Board of Directors

Every day we are witnessing the senseless deaths of innocent black people and the mourning that accompanies it. The mothers, the sisters, the fathers, and brothers of black people wonder who is next, while at the same time hoping that the next time will never come - but again it has. 

Saved By Nature (SBN) is deeply saddened by a system that is broken. We feel that everyone should feel safe, protected, and respected by law enforcement, and have access to basic rights such as exercise outdoors without harm or violence being brought upon them. When our Black men and women die at the hands of those who perpetuate and reinforce forms of institutionalized racism, that validates the violence first, and explain later, we are fighting against our own justice system. Why are the rights of Black Americans being violated? In their own communities, even on camera, being violated every day, we cannot stand by and be silent. 

On Monday, May 25th, yet again ANOTHER Black American was murdered at the hands of armed police officers, who insisted on using excessive and unnecessary force. This is not the first time a man pleaded with those in authority to “please just let me breathe,” before being forced to die on the street while bystanders watched and recorded.  

We, the founders, and board members of SBN, will not just sit and watch silently, but will continue to fight for equity, justice and the lives of all Black people and people of all colors. We will continue to forge pathways to a safer community, who welcome ALL seeking the path of healing through nature for all our brothers and sisters in this time of need.  

We cannot tolerate those in authority, in uniform, here to protect us, to continue to commit genocide on our streets in the name of self-defense and call it justice! We will no longer wait for more tragedies to terrorize the Black community, to threaten and take our lives, our children, fathers, sisters, mothers, brothers, and friends because they feel threatened by the color of our skin. We want our voices heard and we stand by our community. #BLACKLIVESMATTER


Director Heidi McFarland

Full-time Faculty - West Valley College Park Management Program

Heidi is a seasoned environmental education and interpretation professional with extensive experience in volunteer management. She is currently a professor for the prestigious West Valley College Park Management Program, and previously worked 3 years at the Santa Clara Valley Water District as the Education Outreach Coordinator and served a short time as a Water Conservation Specialist. Prior to that, Heidi spent over 16 years with Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation. In her tenure, she served in increasingly responsible positions: from Park Maintenance Worker, Parks Volunteer Program Coordinator, Park Interpreter, to Outdoor Recreation Program Coordinator, and finally Park Interpretive Program Coordinator. In her role with county parks, she grew the county parks volunteer program, as well as contributed to a variety of new interpretive programs, educational curriculum and other materials and media. Heidi also helped to develop the on-line Past Perfect archive program at the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum and helped coordinate a number of special events for the parks interpretive program. Additionally, she contributed to a few GIS projects including development of the Trail Assessment Program, mapping the use of IPM practices, and updating the county parks vegetation layer.

Heidi also serves as a trainer and mentor for other field staff and agencies providing quality interpretive instruction, volunteer management, as well as CPR/First Aid training. She develops collaborative community-based relationships with schools, partnerships, and other community-based organizations. While she was the Education Outreach Coordinator at Santa Clara Valley Water District, she provided quality instruction to all grade levels, PreK-College and hosted the State Water Educators Committee meeting. Until recently being hired as full-time faculty for the Park Management Program, Heidi was a long-time adjunct faculty course instructor at West Valley College, since 2004. She currently provides quality instruction, leadership & education for park management related courses such as: 12A Basic Outdoor Skills and 15B Interpretation of Natural & Cultural Resources, 10 Introduction to Park Management,15C Park Maintenance, 14 Conservation of Natural Resources, and 11 Park Communications courses and serves on the Park Management Advisory Board. The program will soon be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020!

Heidi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Environmental Education from San Jose State University, and an Associate degree in Park Management & Communications from West Valley College. She is also a Certified Interpretive Trainer (CIT) for the National Association for Interpretation (NAI), Certified CPR/First Aid Instructor with the American Red Cross, certified Leave No Trace Instructor, California Naturalist Instructor, Project WET and Project Learning Tree Instructor, has a certificate in the Forestry Institute for Teachers program, and is a Wilderness First Responder.

