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Our Team


Administration & Finance

Brandy Reed

Brandy Reed

District Manager

Brandy Reed recently joined the Whatcom Conservation District as District Manager. 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. Brandy recently served as the Director of Strategic Partnership through the King Conservation District where she successfully developed and 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).

Brandy also worked for the USDA Forest Service as a botanist and forestry technician and Washington State Parks as an Interpretive Naturalist. Brandy's educational background includes a Bachelors of Science in Environmental and Outdoor Education and a Masters of Education in Science Education, both from Western Washington University. Brandy is honored to be part of the highly dedicated and engaged team at the Whatcom Conservation District and is excited to work on behalf of Whatcom County residents and the District's local and regional partners. Brandy enjoys spending time exploring the outdoors on foot and on skis with family and friends and enhancing the carrying capacity of her urban lot by planting native plants and food plants and mulching.

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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 Admin

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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Habitat Restoration

 
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Frank Corey

Resource Coordinator - Riparian Restoration

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

Natural Resource Specialist - CREP/Firewise

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

Natural Resource 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 Technician

Tristan spent two years working for the City of Bellingham’s Washington Conservation Corps restoration crew before joining the Conservation 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 WCD. 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.

 

Farm Planning

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Corina Cheever

Conservation Planning Coordinator - Farm Planning

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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Anna Beebe

Resource Specialist, Farm Planner

Anna joined Whatcom Conservation District in October 2022 and is from Kitsap County, WA. Her interest in agriculture began eight years ago on the University of Washington (UW) Campus Farm. After college, she served as an AmeriCorps member for two years. Her first role was as a School Farmer at Common Threads Farm and then as Community Agriculture and Engagement Project Manager at King Conservation District. Her interest in sustainable agriculture and restoration led her to pursue a Master of Science in Environmental Science at UW, which focused on soil health and compost. Before working at the Whatcom CD, Anna worked as a Conservation Specialist at Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District in Beavercreek, OR. She is currently in the process of becoming an NRCS-certified conservation planner. She is looking forward to working with farmers in the region!

Hablo español.

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Trevor Gearhart

Resource Specialist, Farm Planner

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.

 

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.,

Education & Outreach Coordinator

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

Education & Outreach 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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Amanda Knauf

Wildfire Resilience Specialist

Amanda joined the District in 2022 as the Wildfire Resilience Specialist. Amanda works with local property owners and communities to evaluate and mitigate wildfire risk. Amanda grew up in central Florida and her love of the outdoors led her to study Forestry at Northern Arizona University. She then went on to obtain her Masters of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Amanda worked as a researcher in Hawaiʻi focused on forest restoration and invasive species management. She then returned to the southwest to work in fire ecology programs with the National Park Service. Amanda joins the CD in hopes to be a resource in fire preparedness for the community!

Outreach & Education

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Ryan O'Connor

Resource Specialist, HIP Project Coordinator

Ryan O’Connor is our HIP Project Coordinator for the HIP target program. Ryan is a Western Washington Native and has a deep appreciation for nature and how lucky we are to live in the great PNW. Ryan received his bachelor’s degree in Geology from WWU. He served as an environmental field technician for the Upper Skagit Tribe specializing in water/air quality and salmon habit restoration. Ryan spent several years as a geologist and WABO/ICC certified special inspector for a geotechnical, environmental, and testing lab in Bellingham. Ryan has experience coordinating with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as local contractors and landowners on everything from large scale civil projects to small rural developments. He is a journeyman electrician, mountain biker, gearhead, and a 20 year Bellingham resident. As a Lake Whatcom watershed resident, he enjoys spending time with his three kids, and travelling to anywhere with a view of the ocean.

Outreach & Education

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Cedar Elkheart

Habitat Education & Outreach Technician

Cedar Elkheart went to school in Poultney, Vermont. He finished his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Wildlife Conservation and his bachelor’s in Sustainable Community Development with an emphasis in Sustainable Food Systems & Regenerative Design. Following this, he moved to Moab, Utah and finished his Master’s in Ecology while guiding backcountry trips through Canyonlands and Arches National Park. His dissertation focused on the adaptive ecology of canids, specifically coyotes, and how wild resilience may be a blueprint for modern humans to emulate in an effort to survive our climate crisis.

Cedar is an artist, wildlife photographer, archer, backpacker, subsistence hunter, homesteader and avid watershed enthusiast. He is an Eagle Scout, published author, and host of an environmental education show. In his free time he enjoys swimming, rafting, repairing equipment, talking about clean water, and practicing primitive skills.