Kaila was born and raised in Ben Lomond, California, a small town nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She grew up camping, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding with her family. She attended Cal Poly earning a B.S.in Animal Science with a concentration in Livestock Production and Rangeland Resources, and a M.S. in Watershed Hydrology and Soil Conservation. Kaila joined The Land Conservancy in 2005 to manage the Restoration Program and in November 2012took the helm of the organization as Executive Director. She now spends her working days supporting her team of professional staff, setting strategy for the organization, building relationships with land owners and partners, and ensuring the organization is operating efficiently and effectively.
Kaila and her husband Terry live in San Luis Obispo with their two boys. As a family they enjoy playing on the sandspit in Morro Bay, visiting Avila Valley Barn, hiking our phenomenal open space trails, and camping throughout the state. Kaila also enjoys horseback riding, sailing, kayaking, cooking, gardening, yoga, and photography. As a young girl she was fortunate to have unfettered access to the beautiful outdoors and fresh food from her mom’s garden. She is passionate about conserving our natural resources so that not only her kids, but all people, have access to the same opportunities. She is committed to finding innovative ways to help us live in and improve the environment we call home.
Daniel grew up a stone’s throw from the Sand Counties of Wisconsin that helped shape Aldo Leopold’s land ethic. An early conservationist in the image of Leopold, Abbey, and Berry, Daniel has worked in, on, and for the land going on twenty-five years now, seventeen of which have been with The Land Conservancy.
Daniel endeavors to listen more than he talks and has embraced Woody Guthrie’s sage advice to “take it easy; but take it”.
When he’s not saving land, Daniel can be found playing music, fishing, and tromping about with his wife, son, and dog.
Community Engagement Director
After graduating from Cal Poly in 2012 with a BA in English, Jamie’s passion for sports and the outdoors lead to a career merging her communications experience with recreational programming. Jamie leads our membership and community efforts with over ten years of experience marketing recreational programs in San Luis Obispo County.
Jamie grew up across the United States, enjoying most of her childhood at the foot of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she fell in love with hiking with her summer league swim team. In her free time Jamie enjoys curling up with a cup of coffee, her cats, and a good book, exploring our local trails and beaches with her husband and dog, and heading to the mountains in the winter for some good snowboarding.
Jon spent much of his childhood in Clayton, California, a historic coal mining town at the foot of Majestic Mt. Diablo. Growing up exploring Mt. Diablo’s open spaces fueled his passion for the outdoors, being surrounded by nature, and preserving wild places.
Jon has a B.S. in Ecology and Systematic Biology from Cal Poly with a specialization in wildlife biology. After traveling for a year and spending six months working with sea otters in the Bearing Sea, Jon returned to Cal Poly to pursue an M.S. in Agriculture focused on invasive species ecology. Jon is a licensed Pest Control Advisor and has worked for the San Luis Obispo County Ag Department, Catalina Island Conservancy and Morro Bay National Estuary Program. Jon has also served on the Board of Directors for the California Invasive Plant Council. He brings over 10 years of experience in habitat restoration to The Land Conservancy.
In his free time, Jon enjoys pulling weeds, botanizing, traveling, surfing, mountain biking, trail running and camping with his wife Rose and dog Maverick.
Joni Martinez was born in King City, California, but raised in Switzerland where she discovered her love for the outdoors. One of her favorite childhood memories were Sunday family hikes in the beautiful Swiss Alps.
She returned to the Central Coast in 2000 where she met her wonderful husband of 12 years and where they are raising their two kids.
Joni brings over 26 years of finance experience, first as a bookkeeper for a ship management company overseas, then for a local travel agency, before taking the leap of becoming a business owner herself, providing accounting services to over 40 clients for 16 years. During that time, she gained experience in the non-profit world while working with several local organizations, then later becoming the Finance & HR Director for one of them.
In her free time, you’ll find her enjoying time with family and friends, playing softball, hiking, traveling, baking, and cheering on her kids and husband from the sidelines
Kyle grew up exploring the forests and streams of New Jersey’s Sourland Mountains. He learned to enjoy working on and for the land as a farm hand and with an agricultural non-profit in New Jersey. With the West calling, he moved to California and completed a graduate program at San Diego State University focused on land use change and rangeland conservation in San Luis Obispo County.
