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: 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: 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.