Current term expires:
November 30, 2024
Igor Skaredoff was born in the French Concession of Shanghai the same year that Pearl Harbor was bombed and the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District was formed (1941).
As a small unruly boy in an occupied city, he found escape from reality in stories his mother Ariadna told him about Roussalkas, mythological female sprites who lived in rivers and tricked and enchanted unwary humans. With Oleg, his father, he gathered twigs fallen from a tree in front of their tenement and they would build exquisite little campfires, like small teepees, lit with a single match, and would occasionally fry an egg. During these times Oleg would talk about birds and animals of the Russian Steppe (prairie) and the Taiga (north woods). Even in the midst of a major city, in a world at war, awareness and a love of nature was nurtured and grew this boy’s heart.
World War 2 came to an end, the Marines landed in Shanghai, and one Sergeant took Igor for a ride in his jeep, taught him how to chew gum and his first words of English: “OK Joe!”
WW2 was over, but the Chinese Civil War raged on: the Nationalists were fighting the Communists and they were retreating. Igor’s family, having fled Russia to escape the Communists now fled China to escape the Communists, aboard the ocean liner SS Grover Cleaveland - converted to carry troops and renamed the General Meiggs - all the way to San Francisco. Igor’s first view of America was of the Bay Bridge high overhead with the tiny Key System trains on its lower deck.
The Russians in San Francisco were mostly from Shanghai. They pooled their resources and converted house into churches and schools, and also acquired a rundown resort on Austin Creek in Sonoma County. Here they would escape the City and live the Dacha life. During the week, Ariadna would stay in one of the shacks she and Oleg rehabbed, with Igor, brother Svetik and various stray kids who needed a place to stay. There was a constant stream of “DP’s” - displaced persons - who came through Cazadero. On weekends Oleg would take the bus from Richmond to Monte Rio and then walk to the Cazadero “dacha”. Word got around and sometimes the local folks would give Oleg a ride. We would wake up on Saturday morning and there would be Papa!
Those were the Golden Times: swimming in the Creek, catching Trout and cooking them over a small fire on a gravel bar, hiking up to the old-growth redwood “cathedral”, helping Mrs Bailey feed the chickens, milk Bessie and make butter. Learning how to split firewood. Staying up late with Mamma as she made bread in the wood-burning stove, using our firewood. (It was too hot during the day). We were wild little kids - running around everywhere barefoot and always admonished to watch out for rattlesnakes.
With such a childhood, how can one not love Nature, Creeks, Forests, Trout and Grasshoppers and King Snakes and Manzanita? Path leads inexorably to the RCD.
This is the foundation - the rest of the story is for another time.
Current term expires:
November 30, 2022
Bethallyn Black has been a director for the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District for over 20 years. Currently, she is the head of Diablo Valley College's horticulture program. Prior work has included starting the organic farming program at College of Marin, managing and teaching the Master Gardener program for UCCE in Contra Costa and owning a Design/Build landscape contracting company. Bethallyn's graduate degrees are in Agroecology and Andragogy. Her life's work has focused on regenerative landscaping and inspiring others to plant with joy.
Current term expires:
November 30, 2024
Lorena is a Bay Area Native and a tree hugger at heart. She has been working in the environmental field for over 12 years with experience in the nonprofit and federal sectors. Lorena has worked with disadvantaged youth on various projects including planting native gardens, painting community murals, and organizing events. Lorena has a passion for cultivating meaningful experiences to youth that don’t regularly access outdoors spaces. She helped create a series of programs that exposed youth to local parks and led outdoor adventures to Point Reyes and Yosemite. Currently she is the Co-Executive Director of Groundwork Richmond where she works alongside the City of Richmond to plant trees and help revitalize historically disadvantaged communities of color.
Current term expires:
November 30, 2024
Renée Fernandez-Lipp is a sustainability professional with over 25 years of experience promoting the efficient use and generation of energy, water conservation and waste diversion. She has experience in both the public and private sectors. Renée currently leads power generation public safety and emergency response programs at Pacific Gas & Electric.
Renee has served on a number of non-profit boards and local government commissions. In her free time, she enjoys travelling and working with animals. She works closely with several bay area animal rescues and helped launch a non-profit that provides grant funding for animals in medical need.
