Alison Amberg, Education Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: Eastern Sierra Land Trust
Growing up by the beach, Ali dreamed of the forest. Spoiled by the tangerine sunsets, she sought darker, cooler places, where she could upturn logs and find squirming life underneath. Little did she know that a jungle was waiting for her in her backyard, where her parents were piddling away in the dirt. She wanted to learn more about the magical processes at work in her childhood garden, what made the juicy plums and apricots reappear summer after summer.
Ali developed her green thumb while volunteering at Oakland-based Urban Gardens (OBUGS). She helped OBUGS students plant boxes of tasty veggies and taught them how to cook simple, healthy meals from their garden harvests. The curiosity of her students inspired her to continue seeking non-traditional educational settings and alternative teaching frameworks.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Ali taught at Sarah’s Science summer camp, Treasure Island Job Corps Center and St. Paul’s Episcopal School. A Student Conservation Association internship whisked her away to Juneau, Alaska. She learned the language of glaciers and bears, but decided after the summer was over, she needed to hone her French. She served as an English language assistant in tiny rural Rodez. Despite France’s access to RyanAir and Roquefort, Alaska called her back. She lived up her Jack London dreams, this time in Skagway.
She is excited to call Bishop her new home with the Eastern Sierra Land Trust and looks forward to uniting her interests in local food, conservation and beautiful places. When she is not trout fishing in the backcountry, you might find her thinning kale seedlings, cooking for a potluck, or on the road to some secret hot springs.
Karen Atkins, Research Assistant
SNAP Partner Site: The Sierra Fund
Karen Atkins was born and raised in a suburb of LA. With exposure to many things, she loved the outdoors most. She grew up loving hiking, backpacking, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving.
Karen attended the University of Connecticut and earned a Bachelors of Science in Natural Resources with a concentration in Water and Climate. While there, she was involved in several nonpoint source pollution studies. Her favorite dealt with exploring ways to stop street salt from running off into local water bodies. This was done through placing special chloride bonding compounds in rain gardens. She graduated in May of 2013 and went on to work as a Field Station Manager in Bahia De Los Angeles, Mexico. There she had the opportunity to do some water quality research, help students with their field studies, and learn to maintain the station using the limited resources of the area. She loved that she got to snorkel, swim with whale sharks, and whale watch every day!
At the Sierra Fund, Karen can’t wait to learn more about historic and current mining practices and to get her hands dirty with some field work. She is honored to get to serve with such inspiring people doing such important work.
Hillary Behr, Wetlands Restoration Coordinator
SNAP Partner 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.
Brenna Blessing, Natural Resources Associate
SNAP Partner Site: The League to Save Lake Tahoe
Brenna is a native to the San Francisco Bay Area. She grew up playing in her backyard, the Sausal Creek Watershed. Her family often spent the holidays exploring the outdoors hiking in Yosemite National Park and visiting her grandmother’s ranch, Cedar Falls, in Texas. Early on she knew that she wanted to help preserve the world around her and share its beauty.
She graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2012 with a combined B.A. in Environmental Studies and Biology. In Santa Cruz’s redwood forest, she studied botany, plant physiology, conservation biology, freshwater ecology, and art. This led her to spending her summers backpacking all over Yosemite as a USGS field technician, studying alpine meadow plants, the Yosemite Toad, and the endangered Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog. After graduation, she also worked to help the Friends of Sausal Creek in educating her home town about protecting its watershed.
Brenna is now serving the League to Save Lake Tahoe as the Volunteer and Education Coordinator. She is excited to bring her eco-conscious enthusiasm to the Tahoe basin in an effort to help Keep Tahoe Blue! When she is not busy managing the Pipe Keeper’s Program, she enjoys backpacking, yoga, painting, baking, and learning to ski.
Jaryd Block, Eastern Sierra Regional Program Assistant
SNAP Partner Site: Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Eastern Office
Jaryd grew up on the beautiful Central Coast of California where he gained an undying love for the outdoors. He attended the University of California Los Angeles and in 2012, earned a Degree in Environmental Science with Minors in Geography and Geospatial Information Systems and Technology.
Today, Jaryd is excited to be returning for his second term of service with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in Bishop, CA. Over the course of his last term, he received a broader view of the Eastern Sierra and worked with multiple communities and government agencies. Jaryd engaged in restoration projects along the Lower Owens River and created a sustainable recreation document for the Bridgeport Valley. Most importantly, Jaryd has discovered a greater community full of inspiring individuals.
