Susannah Ferson

Division Director (707) 269-2058

Susannah has 20 years of experience working in aquatic and terrestrial biology in Humboldt County. Her experience includes watershed and fisheries habitat restoration, eelgrass/estuarine ecological research, endangered species monitoring and habitat conservation, and invasive species research and removal. Susannah has collaborated extensively with a variety of agencies and landowners – including federal, state, county and tribal governments – to design and implement diverse research and restoration projects throughout the Pacific Northwest. She has particular interest in estuarine ecology research, climate change adaptability, and habitat restoration. She currently serves as the president of the Board of Directors for Friends of the Dunes and chairs the Humboldt Weed Management Area and the Humboldt County Regional Spartina Eradication Program working group, and participates in the Humboldt Bay Initiative work group. Susannah has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and a M.S. in Natural Resource Management.

Denise Newman

Projects Coordinator (707) 269-2060

Denise has been planning, developing and implementing natural resource interpretation and environmental education projects since 2002. Her interpretive signage projects include Humboldt County's Hammond Coastal Trail, BLM's Falk Headwaters Trail, City of Eureka's Hikshari' Trail, PALCO Marsh Trail and Sequoia Park Zoo Watershed Heroes Exhibit, Northcoast Regional Land Trust's Freshwater Farms Nature Trail and the most recent sections of the City of Eureka's Waterfront Trail. As an environmental educator, she develops grant-funded projects to bring watershed education into K-12 classrooms; from stormwater-focused 'Adopt a Storm Drain' cleanups to sea level rise climate science. She is currently working as an Environmental Literacy coach with the Humboldt County Office of Education and leading interpretive waterfront bike tours with youth groups through her 'Bikes on the Bay' project. Denise has a M.S. in Natural Resources Interpretation and Planning from Humboldt State University and works extensively with educators, environmental scientists, biologists and historians to deliver the most relevant and accurate natural and cultural stories of our area.

Kristin Schmidt

Projects Coordinator (707) 269-3057

Kristin joined the Watershed Management staff at RCAA in spring of 2022. She has worked as a professional wildlife biologist her entire career, first with the US Forest Service and later the National Park Service.  She has a background in endangered species management and compliance and wildlife management and has actively participated in interdisciplinary work in watershed rehabilitation, forest restoration, fish habitat restoration and invasive plant management.  Kristin has spent many seasons working and recreating in our local mountains and coastal areas and is interested in projects that improve fish and wildlife habitats. She has a B.A. in Zoology from Humboldt State University and a M.S. in Environmental Biology. 

Carol Vander Meer

Projects Coordinator (707) 269-2068

Carol has more than 25 years of experience working in natural resource conservation, environmental education, community outreach and nonprofit management. She served as the Executive Director of Friends of the Dunes from 1996-2015, where she helped develop the Bay to Dunes School Education Program and the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center. As a consultant, Carol taught Introduction to Grant Writing, facilitated strategic planning for several local nonprofits and played a lead role in developing the Humboldt Bay Trail Fund. Carol has B.A. and M.S in Biology and is a graduate of the Cascadia Leadership Training program.

Matt Drummond

Planner II (707) 269-2071

Matt graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fisheries Biology. He pursued work in the fisheries field, surveying steams and rivers throughout California. Just recently he switched gears towards a career focused on community health. He started his work in the community as a Nutrition Education Coordinator for Food for People, promoting CalFresh and healthy eating county-wide. Matt now helps others gain the skills they need to start their own gardens. He is also the Coordinator of the North Coast Community Garden Collaborative (NCCGC), a network of community gardeners that work together to plan events, start new garden, and improve existing gardens. 


Alysia Bixler

Planning Specialist II (707) 269-3055

Alysia grew up on the Central Coast of California, where she developed a deep connection with the land and coastal communities. She has worked on multiple organic vegetable farms from Briceland in Southern Humboldt to Long Island, New York. Alysia co-owned and managed Green Oaks Creek Farm in the Santa Cruz mountains until the 2020 CZU Lightening Complex fires. After spending a year working on the Restoration Field Crew at RCAA, she joined the NRS Active Living team in the Summer of 2022. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B. A in Environmental Studies holds an M.S. in Conservation and Land Management from Bangor University in Wales and a Master of Forestry from the University of British Columbia.

photo of sylvia from chest up, she is wearing a blue flannel with a purple amethyst necklace. she has strawberry blonde hair tied into to low buns, and has blue eyes, she has a nose and lip piercing and is wearing silver hoops with pink rose quarts crystals hanging from each hoop.

Sylvia van Royen

Natural Resource Specialist II (707) 269-2058 x3070

Sylvia has 5 years of experience in the natural resources field, ranging from Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) to forestry to solid waste management and air quality monitoring. She has primarily worked with tribes, non-profits, and natural resource management agencies. Through her work a common theme has been GIS—providing mapping services, field data collection, data management, and assisting her colleagues transition into the most up-to-date GIS technology. In her various positions, Sylvia has collaborated with tribal communities, the Nature Conservancy, the US Forest Service, the US EPA, the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership, Redwood National & State Parks, and private timber management companies. A major career goal of Sylvia's is to build equitable, accessible, and sustainable human communities that thrive within the surrounding natural environment.