Friends of the Dunes

About Us

Friends of the Dunes (FOD) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has been involving the community in the conservation of coastal environments since 1982. Based in Humboldt County California, FOD is best known for coastal ecosystem restoration, education programs and guided walks. In its role as a land trust, FOD acquired 113 acres of coastal dune property now known as the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center (HCNC).

Our Mission Statement

Friends of the Dunes is dedicated to conserving the natural diversity of coastal environments through community supported education and stewardship programs.

Our Goals

Our Staff

Kim McFarland

Kim McFarland, Executive Director

Originally from the Midwest, Kim first taught school kids about dunes ecology along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan (yes, there are real dunes there!). Upon arrival in California in 1998, she immediately gravitated to our coastal dunes and settled in Humboldt to complete a BS in Biology at HSU in 2001. Kim first got involved with Friends of the Dunes through our Coastal Naturalist Training program in 2007 and can often be found out in the dunes telling folks about the nesting and mating behavior of our native dune silver bee, the topic of her Masterís thesis. After serving on the Board of Directors for the past few years, she is very excited to completely immerse herself in the organization. When not at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, you can usually find her in a kayak on the bay or with her head in the sand (literally) researching the underground nesting habits of solitary bees. (Go to our Science and Nature page and check out the Get Out, Explore! video about our native bees.)

Suzie Fortner

Suzie Fortner, Education Manager

Suzie has been a nature lover her entire life. Growing up in San Diego, she spent a lot of time camping, hiking, and swimming in the ocean. This love of nature inspired her to pursue a B.S. degree in Marine Biology at UC Santa Cruz, where she became infatuated with redwood forests. So she came to Humboldt County and earned a M.A. degree through the Environment and Community Program at Humboldt State University in 2010. Suzie has been working in the field of Environmental Education since 2004, and her Masterís Project focused on place-based environmental education. She started volunteering with Friends of the Dunes in 2007, and has been involved with Friends of the Dunes education programs ever since.

Jess Barger

Jess Barger, Community Programs Coordinator

Jess was hired as the Restoration Volunteer Coordinator in the summer of 2015. She graduated from Humboldt State University in spring 2015 with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Conservation. Jess absolutely loves the beach and dunes, and is excited to have the opportunity to share her passion for conservation and natural biodiversity. She hopes to inspire others to help with restoration projects and to find the joy in getting your hands dirty while helping the planet. During her free time she enjoys birding and going on adventures with her dog, often to the beach and dunes.

Ashley Hansen

Ashley Hansen, Outreach Coordinator

Ashley moved to Humboldt County from San Diego where she gained experience rehabilitating native species through volunteer work at a Wildlife Center. She currently studies Wildlife Conservation at Humboldt State University and plans on applying her degree towards preserving and restoring local ecosystems. In her spare time, Ashley can be found hiking with her dog, Akela.

Brenda Pease

Brenda Pease, Bookkeeper

Brenda has been the Bookkeeper since June of 2015. She moved to Humboldt County in 1989 and has since earned her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from Humboldt State University. She is an independent contract bookkeeper for several local nonprofit organizations focused on environmental conservation and restoration. In her spare time she can be found hiking and exploring the trails in Humboldt with her husband, George.

Daisy York

Daisy York, Operations Assistant

Daisy graduated with a B.S in Environmental Science from Humboldt State University in may of 2017. She moved to Humboldt in 2007 from Markleeville C.A, where she spent much of her childhood hiking and backpacking through the Sierra Nevada mountain range. She now spends much of her time hiking with her dog ďBugĒ through the redwood forests and along the Humboldt coast line.

Emily Moloney

Emily Moloney, Education Specialist

Emily joined Friends of the Dunes as Education Specialist in Fall 2017 and coordinates school education programs such as Bay to Dunes. She graduated Humboldt State University in 2014 with a degree in Environmental Management and Protection specializing in environmental education and interpretation. She has worked as a naturalist interpreter for California State Parks and served two years with Americorps Watershed Stewards Program where she collected biological data on salmon in the rivers and streams of the north coast and also provided watershed education to Humboldt county schools. She is devoted to deepening her sense of place in our fantastic region and sharing that sense of place with others so that they may feel connected to the science and wonder that exists in our backyard. In her free time you may find her hiking, tending her garden, taking care of her chickens or involved with the local drum and dance community as a drummer and dancer.

Adjunct Staff

John St.Marie

John St. Marie, Facilities Manager (Board President)

John has been involved with Friends of the Dunes since 1988. He was the Director of the organization in the beginning and helped play a key role in helping Friends of the Dunes become an official 501(c)3 nonprofit. John has served on the Land Trust Committee, helping secure the 115 acres that are part of the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center. John is also the caretaker of the Nature Center, helping maintain the building, native landscaping, and helping manage public use on the property.

Carol Vander Meer

Carol Vander Meer, Executive Support Volunteer

When Carol arrived in Humboldt County from Nebraska in 1994, she was immediately drawn to the coastal dunes. They were curiously reminiscent of the Nebraska sandhills where she did her Masterís work on the ecology of the Niobrara River valley. Carolís experience includes being a high school biology teacher, a nature center director and naturalist. She started with Friends of the Dunes as a volunteer docent while she worked as a park ranger at Redwood National Park. She served as Executive Director of Friends of the Dunes from 2004 to 2015. Carol lives in Manila along the shores of Humboldt Bay with her husband Steven. When the tide is high, they enjoy paddling the waters of the bay and up into the Mad River Slough.

Steven Vander Meer

Steven Vander Meer, Webmaster (volunteer)

Steven is an artist, animator and home brewer with an awesome studio in Manila, near the dunes. He owns and operates Meer Image, an art rubber stamp business, and is a self-taught hand-coder of HTML and CSS.


Dunesberry Newsletter

Our quarterly printed newsletter is mailed free to members and is one of the benefits of becoming a member! On the cover you will find an inspirational essay by our executive director, and on the inside - news, Naturalist Notes, a calender of events, volunteer highlights, thank-you's, announcements and more.

Download a PDF of the current issue here.

Job Opportunities

Education Intern
Part-time (5-15 hours per week), $10.50/hour
Work Study Required

The Education Intern is a seasonal 5-15 hour per week position beginning on March 1 and ending on June 15, 2018. The Education Internís primary responsibilities will be scheduling and implementing classroom presentations for elementary schools as part of the Kidsí Ocean Day program. These presentations will focus on marine ecology, marine debris, and coastal conservation. Qualified applicants must have 5-10 hours of availability during school hours (8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday) and be able to assist with the Kidsí Ocean Day event on June 7, 2018.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, please download the Education-Intern-Job-Announcement.pdf.

Or... You Could Volunteer!

Volunteering not only helps us keep things going around here, it's also a great way for you to get your foot in the door. Plus, you'll be one of the first to know about future job openings! Check out the volunteer page!

Friends of the Dunes | PO Box 186, Arcata CA 95518 | 707-444-1397 |

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