Carol Vander Meer, Executive Director
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 Master’s work on the ecology of the Niobrara River valley. Carol brought with her experience as 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, and later as the Education Coordinator at the HSU Natural History museum. Gradually, her volunteer service turned into a part-time job and eventually a position as full-time position as Executive Director.
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.
Emily Walter, Stewardship/Operations Director
Emily has been with Friends of the Dunes since she interned as an education assistant in 2001. Emily enjoys working with the community to help them connect to the coast through restoration activities. In addition to managing our stewardship programs, Emily also helps with the operational tasks of Friends of the Dunes. Her education includes a B.S. and an M.S. from HSU in Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation. Prior to working for Friends of the Dunes she worked for the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy. She can't get enough of the dunes during the work week and can often be found exploring them on her days off.
Suzie Fortner, Education Coordinator
Suzie loves digging in the mud and playing in the sand. In fact her love of sand and the ocean inspired her to pursue a bachelors degree in Marine Biology at UC Santa Cruz. While there, Suzie feel in love with redwood trees and banana slugs. A passion that eventually brought her to the north coast of California, where she earned a Social Science Master's degree through the Environment and Community program at Humboldt State University, with a focus on nature education. Suzie loves sharing her passion for nature with kids, and her belief that children benefit from positive outdoor experiences brought her to Friends of the Dunes to explore our beautiful coastal habitats with young Humboldt County students. She started volunteering with Friends of the Dunes in 2007, and has been involved with education programs ever since. Suzie spends most of her free time enjoying Humboldt’s diverse outdoor areas with her two loyal Labradors, and making things out of yarn.
Jaana Prall, Development Director
Jaana has lived on the north coast since 1993. After completing a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies at the University of California at Berkeley she did graduate work in marine fisheries at HSU studying surfperch and spending many hours on a small boat in Humboldt and Trinidad Bays. Over the years she has worn many hats. She has been a member of the Associate Faculty at College of the Redwoods teaching environmental science, worked on marine biotoxin monitoring for the CA Dept. of Health and Human Services, worked as a horse trainer, and volunteered at area charter schools planning and managing fundraising events. At Friends of the Dunes Jaana builds connections with the community and develops new fundraising opportunities. When she is not working, Jaana enjoys equestrian sports, running, and yoga.
John St. Marie, Facilities Manager (volunteer)
Lisa Hoover, Land Trust Committee Chair (volunteer)
Lisa has a B.A. in Botany from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, M.S. Humboldt State University, Natural Resources, Active volunteer with FOD since 1984, past president. Forest Botanist, with U.S. Forest Service, Six Rivers National Forest, 1991-present.
Coastal environments are close to Lisa's heart as she grew up venturing from Virginia (her birthright) to the barrier islands off of North Carolina with her family. She continues that sojourn there at least once a year (see photo). Upon arriving in Humboldt County, her interest in conservation and her inclination toward coastal settings lead her to FOD where she remains to this day.
Steven Vander Meer, Webmaster (volunteer)
Steven has a B.F.A. from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and is the owner/artist of Meer Image Fine Art Rubber Stamps. He is a self-taught HTML and CSS coder and makes arduous hand drawn animated films in his spare time.