Leigh K. Sharp, Executive Director
With nearly 20 years of experience, Leigh provides technical, policy, and fundraising expertise to the RCD for the purpose of developing and implementing natural resource conservation programs for sustainable agriculture, ecological restoration, and community engagement and education. She provides oversight for all RCD programs, builds partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, local non-profits, landowners, and community groups throughout Napa County and the larger Bay Area region. Leigh has co-authored several natural resource stewardship guides and watershed management plans, facilitated the development of the Napa Green Land program for grapegrowers in Napa County, and was integral in creating the LandSmart® program for Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. She joined the Napa RCD in 2001 as Stewardship Facilitator and in 2006, she became the Executive Director. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Science from University of California, Riverside and her M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics with a minor in Water Resource Management from Oregon State University. Leigh is a member of the Local Food Advisory Counsel, is active in her daughter’s school, and loves to kayak on the Napa River, attend bluegrass music festivals, read, and spend time with her family.
Bill Birmingham, Conservation Project Manager
Bill has over 20 years of experience in natural resource management. He has a B.S. in Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation from Humboldt State University and is a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control. Bill joined the RCD in 2011 and as a Conservation Project Manager he helps to implement the LandSmart® Conservation Planning and On-the-Ground programs. His primary responsibilities are related to erosion control planning for unpaved roads and vineyard properties, reviewing vineyard erosion control plans and conducting associated site visits, and overseeing restoration projects, including but not limited to rural road improvement projects, fish barrier removal projects, and stream restoration projects. Before joining the RCD, Bill worked for Pacific Watershed Associates, a watershed consulting firm, for 10 years as a project manager, working with various landowners and agencies throughout central and northern California to identify and treat various anthropomorphic sediment sources and hillslope instability issues. Bill also spent 7 years as a wildland firefighter with the USFS, NPS, and BLM, working to suppress wildfires and implement/monitor management ignited prescribed fires throughout the western United States.
Jonathan Koehler, Senior Biologist
Jonathan has over fifteen years of professional experience conducting field research focusing on aquatic ecology and watershed processes. He has been with the RCD since 2001 and much of his recent work has involved assessing streams within Napa County, where he has monitored native fish populations, conducted stream habitat assessments, initiated a wetland bird monitoring program, and assessed amphibian habitat. Jonathan frequently presents the findings of the RCD’s ongoing monitoring work to local groups as well as larger scientific conferences – recent papers are available online at www.napawatersheds.org. In addition to field biology, Jonathan has extensive experience with water quality monitoring and aquatic bioassessment via the collection and analysis of benthic macroinvertebrates. He also currently leads the District’s GIS mapping program to analyze and present environmental data on maps and in graphical format. Jonathan holds a B.S. and M.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Aquatic Ecology from California State University, East Bay. When not at the RCD, Jonathan is a part-time instructor at Napa Valley College in the Biology Department and enjoys backpacking, fishing, craft beer-making, woodworking, and home improvement projects.
Paul Blank, Senior Hydrologist
Paul has over 18 years of professional experience in environmental science. As Senior Hydrologist, he manages a variety of water resource monitoring and assessment projects including maintenance of hydrologic gauging stations, stream stage and flow monitoring, precipitation monitoring, hydrologic modeling, stream channel surveying, water quality monitoring, and stream channel restoration monitoring. He also assists with RCD’s fisheries monitoring program and the LandSmart® Conservation Planning and On-the Ground programs. Prior to coming to the RCD in 2004, he spent seven years with an environmental consulting firm conducting all aspects of soil and groundwater assessment and remediation of leaking underground storage tank sites. Paul earned his B.S. in Earth Sciences from University of California, Santa Cruz. Paul enjoys boating, hiking, camping, skiing, and home improvement.
Anna Mattinson, Office Manager
As Office Manager, Anna is responsible for a variety of administrative tasks and for maintaining the financial and timekeeping systems of the RCD. She is responsible for day-to-day bookkeeping, financial reporting to the Board of Directors, administering RCD operations, and assisting with human resources. Anna has been with the RCD since 2005. She enjoys playing Mah Jong, gardening, reading, and spending time with her kids and grandkids.
Frances Knapczyk, Conservation Program Manager
Frances has been working locally in the field of natural resources since 2007. She has a PhD in Plant Evolutionary Ecology from Michigan State University and a B.S. in Biology and Geology from Indiana University. She has a strong background in ecology, water quality, agricultural conservation, and public education. Frances oversees all of the LandSmart® programs including Conservation Planning, On-the-Ground, Water Management and the LandSmart® Education programs. Since she joined the RCD in 2007, Frances has been involved with a diverse set of programs and initiatives, and she now plays an integral role in program development and fundraising, as well as collaboration with partner organizations. Frances enjoys hiking, botanizing, and all things food-related.
Eric McKee, Education Program Coordinator
Eric coordinates the LandSmart® for Kids program, including initiatives such as Clean Water, Acorns to Oaks, Youth Stewards, the Napa Youth Stewardship Council, and serves as the Chair for the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County. Eric holds a B.S. in Forestry and Natural Resource Management from the SUNY – College of Environmental Science & Forestry in Syracuse, NY Additional certifications include: Leave No Trace Master Educator, Certified Interpretive Guide, Project WET Facilitator, Project Learning Tree, and Project WILD. In 2015 Eric was recognized with the Napa CanDo Spirit Award for excellence in non-profit community service. When not at work, Eric can be found serving on the Board of Directors with the Napa Humane Society and Napa-Solano Audubon Society, as well as a Coach for the Napa Force youth lacrosse club.
