Celebrating and conserving the ecological richness of California's grasslands

2020 Board of Directors & Administration

Officers

PRESIDENT: Andrea Williams - Director of Plant Sciences, CNPS

VICE-PRESIDENT: JP Marié - Manager, UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve

SECRETARY: Michele Hammond - Botanist, East Bay Park District

TREASURER: Jodie Sheffield - Sod and Seed Specialist, Delta Bluegrass Company 


Committee Chairs

Emily Allen (2019/2020), Workshop Committee Chair

Jodie Sheffield and Billy Krimmel (2018/2019), Outreach & Development Committee Co-Chairs

Chad AakreConservation Committee Chair

Kendra Moseley (2019/2020), Education & Information Committee Chair,

Dina Robertson (2019/2020), Research & Science Committee Chair

Kristina Wolf and Richard King (2019/2020), Grasslands Committee Co-Chairs


Board Members-at-Large

Sarah Gaffney, PhD Candidate, UC Davis

Haven Kiers, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Dept. of Human Ecology, UC Davis

Leticia "TC" Morris, Project Biologist, Stantec

Patrick Reynolds, General Manager, Hedgerow Farms Inc. 


Board Alternate Members-at-Large

Kristina Wolf (2019/2020) H.T. Harvey & Associates


Administration

Diana Jeffery, Administrative Director


Grasslands Journal Editor

Whitney Brim-DeForest

Biographies and Photos

Alphabetical by last name. 
Chad AakreMember-at-LargeMember-at-Large

Chad Aakre, Senior Ecologist, Western Regional Office, Westervelt Ecological Services

Chad Aakre has been enjoying and working with native grasses since 1995 in both California and Minnesota, starting with tallgrass prairie restoration in Minnesota and extending into California’s central valley.  Chad has been involved in native grass restoration in California through his job as a restoration ecologist since 2006 and has developed a working knowledge of native grass identification, propagation, establishment, monitoring, and management.  Chad believes in conservation of native plant and animal species in order to sustain and bolster ecological health of natural landscapes and has worked both professionally and privately to facilitate that goal.  Chad grew up on a rural Minnesota farm, attained a bachelor’s degree from Winona State University, and then taught high school for 7 years prior to moving to California in 2005.  Chad served on the CNGA board for three years previously and [is pleased to] have the opportunity to serve again. (11/01/2019)



  
Emily Allen, Workshop Committee Chair

Emily has a deep appreciation for the native grasslands in California and the people who work preserving, restoring and managing them. She is a restoration and botanical consultant based out of Ukiah in Mendocino County and is gaining an appreciation for California natives found in the Coast Range. She is also a board member of the local California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Sanhedrin Chapter. Previously she worked almost 10 years for Hedgerow Farms working to ensure the availability of high quality, locally sourced native seed for revegetation and restoration projects of all sizes and scales.  She obtained her B.S. in Environmental Biology from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA and was previously on the CNGA board in 2014-2016 and served as treasurer in 2015 and 2016. She is the current Workshop Committee Chair. (3/2019)

 

Whitney Brim-DeForest, Grasslands Journal Editor .



 

 Sarah Gaffney, Member-at-Large

PhD Candidate, University of California, Davis

I am a Ph.D candidate in Ecology in Dr. Valerie Eviner’s lab at UC Davis. With a focus on native grassland restoration, I study the competitive dynamics between native perennial grasses, naturalized exotic annual grasses, and the noxious weeds medusahead and goatgrass. I am interested in the importance of temporal priority in determining community assemblage in the long term (i.e. persistence and resistance to invasion) and the extent of which priority effects are due to resource competition and/or plant-soil feedbacks. I am also collaborating with another graduate student and the Cache Creek Conservancy on a project to explore the optimal conditions for forb growth in an already restored native grassland. Additionally, I mentor with SLEWS (Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship) and greatly enjoy getting high school students excited about native plants and restoration. Before graduate school, I spent a year as an intern at a national monument in New Mexico, for which I assisted in the development of a vegetation management and restoration plan and created multiple educational resources on the topic for the public and other park staff.

