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Thanking the Earth Day Park Superstars

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Earth Day is important to us at Parks California. Having a dedicated day to ground ourselves in all the planet does for us also allows us to celebrate our values and our mission with everyone. Protecting our environment takes more than one day, and it certainly takes more than one person. In fact, it takes a lot of people that work tirelessly and quite often, thanklessly. 

We’re going to change that. 

Today, we’re spotlighting the wonderful people that keep California State Parks beautiful, fun and full of wonder. It’s impossible to summarize a person completely in a sentence or two, especially with such a wide variety of backgrounds and roles, but the following snippets should at least bring a smile to your face. 

We call them our Earth Day Park Superstars – even though they’re superstars all year long. Please join us as we share the stories of the staff at California State Parks: 

Marc Rickey (Senior Park Aide for Orange Coast District) – Marc may seem quiet but don’t let his demeanor fool you, his effective work and “Can Do” attitude make Marc a privilege to work with on all Park Aid, Campground and Visitor Services issues. 

Princess Colegrove (Interpreter for Sumeg Village, Patrick’s Point State Park*) – Princess is a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, from the Villages Me’dildin and Tak’imiLding. Her family has always had a deep-rooted connection to Sumeg, through ceremony and cultural activities, and they continue their responsibility for taking care of this special place.

Lisa Gonzales-Kramer (Project Manager, Environmental Scientist) – Lisa has been diligently working on the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Reforestation Project. Helping restore and protect the fragile Sky Island Habitat in the mountains of San Diego County.

Austin Yu (Environmental Services Intern) – Austin has been a great addition in helping the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Reforestation Project.

Lori Wear (State Park Interpreter II) – Lori has built our Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) on Demand program for three park units (Colonel Allensworth, Fort Tejon and Tule Elk) and expanded our reach to the underserved communities of the Central Valley.

Tricia Framer (Environmental Scientist) – Tricia has worked hard to get the Eastern Kern County Onyx Ranch State Vehicle Recreational Area (SVRA) wildlife habitat protection plan and monitoring program off the ground while learning the ropes at the newest SVRA.

Jan Cahill (Heavy Equipment Mechanic) – As our sole mechanic, Jan works tirelessly to keep our fleet up and running using his extensive skills. Thanks to his hard work and dedication, our field teams can safely and effectively protect our state’s most valued natural and cultural resources!

Sara Lockett (Environmental Scientist) – Sara leads our natural resource and environmental compliance programs for the Ocotillo Wells District which consists of wildlife habitat protection plans, habitat monitoring programs, as well as securing grant funding, just to name a few!

Mary Glaser (Interpretive Association Board Member and Volunteer) – Not letting grueling work get in her way, Mary helped in removing two miles of barbed wire fence and get the debris out to the closest road for pick up for multiple days in a restoration project.

Paul Geist (Senior Maintenance Aide, Shasta SHP) – A ray of sunshine, Paul always seems to make a potentially negative situation into a positive experience for everyone involved. Keeping his own park running smoothly and looking beautiful.

Jack Frost (Guide 1, Weaverville Joss House SHP) – With 22 years at the Gold Rush Era Chinese Temple, Jack has tremendous depth of knowledge that enables him to convey Chinese culture and traditions with sensitivity and complexity through his excellent storytelling.

Lydia Stinson (State Park Interpreter for PORTS) – Lydia engages with California students virtually every day in an effort to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and increase access to our California State Parks.

Brooke Sheridan (Environmental Scientist) – Brooke is the only full-time Environmental Scientist for the district and does a variety of tasks to help protect the natural resources within these State Parks.  Brooke can be found in the parks on her kayak, flying a drone, hiking the bike country, or walking the beach to check on snowy plovers.

Sydney Hild (Forestry Aide) –  Sydney and the other Forestry Aids has been instrumental in the effort to restore and recover Emma Wood State Beach with removing at least 30 tons of non-native green waste.

Natalie Guiterrez (Park Maintenance Assistant) – Natalie’s love of nature allows her to see the beauty in our State Parks and its surroundings. It also drives her to put forth an off-the-charts effort to care for our delicate ecology and its inhabitants. 

Mike Bechtel (Forestry Aide) – Mike and other Forestry Aids were instrumental in the recovery and vegetation management of the area after two wildfires burned about 20 acres.

Samantha May (Archaeological Specialist/Park Aide) – Samantha is passionate about protecting and conserving cultural sites. She has also provided critical support to a large number of facilities, public safety, administrative, and natural resources projects.

Lucy Chalgren (Park Interpretive Specialist) and Sandy Tolza (State Park Interpreter I) are a dynamic duo and both have worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to shift their interpretive programming to a virtual platform.  They have provided hours of exciting and educational content connecting visitors to the sea at San Elijo State Beach, highlighting the significance of watersheds, and the Swamis Marine Protected Area. 

Stephen Gonzalez (Park Maintenance Assistant) – Stephen recently promoted to from his seasonal maintenance aide position to a full-time Park Maintenance Assistant.  Stephen is part of a dedicated team who help maintain grounds, facilities, and other park features for our guests at El Capitan State Beach, Refugio State Beach, and Gaviota State Park. 

Marcos Vizcaino (State Park Interpreter I) – Marcos gives tours of San Juan Bautista to thousands of school kids and is helping bring digital programs to schools, including programs in Spanish.

Yamile Belmontes (Forestry Aide) – Yamile came from the California Conservation Corps and now helps the Resource team do Restoration and fuel reduction projects that are essential to our sustainable future.

Mark Sinclair (Park Maintenance Worker I) – Mark is an Enthusiastic Supporter of Earth Day, and outdoor activities at Mt Diablo State Park. He even organized a network of volunteers to help him maintain the trails at the state park!  

Cara Stafford (Environmental Scientist) – Cara is responsible for much of the Natural Resources Stewardship work in the San Diego Coast District and is absolutely dedicated to the role.

Jesse Reyes (Environmental Scientist) – Jesse Reyes manages the Natural Resources Program at Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds and has the cleanest green house in the State Parks System!

Patrick Bauers (Park Maintenance Chief I) – Patrick has gone above and beyond and provided utility upgrades in Point Lobos, Carmel River State Beach, Marina, and other park units. 

Emanuel Sandoval (Forestry Aide) – Manny is always willing to help and plays an important part of the Carnegie SVRA resource team. Manny has helped and led in projects from trail building and maintenance to habitat restoration work. 

Thank you again for the team at California State Parks and for all the critical work that you do. Taking care of our parks is no small feat and there is still a lot of work to be done. Learn about our Resource Stewardship Program and how you too can be a superstar to the planet.  

*Since the original publishing of this story, the park has been renamed to Sue-meg State Park to honor the place name used by the Yurok people since time immemorial. To learn more about the cultural significance of Sue-meg State Park, watch this celebration with the Yurok community. Reclaiming the Name of Sue-meg State Park