Renée earned her M.B.A. at Golden Gate University and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at CSU, Long Beach. She holds a certificate in Green Building and Renewable Energy from UC Davis and is a USGBC LEED Accredited Professional.
Current term expires:
November 30, 2022
Director of Water Utilities - 43 years Drinking Water utility experience.
Master of Public Administration
Water Treatment, Water Distribution, Laboratory Analyst, Water Conservation
Friends of Alhambra Creek
Skills: Grant writing, leadership, relationship building, “putting out fires.”
Fun Fact: Likes cooking, sneakers, hi fi sound, and trying new food and restaurants.
Chris is a conservationist that does this work not only for the planet, but for people. He has been in the restoration field for over 20 years and has worked in all three sectors: private, public, and nonprofit. Chris has worked with communities to restore native species and habitats from the top to the bottom of watersheds. He built one of the first community-based native oyster reefs in San Francisco Bay and relishes the opportunity to interweave restoration projects with environmental education. As a Contra Costa County native, he finds his current work of increasing resilience in his local watersheds deeply meaningful and rewarding. Chris graduated with an undergraduate degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley with an emphasis in Marine Biology and Oceanography, plus a minor in Geography. He also earned a Masters of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Skills: Permitting, conservation on agricultural land, illegal dumping prevention
Fun Fact: Eagle Scout, former member of the University of California Marching Band, aspiring birder, and a Contra Costa native raised in Southern California.
Ben started working with Contra Costa RCD in January 2017 after receiving two Masters degrees from Indiana University in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Policy following undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley. Ben manages the Voluntary Local Program, the EcoStewards Program, and other conservation programs focused on agricultural lands.
Skills: Provides assistance in graphic design, outreach, and research.
Fun Fact: Loves zombies, Marvel, horror movies, and true crime podcasts.
Courtney has grown up in Contra Costa County developing an admiration and appreciation for the diverse culture. She received her BA with honors in Criminal Justice from CSU East Bay with aspirations to become a police officer. Her desire to help the community led her to pursue her MA in Emergency Management and Homeland Security with an emphasis in Community Resilience.
As an intern, Courtney provides assistance in promoting tap water testing, outreach, researching, and supporting graphic design.
Skills: Knowledge of various invasive plant removal techniques, knowledge of plant monitoring techniques, experienced in water quality monitoring, community outreach and environmental education.
Fun Fact: Fluent in Spanish, used to live in New Jersey, completed two AmeriCorps service terms and I like to hike and explore new nature areas.
Daniel grew up in New Jersey and just recently moved to California to work for the CCRCD as an EcoSteward Conservation Technician. He graduated from Stockton University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Since graduating from college, Dan has been involved with numerous environmental restoration projects, environmental education, and community outreach. His previous working experiences includes interning at a USFW National Wildlife Refuge through an internship program with a non-profit organization called Hispanic Access Foundation. He has completed two Americorps term services: one as a New Jersey Watershed Ambassador in New Jersey and one as a Lead Wetland Restoration Technician with Truckee Meadows Park Foundation in Nevada. Dan's other areas of interest include water quality and stormwater management.
Skills: Regenerative land management and community engagement
Fun Fact: Student of life that nerds out on eco-cultural restoration, hangs out on hilltops, at home cruising in the Subaru, swimmer looking for water.
Actively pursuing opportunities for collaboration, Derek engages land managers, urban and rural farmers to identify strategies that balance immediate social needs with the long-term vitality of our ecological systems.
Raised in the East Bay, Derek’s professional experience includes non-profit work in urban forestry, environmental education, permaculture design, and community development through Peace Corps Nepal.
Graduating in 2010 with a BA in Environmental Studies: Sustainable Food Systems from UCSC, Derek holds an MA in Geography from CSULB 2020. His thesis research focused on the social drivers of riparian restoration on the working lands of the upper Tule River watershed of Tulare County, CA.
His current interests include identifying and showcasing farms demonstrating regenerative practices such as soil carbon sequestration, storm water infiltration, hedgerows, biodiversity enhancements, rematriation, and management for ecological flow regimes.
