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 region to develop and carry out relevant and effective conservation programs. She serves as the district manager representative for the Northern California region on the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts Board of Directors.

Tanya Meyer, Senior Program Manager

Tanya Meyer has been 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, the Center for Land-Based Learning’s SLEWS Program, and did a watershed wide invasive plant eradication project in Pennsylvania . Her current plant projects are focused on arundo eradication and creek restoration in the Putah-Cache Watersheds and coordinating the Yolo County Weed Management Area. Tanya is also leading the creation of a county-wide Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), and coordinates the Yolo County Fire Safe Council to provide input to the CWPP, support to our community Fire Safe Councils, and education and outreach to county residents in high fire zones. 

Amy Williams

Amy Williams, Project Manager

Amy has a background in natural resource monitoring, habitat restoration, and geographic information systems (GIS). She leads habitat restoration work in parts of Yolo County and the Delta, and oversees GIS and mapping services for the RCD. Amy is also heading up the development of a monitoring framework for the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP) administered by the Yolo Habitat Conservancy. She was previously the Stewardship Program Manager for Putah Creek Council, working with multiple stakeholders to propagate local ecotype native plants and restoring habitat in the watershed. She holds a master’s degree in Geography from UC Davis and a B.S. in Biology from Texas Wesleyan University.

Brandon Baker

Brandon Baker, Restoration Field Lead

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

Bailey Adams, Field Manager

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 managing the field staff and 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.

Grace Ferguson

Grace Ferguson, Project Manager

Grace came to the YCRCD in 2020 after earning her BS from UC Berkeley, majoring in Conservation and Resource Studies with a focus on California Ecology and Ecosystem Management. She started working with the RCD as a  GrizzlyCorps Fellow, an AmeriCorps program at UC Berkeley focusing on promoting sustainable agriculture and forestry. As a GrizzlyCorps Fellow, she assisted on a variety of projects in the field while working to build long term capacity for the RCD. Following the end of her service year, she began working as a Project Assistant. In this new role, she has been helping to manage grazing and ag leases at both the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and Grasslands Regional Park while continuing to assist in general field activities. 

Sue McCloud

Sue McCloud, Financial Manager

Sue McCloud joined Yolo County RCD in 2002. She has over 40 years of accounting management experience. Sue is responsible for everything that has a dollar sign attached to it and is our resident Excel Goddess. From financial reports and invoicing to budgets, audits, payables, and payroll. She has her finger on the pulse of the YCRCD. She now works remotely from Idaho, but you can reach her by her email.

Kenya Oto, Field Technician

Kenya joined the YCRCD in 2020 after studying Environmental Science and Management with an emphasis in ecology, biodiversity and conservation at UC Davis. During his time there, he served as a restoration intern with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Gardens on the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve. Kenya assists with field operations and vegetation management on the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area’s Corridors and other YCRCD conservation projects.

Greg Pelaez, Project Manager

Greg recently earned a degree in Ecological Management and Restoration from UC Davis, and since then has worked for a UC Davis Hydrology Lab studying water storage throughout California and an Ecology Lab studying post-fire field data collection. He has recently joined YCRCD as a project assistant and will be assisting Tanya Meyer with the Arundo eradication project within the Putah-Cache watershed.

Lani Fulcher, Office Manager

Lani comes to Yolo RCD with years of nonprofit experience supporting science education, mental health programs, environmental engagement, and community outreach.  Her administrative skills have supported boards, executive directors, managers, volunteers, and donors.  She brings her management knowledge and her enthusiasm to YCRCD where she will be handling finances, logistics, data entry and tracking, HR, invoicing, and anything else the YCRCD staff needs.

Kate Reza, Program Manager

Kate has worked in the natural resources field in Northern California since 2003. She has extensive experience in collaborative natural resources management, water supply and water quality issues, outreach to and inclusion of disadvantaged communities, grant writing, and climate adaptation planning. Kate joined YCRCD in September 2021 and her role includes grant and funding acquisition and coordination and support for the Westside Sacramento Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) Coordinating Committee. She splits her time between the Yolo County RCD and her consultancy, where she provides technical writing and research services to consultants, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations. She holds an MS in Ecology from UC Davis.

Joaquin Pastrana, GrizzlyCorps/ Fire Forward Fellow

Joaquin recently graduated from UC Merced with a degree in Public Health and is currently employed as a fellow through GrizzlyCorps, a joint program between UC Berkeley and Americorps that sends college graduates into rural communities to promote regenerative agriculture and forest resilience. Joaquin is stationed at Yolo RCD for the 2021-2022 service year where he will be working alongside Tanya Meyer assisting her with the Yolo County Fire Safe Council along with updating the RCD’s website and social media pages. During his time with Yolo RCD Joaquin hopes to gain valuable experience in areas including GIS, wildfire mitigation practices, and ecological field techniques.

Alli Permann, Outreach Coordinator

Alli earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and Management from UC Davis with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management. Since then, Alli worked as the Education and Outreach Manager at Putah Creek Council where she implemented environmental education programs and volunteer stewardship events that engaged community members in the local watershed. Alli joins YCRCD as the Outreach Coordinator where she works on engagement, education, and outreach for all things RCD including the Yolo County Fire Safe Council. 

Photo of Conor Higgins, RCD Mobile Irrigation Lab Manager

Conor Higgins, Mobile Irrigation Lab Manager

Conor earned a BS in Biology from Penn State and an MS in Ecology from UC Davis where he studied plant and animal community ecology.  At UC Davis, he worked at the UCD Student Farm helping to grow produce for a small-scale market garden CSA.  Before coming to Davis, Conor worked as an ecological research assistant in the field and as a teacher in various capacities. Conor is joining the YCRCD as the manager for the new Mobile Irrigation Lab.

Zach Skalak, Habitat Restoration Grizzly Corps Fellow

Zach recently graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Sustainable Enviromental Design. He joins Yolo County RCD as Habitat Restoration Fellow through GrizzlyCorps for the 2022-2023 service year. GrizzlyCorps is a partnership between AmeriCorps and UC Berkeley that places recent graduates with organizations to build capacity around regenerative agriculture and forest and fire resilience. Zach will be assisting with plant installation, site maintenance, and improving pollinator habitat in Yolo County. He will also serve as a Mentor for the Center for Land Based Learning’s SLEWS program. During the fellowship, Zach hopes to gain practical experience in plant identification, GIS, and land stewardship.