When not at work, Heidi enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, hiking, biking, climbing, swimming, backpacking, and traveling near and abroad whenever the opportunity presents itself. 


You can reach Heidi at or connect with her on LinkedIn at


Saved By Nature is extremely happy to welcome Heidi McFarland to our Board of Directors! Heidi is a Professor at West Valley College for the Park Management Program where she mentors students that want to begin careers in Park Interpretation, Law Enforcement, Park Maintenance, and Resource Management.


Heidi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Environmental Education from San Jose State University, and an Associate degree in Park Management & Communications from West Valley College. She is also a Certified Interpretive Trainer (CIT) for the National Association for Interpretation (NAI), Certified CPR/First Aid Instructor with the American Red Cross, certified Leave No Trace Instructor, California Naturalist Instructor, Project WET and Project Learning Tree Instructor, has a certificate in the Forestry Institute for Teachers program, and is a Wilderness First Responder.

Vice President

Director Teri Rogoway

Educational Programs Coordinator - Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority

Teri is the Educational Programs Coordinator for the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority where I manage seasonal educational aides, a corps of 80 docents, and create an ongoing, engaging educational experience where the public can come and learn about the benefits of Open Spaces. Prior to working for the Authority, I developed my interpretive skills with California State Parks, Santa Clara County Parks, San Jose City Parks and the Youth Science Institute leading programs for park visitors and school groups as well as training other park professionals in interpretation skills. My personal passion is creating an all-inclusive experience where everyone can find their place in nature and local parks. I have had the benefit of being a teacher with the Park Management Program at West Valley College and assisting to teach the Parks Interpretation courses there. I believe strongly in the importance of a college education and have used my Masters in Park Interpretation for Special Needs to train other park and nonprofit professionals in how to adapt and present nature education for people with disabilities. In my spare time I enjoy studying wildlife behavior and writing fiction. 


Director Emily Green

Research Associate - ETR

Emily is a Research Associate at ETR, where she works with local school districts to broaden participation and work towards equity and inclusion in STEM (  Strategies include offering computer science pathways in grades 3-8 as well as community college dual enrollment opportunities for high school students. 


Previously, she was the director of IRIS Science Academy and founder/educator at Green STEAM Education, both in Scotts Valley, CA.  She created and taught environmental, anthropological, and science curriculum for homeschool, after-school, and science camps. This included local archaeology, sustainable food systems, and alternative energy.


Prior to this, she met Richard while earning her MA in Applied Anthropology at San Jose State University.  Her project explored the cultural and civic potential of public spaces and her case study was the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy (



Emily’s passion is to bring equitable opportunities of nature, science, and education to all!  Living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, falling asleep to the sound of a lazy creek and waking up to the Redwoods, she wants everyone to be able to experience the comfort of nature.


Director Aniko Millan

Co-chair of Fundraising Committee - Grants

Retired Supervising Park Ranger - Santa Clara County Parks

I, Ranger Kiko, as my fave Jr. Rangers call me, am thrilled to be a transplant from the streets of southwest Los Angeles to the environmentally rich habitats of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I can’t say I’ve had it rough, but I’ve had it different. Guided by my parents, who did in fact have it rough, to always go for extraordinary and live by the Golden Rule, I consider myself one lucky ugly duckling to have realized the good fortune and blessings that came my way.


I have worked for Santa Clara County Parks for over 27 years, starting as a kiosk attendant then serving as a Park Ranger and Senior Park Ranger for 16 years before promoting to my current position as Captain and Park Ranger Supervisor.  My primary responsibilities include oversight of the northeast region of Santa Clara County Parks, Operations training and recruitment, and hiring of permanent and seasonal park rangers.  


