Who We Are

Meet Our Staff

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  • SCOTT SPEAR, Acting Executive Director

    SCOTT SPEAR, Acting Executive Director

    Scott Spear was appointed Acting Executive Director in December, 2020. Scott has a 20-year history with SRT, which, combined with his experience as a farmer, uniquely positions him as the bridge to our future leadership. As founding chairman of SRT’s Board, Scott was instrumental in the creation of our organization. As Acting Executive Director, he works closely with a team of senior staff and the Board of Directors as SRT continues its critical conservation, education, policy, and land management work.

    Scott farmed most of his adult life in Tulare County and Southern Monterey County. He has been involved with land conservation for the past three decades, starting in 1995 with Four Creeks Land trust, one of SRT's predecessor organizations, and then SRT upon its establishment in 2000. Scott served as SRT's inaugural board chair, a title he held for fourteen years. After a sabbatical, Scott returned to the SRT Board in 2019. He currently serves on the Tulare County Ag Advisory Committee, which he joined in 2012. Additionally, since 2018 he has served on the California Roundtable for Ag and the Environment. Scott has two married daughters and three grandsons, all living in the Bay area.

  • Aaron Collins joined SRT in 2013, bringing an extensive communications and marketing background, both as award-winning writer, public relations and marketing manager, and graphic designer whose work has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. His collaboration with PBS Nature and ValleyPBS produced "Nature's Keepers," a 30-minute documentary about SRT's important mission. His longtime publishers include Gannett Corporation, McClatchy Newspapers, and numerous California-based monthlies. His many cover stories include subjects from arts & culture, urban planning & public policy, to medical & first responder subjects. A longtime resident of Portland, Oregon, Aaron lived in the Pearl District, a New Urbanist smart growth laboratory where he used his communications skills in various fields including Fortune 500 financial services, with clients such as Nike, Boeing, and the U.S. Army, among many others. Additionally, he has served on nonprofit arts and political action boards, and worked in political campaign and contemporary art gallery administration. He is cofounder of First Arts; founder of the Visalia Visual Chronicle, a publicly-owned, privately-funded art collection for the City of Visalia, California; and past president of the Arts Council of Tulare County. His hobbies include painting, music composition, Jack Russell Terriers, and road trips. He is a native of Exeter, California.

  • Adam Livingston joined Sequoia Riverlands Trust in 2011 and now serves as SRT’s Director of Planning and Policy. As coordinator of the Southern Sierra Partnership, Adam is actively involved in land use policy outreach. His policy work is informed by experience in conservation planning, including use of ArcGIS to integrate habitat and agricultural conservation priorities across the Southern San Joaquin Valley. He researches land use and development policy on the Valley floor, and collaborates with fellow land trusts on planning efforts. In addition, Adam successfully coordinated SRT’s application for Land Trust Alliance accreditation, as well as the recent renewal application. He holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and classics from Xavier University, a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, and a Master of Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at University of California at Santa Barbara. He is the author of Paths to Prosperity for the Southern Sierra and Southern San Joaquin Valley: Capitalizing on the Economic Benefits of Land Conservation and Compact Growth. Most recently, he authored Sustainable Communities Strategies and Conservation: Results from the First Round and Policy Recommendations for Future Rounds.

  • As Conservation Project Manager, Adam Qian organizes the mountain of information, tasks, and annual reports related to SRT-managed habitat mitigation sites. His expertise in spatial data management and mapping (e.g., SRT’s land holdings, giant kangaroo rat “precinct” locations, rare plant populations, grazing use patterns, etc.) is essential to our operations. He joined SRT in 2017.

    Adam Qian is a graduate of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara. Originally from Hefei, China, Adam studied environmental economics and management at Renmin University of China in Beijing. He has researched non-point pollution control and city-wide coal consumption, and worked closely with government environmental protection departments as well as private consulting firms including AECOM Asia. At the Bren School he specialized in Coastal Marine Resource Management and Conservation Planning.

    Adam brings perspective to SRT on everything from organization of government jurisdictions, to the order of first vs. last names, to where to find the best Dim Sum. You’ll find him on YouTube performing in Mandopop singing competitions, and around the U.S. where he performs both competitively and professionally.

