Rooted Together Outside
Table of Contents
- Mission & Land Acknowledgement
- Letter from the Board President and Executive Directors
- Rooting Youth in Nature
- Branching Out Conservation for Everyone
- Growing Community with Nature
- Caring for the Land With Corporate Partners: Traditional Medicinals, Keysight, and Guayakí Yerba Mate
- Why I Give: An Interview with Claudia Leiva
- Board of Directors
- Why I Give: An Interview with Stephanie Reed
- Interconnected with Community Partners
- Ways to Participate
- Meet Nicole Jones, Illustrator
Letter from the Board President and Executive Directors
As we pen this letter, the LandPaths’ Harvest Festival and the harvest moon remain in our mind’s eyes. And it feels like the perfect moment to take stock of – or harvest, if you will – our successes and note the community.
Before we do that, to each and every one of you reading these words, thank you. Your participation, whether through volunteering, donating or both, has made LandPaths more resilient, adaptable, and able to boldly face any new challenge that may come. And by boldly facing, we mean finding and creating possibilities for joy and hope while human-caused climate disruption wreaks havoc on all of nature, wild and human.
The Year’s Accomplishments
The following pages illuminate the deep roots of our work together. You’ll read about how we reached more youth thanks to a generous land partner, Duckworth Farm. Your outspoken support for our LGBTQI + youth and allies camps and river treks gave us courage to withstand social media pressure from naysayers. And docents have grown our capacity to advance access at Lafferty Ranch, one of the most embattled open spaces in Sonoma County. Plus, we increased our investment stewardship tools, like good fire and grazing, through which the first people of this land have tended the land since time immemorial.
These successes demonstrate how LandPaths expresses and amplifies community held values, bringing courage and focus for transformative change. We understand that land stewardship is tied to community stewardship, that environmental education connects to overall educational success, and that access is much more than new trails and opened gates. LandPaths has evolved to understand that equity, inclusion and justice are inseparable from our mission. And we thank you for supporting our commitment to advancing this crucial work.
Through it all, we remain optimistic about the power of fostering a love of the land. The growing collection of
people and partners, like you, are like trees that appear isolated. And yet, scientists have confirmed, they are deeply interconnected and communicating through subsurface root systems and mycelium, for the health and well-being of the whole.
We give appreciation for the year that has passed and the work ahead. Thank you for sharing this path with us.
Dr. Brenda Flyswithhawks, Board President
Lee Hackeling, Executive Director of Operations
Craig Anderson, Executive Director of External Affairs
Rooting Youth in Nature
Connecting Kids with the Land
It was late winter and students from Ridgway High School were harvesting miner’s lettuce along a forested trail above Duckworth Family Farm.
“Wow, that’s beautiful!” said one of the students from the continuation high school in Santa Rosa, admiring the expansive view of the farm below. The wild lettuce forage was one of many highlights of the field trip, which also included a lesson on weaving local fibers on an antique loom with Farmer Lorri Duckworth, and quiet nature time in their chosen sit spots.
“I was just chilling next to a bird, and it was really nice,” said Savon who was usually more interested in skateboarding than birdwatching. The field trip was just one of many weeks of school programs that took place this year at Duckworth Farm, our newest land partner.
Protected by an easement from Sonoma County Ag & Open Space, the farm has swiftly become a well-loved site for In Our Own Backyard environmental education and Inspired Forward field trips during the school year. Over the summer, Owl Campers from the Santa Rosa City School District arrived by bus and delighted in hours spent in nature buoyed by new friends and trusted adult mentors.
During these immersive outdoor experiences, youth who might not otherwise get access to nature in this way, explored the water critters in Blucher Creek, played games of tag in the fields, and ate ice cream made from blueberries grown on the land! As you might imagine, this last activity is perennially popular and leaves kids clamoring to return.
In addition to Lorri and Oscar Duckworth, we thank all of our land partners: Susan and Lou Preston at Preston Farm, Will and Julie Parish at Bohemia Ecological Preserve, and Jim and Betty Doerksen at Rancho Mark West. By sharing their land, they all make it possible for LandPaths to connect youth with local nearby open spaces, nurturing generations of future earth stewards!
Branching Out Conservation for Everyone
Expanding Access to Nature
On a clear morning in May, Larry Modell – a volunteer docent with LandPaths – led a group of people along the trails at Lafferty Ranch. Owned by the City of Petaluma, the historic park was finally made accessible to the public in 2022 through outings like these. An awe-inspiring view of the Petaluma valley across the San Francisco skyline was a worthy reward after the uphill trek.
“I look up at this mountain every day,” one participant said afterwards. “It was so nice to be able to explore it at last.”
Many people worked for decades to open access to Lafferty Ranch, the sole open space preserve on the east side of Petaluma. We are proud to be part of that legacy, enabling people who live nearby to explore the property, learning about its fascinating ecological history, and gaining a green space nearby from which to gain rest and respite from the bustle of the city. In addition to docent outings, we’ve also offered Spanish language outings at Lafferty with Vamos Afuera con LandPaths.