I have had the great exposure of working in other agencies and independently to round out my work experience:

California State Department of Parks and Recreation – Seasonal Park Aide

San Mateo County Dept of Parks and Recreation – Seasonal Park Ranger

City of Sunnyvale Parks and Recreation – Recreation Program Coordinator, Event Vendor Coordinator

Grant Writer

Special Event Coordinator

Boarding and Lessons Stable Owner


Before all this real-world experience I was a searching soul, toiling away under several majors in as many colleges trying to find my niche.   Initially an acting major at University of Southern California, I finally found my place at Chico State University and the passion for the profession was evident.  Majoring in Recreation Administration with an emphasis in Parks and Natural Resources Management, I discovered that I was a Parkie AND a Reckie! It was then that the doors and windows, burrows and nests, and park entrances and gates opened from every direction to offer me the opportunities above.  


Did I mention I built and owned an upscale pool hall, bar and restaurant too with my kids and their dad?  Yep, couldn’t get enough of recreation and hospitality at work so I enjoyed living a double life for several years. I’m proud to say my kids were raised in a pool hall and in a barn!


My personal endeavor is to expose underserved populations, primarily families of color and women, to the wonders of parks and open spaces and introduce new ways to play outside.  I work to broaden recruitment of this wonderful group to Santa Clara County Parks and the park ranger career as a whole. I believe in mentoring, planting the seeds of interest in our youth and growing them through education, volunteerism and career opportunities to build both advocates for the outdoors and a diverse workforce.  It’s an amazing and rewarding profession we are in. We have the ability to touch so many, make a global difference, and have fun in the process. I am one of the few, the Blessed, to say I LOVE MY JOB!

Director of Fundraising

Shay Franco-Claussen

Co-chair of Fundraising Committee

Community Leader & Builder - Santa Clara County

Shantá Franco-Clausen, also known as "Shay," is a fierce, strong, dynamic powerhouse, who works tirelessly to create a voice of the voiceless in Santa Clara County. Understanding the importance of being active in local government, Shay has been a community organizer for the last 15 years, leading community beach and creek cleanups, advocating for environmental social justice, mentoring youth, advocating for justice-involved women and girls, and running political campaigns.

"Her energy and passion is contagious," is what many say about Shay, because her passion is shown in her undeniable advocacy and leadership. As she herself overcame many adversaries and barriers growing up in San Jose, Shay engages her community with empathy and diligence. Shay's "first-person" experience leads her to create stronger, comprehensive legislation outcomes for marginalized and oppressed communities, that she has proudly risen from. Just this year, Shay was instrumental in two legislations wins; passing Senate Bill 273, Authored Senator Susan Rubio, "Expanding the Statute of Limitations on felony Domestic Violence and protecting 1,000 acres of California's most threatened pieces of land in Coyote Valley.

In her spare time, Shay is elected to the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, while also serving as Director of Gender and Equity for the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee, Adult Advisor for California High School Democrats, Chair of the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women, Chair of the Justice and Advocacy Committee, Board Member and Chair of the San Jose Evergreen Bond Oversight Committee and Board Member Save By Nature. Shay is also a mother of five children with her wife and a local Bay Area DJ.

"I am just trying to be the Women I wished I would have met at 14" Shay says, because gaining knowledge and influence to change outcomes for her community, is the impetus to her advocacy."

Director of Public Relations

Andrea Fraume-Valencia

Secretary of Fundraising Committee   

Leadership Academy Director - Green Foothills

Andrea Fraume Valencia has been calling San Jose home since 2005. Born and raised in Colombia, Andrea comes from a family of gente hechada pa’lante and a generation of educators. Andrea is an educator herself and knows first-hand the transformative power of learning from the earth.


She received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014 and worked for a range of nonprofits looking for a way to best serve her communities full-time. From organizing for renters' rights to working with low-income youth, Andrea found her calling after finishing one of Bay Area Wilderness Training’s leadership courses and was BAWT’s Outreach Coordinator.


She served as a committee member for the Association for Experiential Education's West Regional Conference (WRAEE) on 2018 and is a proud graduate of Youth Outside’s Rising Leaders Program. Andrea is passionate about making environmental and outdoor education in the Bay Area more reflective of and accessible to our diverse communities.

Director Merav Vonshak   

Citizen Science Organizer - Bioblitz Club

Faculty - San Jose State University

Merav Vonshak has moved to the Bay Area from Israel in 2010 to pursue a postdoctoral study at Stanford University. She has a PhD in Zoology from Tel Aviv University, in which she focused on the impact of invasive ant species on the natural environment and people's lives. 