  • AUSTIN FONTANILLA, Land Stewardship Associate

    AUSTIN FONTANILLA, Land Stewardship Associate

    Austin Fontanilla joined SRT in September, 2020 as Land Stewardship Associate after serving as Consulting Utility Forester for two of California’s energy giants: PG&E and Southern California Edison. Previously he served his country as an AmeriCorps Member in the Salinas, California area. He is a graduate of Cal State Monterey Bay with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Additionally he studied abroad in South America for a year at the noted Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago.

  • Ben grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley of California at Midland School near the Los Padres National Forest in the inland, hot valleys, and canyons of the San Rafael Range. After college at University of Montana and UC Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Archaeology, Ben returned to Midland as Ranch Manager. Ben managed the farm and ranch for 15 years, then went to Deep Springs College for two years as Farm Manager.
    In May 2017 Ben joined the Sequoia Riverlands Trust team and finally moved to a cabin he and his wife Laurie have been working on for 17 years near Springville. Working with cattle, horses, people, and good dogs to accomplish mutual goals surrounding conservation are the things that Ben values and looks forward to in the years to come in the San Joaquin Valley.

  • Bud Darwin utilizes his 30 years of skills and knowledge of working with youth as SRT Education and Volunteer Director. His extensive experience has established a well-rounded perspective regarding the social, emotional, and physical needs of youth. He has facilitated outdoor adventure activities, having safely organized and led hundreds of backpacking, kayaking, and rock climbing expeditions. He has spent thousands of hours using experiential education to create engaging activities that provide participants with fun opportunities for learning, reflection, and self-discovery. He is committed to using and protecting our natural spaces to teach environmental education, conservation, and Leave No Trace practices since 1975.

  • Camdilla Wirth joined SRT in 2015 as Conservation Biologist to support SRT’s mitigation site management efforts, particularly in the Carrizo Plain area and west side of the San Joaquin Valley. She adds expertise and experience with the relevant geography, wildlife species and survey methods, complementing existing expertise with plants.

  • CAROLINE LILLY, Manager; SRT Dry Creek Nursery

    CAROLINE LILLY, Manager; SRT Dry Creek Nursery

    Caroline grew up in Visalia, where her love for the natural history of the valley and southern Sierra continues to grow, year after year. While a student at UC Santa Cruz, she gained experience caring for plants in a greenhouse and growing plants for habitat restoration. She joined Sequoia Riverlands Trust over the summer of 2017 as an intern through the California Council of Land Trusts. She then continued to work for SRT as a Conservation Technician through the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP), where she focused on habitat restoration, easement monitoring, as well as collecting local seed and propagating native plants at the Dry Creek Nursery. Following her AmeriCorps term, she was the Seed Propagation Assistant at Annie's Annuals and Perennials. Caroline is grateful to have the opportunity to continue growing native plants for the people and wildlife of her home region.

  • Courtney Barnes, a native of Tulare County, joined the SRT team in 2016. Courtney brings with her over 30 years of experience in the fields of title insurance, escrow and real estate sales. While employed in the title industry in both Tulare and Kings counties, Courtney held several positions and was one of the first employees of Chicago Title to become a “Certified Title Officer.” She later became an Escrow Officer and Area Manager for a title company in Tulare County. Courtney became a Licensed Real Estate Agent in 2007, specializing in residential and commercial real estate.

    Courtney and her husband Lloyd reside in Lemon Cove where they grow citrus and give shelter to many wandering dogs and cats. They have three grown children and three wonderful grandchildren. She and her husband love camping and fishing every chance they get.

  • Jeff Powers joined Sequoia Riverlands Trust as Stewardship Director in August 2018, bringing with him more than two decades of experience in land conservation. Originally from Ohio, he received a degree in natural resources management from Ohio State University and a master's in wildlife ecology from the University of New Hampshire. He worked for 10 years with the Nature Conservancy in the New Jersey and Illinois field offices, completing dozens of land acquisition projects protecting tens of thousands of acres.

    He served as project manager for the Peninsula Open Space Trust's 7,000-acre Cloverdale Coastal Ranch. During his tenure at POST, he developed a wide variety of natural resource projects, including pond restoration, innovative invasive species and erosion control work, a unique prescribed fire program, and the development of a thriving volunteer land stewardship program. Over the years, Jeff managed more than 20,000 acres of POST properties where he developed conservation grazing projects, managed agricultural and residential leases, administered a water company, and supervised trail construction projects.
    Most recently, Jeff served as Director of Stewardship for the Big Sur Land Trust in Monterey. He oversaw the conservation easement program as well as implemented unique restoration projects at the preserves.