In his spare time, Jaryd is a dedicated rock climber and snowboarder. Lucky for him, Bishop is an absolute paradise for mountain activities.
Tess Braun, Watershed Coordinator Assistant
SNAP Partner Site: Alpine Watershed Group
Tess grew up in the beautiful South Lake Tahoe. With the mountains and lake as her backyard she has always had a love for the outdoors. She attended UC Santa Cruz and in 2012 graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies and Psychology. While attending UCSC Tess had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador and work in a small rural town where she taught English, and helped the locals understand eco-tourism. This is what sparked her interest in environment issues, and connecting with small communities. She interned for the Coastal Conservation Action Lab looking at invasive species on islands, and also has experience in water quality testing.
Tess loves hiking, skiing, playing soccer, and basketball, dancing, and any activity that involves being outside! Traveling has also become a hobby for Tess; she did Semester at Sea, and had the opportunity to travel to 11 different countries. This was an unforgettable experience that broadened her knowledge and view of the world.
As Watershed Coordinator Assistant at the Alpine Watershed Group, she will be assisting in restoration, water quality testing, and education and outreach throughout Alpine County. She is very excited to be working, and making positive changes in her backyard.
Brittni Brown, Watershed Project Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: Bishop Paiute Tribe
Brittni grew up in rural Idaho where, at a young age, she developed an interest for the natural world and the conservation of its resources. While attending school at The College of Idaho her interests turned into a passionate love for the abundance of amazing recreational opportunities within Idaho and the desire to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. She graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Spanish.
Before accepting a position as a SNAP member with the Bishop-Paiute Tribe, Brittni worked for Idaho’s Dept. of Environmental Quality as a water quality technician. This experience enabled her to gain a skill set in water management, habitat monitoring, and electrofishing. The job also had the perks of traveling Idaho, hiking, camping, and playing in the water all day.
This year Brittni is very excited to contribute to the Bishop Creek Watershed Management Plan by collaborating with stakeholders to increase water quality in the Eastern Sierra. She is also ridiculously stoked to have the opportunity to backpack, mountain bike and learn to climb and fly fish in such an amazing location.
Jacob Dyste, Assessment & Restoration Assistant
SNAP Partner 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.
Micah Eggleton, Conservation Assistant
SNAP Partner Site: El Dorado County & Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts & American River Conservancy
The Sierra Nevada is a very spiritual place for me (as I know it is for many others). Having visited and lived just outside of Yosemite every summer for much of my teen years, I have grown attached to the Range of Light. Although many love the Sierra Nevada, I can’t help feeling a sense of isolation and independence when hiking through its vast backcountry. This connection has helped guide me through my life so far, and even inspired my higher educational studies.
My name is Micah Eggleton. I am a recent graduate from UC Davis with a BS in Environmental Science and Management Emphasizing in Natural Resource Conservation, and a Minor in Geology. I grew up in Southern California, but soon after high school I needed to escape from the throngs of people. During the summers I often worked at a high adventure camp situated just above the small town of Lee Vining overlooking Mono Lake. This is where I first fell in love with the Sierra Nevada. I acted as a trail safety and guide running five day long backpacking trips into Yosemite Park for the Boy Scouts. I would also run mountaineering trips, high ropes courses, and rock climbing.
I soon began to learn about the adverse affects society had plagued upon the environment. I felt that there was an increasing amount of people advocating for change, but not as many attempting to conserve what we still had. This led me to choose my particular major at UCD, and eventually apply for the position with SNAP.
I am now beginning my new position with the El Dorado County and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation District, or RCD. My role here is diverse, but extremely rewarding. I will be organizing several volunteer days to clean local watersheds, assist in community and youth education about the local watersheds, and help with projects around the community to preserve and protect the county’s watersheds. Although I have just started at the RCD, I am eager and optimistic about my service term here.
Katie Fialko, Field Trip Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: Sequoia Riverlands Trust
Katie is a native of beautiful, colorful Colorado, a place which inspired her love of the outdoors at an early age. She recently graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Natural Resource Management and is ready to put her skills to use in California. In the past she has worked on projects involving fisheries ecology, pollinator habitat conservation, and water quality. Katie also loves traveling and experiencing new places: she spent a semester abroad in Chile cultivating her passion for the Spanish language and exploring the country’s beautiful natural wonders. She believes in contributing to conservation by sharing her knowledge about the environment and is very excited to be serving this year as the Field Trip Coordinator for the Sequoia Riverlands Trust.