Today she divides her time between teaching in San Jose State and organizing citizen science events such as nature walks, BioBlitzs’, and volunteering for various environmental organizations. Her BioBlitz activities started in 2017, and since then, she has organized public BioBlitz events in the South Bay, in collaboration with Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, IBM, and others.


BioBlitz events encourage people to come together in a park or preserve and document as many species as possible in a short amount of time. It is a way to bring people from diverse backgrounds to nature and science, exposing them to the riches of their local environment. People realize that there is no need to travel to a distant preserve in order to learn about nature. Sometimes great discoveries await in a city park they have known their whole life. By documenting species around them, people learn about biodiversity hands-on, and they become part of a worldwide movement of citizen science. 

Honorary Director José G. González   

Green Chicano

Founder, Director Emeritus - Latino Outdoors

Partner - Avarna Group

José G. González is the Founder of Latino Outdoors. He is an experienced educator as a K-12 public education teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty. He is also an illustrator and science communicator.


His commentary on diversity and environmental/outdoor equity has been featured by High Country News, Outside Magazine, Earth Island Journal, and Latino USA, and he engaged in collaborations with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. Department of Interior, and the National Park Service during the Obama Administration. Jose also represented Latino Outdoors in several coalitions including the Latino Conservation Alliance, the Next 100 Coalition, and California Parks Now. He has been recognized with several honors, including the National Wildlife Federation Environmental Educator AwardGrist Magazine “Grist 50”, and The Murie Center Spirit of the Muries, among others. You may have also seen him in various outdoor spaces or read his poetic musings.


He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, and his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. You can connect with him on social media @JoseBilingue.

Honorary Director Sam Ham   

Professor Emeritus - University of Idaho's College of Natural Resources

Sam H. Ham is Professor Emeritus of communication psychology, sustainable development and international conservation in the University of Idaho's College of Natural Resources, as well as former Director of the Center for International Training and Outreach. In addition, he has served as Deputy Director of the Tourism Research Unit at Monash University, Australia.

Dr. Ham taught graduate courses in communication psychology, sustainable tourism, interpretation, environmental communication, and international issues in nature conservation. His research has focused on travelers’ philanthropy, ecotourism guide training and the application of communication theory to sustainable development, sustainable tourism planning and managing visitor behavior in parks and protected areas. Professor Ham's courses on applied communication theory and interpretive methods are in demand both in the U.S. and abroad. To date, he has conducted training workshops in 48 countries throughout North, Central and South America and in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and the Pacific, reaching a combined audience of 63,000.

He has authored more than 400 publications including two widely acclaimed books on interpretive methods (which have been published in seven languages). In addition, he is executive editor of the Applied Communication book series for Fulcrum Publishing in the US. His newest book, Interpretation—Making a Difference on Purpose, was published in 2013 and is now in four languages. Professor Ham has presented in excess of 100 papers at scholarly meetings throughout the world and has delivered 62 invited keynote addresses on sustainable tourism and strategic communication at international and national conferences and conventions. He is the author of a comprehensive interpretive planning process that has been adopted by national parks, historic sites and private tourism businesses in Scotland, England, Wales, Australia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, as well as by several US land management agencies for application in parks, forests and tourism destination in the U.S.

Professor Ham has served as senior editor of the Journal of Interpretation for which he developed the first editorial policies for peer-review of manuscripts, and as National Research Chair for the National Association for Interpretation, and continues to serve on the editorial board of three international research journals.

