Yolo Colusa Chapter’s Executive Board and Volunteers
You can always reach our board with questions, suggestions, or to get the agenda for an upcoming meeting. Email us, with “Yolo Colusa Board” in the subject line.
Dan Potter is Professor and Vice Chair of Teaching in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, where he has been a faculty member since 1996. Dan grew up a rural area of the Hudson Valley in New York State, where his interests in biology were fostered by walks in the woods around their house, parents who were avid gardeners and nature lovers, and the influence of several excellent teachers in elementary and high school. His specific interests in botany and systematics developed and solidified during his years as an undergraduate at Harvard and a PhD student at Cornell, again due in no small part to several inspirational professors. Dan’s primary area of research interest and expertise is angiosperm systematics (study of the evolutionary relationships and classification of flowering plants), and some current projects in his lab focus on phylogenetic and taxonomic investigations of the wonderfully diverse flora of California, for which his appreciation has continued to grow over the years he’s lived here. Dan also has a deep interest in ethnobotany (the study of relationships between people and culturally significant plants), and other projects in his lab incorporate this interest by exploring the diversity and systematics of cultivated plants and their wild relatives. Dan teach courses in both systematics and ethnobotany. In addition to his work with the Yolo Colusa Chapter of CNPS, he serves as Director the UC Davis herbarium, member of the board of directors of the Davis Botanical Society, member of the CNPS Board of Certification, and Editor-in-Chief of Systematic Botany, the professional journal of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
Glen Holstein learned to love plants as a kid picking wildflowers for his mom and learning to identify them when he found a copy of the old Jepson manual in the local library. He received his PhD from UC Davis in Botany, and has dedicated his life to the conservation of native plants. His dissertation was on the influence of climate on world vegetation. In the early 1980’s Glen worked for The Nature Conservancy and was instrumental in the creation of the California Natural Diversity Data Base (CNDDB), as well as assisting with the creation of the Cosumnes River Preserve, and the preservation of Carrizo Plain. Glen had a long career with Zentner and Zentner (an environmental consulting firm), exploring the wilds of central California while finding and getting protected significant populations of some of California’s rarest plants, helping to design some its best new wetland habitat, and correcting the belief that east Delta water levels were 3 feet lower than they really are. He worked on the San Francisco Bay Area Wetlands Ecosystems Goals Project and wrote papers to debunk the myth that California’s Central Valley was once dominated by bunchgrass. Glen has served as a board member of both the Sacramento and Yolo Colusa chapters of CNPS, as well as Tuleyome. His participation with these organizations, as well as other groups, was instrumental in the creation of both the Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument and Woodland Regional Park and Preserve, as well as the protection of critical plant and animal habitats at Grasslands Regional Park. Due to his involvement in numerous conservation projects, Glen was awarded the Environmental Council of Sacramento Environmentalist of the Year Award in 2013 and the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Conservationist of the Year Award in 2018
Alan Pryor spent over 30 years as an environmental engineer commercializing different environmentally benign technologies and methods. In addition to his current role as Treasurer of the Yolo Colusa Chapter of CNPS, he also serves on the Board of Directors and/or the Executive Management Committee of three other non-profit organizations focusing on the environment in Yolo County and one non-profit serving health care needs of low income residents of Yolo Co.
Patricia Carpenter is a Garden Ambassador for the California Native Plant Society, as well as for the Yolo Colusa Chapter of CNPS. She has hiked and traveled all over California, and fell in love with the native countryside. When she was given the opportunity to start her own native plant garden, she jumped. She wanted to learn more about native plants, and this was a chance to do just that. Patricia started her native plant garden in the spring of 2005 with the intent to include only California native plants. The garden now features over 400 species and cultivars. This garden provides an opportunity to see how these resilient plants deal with stress, and which plants thrive with very little care. Patricia loves to be in her garden in the very early morning and at sunset on the bridge. She is excited to share this wild escape and all the lessons learned with others.