Aviva Fiske, River Scientist
SNAP Partner Site: Sierra Streams Institute
Aviva grew up near San Francisco, CA and developed an appreciation for the beauty of the Sierras at a young age on family backpacking trips. She decided to venture far from sunny California and headed to Maine for college, graduating from Bowdoin in 2012 with a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies. She studied abroad in Zanzibar where she learned about coastal ecology and conducted a behavioral study on Aders’ Duiker. For her senior thesis, Aviva studied stress response development in seabird chicks on a small island off the coast of Canada.
After graduation, Aviva travelled to Israel and Europe, and then headed to Cape Cod to work in the scientific aquaculture program at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole. This past summer she worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitoring the annual breeding success of the endangered California Least Tern and Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly. In her free time, Aviva loves to cycle, rock climb, run, swim, backpack, travel, and find the best swimming holes. She is very excited to be serving her SNAP term with the Sierra Streams Institute and hopes to learn about the various environmental challenges facing the Deer Creek watershed and contribute to improving local ecosystem health.
Meg Hanley, River Restoration Outreach Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: American Rivers, Nevada City Office
Meg is a native of Baltimore, MD and will be working as the River Restoration Outreach Coordinator for American Rivers. She graduated in 2011 from Colgate University with a degree in Geography and a passion for understanding the interconnected threads of humans and the environment. Since graduating she has worked in environmental education through the Living Classrooms Foundation and as a researcher for National Geographic Channel. Having spent most all of her life in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (yep, even the creeks of central NY drain into the bay!) she is looking forward to exploring a new region. While with American Rivers, Meg is eager to engage in local and regional discourse surrounding meadow restoration, blue trail initiatives and stormwater management while spending as much time outdoors as possible.
Victoria Heyse, Service Learning Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: Sequoia Riverlands Trust
Born and raised in a small Connecticut town, Victoria recently graduated from The University of Connecticut with a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Victoria was a member of the Ornithology Research Group at UConn for two years and spent a summer banding sparrows and monitoring the nests of tidal marsh birds. Victoria also worked as a trip leader at UConn Outdoors, where she shared her passion for all things adventure by leading fellow students on epic outdoor recreation excursions. In the summer of 2013, she lived on a private game reserve in South Africa where she studied the native flora and fauna through daily game drives and bush walks. She achieved a level 2 in track and sign interpretation at the conclusion of this incredible study abroad course! There aren’t enough hours in the day for all of Victoria’s unique interests which range from birding to roller derby. She hopes to spend many of her weekends exploring all that California and the Sierra Nevada have to offer! Victoria is wicked excited to be the new Volunteer and Service Learning Coordinator at Sequoia Riverlands Trust in Visalia, CA! She can’t wait to instill in the community a love of nature and the desire to conserve it!
Neena Johnson, Education Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: Sierra Streams Institute
This is Neena’s first time ever being on the west coast. She road tripped across the country from Rochester,NY to start her Americorps year at The Sierra Streams Institute in Nevada City. Back in New York she studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. The Sierra’s provide endless opportunity for exploration and fun and Neena is looking forward to weekends of hiking, cross country skiing and hopefully some mountain biking.
Sara Kokkelenberg, Education Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: Eastern Sierra Land Trust
Sara grew up in the Chicagoland area and received her undergraduate degree from American University in International Relations and Russian Studies. Her education took her to Western Europe where she studied solar and wind energy designs, the Smart Grid power system in Denmark, and the ice sheet in Greenland. She also lived and worked as an English teacher in Russia and spent a summer collecting recipes from Russian grandmothers and market vendors for allrecipes.com.
While hosting a couchsurfer this past summer, she was introduced to the SNAP program and believed she had found her ideal next step forward. She feels honored to be accepted as the Education Coordinator for the Eastern Sierra Land Trust and is looking forward to creating pollinator corridors and to afternoons spent with youth in the ESLT sunflower garden.
When she is not working or studying, she loves to travel, dance, take pictures of everything, go camping, learn new languages, attend costume parties, and share stories over drinks, coffee, and long hikes. Her favorite fun fact is that Al Capone, the famous Chicago gangster, used to live in her house, which was built before the Civil War.
