Join us for an online panel discussion on California's extraordinary wildflowers, and how we can protect and conserve them.
2023 will go down in the history books as an incredible year for California wildflowers. ‘Superblooms’ germinated throughout the state, capturing the attention of the world while flower fanatics traveled far and wide to find the best blooms, guided by social media and articles from major news outlets. The vast displays of floral abundance inspired nature lovers, but also drew attention to the threats that California native plants face. Habitat loss, climate change, invasive species and massive, uncoordinated crowds at well-known wildflower hotspots tempered the beauty with a sense of worry about the future of these fragile ecosystems. We’ll hear about the panelists’ 2023 wildflower experiences, and dig into a complex and passionate conversation that is ongoing: how best to protect and conserve wildflowers in a time of great environmental change.
José G. González is the Founder of Latino Outdoors and Co-Founder of the Outdoorist Oath. He is a professional educator with training in the fields of education and conservation while engaging in different artistic endeavors with art and messaging—often exploring the intersection of the environment and culture. As a Partner in the Avarna Group and through his own consulting, his work focuses on Equity & Inclusion frameworks and practices in the environmental, outdoor, and conservation fields. He is also an illustrator and science communicator. He received his B.A at the University of California, Davis, with teaching coursework at the Bilingual, Multicultural, Education Department at Sacramento State. He received his M.S at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment. He serves as a Trustee for the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Trustee for the National Recreation Foundation, and Outdoor Industry Association Board Director, among other such leadership volunteer roles.
Naomi Fraga, PhD is Director of Conservation Programs at the California Botanic Garden and Research Assistant Professor of Botany at Claremont Graduate University. She is a botanist focused on plant conservation in the western U.S. and her primary research focus is in plant conservation, rarity and endemism, plant systematics (Phrymaceae), and floristics primarily in the Mojave Desert, Transverse Ranges, and southern Sierra Nevada in California. Naomi was awarded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion Award in 2019, The Center for Plant Conservation Star Award in 2021 and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Award in 2021. She also serves on the board of the Southern California Botanists, the Amargosa Conservancy and the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy.
Nick Jensen, PhD currently serves as the Conservation Program Director for the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). In this position he oversees the conservation work of staff and volunteer advocates statewide. Nick’s work involves state and federal legislative advocacy, project level work including presiding over litigation, participation in coalitions of environmental organizations, media relations, and supervising a team of talented conservation professionals. Nick earned his BS degree in Environmental Horticulture at UC Davis and completed his Ph.D. in botany at California Botanic Garden (CalBG)/Claremont Graduate University. As a graduate student Nick produced the first Flora of Tejon Ranch, documenting plant diversity on California’s largest contiguous piece of private land. He also studied evolutionary patterns in perennial Streptanthus (jewelflowers). From 2006-2010, he was employed by CNPS, first as a Vegetation Program Assistant, and later as the Rare Plant Program Director. Nick has also worked as a botanist for the U.S. Forest Service, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the private consulting industry. He has taught botany classes to professionals and interested members of the public for CNPS, CalBG, the Jepson Herbarium, and Theodore Payne Foundation.
Evan Meyer is the Executive Director at Theodore Payne Foundation, a nonprofit focused on advocating for native plants in Southern California landscapes and sharing their myriad benefits to habitats and communities with the public. He began his botanical career in 2008 as an undergraduate research assistant studying native plant restoration in the coastal prairies of Northern California. Prior to his current position, Evan worked at the Native Plant Trust, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Harvard University Herbaria, California Botanical Garden, and UCLA Botanical Garden. He is broadly interested in the intersections of botany, horticulture, environmental conservation and public engagement.
Heather Schneider, PhD is the Rare Plant Biologist at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where she oversees the Garden’s rare plant conservation program and Conservation Seed Bank. Her work focuses on understanding, protecting and restoring California’s rare plants and habitats, with an emphasis on the Channel Islands, Central Coast and Central California. Heather earned her PhD at the University of California, Riverside, worked as an Ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara before joining Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in 2016.
California Botanical Garden, California Native Plant Society, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Theodore Payne Foundation