Derek’s vision of scaling up regenerative land management, agroecological resilience, and food justice includes embracing diversity with a holistic perspective on collective wellbeing.
Skills: Graphic design and production for print, websites, video editing.
Fun Fact: Drives vintage BMW motorcycle, loves cooking, mountain biking.
While attending Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, CA, Eric naturally gravitated to the creative courses, and pursued all graphics courses that were offered. In the mid 80"s, a brand new curriculum was being started, "Desktop Publishing". Signing up for this unchartered territory, Eric was part of the very first small group of students that with their professor, and for the next many years, developed the very first computer graphics courses available in Northern California.
Years later, and after owning a graphic design business for 28 years, Eric was open to other opportunities. The first was Art Director for a product manufacturer, followed by the fortunate introduction to the CCRCD.
Eric now enjoys the opportunities and challenges brought by the CCRCD to stretch his creative legs while creating print graphics, website projects, photography, video production, and varied field work.
Skills: Watershed management and coordination, grant writing, fundraising, events.
Fun Fact: Owns a marina, small urban farm, and a Scottish Highlander cattle ranch in the Delta. Loves music and silly hats!
Heidi Petty has been with the CCRCD since 2007. Her current position is Watershed Program Manager and Fundraising Coordinator, focusing on the Contra Costa side of the Carquinez Strait shoreline. In 1999, Heidi started a small bonsai and custom saltwater reef tank business named ‘Through the Looking Glass: A Living Art Studio’ in Crockett, CA, where she got an in-depth understanding of saltwater filtration and hydrology. Heidi has held numerous community leadership positions in the Crockett, Port Costa, and Rodeo area, including President of the local Chamber of Commerce and Board Member on the Crockett Community Services District. Her entrepreneurialism and government service background makes her a valuable asset to the RCD as a special government district.
She now lives on the river in Oakley, CA, and owns a marina and small urban farm as well as a 28-acre Highlander Cattle Ranch in the SF Delta. She is excited to expand her work by partnering with the technology industry to create innovative ways to help the environment through long-term partnerships and connecting tech to her restoration work.
Skills: Outreach, education, hydrology, monitoring, and data analysis.
Fun Fact: As the volunteer membership coordinator for Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, Lisa has sincerely thanked MDIA supporters almost 2,400 times since 2013.
Lisa moved to Contra Costa County in 1999 and has had the opportunity to work with the CCRCD-supported community groups in Marsh Creek, Kirker Creek, Mt Diablo Creek, Walnut Creek, Alhambra Creek and Pinole Creek Watersheds. She enjoys collaborations with students and interns, especially water quality monitoring projects, and has taught environmental education programs for The Lindsay Wildlife Experience and Contra Costa Water District.
Lisa also provides data analysis for Hydrocomp, Inc.’s streamflow forecasting model which helps agencies in California and the Pacific Northwest improve reservoir operations.
Lisa holds a B.S. in Geology and an M.S. in Water Resources Engineering from Stanford University.
Skills: Horticulture, invasive plant removal, CA native plants & animals, grant writing.
Fun Fact: Lisa was a Girl Scout throughout elementary and middle school. Lisa climbed to the summit of Huayna Picchu and visited the Peruvian rainforest in 2016.
Lisa is from Los Angeles, CA. She has a BA with Honors in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Professional Sequence in Editing certificate from UC Berkeley Extension. She worked in publishing for 10 years, primarily editing educational materials including science textbooks and curricula. Her passion for nature led her back to school to study horticulture at Diablo Valley College where she earned a Nursery Technician certificate. She joined the CCRCD’s staff in January 2019. She likes hiking with friends and family, eating chocolate, creating beautiful things, and rooting for the Oakland A’s.
Skills: Public programming, education, interdisciplinary projects, facilitation, administration, intertidal and nearshore ecosystems.
Fun Fact: Often taking a class at the public art center.
Lydia Grew up in Contra Costa County. She studied Environmental Studies and Studio Arts at Whitman College where she focused on Political Ecology and Environmental Humanities.