Max Odland, Conservation Associate
SNAP Partner Site: Shasta Land Trust
Max grew up exploring the forests, mountains (or hills), and waterways of New York’s Hudson Valley. After years immersed in that landscape, he studied conservation biology at Middlebury College in Vermont, and naturally fell in love with the forests and rolling fields of the Champlain Valley. There, he spent a summer mapping natural communities in the Green Mountains and helped run the school’s student farm. These experiences fueled a growing interest in the interactions between humans and our environment, especially with respect to agriculture.
After graduating in 2012, Max transplanted himself to the west coast, where he worked on an organic farm in Washington, raising chickens, turkeys, pigs, cattle, and tons of veggies. Looking for a way to share his love of the natural world with others, he then served as a Student Conservation Association intern at Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, giving ecology lessons for regional school children.
When he isn’t romping through hills and fields, learning new things about the natural world, or otherwise adventuring outdoors, Max likes to play music, sing, dance, garden, cook, eat, and generally have a grand time. He is looking forward to serving at the Shasta Land Trust this year, where he will monitor conservation easements, lead volunteers, and deliver ecology lessons to local kids.
Kelsey Poole, Education Program Assistant
SNAP Partner Site: UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center
Kelsey is excited to start her second year of service at the Tahoe Environmental Research Center. She graduated from American University in 2010 with a degree in environmental studies and then lived in Chile teaching English for two years. She looks forward to continuing to educate the Tahoe basin about environmental science, along with all the fun things like hiking, snowboarding, and floating the Truckee River.
Marianne Pott, River Monitoring Specialist
SNAP Partner 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. She made her debut into the water quality monitoring field as a technician for a county government outside Seattle, and a job in Montana working with a nonprofit watershed group.
Marianne is thrilled to be serving as the River Monitoring Coordinator at the South Yuba River Citizens League for a second term. She looks forward to recruiting many more community members and river enthusiasts to the citizen-based monitoring program, expanding the program’s communication to the public, and connecting people to the river. In her free time, she enjoys cross country skiing, crockpot extravaganzas, and exploring each of the 39 miles of the Wild and Scenic South Yuba River.
Kristen Powell, Stewardship & Outreach Assistant
SNAP Partner 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.
Kristen Reichardt, Education Program Assistant
SNAP Partner Site: UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center
I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and have always considered these mountains home. From horseback riding, trail running, mountain biking and skiing, you can usually find me exploring the mountains by any means possible. I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2012 with a BS in Environmental Management & Protection and a minor in GIS and Anthropology & Geography before traveling through Argentina and Chile by bicycle and then finding myself living in the snow at Lake Tahoe. Trying to figure out why cultures and people have different relationships with their environment and learning what motivates them to feel connected to the world around them is what inspires me and is why I’m interested in environmental education.
I’ve been volunteering as an Education Center Docent at the Tahoe Environmental Research Center for the past 9 months and decided to take my involvement to that of an AmeriCorps member for the upcoming year. I’m so excited that I get to stay in Tahoe and spend my time enhancing the incredible education programs that TERC offers!
Justine Reynolds, Program & Community Outreach Coordinator
SNAP Partner 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 Partner Site: South Yuba River Citizen’s League
Adele is excited to be spending another year with South Yuba River Citizens League in Nevada City. Adele was born and raised in Texas, where she grew up exploring the outdoors while fishing and camping with her family. She 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. During her studies, she discovered her passion for rivers and focused on fluvial geomorphology and river science. Adele plans to continue her studies with graduate school in the near future.
Adele is returning for a second year as Restoration Coordinator at SYRCL. During her first term as a SNAP member, she had the opportunity to work on many different projects, including Aspen regeneration in mountain meadows, monitoring of SYRCL’s pilot riparian enhancement project at Hammon Bar, and designing, implementing and reporting a riparian survey on the Lower Yuba River. She feels truly fortunate to continue working with like-minded people to protect and restore the beautiful Yuba Watershed in a river-centric community that she has grown to love. In her spare time, Adele loves to explore the beautiful Sierra Nevada and plans to learn to fly-fish this summer.
