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Our Team

Brandy Reed

Brandy Reed

District Manager

Brandy Reed joined the District as District Manager in October 2021. Brandy is an accomplished natural resource management professional and organizational leader with over 30 years of experience building strategic environmental partnerships and programs. She is passionate about solving problems through collaboration and programming that cultivates environmental stewardship in the adults and youth of today and tomorrow.

Prior to joining the District, Brandy worked at the King Conservation District for 26 years where she oversaw a portfolio of community-based natural resource management initiatives and pilot projects such as Shore Friendly King County (accelerating marine shoreline stewardship through armor removal), the Puget Sound Conservation Districts Regional Forest Stewardship Pilot Program (scaling-up small lot forest stewardship for reduced land conversation), the Trees for Rail Partnership (aligning urban tree canopy and residential landscaping priorities), and the Trees and Stormwater Initiative (promoting the role of urban trees and forest cover in stormwater management). She also worked for the USDA Forest Service as a botanist and forestry technician and for Washington State Parks as an Interpretive Naturalist.

Brandy holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Outdoor Education and a Master of Education in Science Education, both from Western Washington University. She is honored to be part of the highly dedicated and effective team at the District, supporting collaboration and partnerships with the residents of Whatcom County and local and regional partners. When not working on behalf of the District, Brandy enjoys spending time exploring the outdoors on foot and on skis and planting and mulching her urban lot to enhance its carrying capacity for the benefit of all.

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Dawn Bekenyi

Dawn Bekenyi

Administrative Specialist

Dawn has been with the District since November 1991. She is the office quarterback- some of her responsibilities include bookkeeping , clerical support, and reception. Dawn is another long time Whatcom County resident- having attended Ferndale High and Whatcom Community College. She is a big fan of baseball and rodeos.

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Andrew Phay

Andrew Phay

GIS Technician/Cartographer & IT Specialist

Andrew came to the District straight from Western Washington University where he majored in environmental planning and minored in GIS. His cartographic and GIS skills have been used on most of the projects that have been done at the District. Andrew is the in-house network troubleshooter, database manager and the Webmaster for this website. Working along side NSEA Personnel, Andrew has also worked on stream projects with local schools. It allows the students to get a different look at the area around their schools and homes while helping them plan their projects.

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Administration & Finance

Habitat Restoration


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Frank Corey

Fish & Wildlife Habitat Improvement Manager

Frank Corey joined the District staff January 5, 2004 to coordinate riparian restoration projects in cooperation with Whatcom County Public Works. Frank will be coordinating the activities of two Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department crews working to re-establish native plants on drainage and flood control projects.

Frank spent the last four years working for the Washington Conservation Corps, implementing riparian restoration projects for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association. Before that he spent many years growing and planting trees in nurseries and as a landscaper.

A Thurston County native, Frank has lived in Whatcom County for 20 years. As a child he split his summers between his grandparent’s 100 year old dairy farm in Oregon and his family property on the upper Nooksack River. After finishing Olympia High School, Frank earned an Associate of Science degree in Landscape Horticulture from South Puget Sound Community College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Western Washington University.


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Wayne Chaudiere

CREP Resource Specialist

Wayne has been with the District since 1996. His responsibilities at the District include Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) project management, geographic information system (GIS) mapping and technical assistance for manure composting, farm planning and compliance with the County's Critical Areas Ordinance. Education and experience include a B.S. in Forestry, international resource management as a Peace Corps volunteer, stream restoration, agroforestry, forestry, forest surveying and road design and water quality and quantity monitoring.


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Emily Hirsch

Riparian & Stormwater Specialist

Emily joined the District early in 2010 as the Plant Sale Intern and liked it so much she asked if she could stick around. Emily has assisted the District in several programs including monitoring CREP project sites, updating internal and state database records and conducting a survey of Whatcom County Ag for the WSDA.

Emily, a Midwest native, has a BS in both Biology and Geology from Western Kentucky University and moved to Bellingham in 2000. Prior to joining the District, Emily worked as a wetland ecologist for a private consulting firm. There she assisted clients with meeting land use objectives where critical areas and species are present. She has conducted numerous field investigations to delineate and characterize wetlands and streams in a variety of environments and worked with local, state and federal agencies.

She has also served as a Remediation System Operator and Environmental Technician for a Groundwater Extraction, Treatment and Recharge System and two Fuel Extraction Systems on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. She became a full-time employee in 2011, and continues to provide support for a variety of projects and offer her experience as a wetland specialist to the District.


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Tristan Simons

Habitat Restoration Specialist

Tristan spent two years working for the City of Bellingham’s Washington Conservation Corps restoration crew before joining the District in 2022. In that role, Tristan gained valuable riparian restoration expertise that he now applies to planning and monitoring CREP restoration sites for the District. Tristan is a native plant enthusiast, and is passionate about improving the relationship we have with the land. He believes in cultivating a relationship that both sustains us and protects the land’s gifts for generations to come.

