by Christine Kuehn | Mar 18, 2020 | New at the RCD
Community Engagement Assistant
As the Community Engagement Assistant, Karen will work closely on the implementation of community conservation education programs, supporting our development and implementation for technical assistance towards historically underserved producers and communities, communications and social media efforts, in addition to the development of our JEDI work. Karen found her passion for agricultural youth education and communications by being an active member of her local FFA chapter. This exposure combined with the recent Northern California wildfires influenced her to pursue a career where she could advocate, and educate regarding our natural resources, local lands and agriculture community. Karen received her B.S. from Fresno State in Agriculture Education with an emphasis on Communications and Leadership Development. She recently completed a year of service through UC Berkeley’s GrizzlyCorps program where she focused on agriculture youth education programming, communications and social media development, in addition to inclusive community outreach. Karen is excited to join the Sonoma RCD to continue establishing a sense of inclusivity in our community as well as providing assistance through educational and outreach efforts.
Aaron has over fifteen years of experience in the environmental restoration/enhancement field. His expertise includes development and project management of projects including bioengineering and sediment reduction techniques for bank stabilization, in-stream large woody debris installations, fish habitat enhancement structures, road improvement techniques, and riparian enhancement projects. Aaron also has experience in stream habitat-typing on tributaries of the Russian River watershed, spawning surveys, erosion surveys, and grant writing. At the RCD, he works with landowners, volunteers, consultants, contractors, and multiple agency personnel to develop and Implement LandSmart On-the-Ground projects including stream enhancement and rainwater catchment. He also works with ranchers to develop LandSmart Plans. Aaron received a B.A. in Environmental Science from Willamette University and an M.S. in Environmental Science, with a Watershed Management focus, from Washington State University.
Director of Communications and Engagement
Christine has over ten years’ experience in the field of natural resource management, with an emphasis on youth and community education as well as communications and marketing design. As the director of all LandSmart Education programs, she coordinates and executes three subprograms for the RCD: FARMS Leadership programming for high school youth, TEAM elementary youth field trips, and annual technical workshops designed for land managers in our region. Christine plays a pivotal role in directing RCD community outreach efforts and the designing of program marketing materials. She graduated from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Planning, concentrating in conservation and restoration, with a minor in Geography.
Che is a 7th generation rancher in Bodega, CA born and raised on the same ranch his great great great great grandfather settled in 1851. Spending much of his free time in his youth with his grandmother, Che was taught the profound importance of caring for the land generationally. Through this long-view lens, Che believes that it is imperative to nurture and grow the natural resources of Sonoma County for the generations that come after.
In 2008, Che received his BA in History from Lewis and Clark College and promptly returned home to take over the family ranch after the passing of his father Algeo Casul Sr. In 2013 Che received his Master’s in Public Administration from Sonoma State University. For 15 years, Che has worked in service to Sonoma County, managing housing programs for at-risk youth, vocational programs for those experiencing behavioral health issues, and volunteers and does development programs for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County. For the last five years, Che has led Circuit Rider Community Services, whose paid vocational programs for Sonoma County youth put money in the pockets of young people that need it, teach them career skills, and through their fire fuel mitigation and ecological restoration work help protect our natural resources and our community.
In his free time Che sits on the Board of New Ways To Work, the Sonoma County Coast Municipal Advisory Council, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s CREED Committee, the Board of Safer West County, is a wildland firefighter volunteer with the Good Fire Alliance, and maintains his family’s livestock and vineyard infrastructure. Seen here with a handful of black trumpet mushrooms Che is an avid outdoorsmen where he pursues his passions of spearfishing, hunting, sea kayak angling, and mushroom foraging at every opportunity.
As a Project Manager, Anya coordinates projects under the LandSmart® Planning and On-the-Ground programs, which include conservation planning on vineyard and ranchland properties and preparation of watershed management plans to guide future conservation efforts. Anya joins the RCD with over seven years of experience in the fields of soil erosion control, water quality protection, and environmental site assessment from her work in the federal, state, and private sectors. She is originally from the East Coast and received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Rutgers University as well as an M.S. in Ecology from Pennsylvania State University. The findings of her graduate research work, on reducing nitrogen losses through the use of cover crops, were accepted for publication in the Agronomy Journal in 2010.
