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Bay Nature Honors Three Local Conservation Heroes


Bay Nature Honors Three Local Conservation Heroes

A veteran land conservation leader who divides his time between Berkeley and Sonoma, a dedicated environmental educator based in Point Reyes, and a dynamic young man from Richmond who engages youth in environmental restoration will be honored at Bay Nature's fourth annual Local Hero Awards Dinner on March 22, 2015.

Every year the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute (BNI), based in Berkeley, honors three individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding, protection, and stewardship of the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area.

"As part of Bay Nature's mission to educate the public about local nature and open space, we come into contact with so many individuals who have made it their life's work to protect our amazing natural heritage and make it accessible to the rest of us. Selecting just three of them every year is tough, but it's also an honor and a pleasure to bring some well-deserved recognition to such dedicated local environmental heroes," said Bay Nature publisher David Loeb.

The Local Hero awards will be presented at Scott's Seafood Pavilion in Oakland's Jack London Square. The program will also feature a presentation by San Francisco environmental artist Josie Iselin, based on her recent book, An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed.

For more details and to purchase tickets visit

This year's Local Heroes are:

Conservation Action Award
Ralph Benson, Executive Director, Sonoma Land Trust
In the 12 years he has served as Executive Director of the Sonoma Land Trust, Ralph Benson has transformed a small, local land trust into one of the major players in the Bay Area conservation community. Under Ralph's leadership, the trust has tripled its portfolio of protected lands, forever safeguarding many of Sonoma's unique landscapes, from the tidal marshes of the Sonoma Baylands to forested hillsides above the Russian River. Ralph will retire from the land trust in April, capping a long career in land conservation that began in the 1980s at the Trust for Public Land, where he helped it become one of the nation's leading conservation organizations. >> Learn more about Ralph

Environmental Education Award
Julia Clothier, Education Center Director, Point Reyes National Seashore Association
If Julia Clothier had her way, every child would grow up with the opportunity to experience nature as an integral part of their education. She has made it her mission in life to promote access to, and engagement with, the natural world for young people. As the Director of the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center at Point Reyes National Seashore, she oversees environmental and outdoor education programs that reach 2,200 youth every year and has trained nearly 100 K-12 teachers to bring nature back into their classrooms. In 2009 Julia helped to create the Young Stewards Youth Scholarship Fund, which has raised over $500,000 to make these programs available to underserved youth.
>> Learn more about Julia

Youth Engagement Award
Javier Ochoa Reyes, Project Coordinator, Groundwork Richmond
The son of Mexican immigrants, 23-year-old Javier Ochoa Reyes has been inspiring young people to bring the natural world back into the city of Richmond since he was a student at Richmond High, where he participated first as a student and then as a mentor in the Straight Talk on Prison (S.T.O.P.) program. As part of that program, he got involved in local gardening and restoration projects, such as the Sunshine Organics community garden, where he helped Richmond youth learn how to grow healthy food. Now, as project coordinator for Groundwork Richmond he recruits and trains teens to work on restoring segments of the Richmond Greenway, a 3.5 mile long trail that is bringing nature back to the heart of this East Bay city. Javier is also a student at Contra Costa College, where he is pursuing a degree in civil engineering. His goal is to contribute to the building of a vibrant city through green infrastructure.
>> Learn more about Javier

For more information about the awards event or any of the awards recipients, or to set up interviews, please contact Marketing & Outreach Director Beth Slatkin at or at 510-528-8550 x107.