A Word from Pepperwood’s Acting Executive Director

“…My destiny was intertwined with Pepperwood from the moment I set foot on the land. It’s been almost twenty years since that day, and now my children will soon be heading off to college. They’ve grown up at Pepperwood. It is a blessing I’d wish for every child in our community: that Pepperwood be an integral part of their youth.”

Coming Home to Place and Purpose

Dear Friends,

As I reflect on the journey of Pepperwood, from its inception to the vibrant community it is today, I cannot help but be filled with gratitude and excitement for what lies ahead. It is with a deep sense of appreciation that I share with you the remarkable contributions of Dr. Lisa Micheli, our esteemed former CEO, and look forward to the next chapter of our organization’s evolution.

When I first toured Pepperwood in 2004, I immediately fell in love with the land, the views, and the possibilities. I was on a scoping mission as the Education Outreach Program Manager for the California Academy of Sciences, which owned the property at the time. It was easy to envision bringing the elementary and high school children I worked with in San Francisco up to Pepperwood, to enjoy this magical place with all of its unique critters and ponds teeming with frogs, newts, and turtles.

Everything seemed like it was on a set course for me and my career at CalAcademy. But, as so often happens when we think we’ve got it all figured out, everything changed. A year after I toured the property it was purchased by Herb and Jane Dwight, and I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I decided to part ways with the CalAcademy to spend more time with my growing family. But the fact remained: I missed working with youth as a naturalist and teacher.

My destiny was intertwined with Pepperwood from the moment I set foot on the land that fateful day. When Michael Gillogly, Pepperwood’s Preserve Manager, called me and asked if I could lead field trips for kids “every once in a while,”  I leapt at the opportunity. It’s been almost twenty years since that day, and now my children will soon be heading off to college. They’ve grown up at Pepperwood. It is a blessing I’d wish for every child in our community: that Pepperwood be an integral part of their youth. 

Word about Pepperwood was spreading fast throughout the community, and our field trips were filling up each week with teachers yearning to share its beauty with their students. Eventually, in 2008, I was asked by our then Education Director, Steve Barnhart (now Emeritus), if I wanted to create a formal education program for youth, thus initiating my formal employment at Pepperwood as the “School Programs Manager.” Those first years were exciting and fulfilling, and I made deep and lasting connections with Pepperwood’s volunteers (now Stewards) and our community’s school teachers, administrators, and students. Many of those teachers are still bringing their children to our field trip program (SCENIQ) 15 years later! 

As the organization grew, so did our need for an Executive Director, and Dr. Lisa Micheli was the perfect fit. Lisa’s tenure marked a transformative period for Pepperwood. She spearheaded the development of our science department, laying the groundwork for long-term monitoring and research initiatives that have become a hallmark of our organization. Through her leadership, Pepperwood’s impact transcended our local borders, reaching communities far and wide with our message of conservation and sustainability.

Over her 15-year tenure, Lisa created the opportunity for our science team to build out Pepperwood as a Sentinel Site and brought in funding to support studies on the land, water, and wildlife of Pepperwood and our region. Many of the original researchers that Lisa brought on are still with Pepperwood, and out on the land “doing the science” that is critical for our community’s adaptation to a changing climate. As Lisa moves into her role as a Pepperwood science affiliate, and as she coins it, “a cheerleader for Pepperwood,” the seed of science that she nurtured will continue to grow.

Drawing upon my background as a seasoned field biologist equipped with degrees in Wildlife Biology and Science Education, I am invigorated by the prospect of further bolstering our scientific endeavors. I began my work studying endangered birds, bears, and other wildlife in Oregon, California, Alaska, New Zealand, and Midway Island. My intimate engagement with Alaska’s bear population fuels my enthusiasm for our current initiative with the North Bay Bear Collaborative, which entails meticulously mapping bear scat to ascertain population density, distribution, and migratory patterns within the County. 

As Pepperwood embarks on its next phase, I advocate for a concerted effort to disseminate our scientific findings to the wider community, while nurturing a new cohort of young adults to embrace community science. Central to this vision is the expansion of our workforce development program, empowering budding environmental stewards with insights into the symbiotic relationship between grazing practices, controlled burns, and climate resilience. I invite you to join me in advancing our collective mission, as we fortify the foundations laid and magnify our impact as guardians of nature within our community.

I am deeply grateful for Lisa’s mentorship and guidance over the past decade, and I am confident that her passion for Pepperwood will shine brightly in her future endeavors. I’m honored to step into the role of interim Executive Director, alongside our dedicated team. Together, we will build upon Dr. Micheli’s legacy, in our mission to inspire conservation through science, education, stewardship, and art.

I invite each of you to join us in celebrating Dr. Micheli’s leadership and in embracing the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for Pepperwood as we continue to cultivate a thriving community dedicated to the preservation of our natural world.

With warm regards,

Margaret Boeger
Acting Executive Director
Pepperwood Foundation

Learn more about Margaret

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