Seasonal Conservation Education Assistant
Chloe Winsemius is an undergraduate student studying at Sonoma State University. She is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Systems as well as a minor in Education and Art Studio. Raised in Sonoma County, she grew up exploring nature through hiking, camping, and fishing. Chloe is also an Alumni of the Sonoma RCD’s FARMS Leadership Program and her time in the program helped to enforce her desire for a career in the environmental field. Before joining the Sonoma RCD, she worked as a Naturalist tour guide and Education Assistant for elementary students at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Now as a Seasonal Conservation Education Assistant, she is helping with the planning and coordination of LandSmart Education Programs. Using her background in environmental science and patience for children, she hopes that she can inspire youth to follow a science path and widen their view on the importance of the natural world.
Director of Finance and Administration
Erin Rickard is a seasoned financial professional with over 20 years’ of diverse, progressively responsible experience in the non-profit sector and is currently the Director of Finance and Administration. She has served numerous organizations as a board and committee member as well as appointed positions in local government. Erin has been a community- focused professional specializing in helping build financial frameworks and offering assistance to food banks, charter schools, low-income legal aid clinics and citizens advisory boards. She is passionate about grassroots advocacy. She earned a B.S. in Finance and is a CPA candidate. Erin has lived in Sonoma County for over 20 years and enjoys running, reading and cooking.
As a lifetime Sonoma Valley resident, Isaac Jenkins is honored to be joining the Sonoma Resource Conservation District Board. Isaac is a proud husband and father of three, running his small, family-owned vineyard management company from his home in the city of Sonoma. The name of his company, Peduncle Wine Co., is a metaphor for what he hopes to continue to provide to Sonoma Valley. Like the peduncle is a stem that supports the grape cluster, Isaac hopes to support Sonoma Valley through community service, growing sustainably, and long-term investment in his family and the valley. Through four generations of family farming and land management, Isaac’s family has adapted to meet the needs of wineries, while conserving, protecting, and restoring local lands. In his ten years since taking over operations of his parents’ vineyard management company, he has maintained a deep respect for the environment and is committed to preserving our beautiful landscape for his children and future generations to come. Isaac has enjoyed serving the community through volunteering, coaching soccer, and contributing to school events. He looks forward to volunteering his time and knowledge with the Sonoma RCD to educate future generations about sustainability and protect our precious local resources.
Jessica has been working as a civil engineer for fifteen years both in California and internationally. Her experience consists of site design, grading and drainage, erosion and sediment control, rainwater catchment, flood studies, creek restoration, and stormwater management across a wide variety of projects including residential and commercial development, wineries and vineyards, schools, and public parks. She has been working in Sonoma County for the past ten years. At the RCD, Jessica manages and designs a multitude of projects requiring professional engineering design and expertise. Jessica is originally from Ukiah, California and has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with a focus in Water Resources and a Minor in Ethnic Studies. She is a licensed Civil Engineer in the State of California. When not at work, Jessica enjoys spending time outdoors exploring Sonoma county and beyond with her husband and two children.
As GIS Technician, Shannon provides support for all RCD LandSmart program areas, in pursuit of multiple resource goals such as water quality, drought and fire resilience, soil heath, and climate-beneficial farming. Shannon first discovered her passion for conservation in high school while volunteering at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She further explored biodiversity and ecology while studying science at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and interning at Sonoma Ag + Open Space. Her research throughout college centered on optimizing cultivation of microalgae for biofuels and animal feed, and her senior project investigated the applications of algae and other microbes in the biological treatment of dairy wastewater. Shannon recently graduated from Cal Poly with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Spanish. She was born and raised in Santa Rosa.
Steve is a registered civil engineer with experience designing winery, agricultural and food process wastewater treatment systems. He has worked on many aspects of the land-water nexus including evaluating water demand, water availability, quality and treatment. His current work includes leading the engineering division of a wastewater technology company. Steve is a graduate of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and has lived in Santa Rosa for the last six years.
John Gorman, has worked in diversified agriculture in Sonoma County for over 20 years in dairy, row crops, and viticulture. He currently manages Stuhlmuller Vineyards in Alexander Valley growing both grapes and cattle. He is the Senior Agricultural Program Advisor for the Sonoma UC Cooperative Extension office as well a Director for the Sonoma County Vineyard Technical Group.