In addition to his graduate studies, he worked as a program assistant for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey. Kyle worked with a team to acquire land and build New Jersey’s first incubator farm designed to offer low-cost acreage to new sustainable growers.
From oak woodlands to rocky shorelines and coastal peaks, he joined The Land Conservancy to help protect and conserve the County’s diverse landscapes. In his free time he enjoys trail running, hiking, playing guitar, and traveling with friends and family.
Learning Among the Oaks Teaching Specialist
Anna grew up in Southern California, made her way up to Northern California, and is now excited to be living on the Central Coast. She first experienced the beauty of the area while at UC Santa Barbara, where she double majored in anthropology and English. She started her career as a newspaper editor. After discovering that nature topics were what excited her most, she landed at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. She spent nearly 15 years at the museum, mainly in the Naturalist Center. Anna left to pursue a graduate degree in ecology and biodiversity at Stockholm University. It was here that she developed an appreciation for oaks, focusing on them for her master’s thesis and an outreach project. Besides exploring the outdoors, she loves traveling — having visited almost 25 countries — and trying all sorts of new food.
Facilities and Grounds Maintenance Supervisor
Lindsay grew up dividing her time between the Southern California beach town of Encinitas and the wide open spaces of the Northern California town of Placerville. She spent many afternoons exploring the old wagon trails and fire roads on the back of her horse in the north, and hiking the estuaries and beaches in the south. From this upbringing she learned a great love and joy for all the ecological diversity that California has to offer.
Lindsay’s studies have focused on California native plants, permaculture, and the wildly ephemeral fungi of our state. She enjoys hunting for rare plants, gardening, and collecting fungi for further study. The thought of finding a mushroom that is unknown to science is always a thrill! She loves to share her passion and learning with others and has volunteered many hours teaching children in our community.
In her free time, Lindsay enjoys spending time with her family, working in her garden, fermenting, hiking, and exploring new creative outlets.
Mckenna is a central coast native. Her passion for the natural world stems from her childhood in Morro Bay where she spent most of her time surfing, fishing, golfing, and exploring the beautiful lands of SLO County.
Mckenna graduated on a golf scholarship from CSU Monterey Bay with a B.A. in Psychology in 2013. After college she moved to Bali where she taught English at an international school. Upon returning home Mckenna dove into the wine and beer industry, and later moved into the solar industry, which is where she cultivated a deep passion for sustainability. In 2020 Mckenna decided to go back to school to obtain her MBA in sustainable business, graduating from Maharishi International University. Mckenna found her way to the finance team +at the Land Conservancy where she is excited to contribute her knowledge and energy to help conserve the land she grew up on.
In her free time, you’ll find Mckenna hiking with her two dogs Koa and Kali, surfing, mountain biking, golfing, camping or traveling. She has an eclectic appreciation for music and has recently taken up piano and music production.
Preserve Program Manager
Scott grew up in the rural west Sonoma County town of Sebastopol, surrounded by vineyards and apple orchards. Scott pursued an Environmental Studies degree, with a focus and Sustainability and Social Justice at San Francisco State University.
While the urban landscape was exciting, it was the rugged mountains of California’s Eastern Sierra that cemented his passion of the outdoors and fostered the satisfaction of working with the land. With 8 seasons of wilderness trail construction and maintenance for the US Forest Service to guide his professional journey, The Land Conservancy provides for an excellent blend of work, play and a sense of place in San Luis Obispo’s wild spaces and rural landscapes.
Scott can usually be found mountain biking and running our local trails, surfing a wave or two, and exploring the Central Coast with his wife and his three children.
Venue Manager, Octagon Barn
Madison grew up mountain biking in the hills of Monterey. She made her way to San Luis Obispo to race for the Cal Poly Wheelmen and years later she still calls SLO home. Madison graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Kinesiology, focused on Health Promotion Program Planning. She has always had a knack for helping others reach their full potential and spent many years traveling around the country producing races in the world of outdoor sports.