Her previous experience includes work in Indigenous issues in the East Bay, environmental education and programmatic work on ecological agriculture and fisheries in Maine. In 2019, she co-founded Seaweed Commons, a network and learning group that supports public engagement in the intertidal zone. She has taught preschool through undergraduate level students and has organized events like the California Indian Arts and Culture Festival, the Seaweed Symposium and the Maine Wild Blueberry Weekend.
With the CCCRCD, Lydia supports community-led watershed initiatives and facilitates public engagement through the Watershed Symposium and Shoreline Festival. She is glad to work in her home watershed and enjoys swimming, weaving and learning.
Skills: Low-stress livestock handling, ag and farmworker policy, environmental education, community engagement, general hype person.
Fun Fact: An extraverted enneagram type 2/7/9 who loves sleeping in her Subaru named Pepita, riding horses, blue oak woodlands, rangeland management, and bonfires on the beach.
Marianna (she/her) was raised in the Napa Valley, where she spent much of her time following her Papá in the vineyards, or exploring her Grandparents' ranch. Growing older she began to recognize the disparities that exist between these two worlds, many of them reflected in her own experience as a mixed Chicana. With a desire to learn more about the intersection of agriculture, conservation, and racial justice, Marianna has since earned a B.S. in agricultural communications from Cal Poly SLO, worked for nonprofits engaged in farmworker advocacy, food justice, and community development, and helped manage regenerative grazing programs on ranches in California and Colorado. With a deep passion for community building and wellness, Marianna is excited to bring her skills and energy to the CCRCD team, supporting farmers, ranchers, educators and learners across the Bay Area. Her North Star remains working to uplift BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voices in agriculture and conservation, and always learning how to be a good ancestor.
Skills: Coming soon
Fun Fact: Coming soon
Bio coming soon
Skills: Vegetation management, horticulture, urban agriculture, facilitation, public speaking, writing.
Fun Fact: California native, spent a year as a monk at San Francisco Zen Center, spoke at conferences in five countries, did multi-day treks in Peru and Iceland.
Rachael developed a passion for native plants while living and working at Green Gulch Farm as a Land Steward Apprentice and is herself a California native. Before joining the CCRCD as an EcoSteward she worked as a gardener on a large private estate, managing fruit and vegetable production and performing ornamental landscape maintenance. Prior to her career in conservation, Rachael spent nearly a decade working in tech, coaching high performing software development teams and advocating for people-focused processes. A lifetime learner, Rachael has a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in American Studies and is currently taking classes in Environmental Science.
Skills: Monitoring, CA native plants & animals identification, conducting biological surveys.
Fun Fact: Loves plant and wildlife photography, is fluent in Spanish, enjoys going to concerts and attending rodeos.
Tania grew up in La Puente, CA and just recently moved to Northern California to work for CCRCD as an EcoStewards Conservation Technician. She has a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology with a minor in Chicanx Studies from the University of California, Davis. As both a student and professional, Tania has been involved in many conservation and environmental monitoring projects. Prior to joining the CCRCD team, Tania worked as a biological monitor in Southern New Mexico, where she helped mitigate the negative environmental impacts construction had on desert habitat. Other areas of interest include environmental justice, birding, and herping.
Skills: Environmental education, community engagement, research processes, insect identification, report writing.
Fun Fact: Victoria competes in triathlons and will hike or bike up any hill/mountain she can get her feet or wheels on. She summited Haleakalā in Maui, HI on bike in the summer of 2021. Her next challenge is pending. Victoria also loves to cook and create random dishes from available seasonal produce.
Victoria (she/her) is from Orange County, CA. She graduated in 2021 from University of California, Davis with a BS in Environmental Science and Management with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management and a minor in Insect Biology. She participated in a research lab at UC Davis exploring the impacts of human development on insect/plant relationships over time. Following this, she worked as an environmental consultant to identify and resolve soil and/or groundwater contamination to protect water resources throughout the Bay Area.
Victoria grew up helping her dad weed and tend to his extensive vegetable and fruit tree garden and spent many family vacations camping in various national parks. Victoria considers herself very lucky to have grown up with access and connections to the outdoors and wildlife. She understands the importance of access to healthy, natural places for individual and community wellbeing. Victoria is excited to work with CCRCD and partners to help achieve more safe, accessible, sustainable, and functional natural areas regardless of community wealth, race, or composition.