Heather Nichols, Executive Director

Heather Nichols graduated from CSU Humboldt with a B.S. in Sustainable Systems and a minor in Soil Science. She gained experience in small scale agriculture and habitat restoration as an AmeriCorps volunteer and went on to complete her Master’s degree in ecological design and planning from the Conway School of Landscape Design. Heather joined the YCRCD in 2008 and worked as a watershed coordinator and project manager before becoming the Executive Director in 2014. She works with the YCRCD Board of Directors and staff, NRCS and other conservation leaders in the community and region to develop and carry out relevant and effective conservation projects and programs. She also serves as the district manager representative for the Northern California region on the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts Board of Directors.

Jeanette Wrysinski, Senior Program Manager

Jeanette joined the YCRCD in 1995. During her time at the District she has also been a wildlife monitoring specialist and project manager and twice served as Interim Executive Director. She has overseen field research trials, written publications, trained and mentored staff and written many grant proposals. She has worked with a broad range of local and state agencies and organizations and has managed numerous successful conservation projects in the county. She works closely with the Executive Director on program development and grant acquisition, and coordinates and supports the activities of the Westside Sac Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) Coordinating Committee. She represents the district on the Water Resources Association of Yolo County Technical Committee and in other groups such as the Cache Creek Technical Advisory Committee. She also serves as a Director on the Sacramento River Forum Board.

Tanya Meyer, Program Manager

Tanya Meyer has been working on restoring native plant communities and protecting them from invasive weeds since 2000. She has a BS and an MS in Community and Regional Development from the University of California, Davis. Tanya has worked at Hedgerow Farms, managed the Center for Land-Based Learning’s SLEWS Program in Northern California, and worked at the YCRCD as a vegetation management specialist/Weed Warrior controlling tamarisk and other noxious weeds along Cache Creek in the Capay Valley. Her current projects are focused on arundo eradication and creek restoration in the Putah-Cache Watersheds and leading the renewal of the Yolo County Weed Management Area. Tanya also services on the board of the California Invasive Plant Council.

Joanne Heraty, Project Manager

Before joining the RCD, Joanne managed experimental research in a restoration ecology lab at UC Davis focusing on invasion and nutrient dynamics in California’s rangelands. She has a M.Sc. in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis where she studied the conservation of maize genetic diversity in Southern California’s urban garden. She also holds a B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in education from UC Santa Cruz and has worked in the past as a researcher studying gene flow in maize. Her work at the YCRCD focuses on design, implementation and management of a multitude of restoration projects on both public and private lands throughout Yolo County. She specializes in agricultural leases, grazing management and carbon farm planning.

Amy Williams, Project Manager

Amy has a background in natural resource monitoring, habitat restoration, native plant propagation, and GIS. She was previously the Stewardship Program Manager for Putah Creek Council, working with multiple stakeholders to restore native habitat in the watershed, and helped manage a native plant nursery. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Texas Wesleyan University and an M.A. in Geography from UC Davis, having used GIS to study the spatial distribution of riparian forest species along the middle Sacramento River. Amy is leading habitat and vegetation management projects in the Delta and a number of open space projects in the City of Davis and City of Winters.

Bethany Drahota, Project Manager

Prior to coming to the YCRCD, Bethany worked along the Gila River in southeast Arizona controlling invasive tamarisk and secondary weeds and re-establishing native plants to create habitat for threatened and endangered species. She received a bachelor of science from the University of Washington, with an emphasis on environmental resources and wildlife conservation. Following that, Bethany completed her master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science from West Virginia University combined with a Peace Corps Master’s International program that included 2-years of Peace Corps service in Tanzania. Bethany’s work at the Yolo County RCD primarily focuses on enhancing habitat for wildlife during floods in the Yolo Basin Wildlife Area, and on reducing the impact of invasive Arundo donax throughout the Putah-Cache watershed in Yolo and Solano counties.

Brandon Baker, Field Technician

Brandon Baker started working as a field technician for the YCRCD in 2013 and brings his extensive expertise to all of YCRCD’s restoration implementation projects. Before joining the YCRCD team, he worked for Public Works at the City of Woodland managing open space property. Brandon has over 20 years of extensive experience implementing and maintaining conservation projects on working lands, having worked for Audubon California Landowner Stewardship Program and Center for Land Based Learning in the past. He leads stewardship field days with our environmental education partners including the Center for Land-Based Learning and Putah Creek Council. He also assists Solano County Water Agency with their large scale habitat improvement projects.

Bailey Adams, Project Assistant

Bailey came to the YCRCD after she earned her B.S in Environmental Science and Management with an emphasis in ecology, biodiversity and conservation. She has a background in habitat restoration, invasive weed management, and vegetation mapping. Prior to coming to the YCRCD, she worked at the Cache Creek Conservancy enhancing wildlife habitat on the nature preserve through integrated vegetation management, native plantings and improving creek health with tamarisk and arundo control. Bailey’s work at the Yolo County RCD focuses on enhancing projects in Woodland and Capay through native plantings and weed control. She is also currently assisting with arundo eradication throughout the Putah-Cache Watershed.

Amanda Alvarado, Field Technician

Amanda Alvarado joined the RCD after earning her B.S. at University of California, Davis in Environmental Science and Management, focusing on Ecology, Conservation Biology, and Biodiversity, and she earned her A. A. degree in Math and Science from Santiago Canyon College. Amanda recently finished a post as biological field technician at Fort Irwin National Training Center, where she conducted field surveys for 2 endemic and endangered plant species in the Mojave. She has also worked as a GIS intern for Land IQ, an agricultural consulting firm in Sacramento, where she mapped and identify agricultural crops across CA, NM, and GA for yearly water usage and remote sensing data. She’s worked as an environmental steward intern for Sacramento Regional Sanitation District’s Bufferlands, where she assisted in maintaining wintering habitat for migratory birds and mitigation plantings of native Valley Oaks and Cottonwoods. Amanda currently works at the Yolo County RCD as a field technician where she assists in invasive weed control and native plantings for various projects in Yolo County and the Delta.

Grace Ferguson, GrizzlyCorp Fellow

Grace came to the YCRCD after earning her BS from UC Berkeley, majoring in Conservation and Resource Studies with a focus on California Ecology and Ecosystem Management. While there, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Hunstinger Range Lab and Bowls Lab, studying rangeland soil carbon and biodiversity, as a Curatorial Assistant in the Bird Curatorial and the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and conducted independent research on avian feather mites during a semester abroad in Costa Rica. Additionally, she spent a season as a Carbon Farming Intern at Ardenwood Historic Farm, part of the East Bay Regional Park District. Grace is joining the YCRCD team as a GrizzlyCorps Fellow (a new AmeriCorps program in California) for the 2020/2021 service year to help the RCD build community engagement and climate resiliency in Yolo County.

Sue McCloud, Financial Manager

Sue McCloud has over 30 years of accounting management experience, having worked for the County of Yolo before joining the YCRCD in 2002. Sue is responsible for preparation, maintenance, verification and reconciliation of accounting and financial records, the audit of financial transactions, and the production of fiscal reports. She analyzes, develops and implements accounting and financial procedures and systems as well as assists with operational management of the YCRCD. She also works with YCRCD staff in developing project budgets and cost allocation information.

Sheila Pratt, Administrative Assistant

Sheila has been the Administrative Assistant for the YCRCD since 2005 providing critical support to all areas of District’s functions and operations. Sheila works with the Executive Director to provide support for all activities with the YCRCD Board of Directors. She supports the financial manager in numerous clerical and accounting tasks, YCRCD personnel and operations needs, and coordinates YCRCD events and workshops.

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