Fred Euphrat has been a licensed forester since 1989, presently consulting with non-profits including Pepperwood and Jenner Headlands. He is an adjunct professor at the Santa Rosa Jr. College, now working on Shone Farm’s management. Fred’s family has roots in Petaluma and Healdsburg, and has owned a producing redwood forest on Mill Creek since 1960, which burned in the Walbridge Fire.
Ari has worked in the field of applied science and natural resource conservation since 2009, with professional experience as a field conservationist, land steward, and research technician in many wonderful places. Graduating with a B.A. in Biology from Lewis & Clark College, Ari also earned a M.S. in Sustainable Forest Management at Oregon State University. At the RCD, much of Ari’s work is focused on post-fire recovery in the Russian River watershed, carbon farming, and forest stewardship. Ari grew up in Sonoma County and is delighted to be able to give back to the land and community through work at the RCD.
As a forestry technician, Genevieve provides technical and planning assistance to landowners, assists with forestry project oversight, and develops forest management plans. She assists SRCD’s registered professional forester, Jason Wells, with fieldwork, research, mapping, and writing. Genevieve received her B.S. in Environmental Policy from Rutgers University and worked as an environmental and energy consultant before earning her Master of Forestry from the Yale School of the Environment. She was born and raised in New Jersey.
Kari brings administrative experience from her time working for a local chamber of commerce and navigating complexities of public/private collaboration pertinent to her role as Administrative Coordinator. Kari supports the RCD’s fiscal operations through fund development and HR functions to ensure efficient and effective internal administration toward the mission of the RCD. She is motivated to work at the nexus between special district governance, grant-funded projects, and land stewardship. In 2018, she completed an Internship with Sonoma Land Trust which strengthened both personal and professional dedication to environmental conservation for contemporary communities and future generations. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from Sonoma State University and is in the process of obtaining a Master of Public Administration. Raised in the agricultural Central Valley of California, Kari moved to Sonoma County in 2013 and since developed a deep passion for the region’s unique natural landscapes and resources.
Valerie has over thirteen years’ experience in the field of natural resources and has developed a strong background in ecology, water quality, agricultural conservation, and public policy. Valerie began her service at the RCD in 2008. Over the years she played many different roles on the team, gaining experience in all program areas as well as operations, finance, and fundraising, and in 2017 she was selected to serve at the RCD’s Executive Director. In this role, Valerie oversees the RCD’s day-to-day functions while providing strategic direction for the future, building partnerships, and advocating for the RCD at the local, state, and federal levels. She serves at the direction of the RCD’s Board of Directors, and works in partnership with the entire RCD team. A life-long Sonoma County resident, Valerie holds a B.S. in Biology from Sonoma State University.
Delmar Friedrichsen was born and raised in Petaluma. He took over his parents’ poultry (Friedrichsen Egg Ranch) and sheep ranch, producing eggs and lambs. Delmar’s family is involved in agriculture and assists him with the ranching. He also serves as a board director for Two Rock Fire Department.
Robert developed an interest in land management through hiking and camping experiences in the North Bay as a child, and today he finds inspiration in collaborating with RCD staff, partners, and landowners to protect the natural resources of Sonoma County. Robert holds an M.S. from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara, where he studied Conservation Planning and had a focus in Strategic Environmental Communication. Before joining the RCD in 2021, Robert assisted with forest health and meadow restoration projects in the Stanislaus National Forest as a Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership member with the Tuolumne River Trust. Robert has background in fieldwork, GIS, report writing, and community outreach, and at the RCD he works with staff on an array of projects that support wildfire resilience, fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, soil health, and carbon storage.
Katie has over six years’ experience in the biology field focused on fisheries and wildlife. Her experience ranges from working with marine mammals and marine ecology, to her main focus of fisheries biology. In the fisheries field her experience ranges in salmonid field and hatchery work as well as watershed education, permitting, watershed cartography, and salmonid surveys and habitat monitoring. At the RCD, Katie’s work is focused on assisting with the suite of LandSmart programming: Planning, On-the-Ground projects, Water Resources and Education. Katie earned her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary from Sonoma State University. Her senior thesis at Sonoma State focused on the effects of precipitation and temperature on Tule Elk population growth and decrease in the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Kari has over twelve years’ experience in the field of water quality that has included reviewing water quality certification applications for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and investigating underground storage tank sites for an environmental consulting company. Kari has experience in stormwater permitting and compliance on construction and industrial facilities as well as conducting environmental assessments on ranchland and open space properties. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Sonoma State University, Kari also earned a Master of Science in Environmental Management at the University of San Francisco. At the RCD, Kari’s work is focused on LandSmart™ Planning and LandSmart™ On-the-Ground projects within the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed, with an emphasis on dairies, livestock and water quality offsets/trading.
