excited to be serving as the Volunteer and Service Learning Coordinator at Sequoia Riverlands Trust in the heart of the Central Valley. She graduated from Brandeis University this past May with a double major in Environmental Studies and Public Health, and a minor in Music. During college Hannah enjoyed interning at organizations dedicated to preventing childhood lead poisoning in Boston and beyond, including the Lead Action Collaborative and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics and Pesticides Unit in Boston. She is thrilled to continue her passion for sustainable communities as a SNAP member doing environmental education, restoration work, easement monitoring, and growing SRT’s volunteer network.  In her spare time, Hannah enjoys playing viola, cooking, hiking, and traveling, and is looking forward to having many adventures around California this year.

Talia Shea, Environmental Education Associate
SNAP Host Site: South Tahoe Site- Tahoe Baikal Institute/ League to Save Lake Tahoe


Talia Shea is a native Californian, thrilled to be serving as TBI’s Environmental Education Associate and to be snowboarding this season in her own backyard! While earning her degree in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, Talia involved herself in several international environmental efforts, especially involving global food systems. She had the opportunity to study, live, and teach environmental education in Brazil in 2008, a life-changing experience that has motivated her to work toward environmental justice for all.  For the past two years,Talia has been the Development Coordinator for the SF Green Film Festival.  This past Spring, Talia conducted an independent study on communities, farms, and watersheds in Central America. Talia is excited to learn more about Russia and Mongolia, their languages and cultures, as well as their environmental problems and solutions.

Cathy Shirley, Conservation Programs Assistant
SNAP Host Site: Bear Yuba Land Trust/ Sierra Streams Institute


Cathy was born in the land of cheese, brats and beer, otherwise known as Wisconsin. Although she is from the Milwaukee area, Cathy attended college in central Wisconsin at UW-Stevens Point, with a major in Biology and a minor in Wildlife Management. It was there she realized the importance of natural resources conservation.  After moving to California three years ago, she discovered her true passion was working with flowering plants. She has worked in the area doing invasive species removal, seed collection and vegetation monitoring. Cathy welcomed her first daughter, Scarlet, into the world on January 19, 2012.

She is now serving with Bear Yuba Land Trust as the Conservation Program Assistant via the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership. Cathy assists the Stewardship Program Manager as well as the Trails Coordinator.

Andrew Skaggs, Watershed & Outreach Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: Eastern Sierra Site- CalTrout Eastern Sierra Region


Andrew is an AmeriCorps member serving with California Trout and the Inyo-Mono Integrated Regional Water Management Program in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Originally from New England he became interested in ecology, natural history, and environmental policy throughout the Appalachian and Adirondack mountains. He attended St. Lawrence University in Northern New York where he earned a BS in Conservation Biology.

He enjoys all aspects of biology with a particular interest in mammalogy, limnology, and alpine ecology. Andrew loves biking, skiing, rock climbing, and plans on attending graduate school for conservation biology in the near future. He recently rode his bike from Brunswick, ME to San Francisco,CA and can’t wait to go on his next long tour.

Ali Stefancich, River Scientist
SNAP Host Site: Sierra Streams Institute/ Bear Yuba Land Trust


Ali is excited to be spending another year with Sierra Stream Institute in Nevada City. Growing up in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York, she always knew that she needed a job that allowed her to be outside, gave her the freedom and flexibility to work on a variety projects that interested her and help the environment. Ali has found just that at Sierra Streams!  During her first term as a SNAP Member, she had the opportunity to work on many different projects, including teaching with SSI’s environmental education programs and helping with the data collection and analysis for several of their research projects. She is looking forward to another wonderful year of studying and restoring the magnificent Deer Creek watershed. Ali graduated from the Evergreen State College of Olympia, WA where she studied ecology.

While not hard at work, she fills her days going on adventures with friends to beautiful places near and far, playing with her awesome cat Chloe, and enjoying all that life has to offer.

Jenn Tamo, Field Trip Coordinator
Host Site: Sequoia Riverlands Trust


Jenn, a Central Valley native, was raised in the small town of Oakdale on the Stanislaus River.  Growing up, she was nestled between the coast of San Francisco and Sierra mountains of Yosemite.  Her close proximity to these natural treasures afforded her the opportunity to explore California’s unique geography and cultivate a love of the outdoors.

