Staff spotlight: Olivia Fiori (she/her), Acquisition Specialist

March 27, 2024

Posted in: People & Places

Prior to working at Ag + Open Space, Olivia worked at The Conservation Fund for nearly 9 years, where she focused on sustainable timber harvesting, forest monitoring, wildlife management (including working with northern spotted owls), archaeological surveys, erosion control and maintenance, and more, including on one of our conservation easements – Buckeye Forest. She has a degree in Society and Environment, with particular focus on sustainable food systems, from UC Berkeley, studied at the University of Bologna for a semester where she became fluent in Italian, and is a qualified Wildland Firefighter Type 2.

Olivia Fiori

What’s your favorite Sonoma County place to get outside and why?

My favorite place to get outside in Sonoma County will always be Buckeye Forest, because of its beauty, the remoteness, and the nostalgia it holds for me; it holds some of the first forested lands I worked on out of college. Not only does the property feature a stunning waterfall, rolling oak woodlands, towering redwoods, ocean views, and varying topography, but it is where I grew into the person I am today. I learned how to walk off trail, use a chainsaw, read the forest, identify plants, and survey for spotted owls.  I’ve witnessed some of the most beautiful sunsets as I ATV’ed down ridgetops, headed to my first calling station as the fog rolled in and the last sun rays warmed my face.

What’s one fact, statistic, or interesting tidbit about land conservation that you enjoy sharing with others?

Did you know that the Laguna de Santa Rosa is one of the largest freshwater wetlands in coastal Northern California and hosts hundreds of wildlife and plant species? The Laguna covers approximately 30,000 acres and includes marshes, ponds, creeks, and riparian forests. The Laguna de Santa Rosa plays a crucial role in supporting migratory birds, providing breeding grounds for native wildlife, and enhancing overall ecosystem health in the region. Additionally, it offers recreational opportunities for visitors, such as birdwatching, hiking, and nature photography. Ag + Open Space just protected nearly 700 acres of contiguous land  in the Laguna just this year.

What’s your proudest moment working in land conservation and why?

As someone without a degree in forestry, becoming a Registered Professional Forester was my proudest moment working in land conservation. It took 5 years of work experience, skills accumulation, pursuit of additional coursework, countless late weeknights and weekends of studying with peers, and learning from colleagues and mentors just to be approved to take the exam. I can’t begin to express the joy I felt when our study group all passed the exam together. 

What compelled you to pick a career in land conservation?

My mom’s parents were farmers and imparted their knowledge of growing food to their children and grandchildren. I also spent many of my adolescent summers backpacking in the Santa Cruz redwoods. These two pathways created my foundational connection to the natural world, and what would later be my academic and professional path. In the face of climate change, I knew I wanted my career to be centered around protecting food systems and ecosystems in order for communities to thrive. To be able to bring these pathways together with a career in land conservation at Ag + Open Space is an incredible culmination that I am very thankful for. 

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor and why?

My favorite ice cream flavor is a tie between the persimmon and cinnamon gelato from Gelateria Vernazza in Italy. The combination of the two is absolute perfection; both warming, yet refreshing. Cinnamon can instantly make me feel cozy, even after a full day of hiking the footpaths in Cinque Terre.