League women making history in redwoods conservation (part two)

Get to know some of the women conservationists at Save the Redwoods League

In honor of Women’s History Month, we chatted with some of the League’s conservation program staffers who are making history protecting and restoring redwood forests and connecting people to welcoming and resonant redwoods experiences. Keep scrolling to learn about these powerful women and the inspiration behind their work. 

Stephanie Davidson, Grants Program Manager 

A brunette woman wearing a teal jacket and standing in front of a redwood tree
Stephanie Davidson

Did you have an aha moment that made you realize you wanted to work in conservation? 

I’m a city girl, so growing up, I thought conservation was only for people who wore hiking boots as fashion. But in 2003, I went to a park opening in BayviewHunters Point in San Francisco, which is a historically Black neighborhood with deep community pride and generations of environmental justice burdens. Seeing kids running around their new park that was created expressly for and by their community really changed my perspective on what conservation is and whom it’s for. I’ve been in this game ever since. 

Who’s your conservation hero? 

I believe the world is full of heroes who quietly go about their lives without public accolades. I particularly admire the many young climate activists who are filling voids of leadership left by previous generations.  

What’s your favorite book? 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. They might seem dissimilar, but both Levin and Shevek struggle with how to live ethically in each of their worlds.  

What song feels like the redwood forest? 

Woods by Bon Iver. 

What’s your dream for the future of conservation? 

Justice. Our society and our landscape are inevitably intertwined, which is why it’s no coincidence that historically marginalized communities consistently bear the deepest environmental injustices. My dream is to see ancestral territories returned to Indigenous communities and BIPOC communities driving national conservation and climate plans. 

Sonia Morris, Conservation Analyst 

A woman wearing a yellow hard hat and looking through a scope in a sunny forest
Sonia Morris

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened on the job? 

I was in the field, bushwhacking, and while clambering over a downed tree, I heard a rip. When I looked down, there was a large tear in the crotch region of my pants. After happening a couple times, I invested in Carhartts and have never looked back. 

What’s your favorite book? 

Favorite book ever!?! That’s a hard one!! One of my favorite comfort reads is a memoir by Gerald Durell called My Family and Other Animals. It’s about Gerald, at the age of 10 or so, and his very British family, who move to an island in Greece just before World War II. Gerald is a budding naturalist and begins collecting all sorts of animals on the island. It is humorous, and it is fun to see how this famous naturalist grew up.  

What song feels like the redwood forest? 

Even though it is not about redwoods in the slightest, I love “Swimming Song” by Loudon Wainwright III. The field season is in the spring and summer so that’s when I spend the most time out there. I always have a towel and bathing suit and believe that it’s not a trip to the redwoods unless I find some sort of body of water to cool off in 

What’s your dream for the future of conservation? 

I think that we need to bring back traditional knowledge to help inform our conservation and restoration activities. The land gives so much to us and we are finally realizing it is not a finite resource, something that traditional knowledge could have predicted. It is time to start practicing the law of reciprocity with the trees. 

Jess Inwood, Parks Program Manager 

A woman smiling with a baby wearing a red hat in a sling, with redwood trees in the background
Jess Inwood

What’s the weirdest/funniest thing that’s ever happened on the job? 

When I was fairly new to land conservation work, I was monitoring a working farm conservation easement with cattle. I had to climb over a large fence to cross a field, and one of the bulls didn’t like that. We had a stare-down as I stood in his field, him 15 feet away (in my mind—in reality, probably more like 50). I was petrified, inching forward, determined to do the job I was there to do. Every time I moved, he’d pivot to be directly facing me, and I’m totally sure he was ready to charge. It took about five more seconds of him staring for me to run as fast as I could back over the fence to safety.  

Who’s your conservation hero (or hero in general)?  

Claire Marie Hodges. She was the first female national park ranger in 1918 in Yosemite National Park, and the only fully commissioned park ranger for the next 30 years! She helped normalize for women what was seen as men’s work, leading to more women becoming rangers. 

What’s your favorite book?   

I have a few, but the one related to conservation is Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.  

What song feels like the redwood forest?   

“Something Good” by Alt-J. 

Adrianna Andreucci, Conservation Programs Associate 

A woman smiling with sunglasses on her head and a giant sequoia tree in the background
Adrianna Andreucci

Did you have an aha moment that made you realize you wanted to work in conservation? 

While attending Sonoma State, I enrolled in an Intro to Environmental Studies class, I must admit, somewhat randomly. It was my second year, and my major was still undeclared. I thought I wanted to go into communications, but it only took a few weeks of sitting in on this class until I enthusiastically declared my conservation and restoration major. And man, was it both the easiest and best decision I could have made. Until hearing the subject matter in this setting, I had never realized I could have a career so closely aligned with my lifelong love of the outdoors. I grew up visiting Humboldt Redwoods State Park every summer, so it was a total full circle moment when I accepted the job at the League, which decades earlier, protected much of that aweinspiring park. 

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened on the job? 