Kevin has over ten years’ of experience in the field of natural resource conservation. His skillset includes spatial analysis and cartography (ArcGIS), groundwater and surface water monitoring, stream channel surveying (total station), CEQA and permitting, and riparian revegetation design. Kevin has training and experience in road-related erosion and sediment source assessment (CDFW-approved methodology) as well as sediment delivery inventory and monitoring (UC ANR methodology). Kevin co-leads the RCD’s LandSmart Planning program for vineyards, working with vineyard owners and managers to develop farm conservation plans and to implement conservation projects identified in these plans. Kevin leads the RCD’s groundwater monitoring programs which cover over 150 private wells total across the entire district. Kevin earned his B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Earth Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Soil and Water Specialist
Keith has been active in agriculture for over thirty years as a producer and advocate of sustainable agriculture. His expertise includes water use efficiency and management, farm management, soil health, hedgerow design and implementation, and grower outreach and education. At the RCD, Keith assists growers to evaluate irrigation system performance, and improve irrigation scheduling. Keith helps promote vineyard soil health by organizing workshops, writing articles, developing carbon farm plans, conducting soil health tests and running a research project to investigate the impact of different tillage practices on soil health and moisture availability. He also works with growers to prioritize multiple conservation goals through LandSmart Plans. Keith graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1990 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, emphasizing agricultural ecology.
Registered Professional Forester #3014
Jason Wells is a California Registered Professional Forester (RPF), whose focus at the RCD is to provide technical and planning assistance to landowners, help build a forestry program capable of addressing vegetation and fuels management concerns throughout the county, as well as address post-fire recovery efforts. Jason’s work supports the missions of the Sonoma and Gold Ridge RCDs. Born and raised in Petaluma, he graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.S. in Forestry with an emphasis in Forest Conservation; He then worked for six years in private industry throughout Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. His experience includes writing CEQA equivalent Timber Harvest Plan documents, integrating knowledge of forest operations with environmental impact mitigations, silviculture (applied forest ecology), forest health and protection, economics of forest management, and road design and layout. Jason has also been certified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) to conduct archaeological surveys for plans in which CALFIRE is lead agency.
Tom Hammond is a Professional Engineer registered in California for Agricultural and Civil Engineering. His responsibilities at the RCD started in 2022 and include providing Partner Engineering services to the Sonoma, Gold Ridge and Marin RCDs. Tom graduated from Cal Poly, SLO in Bioresrouces and Ag Engineering. He has been practicing engineering in Sonoma County since 2007. In that time he has worked for public municipalities, private consulting firms, and private businesses providing solutions for water, power, and soil systems. Tom grew up in Sonoma County and is enjoying raising his family here as well.
Wendi has 30 years of experience in accounting and finance, including two decades in the airline and hotel industries in Hawaii and Nevada, and—for the last 13 years—in the wine industry in Sonoma County. Over the course of her career, Wendi has overseen budgeting, monthly close, audit coordination with multiple government agencies, and human resources, including payroll and employee benefits. After retiring from the wine industry, Wendi decided to put her skills to use with mission-driven nonprofit and government entities. She’s especially excited to directly benefit her community through her work at the RCD.
Earle W. Cummings graduated from Sonoma State University in Biology and has an MS in Ecology from UC Davis. As a former employee of the State of California in a number of environmental agencies, in both a technical and administrative capacity, Earle has experience in Wildlife Biology, Water Rights, Water Quality, Environmental Regulation, Timber Harvest Plan review, Endangered Species Act compliance, and California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act document preparation. Living near Lake Sonoma, Earle is from a fourth generation Sonoma County family.
