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 quietness, the Redwoods, and our local wetlands. 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 wildlife conservation and education. In her spare time, you can find Daisy roller-skating across the block, swimming through our rivers, or on adventures 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

Taylor is a student at Humboldt State University, completing his degree Environmental Science and Management with a focus in Ecological Restoration and a minor in Natural Resources. To continue advocating for conservation and environmental protection, he joined Friends of the Dunes as the Non-Profit Intern in Fall of 2021. Before working at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, Taylor worked for Forest Service as a Student Trainee in Biological Sciences and for several environmental restoration and education nonprofits in the Bay Area where he grew up. In his spare time, you can find him climbing at Moonstone beach or block printing in one of HSU’s art studios.

VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHTS

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CAROL VANDER MEER

Board President

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

Technical Support Volunteer

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. He also owns and operates Meer Image, an art rubber stamp business. 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.