Staff Spotlight: Carrie Johnson, Secretary

November 29, 2023

Posted in: People & Places

Meet our secretary Carrie Johnson, who has been with Ag + Open Space for two remarkable decades! With a rich background deeply rooted in agriculture, Carrie spent her early childhood years living with her mom and her maternal grandparents on their peach and walnut ranch in Gridley. It’s amidst the orchards and fields of her childhood that her passion for agriculture and the outdoors blossomed. She moved with her family to Davis before starting first grade and enjoyed cross country and track and field through high school. Today, she continues to stay active through her new favorite activity – boxing – at Rock Steady in Petaluma, where they focus their fitness courses on improving the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s disease. She hopes to help introduce participants of the Sonoma County classes to some of the open space preserves Ag +Open Space has helped protect. 

Carrie’s favorite travel destination is to attend Major League Baseball’s spring training in Arizona. A trip that started 13 years ago as a Christmas present to her son has now grown to an annual event and includes the entire family and friends. 

Carrie’s long tenure at Ag + Open Space speaks to her commitment to support the connections between people and the land they call home.

Carrie Johnson with family at the Grand Canyon

What’s your favorite Sonoma County place to get outside and why?
Undoubtedly, the North Slope of Sonoma Mountain holds a special place in my heart. It became my favorite hiking spot when my granddaughter Jordyn was just about two years old. For us, it’s more than just a trail – it’s a cherished space where we immerse ourselves in breathtaking views. Our hikes are filled with games and conversations, especially about the ancient trees that adorn our favorite corners of this beautiful landscape. It’s a shared experience that has woven precious memories into the fabric of both of our lives.

What’s one fact, statistic, or interesting tidbit about land conservation that you enjoy sharing with others?
A particularly meaningful project for me was the acquisition of the Kashia Coastal Reserve property near Stewarts Point. The satisfaction of supporting the team that facilitated the property purchase for the tribe, enabling them to reconnect with ancient traditions, is truly special.

I also enjoy tracking the Matching Grant Program projects, the proximity of the spaces to neighborhoods adds an extra layer of delight, providing easy access for those without transportation to enjoy the outdoors. It’s heartening to contribute to a space that fosters connection to both tradition and nature.

What’s your proudest moment working in land conservation and why?
Working with the passionate team of people at Ag + Open Space is always exhilarating. Each time we successfully close on a new conservation easement or property acquisition, I am thrilled to have played a role in preserving land that will be around for future generations. It’s a rewarding experience to be able to contribute to such important work.

What compelled you to pick a career in land conservation?
My grandfather built a cabin in Kingvale, just off Highway 80 on the way to Truckee, and our family had the privilege of spending every summer there. The invaluable lessons my grandparents imparted, emphasizing the love for fresh air, clear water, and a deep admiration for the mountains, trees, flora, streams, fishing, and hiking in the vicinity of Kingvale, shaped my upbringing. Instilled with a profound appreciation for the land, nature, wildlife, water, and all aspects of the great outdoors, I resonate deeply with the mission of Ag + Open Space. Joining this mission in 2004, I’ve been passionate about the work from the very start.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor and why?
Hands down, the ultimate classic: a Drumstick. Fond memories flood back of my granny taking me swimming at the community pool in Gridley. As our perfect days would come to an end, we would indulge in Drumstick ice cream cones on our way home. It has to be the original vanilla ice cream with chocolate and peanuts on top. The best part was the chocolate chunk at the bottom of the cone, the sweetest surprise.