Sprinkled in between her career in hospitality and special events, Madison spent a year in South Korea teaching English followed by a year backpacking through Asia and New Zealand. One of Madison’s favorite pastimes is getting to explore the different cultures, habitats, and architecture of the world. Her grandparents traveled full-time for 17 years in their retirement and Madison hopes to follow in their footsteps.
In Madison’s free time, you will find her in a coffee shop planning her next trip, riding her bike through the numerous trails of the County, or sitting at the beach reading a book. She is thrilled to join The Land Conservancy at the Octagon Barn Center helping people host the events of their dreams.
Conservation Project Manager
Born and raised near the Ozarks, Kendall’s passion for nature began climbing trees and exploring the creek with her sisters and cousins. From taking in stray animals to volunteering at the local Audubon center, she knew early on that caring for the natural world was her mission. After graduating with a B.S. in Biology, she headed to the Sierra’s for work where her love for the west was affirmed. While living in the Reno area, Kendall spent time volunteering in carbon capture research at a non-profit in San Diego.
As soon as the opportunity in land conservation arose, she happily moved to work with The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. As an avid hiker, paddle boarder, and scuba diver, coastal California is a dream come true for her and her four-legged friend. Kendall is very excited about joining this community and helping to create lasting access to nature.
Learning Among the Oaks Special Projects Manager
Beverly Gingg up on a Paso Robles area cattle ranch where she developed a lifelong passion for outdoor learning and biology. After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology and a teaching credential in 1981, she began work as a junior high science teacher. She returned to the Central Coast to earn an M.S. in biology from Cal Poly in 1989. She has been involved in community leadership and science education, in the classroom and outdoors, for 40 years. At Cal Poly, she met her late husband Bryan, a 5th generation San Luis Obispo native.
She worked within the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, to establish the Learning Among the Oaks (LATO) program at Santa Margarita Ranch (2005-2011). LATO has since grown from its original public-school base in Santa Margarita to include public schools throughout San Luis Obispo County. This innovative, high-impact program is now recognized as model for place-based learning and youth environmental leadership development. In 2012, LATO transitioned to its nonprofit home within The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County.
In her free time, Bev enjoys outdoor time with family and friends, relaxing in her garden, and trips to Montana where she spent her undergraduate years and where her Norwegian immigrant grandparents rest in peace on their homestead just south of the Canadian border.
Human Resources Manager
A two week visit to the area after college at the University of Illinois was all that was needed for Heather to fall thoroughly in love with the Central Coast. Drawn to the vast hiking options, biodiversity of flora, and coastal splendor, she made the move across country. She spent the last decade in event coordination, and office management in the wine industry. Now, she has set her sights on pursuing a career helping to preserve this unique place.
In her free time, she can be found hiking with her dog, gardening, identifying wild edibles and native flowers, enjoying live music, and occasionally under the sea scuba diving.
Francisco grew up in Hollister, CA, a small town on the central coast. He enjoys nature and anything to do with arts, music, and creativity. He is a big eater, so he enjoys visiting different restaurants and likes to cook for himself and his friends.
His first real exposure to the outdoors and nature was in elementary school when his whole class went to Pinnacles National Park, where his curiosity and wonder about the natural world began. He went to community college in Gilroy, California, and received his associate degree in Biology. His first experience working outdoors was in his summer internship with STEM which partnered with Canada de Los Osos Ecological Reserve to develop a poster presentation to share with his peers. He then moved to Long Beach to attend the California State University of Long Beach. He graduated with a Marine Biology major in the spring of 2020.
In Francisco’s spare time, he enjoys being with his family and friends while sharing a laugh.
Monitoring Program Coordinator
Judith enjoys meeting landowners near and far throughout San Luis Obispo County in her winter part-time role in the Land Conservancy’s easement monitoring program. Building and maintaining deep connections to the land through conservation work nurtures her.
Judith majored in geology at UC Davis ages ago (they had field trips, and maps!). Judith jointly runs a summer family business in the Tahoe area where she grew up amongst lots of granite boulders. In her free time, you can find her hiking on the trails, attempting to identify birds, composing photos, reading a good novel, or exploring backroads with her husband.