Charles Schembre, Vineyard Conservation Coordinator
As Vineyard Conservation Coordinator, Charles applies his technical skills to implement and expand the LandSmart® Conservation Planning and Water Management programs, oversee innovation and management at the RCD’s Sustainable Demonstration Vineyard, review vineyard erosion control plans, and perform winterization site-visits. Charles has a B.S. in Earth Science with a concentration in Soil Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is a Certified Professional in Sediment and Erosion Control. After graduation, Charles volunteered in Costa Rica and joined the AmeriCorps’ Watershed Stewards Project in Humboldt County working as a soil and hydrology technician for the Forest Service and the Yurok Tribe Environmental Program. Charles’ work experience also includes farming on small-scale diversified organic farms in San Luis Obispo and Sonoma Counties. He has experience farming a large diversity of row crops, many fruit tree varieties, and winegrapes. Charles was a vineyard manager in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties, farming up to 8 different grape varietals within multiple micro climates and terrains. Charles’ hobbies include growing as much food as possible, cooking from the garden, kayaking, paddle boarding, camping, and traveling to California rivers and lakes with his family.
Jemma Williams, Conservation Program Assistant
As Conservation Program Assistant, Jemma supports the RCD in implementing all of the LandSmart® programs, including education, water management, conservation planning, on-the-ground projects, fisheries monitoring, and community engagement. Her curiosity about the natural world was nurtured growing up in the Sierra foothills and has led her to explore a wide variety of ecosystem and conservation efforts ever since. She has a B.A. in Geography and Natural Resources from Humboldt State University and served two terms in the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Program. Jemma has worked for multiple agencies and non-profits performing plant and animal species surveys, designing and implementing habitat enhancement projects, and leading community based restoration projects. She is interested in human-environment interactions, sustainable land management, and community engagement. Some of Jemma’s hobbies include: rock climbing, hiking, yoga, and knitting.
Guadalupe Garcia, Co-Facilitator, Napa Youth Stewardship Council
Guadalupe helps our Education Coordinator to facilitate the Napa Youth Stewardship Council. She has six years of experience working with youth leadership programs such as the Napa County Friday Night Live Program and Napa Valley College Student Ambassador Program. She has helped a variety of groups, from school children to Leadership Napa Valley students, develop their leadership skills and foster a sense of community through physical games and teamwork. For the past 5 years Guadalupe has facilitated the Heron Lake Challenge Ropes Course at Skyline Wilderness Park. She believes in the importance of ‘play with a purpose’ for both children and adults. Guadalupe is currently a full-time student at Napa Valley College and hopes to transfer to UC Davis in the Fall of 2017. Her passions include: hiking, ceramic arts, hula hooping, martial arts, and rock climbing.
NRCS Staff based in the Napa Field Office
Emma Chow has been with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) since 2009. As District Conservationist, Emma oversees NRCS programs and collaborates with partners to ensure NRCS continues to serve the producers and conservation efforts of Napa County. NRCS services are provided free of charge in collaboration with the Napa RCD. Emma has a B.S. in Environmental Management and Protection from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She competes as a member of North Bay Rowing Club, is a league bowler, and enjoys traveling by food destination.
Chip joined NRCS in 2001 and provides technical and educational assistance to the community. He assists landowners with regulatory consulting, stream restoration, range improvement and management, vineyard soil protection and cover crops, and financial assistance. His formal studies include geology, geomorphology, hydrology, and biology. Chip also has a BS in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin.
Liz Colby is a part time engineer serving Napa and Solano counties. She has a MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UC Davis and a BS in Agricultural and Environmental Engineering from Purdue University. She has been a Professional Engineer licensed in California since 2010. At NRCS, Liz has worked on a variety of agricultural projects from streambank and wetland restoration to manure management throughout California and South Carolina. Through Engineers Without Borders, Liz has worked on engineering projects from South Dakota to Tunisia.
Kristan Flynn, Rangeland Management Specialist
Kristan Flynn is the NRCS Area 2 Rangeland Management Specialist, providing rangeland and pastureland technical and conservation planning assistance for NRCS field offices and partners in 15 counties. She has been with NRCS since 2002, and previously worked in the Petaluma Field Office assisting producers in Marin and Sonoma counties with conservation and restoration projects, addressing multiple resource concerns. In addition to working with NRCS, she assists with her family’s beef operation. She received a B.S in Rangeland Resource Science from Humboldt State University, with a minor in G.I.S. She is a NRCS Certified Conservation Planner, and was the recipient of the 2015 California NRCS Excellence in Conservation Planner of the Year Award.
Kelly Gin, Soil Conservationist
Since January 1991, Kelly has been providing erosion control plans, rangeland management plans, riparian restoration planting plans, and forestry assistance either with or without financial conservation assistance through the Farm Bill program to Napa land managers and streambank protection measures for suburban residents. Kelly enjoys meeting and educating the community on natural resources at AG-Day, Earth Day, Watershed Forum, and hands-on-outdoor education with the Napa RCD. Kelly’s most challenging experiences were the lengthy stream surveys of Huichica Creek and the Napa River. Prior to 1991, she worked in Ventura County on soil erosion control plans on hillside citrus and avocados, mobile irrigation lab, vegetation management (fuel reduction) plans and conservation education with grade school students. During her internship with the agency she worked in Tehama, Glenn, Shasta, Plumas and Sierra Counties. Kelly received a B.S. degree in General Agriculture from CSU-Chico. Kelly learned about farming on her parent’s dairy farm where she also participated in 4-H and FFA. Kelly’s hobbies include hiking, bird watching, playing softball and attending SF Giants baseball games.