Sam Rossi, Conservation Associate
SNAP Partner Site: Butte County Resource Conservation District
Sam grew up in Tahoe City, California where his love for the outdoors developed along with his appreciation for the land. Whether it was backpacking to a remote lake in the wilderness, or experiencing a wildfire only two miles from his home, he knew from an early age that land stewardship is paramount. He recently graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo earning a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and Natural Resources Management with minors in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Land Rehabilitation. He became familiar with GIS and various surveying technologies that were instrumental in completing a number of soil erosion, forestry, and watershed management projects. Aside from working towards his degree and two minors he enjoyed surfing, hiking, and occasionally escaping for the weekend to snowboard in the Sierras. In the summer of 2012 he was fortunate enough to serve as a Watershed Management Intern at Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There he monitored water quality and quantity, soil characteristics following a fire, and conditions for a streambank stabilization project.
His eagerness to improve environmental conditions and collaborate with community members has brought him to serve at the Northern Sierra Site with the Butte County Resource Conservation District. Sam is excited to develop his professional skills, while combining his experience with his ability to be a concise hard worker to make positive contributions to Butte County’s unique and resilient natural resources and communities.
Mary Snyder, Stewardship & Outreach Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: Sierra Foothill Conservancy/Upper Merced River Watershed Council
Mary grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, and her love for the outdoors and the environment was fostered when she moved up to the Upper Peninsula where she gained a deep appreciation and connection with the north woods and Lake Superior. After graduating from Northern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a minor in chemistry, Mary continued her education by enrolling in Michigan Technological University’s Master’s International to pursue a master’s degree in Forestry. In this program, Mary earned her degree in consort with serving for two years as an agroforestry Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. As a volunteer, Mary began to understand the importance of understanding how local communities interact with and manage their natural resources, and worked on a variety of projects related livelihood diversification, food security and resource conservation. Mary was introduced to California when she worked at Lassen Volcanic National Park, and is excited to explore and learn about the Sierra while working with the Sierra Foothills Conservancy and the Upper Merced River Watershed Council.
Cody Bear Sutton, Watershed Education and Restoration Assistant
SNAP Partner Site: Sierra Nevada Alliance & California Tahoe Conservancy
Cody has spent most of his life living on the coast of California and in northern Illinois. He passed most of his summers as a youth travelling North America with his grandparents who sparked his interest in Wildlife. The sierras were also a large part of his youth exploring the mountains with his family and birding with his grandparents in the sierras.
This led him to obtaining his B.Sc. in Wildlife Sciences from the University of Idaho in 2012. Previously, Cody has built trails and taught conservation in the rugged mountains of northern New Mexico, surveyed for bird and bats in the prairies of northeastern Montana, lived among the giant sequoias of southern California while surveying for the elusive pacific fisher, and monitoring logged sequoia groves, spent the summer in the temperate rainforest of southeastern Alaska living and working with the bears at Anan bear observatory, worked on the Hawaiian island of Kauai with 3 extremely endangered forest birds. Most recently he worked with endangered Chinook salmon and steelhead at a fish hatchery in northern Idaho.
Cody is excited to bring all his skills he has learned over his short and varied career to an AmeriCorps position with Sierra Nevada Alliance and The California Tahoe Conservancy. He hopes this position will continue to expand his wide variety of experiences as a conservationist at the same time as helping to conserve the sierra. Cody is also very excited to be back in California living in South Lake Tahoe where he hopes to get out and enjoy nature at every opportunity.
Jenn Tamo, Stewardship Coordinator
SNAP Partner Site: South Yuba River Citizen’s League
Jenn Tamo hails from Oakdale, a small dot on the California map, dubiously dubbed the “Cowboy Capital of the World”. As a Central Valley native, she grew up seeing rows and rows of corn, spring almond blossoms and open fields of grazing cows. But what she did not know was that her area’s rural economy depended on vast infrastructure for the movement of water. The complex history and current issues of water in California fascinate her. She is happy to be a member of the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) where she gets to learn about, share, and serve on projects that aim to strengthen California’s riparian health.
In 2011, Jenn graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in International Development. She spent the following two summers working in the backcountry of Yosemite, which was the catalyst to her pursuit of stewardship. She recently served in Visalia as an Education Programs and Field Trip Coordinator with the Sequoia Riverlands Trust connecting children to their watershed through place-based outdoor education. Jenn is ecstatic to be continuing her service with SNAP; this time, in a new location and capacity. She will be based in Nevada City serving as South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)’s Stewardship Coordinator.
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.