Dr. Ham has received the University of Idaho's Outstanding Teacher Award, Outstanding Advisor Award, the Inter-fraternity Council's Outstanding Professor Award, the College of Natural Resources' Outstanding Teacher Award, Outstanding Advisor Award, Outstanding Outreach Award, and was 5 times awarded the university's Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence. In 1994 he was recognized with the University of Idaho's Award for Teaching Excellence, the university's highest honor for teaching. In addition, he has received several regional and national awards from the National Association for Interpretation and from U.S. federal land management agencies, and was 6 times been selected to the University of Idaho's "International Honor Roll" for faculty. In 1990, he received the National Association for Interpretation's highest honor, the "Fellow" Award," and in 1992 was appointed to the Commission on Education and Communication by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). In 2007 Clemson University honored Professor Ham with the William C. Everhart Award for his lifetime contributions to the environmental communication profession across the world, and in 2010 he was awarded a coveted Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research on communication and climate change adaptation in Australia.

In 2012, Professor Ham was awarded a three-year August T. Larrson Research fellowship by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Swedish Centre for Nature Interpretation, and in 2017 was honored by the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Association for Interpretation as recipient of the Grant W. Sharpe Award.

Honorary Director Elizabeth Hammack 

Park Interpreter III - California State Parks

Elizabeth Hammack is a California State Park Interpreter III Manager overseeing interpretive operations in 32 State Parks in the greater Santa Cruz area, including coastal and mountain area parks and historic sites which reach into San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.  She has worked for the California Department of Parks and Recreation for over 30 years.  Elizabeth has been a leader in the California State Parks Interpretation and Education Division, and is this year’s recipient of the department’s Olmsted Award for Leadership and Vision. .


Elizabeth is well known in State Parks for her role as an instructor and has developed several State Park interpretive and management training programs, including Training for Interpretive Trainers, Interpretation Program Coordination and Supervision, and Interpretation Management Practices.  In addition to instructing interpretive courses, she teaches volunteer management, partnership skill-building and classes for new California State Park Ranger-Cadets.  Elizabeth has inspired many students during her 18-year span as a part-time professor teaching college courses in interpretation, recreation and communications at San Jose State University and West Valley College.  


Elizabeth founded and developed many programs during her tenure with State Parks.  These include the California State Park Backpacking Adventures program, volunteer-docent programs, Ranger Explorers children’s program and many natural and cultural special events.  Elizabeth was instrumental in opening Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz by creating, developing and launching the interpretive operation which flourishes today with living history demonstrations, tours, an animal program and visitor center.  She serves as project manager for the design and development of many visitor centers, museums, campfire centers, wayside exhibits and historic sites.  Most recently, Elizabeth collaborated with partnership organizations, forming a Kids to Parks program which funds transportation and field trips for Title I low-income schools to visit California State Parks.  To expand opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation, she strives to include low-income and youth at-risk programming in the Backpacking Adventures Program by collaborating with the Police Activity League (PAL) of San Mateo County, the Davenport Resource Center for Disadvantaged Youth, and the Wilderness Youth Leadership Program for children with developmental challenges.


Earlier in Elizabeth’s career she worked as shipboard naturalist for the US Forest Service in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, “served time” as an Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service on Alcatraz Island and worked as Interpretive Ranger for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  She taught environmental education for Santa Clara County School District and Lassen County Office of Education.  She developed a science camp for low-income youth for the City of Santa Barbara, avoiding language barriers and transportation issues by utilizing language interpreters and funding all transportation. 


Elizabeth is thrilled to collaborate with Saved By Nature to inspire environmental awareness and promote stewardship opportunities for all visitors.  She is especially interested in reaching out to those who traditionally do not visit parks and open spaces and could benefit from funding and services that enhance their experience and make these precious resources more accessible to them.

We're looking for a few passionate individuals with the time to take Saved By Nature to the next level! We're destined to be the nonprofit the community needs during a time of social and environmental injustice. 

Be in front of a large and engaged nonprofit dedicated to providing nature opportunity for Black, Indigenous, & People of Color (BIPOC). We're a miraculous nonprofit with so much potential and solutions. We need leaders and advocates for Saved By Nature that truly want to share our message and vision with their family, friends, and beyond! 

Fill out the form below and email it to to get started!

Support Saved By Nature when you shop amazonsmile!


Follow us!

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

EIN 83-2405377

San Jose-based nonprofit organization  

Office: 2772 Joseph Ave #4 Campbell, California 95008