Learning Among the Oaks Program Coordinator
Born in the Midwest, Jen grew up moving from state to state, eventually settling in Northern California as a preteen. After a weekend visiting her older brother at Cal Poly, she fell in love with the area and its seemingly endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. She became inspired to also study at Cal Poly, with her business degree taking her down to Southern California and beyond. Serendipitously, she and her husband returned to the Central Coast, settling in the quaint town of Santa Margarita to raise their children.
Through community events and school field trips, Jen was introduced to the Land Conservancy’s nature education program, Learning Among the Oaks. It spoke to her soul, and she eagerly became a volunteer and Nature Docent. Both of her daughters shared the same sentiment and proudly became Oak Ambassadors for Santa Margarita Elementary School. Five years later, she joined LATO as staff to raise awareness of this amazing and unique program.
Chris grew up in Ladera, a small and bucolic neighborhood nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he spent his childhood overturning logs to discover critters in his backyard. Unable to shake his fascination with the natural world, Chris graduated from the University of Michigan’s Program in the Environment, with a specialization in conservation biology. A season of wildland firefighting in Alaska cemented his desire to work outdoors, while volunteering in restoration projects in Ann Arbor further pulled Chris towards environmental stewardship.
In his free time, Chris enjoys the endless outdoor recreation the Central Coast boasts: backpacking, hiking, trail running, disc golf, surfing, and more.
Special Projects Manager
Scott spent his youth in Fremont, California, exploring the open space of the East Bay Regional Park District and the Alameda Creek watershed in Niles Canyon. He ventured to San Luis Obispo to attend Cal Poly and earned a B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture with a concentration in Landscape Construction.
Scott was the founding horticulturist of the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden Center in Palo Alto, a community horticultural resource center, working with volunteers to renovate the historic property. He devoted the majority of his career working in facilities management at U.C. Santa Cruz, overseeing the Site Stewardship Program, and most recently at Cal Poly, where he was Director for Operations. Scott is a Certified Arborist, licensed Pest Control Advisor and Qualified Applicator.
In his free time, Scott enjoys working in his garden, cycling and hiking with his wife Tish and dogs Tinka and Trigger.
Heather grew up in Potter Valley, a tiny farm town in northern California. She spent much of her childhood playing at a friend’s ranch and exploring the wilds of the Mendocino National Forest with her family.
Heather’s background includes restoration, resource management, and fire suppression. She founded her own thriving SLO based business in 2009, and volunteers with other environmentally based nonprofits. Her passion for the outdoors and love for the community came together in 2020 when she became the Development Manager of the Land Conservancy of SLO County.
When she is not serving the community, Heather enjoys painting, gardening, backpacking, traveling, snowboarding, cycling, climbing, and spending time with loved ones.
Dena grew up climbing trees and playing sardines in Long Beach, CA. She earned her B.S. at UC Davis in Environmental Biology. After spending many years farming in the Sacramento area and working in the backcountry of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, she moved to the Central Coast.
Dena joined the Land Conservancy in 2021 after completing her master’s at Cal Poly in Biology. When not working she likes to travel by bicycle, eat new foods, read, or hike.
Restoration Program Manager
Lindsey hails from the beaches of Ventura, California and spent much her childhood on her grandparents’ ranch in the Ojai Valley. Lindsey has a B.S in Environmental Management and Protection and a M.S. in Biological Sciences from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Much of her early career was spent working in youth environmental and science education. Here she was able to share her love of the unique ecology of the Central Coast. Lindsey brings a strong background in habitat conservation planning, plant identification, invasive species ecology, and nonprofit experience. Her role at the Land Conservancy has allowed her to conserve and protect the unique natural lands of the central coast that she loves so much.
In her free time, Lindsey enjoys hiking, botanizing, camping, traveling, and cooking with her family and friends.
Learning Among the Oaks Educator
Kylie spent her childhood exploring the desert in rural southern Arizona where she grew up. She earned her B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in wildlife management and ecology at Northern Arizona University, where she discovered her passion for teaching others about science and nature. After graduating, she moved to San Francisco and then eventually made her way down to the central coast and decided it was the place for her.
