Bear Yuba Land Trust honors two local conservationists with lifetime achievement awards

Grass Valley March 12, 2018 – Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) invites the community to recognize two community heroes – Joanne Hild of Sierra Streams Institute and Rick Berry of 4 Elements Earth Education – during the annual Oak Tree Bash.

BYLT’s Annual Member Meeting and Leadership Awards will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 22 at the Gold Miners Inn at 121 Bank Street Grass Valley.

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Joanne Hild Executive Director of Sierra Streams Institute will be awarded the William “Bill” Nickerl Award for Conservation Leadership and Rick Berry Founder and Director of the Four Elements Earth Education (4EEE) will receive the John Skinner Sierra Outdoors Recreation Award.

The event begins with a Happy Hour where guests can sample gourmet local food provided by BriarPatch Co-op, and sip wine from Double Oak Vineyards & Winery and craft beer from ol’ Republic Brewery while catching up with new and old friends. Live music will be provided by Michael Padilla.

At this Annual Meeting designed for land trust members and supporters, the community will hear about expanded protection of lands in the upper watershed, updates on ongoing restoration work, and new treks, trails and youth programs.

A life-long calling

“One of the reasons we moved here is because we want to make Citizen Science front and center,” said Joanne Hild, Sierra Stream Institute’s Executive Director for the past 18 years, on a recent visit to the organization’s new country digs at the Woolman School campus at the Sierra Friends Center off Jones Bar Road.

The rural property, a Quaker outdoor school since the 1960s, is ideal for school field trips, establishing sites for climate change data collection, and the popular ongoing educational training series, UC California Naturalist Program. Sierra Streams’ citizen science has involved working with community members on many projects including those involved with scientific research, restoration, community health, adult and child education, laboratory analysis, and training.

Hild has a strong connection to the place she has lived and raised her family for over 25 years. She began working at Friends of Deer Creek (now Sierra Streams Institute) as a River Scientist in February 2000 and became Executive Director in 2004. Sierra Streams Institute is a watershed monitoring, research, and restoration group with a mission to link water, science and people for the benefit of human and environmental health.

“I feel a great sense of responsibility to work in partnership with the community to study and improve our environment and the health of our citizens,” said Hild.

Hild’s love for science and nature began as a young child. She holds an MS in Zoology from University of Massachusetts in Amherst and a BS in Biology from Tufts University. She has worked as a research scientist studying mountain lions with the Wildlife Conservancy in Sacramento, the effects of oil on coral growth and limpets with the Bermuda Biological Station, and pigeon navigation with Cornell University. For 15 years, Hild served as a Biology Professor at Sierra College, teaching general biology, anatomy and physiology, and ecology courses. Before that, she was a high school biology teacher for one year.

With Sierra Stream Institute’s recent move and a sharpened focus on involving the community with her life’s passion, Hild is excited about the future.

“I am thrilled to be recognized for the work I am so passionate about. I believe, this is just the beginning of our vision to involve more community members in all of our work. Our hope is that this will increase trust in sound data while preparing citizen scientists with the tools needed to make an impact and promote conservation throughout our community.”

Rick Berry began with the Tracker School in 1986 at the age of 15 and has been teaching wilderness skills for 25 years. After graduating with a B.S. from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, he tested his skills in the remote Klamath Mountain range where he studied indigenous life-ways for 12 years passed on to him by Gary Morris who had lived with Yurok Elder Calvin Rube for 20 years.

Later, Berry spent two years in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey as a caretaker for the Tracker School, testing and refining his tracking and survival skills. He taught with both Jon Young and Tom Brown, Jr. through the Tracker School’s Coyote Camps, and moved on to serve seven years as Director of The Children of the Earth Foundation.

Today, Berry teaches Earth Skills and philosophies of living one with the Earth through the organization he founded, 4 Elements Earth Education (4EEE) and its Fox Walkers program for school-aged children. The organization based at BYLT’s Burton Homestead in Nevada City, immerses children, families and adults in nature while building useful skills.

“Our programs introduce Earth skills, which are a blend of the ancient arts of tracking, wilderness survival, and nature awareness. Through our programs, a re-thinking of our relationship to nature begins to occur – nature is not simply a ‘resource’ that we control as a product, but a relationship we must cultivate. Students are introduced to the world of the unseen and eternal, tapping into ‘the spirit that moves in all things’ as awareness and skills are woven together to serve as a foundation for creating visionary leaders.”

About the Awards

William “Bill” Nickerl devoted his life to land conservation in the California foothills. The William Nickerl Award for Conservation Leadership is given to Nevada County residents with a similar conservation ethic who inspire others to build a connection with the land. Bill passed in November and we are truly saddened by the loss of this inspiring man.

“Bill gave himself wholeheartedly to the cause—the forest, the environment, the educational side of the land trust’s mission.  He inspired me and others in his quiet way. I am glad we have a prize in his name that he be long remembered,” said Founding Member Dave Palley.

Retired Forest Supervisor of the Tahoe National Forest, John Skinner led many treks for the Land Trust. Despite a heart condition, Skinner hiked as many local trails as he could. He was the author of the book and online resource featuring over 200 trails, 100 lakes and 125 camping and picnic areas, Sierra Outdoors Recreation. Skinner wrote numerous articles for Sierra Heritage Magazine. John died on July 27, 2009.

Ticket sales available at the door: $20 Members, $30 Not-Yet-Members. Wine tickets sold at check-in. Beer available at no-host beverage bar.

Learn more: BYLT.org