While in college, Jenn travelled to Central America to spend a summer serving as a volunteer.  In Costa Rica, she helped implement low-cost sustainable agriculture and assisted with small-scale enterprise that benefited the local habitat and community.

Jenn graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in International Development.  Throughout college, she worked with children in a number of capacities as a camp counselor, Instructional Assistant, and volunteer organizer.  After university, she spent two summers in the backcountry of the high sierras in Yosemite National Park.  Jenn hopes her passion for the natural world will translate to the kids she will be teaching as Sequoia Riverlands Trust’s Field Trip and Education Program Coordinator.

In her spare time, if not experimenting in the kitchen, Jenn can be found adventuring in the sun, doing yoga on a mountain, or sleeping under the stars.

Amber Taxiera- Community Outreach Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: The Sierra Fund


Growing up in Davis CA, Amber fell in love with the Sierras through weekend excursions snowboarding, rock climbing, and white water rafting. Her adventurist spirit led her to travel throughout Asia in discovery of new rocks to climb and rapids to raft. She eventually settled in Southern China working as an Outdoor Educator where she focused on improving operational safety for river activities. Amber is a self-proclaimed ”Eco-Adventurist” and believes that adventure outings are a way for people to connect with nature and gain a better understanding of natural systems.

Amber studied Environmental Studies and City Planning at Sonoma State University where she began dreaming of building sustainable communities where people live harmoniously with nature. In college she guided for SSU’s Outdoor Pursuits Program, volunteered as a naturalist on a nature preserve and spent a year working as an intern with the Regional Water Board writing permits and reviewing countless Environmental Impact Reports. In recent years, Amber has worked for a non-profit that specializes in wilderness outings for people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth groups. She also has been a dedicated volunteer for the annual Bioneers Conference since 2008. Amber is excited to be back in the Sierras coordinating the Sierra Fund’s outreach efforts on environmental health issues in the region.

When Amber is not learning about Geology (climbing rocks) and hydrology (rafting), she enjoys gardening, playing cribbage and acrobat yoga.

Nikki Thompson, Sustainable Sierra Communities Assistant
Host Site: Sierra Nevada Alliance


Nikki Thompson is thrilled to serve as Sierra Nevada Alliance’s new Sustainable Sierra Communities Assistant. She has always loved biology, and is grateful to the SNAP program for the opportunity to channel her love of wildlife into sustainability initiatives.

Nikki earned a B.S. in Biology and Neurobiology from Cornell University. There, she spent her fair share of time in a microbiology laboratory, where she helped create a ‘bacteriophage cocktail’ used in veterinary settings. Nikki spent one summer working as an animal behaviorist at UPenn’s swine facility. There, she successfully quelled her love of bacon while observing the effect of varying production environments on swine behavior. After graduation, Nikki became an Animal Care intern for the Philadelphia Zoo,  and she also worked at UPenn’s large animal hospital, assisting with animal care.

After growing up in Pennsylvania, Nikki somehow managed to make it to the ripe old age of 23 before seeing the west coast. She has finally made it to the beautiful west coast, and spends her time with animals and wildlife, reading, playing Ultimate, eating sweets– and she intends to devote most time to exploring the stunning Sierras.

Dana Watkins, Education & Stewardship Assistant
SNAP Host Site: American River Conservancy


Dana joins the American River Conservancy as the newest SNAP member and serving as the Education and Stewardship Assistant.  She grew up in a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From a very young age she has enjoyed the recreational and environmental resource that this beautiful area has to offer.  She was raised to respect and protect the natural world and still strongly believes in those morals.  She majored in Sustainable Ecotourism with a minor in Business at Humboldt State University in 2010.  Post graduation, she worked in Wyoming in the Grand Teton National Forest; then spent a year in Tahoe as a ski instructor and with the California State Parks Tahoe district during the summer. Finally, she settled back in the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills to pursue her love of outdoor recreation and to spread that love to others.  Prior to joining the ARC, Dana worked with the Department of Fish and Wildlife as a children’s scientific education leader.

Outdoor education is something that she is extremely passionate about; she believes that in order to protect and preserve our environment we have to understand and appreciate it as individuals. She loves the outdoors, hiking, boating, gardening and swimming.  She is looking forward to new experiences in Coloma and all the education that the SNAP and American River Conservancy has to offer her.

Maya Zavala,  Programs Coordinator
SNAP Host Site: WildPlaces