Mary began her professional life as an alpine botanist, specializing in the plants of the southern Sierra alpine regions, and later expanding her interests to work across California and the Sierra for The Nature Conservancy, the US Forest Service, and the National Park Service. She is on the board of GLORIA Great Basin (a North American chapter of the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments) where she currently serves as Development Director. Mary recently retired after 35+ years from UC Davis where she most recently served as the Director of Conservation & Environmental Leadership at the UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden with a special focus on plant collections, student leadership programs, and leading major campus, statewide, and international initiatives. Mary was appointed by former Governor Jerry Brown to help develop and write the first draft of the “2018 California Biodiversity Initiative: A Roadmap for Protecting the State’s Natural Heritage” that later resulted in an initial allocation of over $5 million dollars to begin the implementation of the CA Biodiversity Initiative.
Rare Plant Chair
Rare Plant Chair
John Gibson has had a career as an Environmental Scientist and Hydrologist with the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. Building on his MS degree in Climatology from Rutgers University, his career has focused on water resources planning and management, plant ecology, and vegetation classification in California and western North America. He also has a special interest in California rare plants. He had the great opportunity in the 1970's to study often and work on field surveys with Dr. G. Ledyard Stebbins, a botanist who was instrumental in establishing the CNPS Rare Plant Program. He also serves on the CNPS Rare Plant Ranking Review Committee. He is an active member of the California Botanical Society, Northern California Botanists, and the Davis Botanical Society.
Elize Van Zandt
Elize Van Zandt recently moved to Woodland after 30 years as a desert dweller. She is a retired National Park Service naturalist/interpreter, and her final and favorite position was at Joshua Tree National Park, where she developed a passion for native plants. Her move to Northern California has presented her with a whole new set of plants to discover. When Elize is not wandering around outdoors, she likes to read and write about the natural world.
Sami LaRocca graduated from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, CA with a BA in Biology. She had a career as a teacher in various elementary schools, as well as at Notre Dame High School in San Francisco. Later on she worked as an administrative assistant at UCSF. Upon retirement she eagerly embraced the life of a birder, serving on the Yolo Audubon Society board of directors as field trip chairperson and managing the Yolo Audubon Society Facebook page. She also was a docent for the Yolo Basin Foundation, leading tours in the Davis Wetlands and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Sami also has a deep interest in California native plants. She is a member of the California Native Plant Society, and was involved with the process of saving the property that was to become the Woodland Regional Park Preserve. Sami currently is the administrator of the Facebook page for the Yolo Colusa Chapter of CNPS.
John Hingtgen has worked in science or planning for most of his career. He earned degrees in geology and energy science and has worked in the public and private sectors in California, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. He has assisted in field biology on salamanders and plants of the woodland floor. He spent many field days on earth science and environmental engineering projects and devoted many hours volunteering for environmental organizations, including in positions on boards. Currently he is populating his yard with ever more native plants and learning how to choose plants for microclimates. He enjoys learning about the myriad of species and being in nature. When not working in his yard, he is often folk dancing. John is the Yolo Colusa Chapter Speaker Coordinator
Eileen Samitz worked for 35 years at UCD’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital as a med tech in the Clinical Microbiology. She has a master’s degree in Microbiology from UC Davis. Eileen served as a City of Davis Planning Commissioner, served as a committee member on the land use committee of the 2001 General Plan Update, and was a member of the Housing Element Steering Committee. In addition to her work with the Yolo Colusa Chapter of CNPS she has done volunteer work with the Yolo SPCA, the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless Holiday Pet Baskets program, and the Davis chapter of the League of Women Voters Eileen is an avid gardener. She believes that the conservation of our California habitat, including its plants, shrubs, trees, and wildlife, is so very important.
Robert Ullrey is a native of Yolo county. A 5th generation Californian, a direct descendent of people who came to California before it was a state, Robert has a strong appreciation and affection for California's ecosystem, native plants, and the unique biodiversity hotspot properties of the California Floristic Province. Robert is politically active in both state and local politics and currently serves on the commissions within the city of Woodland and Yolo county.
Charlie Russell has had a long time interest in native plants. He travels throughout California, as well as around the world, to photograph native plants, writing about places where people can hike to view them. Charlie is a docent at Jepson Prairie Preserve, one of the best remaining vernal pool ecosystems in California, as well as volunteering with NorCal Bats and the Yolo Basin Foundation.