California native grasslands are one of the most intriguing ecosystems that I have studied so far; and throughout the development of my research I have developed a commitment to protect and restore them that mirrors CNGA’s mission. I greatly enjoy working with these critically important grasslands and so I [look forward to being a] Board Member-at-Large to further contribute to their promotion, preservation, and restoration. (11/19/19)

 

Michele Hammond, Secretary

Botanist, East Bay Park District and Staff Research Associate, UC Berkeley

Michele is the Botanist for the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) and currently assesses rare plant communities and practices vegetation management for parkland in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. She maps and manages rare plants including the introduced Santa Cruz tarplant, Holocarpha macradenia, in Wildcat Canyon Regional Park as well as newly acquired parkland within the East Contra Costa Habitat Conservation Plan. Michele earned a B.A. and M.S. in Environmental Science from U.C. Berkeley. (10/2017)

 

Diana (Immel) Jeffery, Administrative Director

Diana served two terms on the CNGA Board of Directors as chairman of the Education & Information Committee before taking over as Administrative Director in July 2016. She has worked closely with USFW on reintroduction projects with the federally endangered grassland plant, showy Indian clover (Trifolium amoenum). She is co- author of the Sonoma Marin Coastal Grasslands Working Groups's “California’s Coastal Prairies” website.  She received a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Sonoma State University and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis.

 

 Haven Kiers, Member-at-Large

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Department of Human Ecology, UC Davis

Haven received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a Master of Landscape Architecture from UC Berkeley and has worked as a landscape architect, a city and environmental planner, a project manager, and a consultant. Haven’s research investigates the intersection of ecology and aesthetics through studies examining the environmental benefits, technological progress, and cultural acceptance of green infrastructure and sustainable design. Her research program focuses on urban/suburban green infrastructure projects and their design effectiveness at both the practical (construction and maintenance) and psychological (aesthetic and therapeutic) levels. Through post occupancy evaluations and critical assessment, she examines the idea that ecological concepts such as storm water management, green roofs, drought tolerant/climate resilient garden plantings, and wildlife habitat creation can also be viewed as amenities – concepts that culturally enhance the landscape while simultaneously promoting sustainability. She is especially interested in testing CA native grassland species on green roofs to determine their suitability for use in urban landscapes. (Nov 18, 2019)




Richard King, Member-at-Large

I have 36 years of experience in USDA-NRCS as a rangeland management specialist (and biologist) assisting landowners before retiring. I worked in Flagstaff, Arizona, for eight years and subsequently throughout northern California since 1982.

I am a member of the Society for Range Management and strive to help the range profession shed its old paradigms because I know that rangeland health in California’s “annual” grasslands can be greatly improved. I believe: (1) that we underestimate how “native” perennial species on “annual” grasslands can be increased by mimicking the natural processes in which the perennial species evolved, (2) our “invasive species” are typically a symptom of biodiversity loss from past or current management,  (3) planning livestock use based on perennial species vigor and reproduction remains the most misunderstood and underutilized tool for grassland management and “restoration”.

Since 1991, I have enjoyed raising grass-fattened beef, building biodiversity above and below ground, and watching “native” perennial grassland species increase on 40 acres that were part of my great-grandparents’ farm.  I’m excited that genuine shifts in long-held paradigms are steadily occurring in California as people become better observers of what’s happening on the land and how livestock can be used to improve soils, land health, and wildlife productivity.

I’m a Certified Rangeland Manager with the California State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Society for Range Management.  I’m also a Certified Holistic Management Educator with both Holistic Management International and the Savory Institute.  My passion is helping others learn this new framework for decision-making that will simultaneously address the complexity of managing land, people, and money successfully, both short-term and long-term. (10/2017)

   Billy Krimmel, Member-at-Large

Owner, Miridae (formerly Restoration Landscaping Company)

Billy studied plant-insect ecology while completing his undergraduate degree at Brown University, his PhD at UC Davis and post-doctoral research at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on ecological and evolutionary interactions between plants and insects, particularly as they relate to plant defense and plant trait evolution.

During his PhD Billy became increasingly interested in science outreach and native species restoration, and started a landscaping company with the goal of restoring urban and suburban areas while telling the intriguing stories about native plants and animals that share millions of years of evolution. Billy quit his post-doctoral position at the University of Arizona in May 2015 to run the company full-time. The company, Restoration Landscaping Company, is based in Sacramento with a wide range from the foothills to the Bay, and currently employs about 10 full-time ecologically-minded landscapers.

As cities and suburbs continue to grow, the front for native species conservation may be in human-dominated ecosystems, which account for the vast majority of land use in the lower 48 states. The movement to push people to reimagine the front yard aesthetic – which CNGA has been a key regional player in – is a critical piece of this new conservation movement. Plants can be more than decorations, and people’s yards are part of urban ecosystems that need help.