Walter Ryan, Jr. grew up in Sonoma County in both the Bodega and Santa Rosa area and graduated from Santa Rosa High School. After earning a degree in Mechanical Agriculture from Cal Poly, Walter assisted his family part-time on the family ranch in Bodega while working as a supervisor in the field of public works. He was active for many years dedicating his time to agricultural youth education, serving on the Santa Rosa High School Foundation, was Chair of the Santa Rosa High School Ag Advisory and additionally served as Chair to the Ag Boosters. Walter formerly served on the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board and sat on the Santa Rosa Basin Plan advisory representing the Farm Bureau and its constituency. He left the public sector in 2002 to manage full-time the ranch where his family has been raising livestock for over five generations.
Ron Rolleri, born in Berkeley, earned an AE in electronics engineering and worked at UC Berkeley for four years before moving to Sonoma County in 1971 working as an engineer. After studying agriculture and viticulture at SRJC Ron started his contracting business in 1980 specializing in irrigation and vineyard management, xeriscape, native plants, and planted Hidden Springs Vineyard and winery. Ron served on the Sonoma Co. Vineyard Technical Group board for 8 years and helped develop the first draft of the hillside erosion control guidelines. Ron has served the SRCD since 1998 and the California State Association of RCDs for over ten years.
Dennis Murphy , a former partner in Murphy-Goode Winery and a partner in Murphy Ranches, has been a grape grower in the Alexander Valley since 1967, moving to Sonoma County full-time in 1973. He is a resident of Healdsburg. Dennis formerly served on the Sonoma County Planning Commission and was President of the Russian River Property Owners Association.
Beth was born and raised in Northern California, and has had ties to Sonoma County agriculture for over 35 years. For the past 10 years, she has managed her family’s cattle business, 5B Ranches. She has three grown children, and splits her time between Sonoma Valley and Bodega.
Ariana Reguzzoni was born and raised in Oakland, CA and has lived in Sonoma County for almost a decade. She is a journalist and communications professional and currently works for the Sonoma County Regional Parks and TrimTab Media. Her documentary film work has aired on cable television and local and national PBS stations and her print work has appeared in multiple publications including Civil Eats, Grist, Made Local Magazine and the Press Democrat newspaper. She has worked as a Communications Coordinator for California FarmLink and co-owned a small organic cut flower farm in Petaluma, CA. Ariana has a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, a bachelor’s degree in community studies from UC Santa Cruz and a certificate in ecological horticulture from UC Santa Cruz.
Bruce Abelli-Amen has lived in Petaluma for over 25 years, raising a family and working as a Professional Geologist and Certified Hydrogeologist for an environmental consulting firm. He has a bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s degree from Humboldt State University, both in Geological Sciences. His work has focused on CEQA review of proposed development projects, including aggregate mining, infrastructure, water supply tunnels, wastewater treatment plants, and levee projects. He has also managed numerous groundwater monitoring well networks and conducted water quality investigations.
Vickie Mulas was born, raised and resides in Sonoma Valley. She is the CFO for Mulas Dairy Company and Alta Vista Vineyards Inc. and the Managing Member of Alta Vista Vineyards, LLC and Mulas Family Farms, LLC. Vickie’s education was in business law and with 37 years as a CFO she has acquired advanced knowledge in finance. As a partner in the family dairy and vineyard operations, she has firsthand knowledge of the importance in maintaining water quality and conservation practices.
Jennifer Kuszmar was born and raised in north Georgia. After completing high school in Augusta, GA she attended the University of Georgia for 2 years. In 1996 she headed west to California to attend Humboldt State University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry with a concentration in natural resource and watershed management. Jennifer also completed two years of service in the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Program and has worked in both the timber and fisheries research fields. In 2003 she moved to Sonoma County to work as a Watershed Specialist with LandPaths. In 2005 Jennifer joined the Sotoyome RCD as Assistant Executive Director and acted as interim Executive Director until late 2006 when she and her husband returned to Humboldt County. Jennifer spent the next several years working for the County of Humboldt on behalf of the North Coast Resource Partnership managing several multi-million dollar state grants for water resource projects over a seven county region. In 2015 Jennifer’s professional career brought her back to Sonoma County. She is currently on staff at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District as the Matching Grant Coordinator, managing a grant program that provides funding for urban open space projects.
John J. Nagle grew up in western Sonoma County, where he raised his family and has worked in the environmental field for 30 years; managing land use issues, farming and industrial environmental regulatory risks. He serves as 5th District representative on the advisory committee of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District and the Santa Rosa Plains Basin Advisory Panel.