Staff Spotlight: Marina Montes, Stewardship Specialist

October 27, 2022

Posted in: News Articles

In this month’s Staff Spotlight, we caught up with Marina Montes, who was recently promoted from Stewardship Technician to Stewardship Specialist! Marina grew up in the East Bay and spent many weekends and holidays exploring the natural world through camping, hiking, and traveling. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Sonoma State University, and a Masters degree in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco. During school she participated in field studies in Belize and Borneo. One of her favorite memories is hiking Machu Picchu and diving in Honduras after graduating college. Read on to hear more about Marina’s thoughts on land conservation.

Marina holding her dog while sitting on a large rock in front of a waterfall.

What’s your favorite Sonoma County place to get outside and why?
That’s a tough one! But, my favorite place in Sonoma County is tied between anywhere along the coast and anywhere along the Russian River. I’ve always loved spending time by any body of water, especially when it’s a hot day and you want to cool off. I think it’s very fitting that my name is Marina because I’m water obsessed. 

What’s one fact, statistic, or interesting tidbit about land conservation that you enjoy sharing with others?
When most people hear about land conservation, they think about the preservation of habitats and the plant/wildlife communities those habitats support. I enjoy connecting land conservation to preserving and protecting human communities, as well. It’s important to recognize the health benefits we receive when we invest in protecting natural landscapes. These habitats ensure we have access to clean drinking water, healthy air, productive soil to grow food, and open space to recreate, which has benefits in improving your mental state and reducing stress. 

What’s your proudest moment working in land conservation and why?
In 2019 during my graduate studies, I traveled to Borneo to participate in a field course for Tropical Field Restoration. I was able to work with locals to protect and restore their surrounding rainforest ecosystems. It was inspiring for me to see their motivation to protect their forests, and their drive to coexist with the landscape. The local organization was quite small but their impact was extremely impressive. They showed me that any effort towards protecting and learning about the environment you live in isn’t wasted effort. Additionally, having a community that is invested in the health of the surrounding ecosystems is really important. I truly cherish my time with that community in Borneo. 

What compelled you to pick a career in land conservation?
I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my childhood outside exploring, camping, and hiking. Those activities eventually became hobbies of mine and I’ve always enjoyed spending time in nature. I knew that I wanted a career that would continue to keep me connected with nature. Additionally, I felt compelled to find a career that would play a part in protecting these landscapes for future generations to enjoy. 

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor and why?
My favorite flavors tend to rotate depending on what I’m craving that day, but I would say cookie dough will always be my go to flavor.