While relatively new to Oakland, FOSC volunteer and prospective board member Kristy Brady has wasted no time getting her hands dirty in her new environment.
Kristy has been a stalwart supporter all over the watershed, and we’re excited for her to join our Board of Directors–a role in which she’s eager to help increase FOSC’s visibility in the area and attract more volunteers.
Read more about Kristy’s connection to the watershed and her journey in conservation in our interview below.
FOSC: What is your connection to the Sausal Creek Watershed?
Kristy: When I moved to Oakland a couple of years ago, I specifically looked for a place near Dimond Park and Dimond Canyon. Like many folks, I have to live in a city for my job, but I love the outdoors and I knew being by the park and canyon would provide a much needed nature respite from an otherwise very urban lifestyle. I continue to feel lucky and grateful that I live within walking distance and get to visit the park regularly! Prior to moving to the area, I was living in San Diego and was volunteering with the California Native Plant Society doing habitat restoration down there. So when I got up here, I started searching for similar opportunities and came across FOSC. I was elated!
FOSC: What is it that keeps you coming back as a volunteer and what motivated you to join the board?
Kristy: I love seeing the very real impact that we can have improving our urban areas for plants and native wildlife, as well as ourselves. California is such a special place for biodiversity and I love that I'm able to be a part of protecting it for myself, my neighbors, and future generations. When I get to see the native plants we started from seed in the nursery in summer planted at one of our restoration sites that winter and then flowering a few months later the following summer–it doesn't get much better than that! I can't wait to start seeing seedling recruits from those plants.
I'm really excited to join the FOSC board because it's such a great organization run by committed and knowledgeable folks. I know I'll be able to learn from them and am optimistic that I'll be able to contribute to FOSC's continued success in this capacity, as well as continuing with habitat restoration and nursery volunteering.
FOSC: Tell us about your background in conservation. What has steered and sustained your interest in ecology?
Kristy: I really got into plants, ecology, and conservation in college. I worked as a field research technician for several years on different projects, including working with a team surveying vegetation recovery following the eruption of Mt. St. Helens and working with a graduate student studying monkeyflowers in the Sierras. I had planned to become a biology professor, but after finishing my master's work (studying monkeyflowers adapted to serpentine soils), I pivoted and went to law school instead. But I never lost my love of plants and the outdoors, so now I'm a recreational botanist, avid native plant gardener, and all-around complete plant nerd. Being in California, I am always learning about some new native plant to get excited about!
FOSC: Any specific area of focus you’d like to take on as a board member?
Kristy: To start, I'd like to become more familiar with the many different programs FOSC has. I volunteer doing habitat restoration in Dimond Canyon and at the nursery. I've just started volunteering with the pallid manzanita crew and I visited Fern Ravine for the first time last month on a walk with my pup. But FOSC has a lot of projects, and I'm keen to hear more about them. I would like to see if I can help increase our visibility in the area and hopefully attract more volunteers that way. Volunteering is so rewarding, so I would love to share that feeling with more folks.
FOSC: Do you have a favorite trail in the watershed? Why is it special to you?
Kristy: I love Dimond Canyon early in the morning, the sound of birds singing and, especially this year, the creek flowing. One morning about a month ago I saw my first fox along the creek! Thankfully my pup (who was on leash) did not see/smell it before it rushed off into the woods.
FOSC: As a staple in our native plant nursery crew, you've certainly gotten acquainted with many Sausal Creek native plants. Do you have a favorite genus or species? Why do you love it?
Kristy: I'm partial to monkeyflowers given how much time I've spent with them. In particular, the common monkeyflower or Mimulus guttatus (I know taxonomists changed its name, but it will always be Mimulus to me!). I got to plant some in Dimond Canyon this winter and it's flowering this summer! I love that cheery little yellow flower.
By Kate Berlin
July 15, 2023