He attended the University of Portland and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology before joining the United States Peace Corps as an Agriculture Volunteer in Tanzania. A Pacific Northwest native, he grew up in Longview, WA, and has lived in Whatcom County since 2019. He enjoys building things, fixing things, fermenting things, and songwriting.


Conservation Planning


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Corina Cheever

Conservation Planning Manager

Corina joined the District in 2011. She is here to assist landowners by providing technical assistance, farm plans and to answer other resource management questions. In her years at the District, Corina has been a part of the research team, assisted our engineer, helped with outreach and transitioned to coordinator for the farm planning team. Corina grew up in Snohomish County and graduated from Western Washington University where she spent four years earning a Bachelor of Science in Geology and exploring Whatcom County on foot, bike, and skis. During summer of 2014, she completed a bicycle trip across the US seeing the incredible beauty of the southern states.


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Trevor Gearhart

Farm Planner Resource Specialist

Trevor joined the District in 2022. Trevor grew up in Whatcom County and graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Environmental Science. He then went on to study the effects of nutrient loading in freshwater ecosystems at the University of Vermont. He then moved back to Whatcom County and worked at a local analytical testing laboratory, and started a farm operating out of Skagit County. When not working at the District, Trevor is usually on his farm or enjoying time with his family.


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Elizabeth Hayes

Farm Planner Resource Specialist

Elizabeth joined the District in 2024. She is from Corvallis, Oregon, and has worked across crop production and processing for the better part of a decade. She earned a B.S. in Crop Science from Oregon State University while working as an agronomist serving specialty crop, seed crop, grain and livestock producers throughout the Willamette Valley. She has worked in greenhouses, grain mills, on farms from 10 to 4,000 acres, and prior to joining the District, worked for Cloud Mountain Farm Center; she is still happy to talk to you about growing fruit trees in Whatcom County. Outside of work, her favorite place to be is up a logging road with her small pack of black and white dogs.


Research Program

Research Program


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Zen Wilhelm

Conservation Research Specialist

After realizing a life-long dream of living in the Pacific Northwest, Zen joined the District in 2022 as a Research Conservation Specialist. He works with local landowners and partners in developing and implementing various research projects focused on better understanding best management practices to protect water quality, while enhancing the sustainable use of our natural resources.

Growing up in Ohio, at an early age, Zen developed a passion for the outdoors, leading him to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Cincinnati. After spending a season working in the Bering Sea as a National Marine Fisheries Groundfish Observer, he continued his education; receiving a Master of Science in Water Science from Murray State University. He then served the Pueblo de San Ildefonso in New Mexico for 7 years as Water Quality Specialist and Program Manager before leaving to hike the Appalachian Trail. He is a licensed massage therapist, life coach, and feels most alive hiking in the mountains.

Research Program


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Cynthia May

Water Quality Data Coordinator

Cynthia May joined the District in June 2022 as the Water Quality Data Coordinator. In her role, Cynthia helps local partners use data to focus watershed cleanup efforts. Cynthia’s multi-faceted career includes water quality advocacy, outreach, and science. Before joining the District, she developed Lake Whatcom water quality outreach programs for the City of Bellingham.

Cynthia grew up in rural Vermont on a small hobby farm and learned at an early age about the connections between land management and water quality. She received a Master of Environmental Science degree from the Yale School of the Environment in 2006 with a focus on water science. When not at work, she loves spending time with her husband and two sons exploring local trails, cross country skiing in British Columbia, gardening, and making pizza for friends and family.

Education & Outreach


Outreach & Education


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Aneka Sweeney, M.Ed.,

Outreach & Education Manager

Aneka joined the District in 2014 to strengthen the community outreach and sustainable education programs. Aneka works to enhance impact of district programs by working directly with community groups, school districts, state, county and city government as well as non-profit organizations to further the mission of Whatcom Conservation District.

A native of western Colorado, Aneka earned a bachelor’s of science in Biology with a minor in Environmental Restoration from Colorado Mesa University in 2001. She then spent eight years as a Biological Science Technician for the USDA Forest Service in the Sierra Nevada of California. She moved to Bellingham in 2008 to pursue a Masters of Education in Environmental Studies through Western Washington University. After earning her degree in 2010 Aneka established and coordinated a youth environmental leadership program for North Cascades Institute, training the next generation of conservation stewards before starting with the District.