    Jeff wants to use his expertise in land management to provide opportunities for local residents to enjoy and appreciate the incredible SRT preserves and work with other staff to steward the entire suite of SRT protected lands. He resides in Lemon Cove with his wife, Diana; their dog, Murphy; and three spoiled cats. Jeff enjoys hiking through numerous protected open space areas throughout the Sierra foothills.

  • Jonathan Vaughn was born in Kansas and grew up near Kansas City, MO. He attended Baker University in Kansas, where he got a bachelor’s degree in German and biology, later working in Iowa studying grassland ecology for Iowa State University. He studied abroad in Germany and Austria in the process. After college, he joined the Nature Conservancy in Fort Hood, Texas, monitoring the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. He then attended Western Illinois University for his Master's in parasite ecology. Jonathan came to SRT via the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) following a seasonal position at Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico, home of Smokey Bear. He is elated to have the opportunity to develop his interests in ecological restoration and horticulture for Sequoia Riverlands Trust.

  • JUDY POHLMAN, Finance Director

    JUDY POHLMAN, Finance Director

    Judy Pohlman serves as SRT Director of Finance. Judy joined the organization in 2019. A native of Missouri, Judy relocated to California in 1990 where she has worked for growers on the Central Coast and Salinas Valley areas, then later for the nonprofit auxiliary at California State University-Monterey Bay where she managed grants and contracts. Judy joined SRT as the Director of Finance in hopes of utilizing her fund accounting background to meet SRT’s financial reporting needs.

  • Logan Robertson joined SRT in 2020, having worked for over two decades in the nonprofit and education sectors in California, Guatemala, and Honduras. Her work at SRT allows her to leverage her professional experience, as well as expand upon her deep interest in the natural environment of the Sierra foothills and Central Valley. Throughout her career, Logan has helped to identify, foster, and secure government and foundation funding sources. As a nonprofit board member she has been involved in cultivating donor relationships and fostering relationships with current supporters. She holds a Ph.D in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has served on the faculty of the Bard College Master of Arts in Teaching Program. She is also a trainer and mentor for the California School Age Consortium (CalSAC). Logan lives on a ranch outside of Three Rivers with her family, which includes a dog, a cat, a horse, and a dozen or so cattle.

  • Marilyn Martin joined the SRT team in July 2014 and brings many years of experience as an administrative assistant. Marilyn is the “go to” person for day-to-day operations. She, along with her husband Bob, raised their children, often taking them camping on vacations and many three-day holiday weekends. They now share their love of camping with their granddaughter. “We are very fortunate to have the SRT preserves and the beautiful Sierra Nevada so close by to take advantage of what nature has to offer!”

  • Nadia Omar joined Sequoia Riverlands Trust in October, 2020. Nadia graduated from Richmond, the American International University in London with a B.A. in business finance. Afterwards, she attended the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where she received a certificate in technical and production management. Prior to joining SRT, Nadia worked as a large-scale events manager in Bahrain, Dubai, the U.K., and Saudi Arabia, though she has family ties in the San Joaquin Valley. Some of the notable events she helped organize include the Royal Pavilion at the Windsor Horse Show, Ironman Middle East Championship, and Bahrain International Airshow. In her free time, she enjoys photography, riding her bike, and traveling everywhere she can.

  • Regina Ivie, Accounting Coordinator, joined the SRT Finance Department in 2016. Regina handles a variety of day-to-day financial duties. She brings the wealth of 20 years small business financial administration while simultaneously attending college and working in the insurance industry. After 15 years in health and auto insurance, she returned to accounting in 2014. She has enrolled in college to pursue her degree.

    Regina was born and raised in this area, living all but eight years of life here. She has two grown children and a grandchild. After 25 years apart she married her high school sweetheart. She enjoys gardening, long walks and travel, but mostly cherishes making memories with family and friends.

  • Sam Weiser was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. He received a BS in Environmental Studies from UC-Santa Barbara, interned for Coal Oil Point Preserve and the Kids In Nature program. After college, Sam returned to New Haven, working for various nonprofit afterschool programs, leading field trips, and hosting summer camps. After three years in the nonprofit sector, Sam taught 5th and 7th grade science in New Orleans, Louisiana at Samuel J. Green Charter School. Despite falling in love with the city of New Orleans and learning an immeasurable amount from his students, Sam discovered his true passion in providing hands-on, experiential, outdoor educational opportunities. Fortunately, through Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) he found a perfect place to pursue this passion: Sequoia Riverlands Trust. He is currently fulfilling his dream of making the world a happier and smarter place, one child at a time.