During my first couple years on the job, I was monitoring a conservation easement that the League holds in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I was with two other wonderful colleagues, and we came to a point on the property where there is a series of small ponds. As we approached them, we noticed quite a bit of movement in the water, and upon further inspection we realized it was hundreds of newts! Really, we tried to count them, but there were so many we quickly gave up. It was mating season, and they were clustered into their writhing balls just doing their thing! It was so bizarre and like nothing I had ever seen. 

What’s your dream for the future of conservation? 

The life and healing that the natural world brings me is hard to describe in words, and getting out into these spaces is the only way to evoke these feelings. My hope is that the conservation movement strives to reach more people, in a way that is approachable and relevant to a diverse audience, so that ALL people can experience our natural lands to find the benefits it might bring to their own lives. I dream of a world where the importance of conserving our most treasured landscapes and all of the life they sustain is put before all else. If we don’t have a healthy planet, nothing else matters. We humans play an integral role and are interconnected to all of it. We are a part of nature itself. I’d like to see Indigenous knowledge integrated into our land management practices, including the return of fire to our fire-adapted ecosystems. I’d like to see our natural capital be held higher than the importance of capitalism. And I hope the beauty of conservation lands will illustrate all we have to lose if the world does not come together to find solutions to combat climate change. 

Jess Little, Director of Government Affairs and Public Funding

A woman wearing a beanie standing next to a park interpretive panel in a redwood forest
Jess Little

What’s the weirdest/funniest thing that’s ever happened on the job? 

I will never forget organizing a field tour for legislators and agency partners that ended up getting totally rained on. None of us anticipated the rain, and most of us were ill equipped for the adventure. I was eight months pregnant and one of the few people enjoying the cool weather and pouring rain.  

Who’s your conservation hero (or hero in general)? 

In general, my kids are my heroes! They consistently inspire me to do better for current and future generations. They’ve adapted to shelterinplace with as much grace as humanly possible, and they continue to find joy in the everyday things. The way children interact so inquisitively and honestly with the world inspires me do the same. It brings so much joy to life! 

My conservation hero is my mother. She has a conservation ethic inspired by growing up on a farm in the south. On our adventures, she taught me about the plants she knew, leave no trace, how to reuse various household items, and water conservation. 

What song feels like the redwood forest? 

So many songs, but right now I am hearing Amber by 311. It reminds me of a misty day in the redwoods as the sun begins to peek through.  

What’s your dream for the future of conservation? 

My dream is that we start recognizing ourselves as part of nature and not separate from it. We recognize the connection between the health of ourselves, and the health of the Earth. This takes a monumental shift in language, awareness, and action. It requires us to slow down to the pace of nature, listen to and observe what the natural world is telling us, and act from the place of deep intuitive knowing. 

Sam Yarbrough, Redwoods Rising Fellow 

A woman wearing a baseball cap, leaning against a wooden railing on a walkway in a redwood forest
Sam Yarbrough

Who’s your conservation hero (or hero in general)? 

Aldo Leopold is my conservation hero! I read A Sand County Almanac in high school and fell in love. His observations and descriptions of the natural world sparked my passion and curiosity for wilderness and my decision to pursue natural resources as a career. I was struck by the concept of a land ethic, so much so that it inspired me to develop a land ethic of my own. His ability to speak and write about the importance and the magic of wilderness was key to the designation and preservation of wild lands in this country, and I am so thankful for that.  

What song feels like the redwood forest? 

Definitely Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One. 

What’s your dream for the future of conservation? 

My dream for the future of conservation is total collaboration and inclusion, such that the borders that literally and symbolically divide our lands, organizations, and people can be dissolved. My hope is that we can begin a new paradigm in which we transition away from “facing off” with our counterparts and begin standing shoulder-to-shoulder to look at and address the upcoming and ongoing environmental crises. It’s not a matter of if we can change, but a matter of if we will, because change is a choice. And the choices of individuals will be reflected in the whole of society and emulated in the landscape for generations. My dream for the future of conservation is to see this change, and be this change, in my lifetime. 

Catherine Elliott, Senior Manager of Land Protection 

A man and a woman standing close together in the sunlight, with a forest in the background
Catherine Elliott with Save the Redwoods League partner Larry Holmes.

Did you have an aha moment that made you realize you wanted to work in conservation?  

Yes, when I saw on the news the oil spills that caused terrible damage to wildlife in 1969 in Santa Barbara and other places. 

Who’s your conservation hero? 

Peter Douglas, the longtime director of the California Coastal Commission. California’s coast is among the most beautiful, sensitive, and economically valuable places in the world, and Peter had the vision and courage to protect it for people to enjoy and for the animals and plants that thrive there. But as he said many times, the coast is never truly saved, it always needs to be saved. 

What’s your favorite book?  

Oh, there are so many good books. Two of my favorite authors are Louise Erdrich, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who wrote The Round House, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author who wrote Half a Yellow Sun and Americanah.

For more, read part one and the Redwoods Rising edition of this series.

Dana Poblete

About the author

Dana Poblete joined Save the Redwoods League in 2019 as writer/storyteller and editor. She has written sustainable lifestyle and travel features, environmental advocacy pieces, and content and copy for print magazines, nonprofits, and mission-driven brands.

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