Outreach & Education


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Alexi Guddal

Outreach & Education Specialist

Alexi joined the District in 2021 as an Education and Outreach Technician following her passions in conservation and community collaboration. She grew up near Mount Rainier National Park on a small hobby farm. Her passion for wildlife led her to earn a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Western Washington University. She fell in love with Whatcom County and continued to work for the university for several years as a Program Coordinator before beginning her Master of Arts in Biology with focuses in conservation and community outreach from the Advanced Inquiry Program, a partnership between the Woodland Park Zoo and Miami University. She then joined the district to continue working towards fostering community-based conservation in Whatcom County.

Outreach & Education


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Katharine Kiendl

Green Infrastructure Programs Specialist

Katharine joined the Conservation District in 2023 as the Green Infrastructure Specialist. Katharine has a bachelors in Sociology and went on to work in riparian restoration and wildland fire suppression and outreach. During this time, she completed a graduate certificate in Wilderness Management with the University of Montana. After getting hands on experience with fire ecology she missed restoration ecology and decided to pursue a masters at Western Washington University. Her degree focuses on GIS and Environmental Planning, during this time Katharine earned a graduate certificate in GIS and helped develop a LiDAR based method to map open channel boundaries. Katharine is excited to build on her past experiences and connect with homeowners interested in protecting the Lake Whatcom watersheds!

Outreach & Education


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Adam Brayton

Education & Outreach Technician

Adam joined the District in 2024 as the Education and Outreach Technician. He brings a lot of enthusiasm for communication and education about conservation to his role at the District, as well as a lot of enthusiasm for just about everything!

Adam grew up in Aptos, California among the redwoods and beaches of Santa Cruz County. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Media Studies and Environmental Humanities from Whitman College. After some time working seasonally in outdoor education, adventure tourism, and several odd jobs, he went on to earn a Master of Education in Environmental Education at Western Washington University. Before working at the District, he coordinated field trips for Wild Whatcom and assisted with curriculum revision for a monarch butterfly conservation nonprofit, the Monarch Joint Venture. In his spare time, Adam enjoys running, cooking, riding his bike, and knitting.

Climate Resilience and Preparedness

Outreach & Education


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Josh Kursky

Forest Stewardship Specialist

Josh started at the District in 2024. Previously, he worked as a forester on hazardous fuels reduction and post-fire reforestation projects with the San Bernardino National Forest before moving to Washington and joining the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest timber program. He believes healthy forests are integral to the well-being of the planet, wildlife, and human society. Plus, he really likes being out in the woods.

Josh grew up in suburban New Jersey but escaped. He received a BA in Anthropology and Archaeology from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Forestry from Northern Arizona University. He has led restoration crews for a conservation corps in Arizona, fought fire across the western US with the Forest Service, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, worked as a cook on a commune, and been lost at sea.

Outreach & Education


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Robert Walters

Community Wildfire Resilience Specialist

Robert Walters joined the Conservation District in February of 2024. Robert brings extensive experience across a variety of professional fields to, once again, pursue his passion for natural resources. He often finds himself in awe at the beauty of natural systems and their interactions. Fire plays an important role in these systems, but also requires that we are prepared and have plans in place for when fire crosses from the wildland into the settled land. With his background in construction, operational management, customer service, and natural resources management, he strives to reach multiple, varied audiences with resources and tools that landowners can use to protect their property and structures.

Robert received his Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Policy & Management from Oregon State University, graduating summa cum laude. He has previously worked in water quality and wildfire preparedness for the San Juan Islands Conservation District and is excited to build upon that experience in his new home of Whatcom County. In his spare time, Robert can be found on a golf course, in a local river or stream, or enjoying a good football game.

Outreach & Education


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Alexis Bryson

Community Wildfire Resilience Technician

Alexis Bryson joined the Whatcom Conservation District in April 2024 as the Community Wildfire Resilience Technician. She is excited to work with landowners and community members across Whatcom and Skagit counties to learn from each other and build wildfire resilient communities.

Alexis has lived in Western Washington most of her life and became connected to this region's ecology at an early age. Her passion for conservation, ecology, and animal sciences led Alexis to earn a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Political Science from Western Washington University. In her previous roles, she has worked as a Special Education Paraeducator for Bellingham Public Schools and a U.S. Embassy Economics, Environment, Science, and Technology intern in New Delhi, India. When she isn't at work, you can find Alexis on a beach, in a forest, or in another country exploring the world around her.


Outreach & Education

Northwest Area Engineer

Chuck Gerdes

Northwest Area Engineer

Chuck moved to Washington after completing his education from Florida Tech in 2010. He started his professional career testing soil with InSitu Engineering. Chuck left in 2014 and started working for Mac Engineering as a private land development consultant. Chuck focused on stormwater detention/retention analyses for commercial and residential developments in the greater Snohomish / Skagit areas. In 2020, He moved to Snohomish Conservation District. Chuck became the northwest area engineer in late 2022, and now provides technical support for Skagit County, Whatcom County, San Juan Island County, and Whidbey Island.

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