  • SNEHA KUMAR, Education Technician

    SNEHA KUMAR, Education Technician

    North Carolina native Sneha Kumar graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in English Language and Literature. However, she knew that she wanted to work with children outdoors, and share her love of nature and science with students of all ages. Luckily, she was able to venture into the environmental education field through the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Program (SNAP). After two years of serving her country as SRT's Education Technician AmeriCorps, she realized that she loved sharing her passions and exploring with students on SRT preserves. She sees the potential for students in Tulare County, and the beauty of the local area, and wants to continue making a difference. She joined SRT full-time as the Education Specialist in September 2020. In her free time, Sneha loves to ride horses, play with her cat, and explore the wonders of California’s public lands.

  • SRT'S VALUED AMERICORPS MEMBERS - Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP)
  • ALEXIS WILKMAN, SRT AmeriCorps

    ALEXIS WILKMAN, SRT AmeriCorps

    Alexis Wilkman graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2017 with a double-major in Biology and Philosophy. Following her passion for the conservation field, she served with the SCA Massachusetts AmeriCorps program, teaching in rural Massachusetts schools and working on trails throughout the state. She then returned to her home in the San Francisco Bay Area to intern with Point Blue Conservation Science, where she discovered a love for native plants and healthy soils. Currently, she is an MA International Environmental Policy candidate at the Middlebury Institute in Monterey, specializing in natural resource policy and management. Alexis comes to SRT as part of the inaugural cohort of GrizzlyCorps, and looks forward to serving our beautiful and critically important preserves. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and crafting of all kinds.

  • AUDREY MAHINAN, SRT AmeriCorps Stewardship Specialist

    AUDREY MAHINAN, SRT AmeriCorps Stewardship Specialist

    Audrey grew up in the small agrarian town of Delano, CA. At UCLA, she studied biology with a minor in conservation biology, so she wanted to pursue a career in conservation and environmental resource management. She then volunteered as an AmeriCorps member for the American Conservation Experience in Southern California for over a year, where she maintained trails throughout the mountainous ranges in California and performed habitat restoration in the Mojave Desert. Working with ACE, she was able to better appreciate the beauty of the outdoors and the arduous physical work necessary to conserve it. She is now a SNAP member working as the SRT Stewardship Specialist, training to do more watershed monitoring and restoration work. When she’s not hiking outdoors, she’s spending time inside illustrating and designing characters.

  • CELESTE ARGUETA, SRT AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator

    CELESTE ARGUETA, SRT AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator

    Celeste Argueta was raised in Visalia, California and is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a degree in Environmental Studies. During her time at UCSB, Celeste participated and held leadership positions in multiple environmental organizations such as Student’s for Food Justice, the Environmental
    Affairs Board, and Calpirg. In addition, she interned for the County of Santa Barbara Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division as Organics Waste Intern,
    focusing on reducing food waste in Santa Barbara County. Celeste tries to spend most of her time outdoors by either kayaking, hiking, or rock climbing and introducing many of her friends to the beauty of the outdoors. Celeste is so excited to join the SNAP program and continue to help protect the outdoors!

  • LINDSEY VANDERMOLEN, SRT AmeriCorps Education Technician

    LINDSEY VANDERMOLEN, SRT AmeriCorps Education Technician

    Lindsey serves with AmeriCorps as the Education Technician at SRT. Lindsey grew up in Renton, Washington, not far from where she graduated college at the University of Washington in Seattle, with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. While attending school, she worked with several outdoor education and restoration organizations to further her passion for conservation. Lindsey has also worked for the US Forest Service as a Forest Protection Officer in Mt. St. Helens and as a Wilderness Ranger in Bridgeport, California. Being immersed in the Sierra high country in Bridgeport led Lindsey to fall in love with the Sierra Nevada Mountains. When her term with the Forest Service was over, she moved to San Luis Obispo and began working for SLO County Parks, but eventually was drawn back to the mountains. She now resides in Visalia, California near Sequoia National Park and is working hard to teach young people to gain a deeper appreciation for the environment. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, drawing, and exploring the wilderness.

 

A D D I T I O N A L   S R T   P E R S O N N E L

LONNIE BROWN, Dry Creek Preserve Residential Caretaker

EVAN JOLLY, Kaweah Oaks Preserve Residential Caretaker

 

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