To Our Ojai Community:

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »

About Our Staff

Tania Parker

Tania Parker
Deputy Director

Tania grew up in the Ojai Valley and after graduating from The Thacher School, she obtained her degree in Forestry and Natural Resources Management Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She then later went on to earn a certificate in graphic design from UCSB. In her role with the OVLC, she connects local and regional supporters with land conservation efforts in Ojai. She came to nature in childhood through the Ojai Valley’s abundant open lands where hidden swimming holes and rocky caves were treated like secret mining claims; each special and worthy of protection. Tania’s path to land conservation was along the scenic route. Starting with her degree in Forestry and Natural Resources Management she passed through jobs in sales, backcountry horseback guiding, personal training, and graphic design. Tania combines her experiences among local people and land with an eye of a graphic artist to interpret both the physical and cultural landscapes of the Ojai Valley in ways that create strong bonds with donors and the community. In her free time, Tania and her husband Tobias can often be found hiking or climbing on the OVLC trails and preserves with their dog Topa, or exploring other favorite outdoor destinations throughout the western states.

Jill Taylor

Jill Lashly
Conservation Director

Born and raised in Ojai, Jill grew up exploring the mountains and streams surrounding the valley. She moved on to study biology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, but readily escaped the frigid east coast back to Ojai upon completion. Since then, she has spent eight years conducting work related to the endangered southern steelhead and the equally as endangered streams and habitats they depend upon. With the California Conservation Corps’ Salmonid Restoration Program she has conducted scientific studies and designed, funded, and implemented dozens of steelhead restoration projects in coastal streams of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties.

When Jill isn’t at work, she can usually be found hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, and spending time with her family. She is thrilled to be a part of the team at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy to help protect open spaces for current and future generations to enjoy.

Brendan Taylor
Stewardship Director

Brendan is from Blue Bell, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. After spending his whole life there, he went off to study History at the University of Maryland, College Park before stumbling upon work in the outdoors. After interning on trails for the Student Conservation Association in Massachusetts, California, and Washington state, Brendan then led crews, before going on to work for the Pacific Crest Trail Association, based here in southern California. By this time, he fell in love with working on trails and leading volunteers, so he went on to be Supervisor of the Volunteer Trail Program in New Hampshire and Maine for the Appalachian Mountain Club for 5 years in addition to earning a Master’s degree in Parks and Recreation Resource Management from Slippery Rock University.

Brendan took an early retirement to ride his Surly Disc Trucker bicycle around the world, cycling through Asia, Australia, and Africa during 2017. Now out of retirement, Brendan is excited to get back into trail work and stewardship with OVLC.  Though you’ll always find him on his bicycle – happy trails!

Xena Grossman
Development Associate

Xena grew up on the East Coast but after one too many snowstorms she and her husband decided it was time to follow their dream and move to Southern California. During her six years in Ojai she has explored many local trails with her dog and young daughter, forming strong connections to the land. Prior to coming to the OVLC, Xena worked as a project manager in clinical research. She is excited to transfer these skills to help further advancement at the OVLC.

Xena has traveled extensively, both in the US and internationally, including a two year stint in Paraguay as an agroforestry Peace Corps volunteer. She is looking forward to the day when her young daughter can carry a pack so they can go on their next adventure.

Emmie Pinedo
Development Assistant

Emmie grew up on the Central Coast of California. She found her love for the outdoors in her own backyard of San Luis Obispo. After graduating from community college, she moved to Redding, California, where her love for preservation began to take root. Furthering her education in Redding led to taking classes in outdoor leadership as well as a 100 mile backpacking trip down the Lost Coast of California. On this trip, she decided that protecting the wild and beautiful places of this earth is what she wanted to do with her life. Emmie moved back to San Luis Obispo and finished her degree in Communication Studies at Cal Poly. During her college career, she spent a summer working at an outdoor camp in Sierra and Kings Canyon National Parks, and volunteered for ECOSLO, California Native Plant Society, and Surfrider Foundation.