“These outings allow hundreds more people to know and love that property, fostering that love needed to sustain the effort to open it fully as a park,” says Larry. “And looked at broadly, such constituency building for public lands and open space are an important byproduct of LandPaths’ work, and one that we should all support.”
Growing Community with Nature
Forging a New Way with Old Tools
In November 2022, fire was gently introduced back to the land at LandPaths’ Grove of Old Trees. The 12-acre controlled burn was conducted by Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Fire Forward program, in partnership with LandPaths’ stewardship staff and volunteers, to support the ecological health of the redwoods and reduce potentially hazardous wildfire fuels in the understory.
Five months later, grazing was reintroduced to the land at Ocean Song/Myers Preserve. The return of cows is thanks to a robust partnership with True Grass Farms with the stewardship goal of reducing coastal shrub encroachment while revitalizing the existing grasslands.
Wildfire and grazing are old, proven tools for keeping coastal prairies and forests vibrant and healthy. In fact, the grasses, trees, and wildlife that make their home here have evolved with fire and grazing. Some are even dependent on regular cycles of one or the other, or both, to thrive.
As human-caused climate disruption triggers dramatic changes to the functioning of the earth’s ecological systems with often devasting impacts on vulnerable communities, LandPaths has committed to caring for the land based in close attention to what the grasslands, woodlands, waterways, and forests need for improved health and ecology.
And we depend on participants like you to deepen the impact of that work – whether it’s as a volunteer with our wildlife camera program or the commitment to spend a few hours of pulling invasive French broom at a preserve or donating to ensure we can continue to care for the land and each other. In truth, steadily widening the circle is essential when it comes to growing community with nature.
Caring for the Land with Corporate and Community Partners
LandPaths also thanks: Credo High School, Healdsburg Rotary Club, IDEX Corp, Jackson Family Wines, Oliver’s Market, Redwood Credit Union, REI, St. Francis Winery, Sonoma Academy, Summit Engineering, Vanguard Sonoma, Willow Creek Wealth Management
Why I Give: Claudia Leiva
How did you first connect with LandPaths?
Land Paths is an organization I was not aware of 10 years ago. When my older son turned 8, I began exploring programs that would be of interest for him during the summer months. It was then that I became aware of the work LandPaths did to encourage youth to spend time outdoors and connect with nature.
Why did you decide to start volunteering with LandPaths?
In 2018, when my daughter turned four, I attended a volunteer training. The program lead was quick in figuring out our strengths and made us feel like valued members of the team. LandPaths strives to serve various populations in our community, including people from marginalized groups. As a result, this organization recognizes that they need the support of volunteers from different backgrounds and abilities because they want as much as possible to meet the needs of every participant and provide a sense of inclusiveness and belonging.
For the last few years, I’ve volunteered every summer to help in different capacities with camps. I support the core team with material preparation, drive carpools, and help make camp a fun, nature-immersive experience for campers.
Do you have any favorite moments from being a volunteer?
Both of my children participate in LandPaths’ youth/teen programs. My daughter who’s now 9, is an enthusiastic camper at Owl Camp. Her favorite place to visit every year is Rancho Mark West. My son, now 18 and an avid kayaker, asks every year to be part of the Russian River Teen Trek, through which he’s gained a special appreciation for river.
Has your connection to nature in Sonoma County and/or sense of belonging in nature grown or deepened because of your participation with LandPaths?
Seeing how children, including my own, gain an appreciation for the outdoors is something that encourages me to be involved in and support this organization. Spending time in the outdoors, whether biking, hiking, journaling or camping and connecting with nature, through LandPaths and other organizations, has become a tradition for our family.
What might you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with LandPaths?
The benefits of being a volunteer are many. It’s an opportunity to give back to my community and support LandPaths’ goal of increasing access to the outdoors for all members of our community. In addition, through my years volunteering with LandPaths, I’ve formed a special bond with the places I get to visit and the people I work with. I truly value LandPaths’ presence in our community
Board of Directors
Why I Give: Stephanie Reed
How did you first get involved with LandPaths?
I like to be generous with the organizations I believe in. When I moved to Sonoma County eight years ago, I found LandPaths online and was attracted to the mission, the programs, and particularly the offerings for youth. LandPaths’ youth programs are meaningful, relevant, and stand out. I feel that having the privilege of having resources comes with the responsibility of sharing them.
Why do you choose to support LandPaths monthly and with your legacy gift?
I like all the aspects of LandPaths’ work, including the work on the preserves, the work with youth, the programs at Bayer Farm and even the work you do in your offices. I like that the organization is well-run and local and features a collection of fine minds. LandPaths is practical and does the right thing.
And I am particularly interested in connecting youth with the land. Choosing LandPaths for a legacy gift goes a long way to ensure that Sonoma County’s children will learn to value the land and learn to care for it during their lives.
What are your hopes for the outcome of your legacy gift?
By giving LandPaths a large financial gift at the time of my death, my legacy becomes their legacy to the land and the children of Sonoma County. My goals are to help finance and grow the organization, to teach the school children of Sonoma County about nature in the classroom and outside, to provide funds for land acquisition as needed to build on protected open spaces, and to support the organization so it may thrive going forward.