Since living in San Luis Obispo County, Kylie has taken advantage of kayaking at all beautiful beaches and exploring the local hiking trails. She also enjoys crafting, concerts, and traveling with friends.
pismo preserve outreach coordinator
Carolyn “CJ” Silas has spent most evenings throughout her life on a microphone talking sports & announcing games for college football & baseball at Cal Poly and Hancock College. By day she laces up her hiking boots or Roller Derby skates to get her blood pumping and her heart racing. She has been a volunteer Docent/Ranger for the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County since the organization acquired the Pismo Preserve.
CJ’s love for nature, animals, ocean views & a great workout drove her to the Preserve on a daily basis. She’s been volunteering to lead hikes, raise money and create new relationships with the surrounding community. CJ earned a B.S. in Communications from Syracuse University. As an ambassador on the Preserve she shares stories with visitors, while pointing out the vibrant wildlife & flowers on the 900-acre property. Her passion for the outdoors and preserving the land for its many critters is contagious.
Community Engagement Coordinator
Christa grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, where childhood exploration of the forests and tallgrass prairies instilled in her a passion for the environment. Pursuing this passion and seeking better weather, she moved to the Central Coast to attend Cal Poly, where she received a B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection in 2021.
Recognizing the need for better communication regarding environmental issues led Christa to attend Syracuse University, where she received her M.S. in Communications in 2023.
In her free time, you can find Christa making the most of all SLO has to offer by trail running, mountain biking, and surfing.
Monitoring Program Manager
Dylan grew up in Seattle, Washington and gained an appreciation for the mountains, clean water, and lush forests that surround his hometown. He graduated with a BS degree in Natural Resources Management and an MS degree in Forest Hydrology from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo California.
Dylan is enthusiastic about managing Land Conservancy properties and enjoys the discussions he has with landowners and managers regarding the unique natural resources management challenges facing SLO County.
In his spare time, Dylan enjoys surfing, sailing, and camping.
Volunteer and Events Coordinator
Niki grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, exploring the natural beauty of the island. After moving to San Luis Obispo to attend Cal Poly, she earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Environmental Studies in 2021.
Coming from an island, Niki grew up more interested in the ocean than land, but that flipped for her in college. While she still enjoys a fun beach day, botany fueled Niki’s study interests in her college career. Learning about the astonishing power of nature to appreciate it more deeply is a priority for Niki because nothing else is more magical!
In Niki’s free time, she enjoys creating art and bringing her creations to pop-up markets to meet folks in the community. Nothing makes her happier than getting creative with her art and spoiling her mini lop bunnies, Ku’uipo and Chihiro.
Marie Weiher grew up in San Luis Obispo, California with cherished memories of being a young child running freely through the hills of northern Morro Bay and Cayucos. Following graduation from San Luis Obispo High School, Marie moved to San Diego and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations at San Diego State University. After more than a decade of living in San Diego and working in the public relations field, Marie returned to the Central Coast in pursuit of a slower lifestyle.
Marie joined The Land Conservancy team in the summer of 2022. As the Executive Assistant at The Land Conservancy, Marie is dedicated to helping raise awareness about the importance of protecting natural habitats and irreplaceable ecosystems.
Several times a week, you can find Marie and her husband hiking hand in hand through the hills and beaches of the Central Coast. As an avid epicurean traveler, she is always planning her next adventure. Marie’s relaxation hobbies include completing jigsaw puzzles and reading.
Mat was born and raised in Federal Way, Washington and moved to Arroyo Grande, California his junior year of high school. He then acquired an EMS degree from Allen Hancock College.
After hiking the well-groomed trails of the central coast, Mat was inspired by the coast live oaks and started practicing the art of Bonsai. This passion led him to gaining work experience in the nursery industry and then landscape maintenance. Now Mat is excited to use this experience to beautify and maintain properties with the Land Conservancy.
In his free time, you can find Mat hiking the Pismo Preserve or in his backyard tinkering with his ever-growing collection of succulents and Bonsai trees.
Learning Among the Oaks Program Manager
After a childhood in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Zarah studied horticulture and ecology at the University of California, Davis. For the last 20 years her work has focused on protecting and restoring California’s oak woodlands while supporting oak-based conservation initiatives throughout western North America. Zarah’s favorite things are harvesting acorns, climbing oaks, and exploring the wonders of nature with kids of all ages.