Emmie moved to Ojai in June of 2018. She is so excited to use her background in communications to help inspire and educate others on why they should fight to preserve the Ojai Valley. In her spare time, you can find her climbing at Mount Pinos, hiking around the valley, looking for bodies of water to swim in and trying to pet every dog.

Ron Singer

Ron Singer
Nursery Manager

Ron, a lifetime New Yorker, was dragged kicking and screaming to Ojai by his lovely wife Elisa in 2007. He has been hiking every day with Luke the Aussie ever since. Since 2010 he has grown over 20,000 native plants from seeds that he gathered in OVLC preserves. His favorite native plants are Wooly Blue-curls and Humboldt lilies – although he grows dozens of other plants as well. When he isn’t lurking in the nursery he enjoys crossword puzzles, the music of Frank Zappa and agonizing over the New York Jets.

Nathan Wickstrum
Stewardship Manager

A native of Ojai, Nathan spends his time hiking, photographing prehistoric archaeological sites, swimming in creeks, and taking in the pink moment at the end of the day. When Nathan is not working, he volunteers for the NPS Cultural Resources program in the Santa Monica Mountains archiving at the park’s museum collections and surveying out in the field with the Archaeology team.

Nathan graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Film Studies and he continues to utilize his degree in the form of digital cultural preservation and as a contributing photographer for the conservancy.

Niko Georghiou
Restoration Field Crew Supervisor

Niko grew up in the beach town of Ventura where he developed a profound respect and admiration of the outdoors from the local hillsides to the channel islands. When the time came he relocated to the redwood forests of Santa Cruz where he studied philosophy as well as film when he wasn’t mountain biking or playing in the surf. Upon graduating he went on to become a certified massage practitioner and also acquired skills as a rope access technician. Throughout the years he gained experience as a rock climbing coach, professional route setter for climbing competitions, and even participated as a co-founder and president of a climbing club. It was climbing that continued to draw Niko into the backcountry and encourage those around him to protect the wonders of our natural world. After meandering the west coast he settled in various communities throughout the Sierra Nevada where he continued climbing and leading a life of sustainability. He bounced between being a barista and a bartender, managing restaurants and serving as a farmhand wherever he lived. Eventually, circumstances lead him back to his roots in southern California where he is devoted to photographing and writing a rock climbing guidebook for the Santa Barbara and Ojai mountains with the intention to promote preservation and recreation for generations to come.

When he is not working on expanding his knowledge of local plants or maintaining our preserves with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy you can expect to find him rambling in the wilderness with his dogs.

Destinee Rabelo
Restoration Field Crew

Destinee is a Ventura County local. Before OVLC, she was in the California Conservation Corps (CCC), where she worked in trail maintenance, weed abatement, brush clearance, and helped out with camp support for the local fires that occurred. The CCC was a great growing experience because it helped Destinee find her passion for restoration work. She specifically found a passion for helping native plants to thrive in their environment. Destinee also volunteered with the California Institute of Environmental Studies on the Anacapa island where she planted native plants to help the seagull’s nest. Her goal is to go finish her degree in environmental science.

In her free time, you can find Destinee exploring new trails, setting up camp, chasing waterfalls, and enjoying a sunset walk with her dog Luna.

Caitlyn Barrera
Restoration Field Crew

Caitlyn received her BA in Environmental Studies from California State University Monterey Bay and developed an affinity for plants, wildlife, and community while pursuing her education. She interned at the Santa Lucia Conservancy, researching methods for detecting the cryptic and endangered California tiger salamander. She also was given the opportunity to assist many other wildlife conservation projects as well as restoration efforts put on by community partners. She continues to stay connected with the community she found in Monterey and is currently drafting journal articles for two research projects. During her time at CSU Monterey Bay, she was also given the opportunity to partake in social research and policy and contributed to her campus’ study on student sustainability and developed a fact sheet pertaining to how climate change is affecting farmworkers.

Now that she is back in Ventura County, she is thrilled to be given the opportunity to contribute to the OVLC’s restoration efforts for the surrounding community. When she isn’t expanding her knowledge on weed management or maintaining the OVLC’s preserves, Caitlyn can be found surfing, hiking, or painting a canvas.