Billy’s experience explaining the value of native species to clients and companies has provided him insight into how to make the case for natives, and how to explain to people from outside of science why they are so special and worth investing in. He also brings on-the-ground experience after more than two years of running his landscaping business and is excited to be a part of CNGA’s efforts to broaden its impact on pushing native landscaping that create habitat, through workshop series and other outreach efforts. Billy is thrilled to serve on the board of directors. (11/16/17)




 JP Marié, Vice-President

Manager, UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve


JP is the Manager of the U.C. Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve where he is in charge of the day-to-day management and operations of the Reserve. With 20 years of experience in land restoration, land management, erosion control, native grassland implementation and invasive plant control, he has an extensive knowledge of native grassland restoration techniques and vegetation management. JP is the Chair of the CNGA Workshop Committee and has been serving on the CNGA Board for seven years. 


 

 Leticia Morris, Member-at-Large

Project Biologist, Stantec

Leticia sees grasslands in shades of yellow, green, blue and brown -from sprouting grasses, leafy forbs, senescing wildflowers and crumbling sun-kissed soils to grazing cows and tiny amphibians foraging in murky ponds and meandering waterways.  She began working in grassland and riparian ecosystems in college with grassland monitoring projects. Later, as an intern with the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, she assisted in multi-agency levee restoration projects along the Sacramento and American Rivers.  After earning a B.S. in Environmental Studies (emphasis on Wetlands) from CSU, Sacramento (2014), Leticia helped conduct baseline stream ecological condition assessments throughout California as a seasonal aid. As a consulting biologist (since 2015), Leticia has acquired considerable experience with grassland monitoring, special status species surveys, environmental constraints analysis, vegetation mapping, mitigation permitting, and wetland delineations throughout California and in much of Oregon. Her approach to natural resource protection is grounded in two things: Love and Curiosity. She believes that love requires a desire to understand what it is we want to preserve. Curiosity fuels us not only to seek new ways of learning from those willing to share, but curiosity also empowers us to ask the uncomfortable questions that help translate understanding and appreciation into beneficial actions for all involved stakeholders-and it helps us to laugh a lot along the way! (10/04/2019)


 

Kendra Moseley, Education & Information Committee Chair

Ecological Site Regional Specialist, NRCS

Kendra is a Certified Range Manager (CRM) #120 on California forested rangelands and the Western Regional Ecologist for the Soil and Plant Science Division of the NRCS in charge of the ecological site program.  She has over 15 years of experience working with native plants, native plant ecology, conservation and restoration.  She got her B.S. in Rangeland Ecology and Management (RE&M) with minors in Botany and Biology, and her and M.S. in RE&M with an emphasis on Restoration Ecology both from University of Idaho.  Her M.S. project focused on developing a training module for Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) employees on the value and practice of using multiple functional groups of native plants and soil amendments to improve roadside revegetation across the State, as well as finishing the ITD Roadside Revegetation Handbook, continuing their research on using nurse crops to assist native plant establishment in roadside seedings, and native plant germination trials to identify best/cost-effective species for seeding success on roadsides.  After graduating, she got a job as Research Faculty at University of Nevada-Reno in the Plant Ecology Department working on a 4-state native plant restoration project in cheatgrass-infested sagebrush grasslands.  In 2005, she joined NRCS as a field Ecological Site Specialist specializing in rangeland systems and has been with NRCS working on ecological sites ever since.  She served as the CA State Rangeland Ecologist for CA NRCS from 2007-2010, which required running the ecological site and Rangeland NRI programs and moved over to the NRCS Soils Division in January of 2011 as the West Region Ecological Site Specialist in charge of the ecological site work across Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, most of Nevada and California (excluding the deserts) and all of the Pacific Basin.

It is now her job at the NRCS to provide leadership and policy development support, guidance and training on ecological sites, which includes resistance and resilience ecology, State-and-Transition theory, landscape ecology, rangeland/riparian/wetland ecology and conservation, and ecological site theory and concept and description development. This includes time working in collaboration with outside agency partners and other land management and environmental stakeholders to coordinate efforts and provide training and guidance regarding ecological sites and soil-site relationships when they are interested in pursuing ES efforts.  Kendra has dedicated most of her career to ecological sites because she believes that having a better understanding of the patterns and relationships that exist between soil and site characteristics and how they drive vegetation expression and their ecological dynamics is crucial to the success of all land management objectives, including the conservation and preservation of important and continuously threatened ecosystems like California native grasslands. (1/14/19)



 

Patrick  Reynolds, Member-at-Large

General Manager, Hedgerow Farms, Inc.


