Meet our Founder and Executive Director
Richard Tejeda is the Founder and Executive Director of Saved By Nature. Growing up in a drug and gang infested neighborhood in South San Jose, Richard is very familiar with the revolving door system many youth and adults can suffer due to social injustice.
It wasn't until Richard was 25 years old that nature had found him. His mom bought him an annual fishing license and an annual parking pass to Santa Clara County Parks where he began to fish at Hellyer Park and at Coyote Creek within Coyote Valley. Richard would eventually become an avid angler and champion advocate for steelhead rainbow trout and Chinook salmon.
Trinity River steelhead rainbow trout
Richard realized that when in nature his state of consciousness was at peace, he felt happier, because at that moment he wasn’t consumed by the thoughts of his past, or of the future, he was present, tranced by the sound of running water, rustling leaves, and full of life among ancient trees that spewed out fresh air that could replenish your soul.
When the economy crashed in 2009, Richard decided to go back to school with a goal to work in parks in hopes that he would obtain the feeling nature gave him all the time. While sometimes working several part-time jobs or a full-time job, he was trying to raise 2 children with his wife Tanya.
After 10 years of hard work, perseverance, and dedication, he would eventually earn a certificate and A.S. degree in Park Management from West Valley College. He continued to build an affinity for nature as he was pursuing higher education. He showed his true academic potential by graduating Cum Laude from San Jose State University with a B.A in Environmental Studies and a minor in Sustainable Water Resources.
Richard began as a Docent at Coyote Hills Regional Park where he was trained on Native American traditional uses of plants by Dr. Beverly Ortiz. His first paid position was at Big Basin Redwoods State Park as a Park Aide. Soon after, he would take on a part-time position with Guadalupe River Park Conservancy as their Lead Instructor for 6 years. Here he obtained scholarships for Title One elementary school field trips, created summer camps and after school programs for several Boys & Girls Clubs, instructed homeschool, and proudly worked with children and adults with special needs. While working for Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, he took on several roles, such as working with Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority as a Seasonal Educational Aide, and Santa Clara County Parks as a Seasonal Maintenance Worker I. He would eventually be promoted to a full-time employee at Guadalupe River Park Conservancy. He left the Conservancy to further his career and was able to take on an education internship at Santa Clara Valley Water District where he was quickly promoted to Public Information Representative I.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Today you can find Richard leading guided hikes in parks and preserves for Saved By Nature, or at Natural Bridges State Beach where he does Interpretation as a Senior Park Aide for California State Parks.
Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve - King snake
When asked what nature means to him, Richard says, “Nature literally saved my life. I was supposed to be a statistic, but I couldn’t let that happen. I had to reinvent myself, and nature was a positive escape from the everyday negativity of my neighborhood. I made it out, and believe me, there were a lot of people that didn’t - all odds were against us. I think of that every day. Now I’m determined to change lives, and I plan to do that by using the same passions that transformed my life - that’s what this is all about. My name is Richard David Tejeda, and I have been... Saved By Nature.”