OUR TEAM

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MIKE

CIPRA

Executive Director

Mike was honored to join Friends of the Dunes as Executive Director in 2019. He brings a passion for
community conservation and years of experience working in the National Park Service--as both an
environmental educator working directly with youth and as an environmental protection specialist,
developing restoration and land management plans. Mike is inspired by the native coastal dune
environment of the North Coast and has established roots in Humboldt County, previously contributing to our community as the Service Learning Liaison for Humboldt State University and as Executive Director of the Northcoast Regional Land Trust. In his spare time, Mike and his wife Jane can usually be found hiking and botanizing in the diverse habitats of the North Coast.

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SUZIE
FORTNER

Programs & Operations Director

Thanks to parents who took her camping often and encouraged a curious exploration of the natural world, Suzie has been a nature lover for as long as she can remember. This passion led her to pursue a B.S. in Marine Biology at UC Santa Cruz, where she studied amongst the majestic redwoods. While there, she started to recognize the important connection between positive nature experiences at a young age and a strong environmental ethic later in life. Suzie moved to Humboldt County in 2006, where her interest in place-based nature education led her to volunteer with Friends of the Dunes school education programs. She was hired in her first part-time position with the organization while pursuing an M.A. in Social Science through the Environment and Community Program at Humboldt State University and was hired as a full-time Education Manager after completing her graduate degree in 2010. Suzie has served in many roles with the organization since and remains dedicated to connecting people of all ages to our diverse coastal environments.

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GINEVRA

RYMAN

GIS Specialist

Ginevra holds a B.S. in Molecular Environmental Biology from UC Berkeley and a M.E.M. with emphasis in Ecosystem Science and Conservation from Duke University. She has over 15 years of experience working for a variety of non-profits, governmental entities, and educational institutions. She has been involved with Friends of the Dunes since 2017, initially as a participant in the Coastal Naturalist Training, then as a restoration intern, and most recently as GIS Specialist. She loves spending time outside gardening, hiking, and camping with her family.

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DANTE

RYMAN

Restoration Manager

Dante graduated from HSU in the Environmental Science and Management major. He has worked at various non-profits and businesses, honing his communication and leadership skills. Dante has been involved with Friends of the Dunes since 2018, completing the California Naturalist program and two internships. Dante coordinates restoration activities on Friends of the Dunes property as well as for the Bureau of Land Management's Ma-le'l South. When not in the dunes or in the forge at Blue Ox Millworks, he enjoys being outdoors and on the water or anywhere his family is.

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Outreach Manager

Daisy is from the buzzing city of Las Vegas, Nevada. She moved to Humboldt County in 2016 and instantly fell in love with the peaceful Humboldt vibe. She graduated in the Spring of 2019 with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology. Daisy is interested in joining her passion for conservation and diversifying the outdoors. In her spare time, you can find Daisy roller-skating across the block, splashing in rivers, and adventuring with her puppies, partner, and friends.

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Education Coordinator

Emily has always had a love for the outdoors and sharing it with others. This passion is what led her to begin volunteering and working with youth programs at the age of 14. When volunteering for Friends of the Dunes in college, Emily fell in love with place-based environmental education and pursued it as a career. In 2015 she graduated from Humboldt State with an Environmental Management and Protection degree focused in Environmental Education and Interpretation. She spent three years as a Naturalist at a residential outdoor science school, multiple seasons as a Senior Park Aide for California State Parks, and countless summers leading youth in backcountry trips.
She is thrilled to now be serving as the Education Coordinator for Friends of the Dunes!

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Non-Profit Intern

Whitney is a student at Humboldt State University, completing her degree in wildlife with a concentration in conservation biology and applied vertebrate ecology. Whitney began working at Friends of the Dunes as the Non-Profit Intern in February of 2022 to further facilitate her passion for conservation and ecological preservation. Whitney has worked and volunteered in various non-profit wildlife and conservation organizations from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and now Humboldt Bay. In her free time, Whitney loves to hike, cook, and tend to her vegetable garden.

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RYLAND

SHERMAN

Restoration Technician

Ryland grew up in Los Angeles where he went camping, and hiking. He became interested in nature and ecology at a very young age through his experiences growing up. He moved to Humboldt County in 2012 and studied at Humboldt State University. In 2019 he graduated with a major in Wildlife Management and Conservation. Ryland chose this major after finding his passion for fieldwork in the Wildlife program at Humboldt State University. During his undergraduate degree Ryland became interested in Dune Ecology while he participated in many field projects at Lanphere Dunes. Ryland started working for Friends of the Dunes as a Share the Beach Intern during the summers of 2021 and 2022. In his free time, Ryland and his partner, Emily, enjoy hiking, kayaking, and taking their chocolate Labrador Maggie to the beach.

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IONA
MAHONY-MOYER

College Corps Fellow

Iona Mahony-Moyer is a student at College of the Redwoods, completing her degree in Forestry and Natural Resources. She is coming to Friends of the Dunes as a part of College Corps, a new program connecting college students with community partners across the state. Iona has had 5 years of experience working outdoor jobs, mainly through forestry work for CA Demonstration Forests and visitor service for CA State Parks. 
Iona enjoyed time in the dunes growing up, worked a summer job in Lanphere and North Ma-le’l Dunes during high school, and has since continued to recreate and visit the dunes in her free time. Iona is grateful to now be getting the opportunity to work with Friends of the Dunes. She is dedicated to giving back to an area that has given so much to her. 

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ZEEN
VINCENT

College Corps Fellow

Zeen Vincent is a student at Cal Poly Humboldt, completing his degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Community Organizing. Zeen is working with Friends of the Dunes through College Corps, a new Fellowship program for college students to get connected with community partners across the state. Zeen has worked on campus with Associated Students as the Environmental Sustainability Officer for the 21-22 academic year, as well as working on a Ethnobotanical Mapping Project. He is excited to work as a guide for the outdoor education program, and explore all that the dunes have to offer. Outside of FOD Zeen is a cheerleader with Cal Poly Humboldt, has two cats, and loves to crochet.

VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHTS

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CAROL VANDER MEER

Board Member

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’s 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. Though Carol no longer serves as our Executive Director, we are still very grateful to have her on our side as a volunteer. Thank you so much for your continued support, we are lucky to have you!

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JOHN ST. MARIE

Stewardship Committee Chair Facilities Manager

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 118 acres that are part of the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, and he currently serves as Chair of the Stewardship Committee. John is also the caretaker of the Nature Center, helping maintain the building, native landscaping, and helping manage public use on the property.

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STEVEN VANDER MEER

Artist

Steven created our original website from scratch, managed it for years, and helped us transition into creating our new one! On top of being a self-taught hand-coder of HTML and CSS, he is also an artist, animator, and home brewer with an awesome studio in Manila, near the dunes. Many of the shirts found in our Gift Shop are designed by him, along with our logo! To check out some of his work, visit the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center or his website.