I manage the daily operations of Hedgerow Farms’ business processes. My work includes implementing corporate strategy, ensuring quality customer service and managing the processes and procedures associated with supplying native seed for habitat restoration projects.  As a restoration ecologist with more than 25 years of professional experience in habitat restoration, I utilize my habitat restoration and management expertise to ensure Hedgerow Farms’ mission of growing and selling high quality native local ecotype seed, plugs and straw is fulfilled. As a member of the Yolo County Planning Commission I use my knowledge of Yolo County and its biological resources to evaluate proposed projects under the purview of the Yolo County General Plan.

   Dina Robertson, Research & Science Committee Chair

Wildland Vegetation Program Manager, East Bay Regional Park District

I am an applied ecologist who works closely with land managers to solve complex challenges in the management of lands used for water delivery, grazing, recreation and/or for supporting ecological services.  I grew up in the Livermore Valley, surrounded by and appreciating the walnut orchards, tomato farms, working rangelands, and parklands that were in and surrounding the valley.  Growing up in this landscape has given me a deep connection to the land and a need to share with others the beauty of these landscapes as well as role working lands play in the stewardship of open space and the furtherment of an agricultural community in a progressively urban landscape.

I studied biology at Las Positas College in Livermore and obtained a BA in Biology at UC Santa Cruz, and earned an MS in Rangeland Management from UC Berkeley. I worked for the public sector for 5 years with the National Park Service, and now work in environmental consulting in the Bay Area. As a consultant, my clients include park districts, water agencies and nonprofits, all who manage lands or who work alongside land managers in California.  My technical expertise is in rangeland and grassland ecology, management and monitoring, as well as organizational strategic planning. I get really excited by finding new occurrences of native grasses, and revisiting those that I have lovingly noted before. Who would not love going for a hike, and finding a stand of junegrass, squirreltail and needlegrass!   (11/26/18)



  

 Jodie Sheffield, Treasurer

Sod and Seed Specialist, Delta Bluegrass Company

I am currently the facilitator in charge of Research & Development for Delta Bluegrass Company located in Stockton, California. With over 25 years of experience in the Turfgrass Industry, I have worked with plant breeders, seed producers and research facilities throughout California and the Pacific Northwest developing premium quality turfgrass sod. Working towards creating awareness of the vital importance of climate appropriate landscaping, I am enthusiastically spreading the word about the use of California native grasses.  I was a presenter at the Sunset Magazine’s Celebration Weekend Event in 2014 and the PG & E Water Conservation Showcase in 2015.  I am also a frequent presenter at Bay-Friendly, Co-Operative Extension Master Gardener Meetings and other industry events and workshops.  


 

 Andrea Williams, President

Director of Plant Science for the California Native Plant Society

Andrea began her work in grasslands in college, with three seasons of monitoring and helping set up an experiment on Cascade Head in Oregon. She has spent portions of the past 20 years on grassland monitoring and restoration projects on National Park Service and other public lands in Northern California and the SF Bay Area. She is best known for her work on plant identification, land health metrics, mapping, and prioritization, and is the current President of CNGA. (11/12/19)

 

Kristina Wolf, Grasslands Committee, Co-Chair, Alternate Member-at-Large

Kristina has almost 20 years of combined supervisory, research, and practical experience in business management, agricultural lands’ resource management and reporting, inventory and status, wildlife monitoring, water quality planning, soils and erosion control, and adaptive management and decision-making processes. She is a restoration ecologist with H.T. Harvey & Associates in Sacramento, and previously worked as a researcher at U.C. Davis, collaborating with scientists and land managers around the globe to investigate sustainable agricultural and natural resource management practices to reduce pesticide use, improve soil health and quality, increase yields, conserve water, and enhance ecosystems services derived from working landscapes. Kristina completed a PhD in Ecology with a focus in agro-, rangeland, and restoration ecology at U.C. Davis, and has advanced degrees in Animal Science and Soil Science from Cal Poly, SLO. She works in complex agricultural systems in which plants, soils, animals (livestock and wildlife), and the humans that manage these systems interact in the changing and dynamic climate of arid and semi-arid Mediterranean ecosystems. Her work includes natural, manipulative, and social experiments and resource management in natural and working ecosystems, and includes assessing and management of interacting variables in rangelands, riparian areas, and croplands, including soil chemical and physical properties, plant community structure and composition, wildlife diversity and abundance, livestock management (e.g., species, stocking rates, timing, behavior), and human management frameworks, on public and private lands in collaboration with other researchers, agencies, farmers, ranchers, and other managers.


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