Meet Our Team
Ryan Mello, Executive Director
Ryan Mello has served as the Executive Director of the Pierce Conservation District since 2012. Ryan’s real job is “Chief Relationship Officer” for the Conservation District - ensuring we have the best staff to perform this important work and they have the resources necessary to be successful, our many stakeholders understand our role in the system and our partners are supported in a meaningful way with our assistance. When Ryan isn’t engaged in conservation work at the District, he is serving as a member of the Tacoma City Council or gardening, walking his dogs, hiking, biking or kayaking Puget Sound.
Urban Agriculture (Harvest Pierce County)
Kristen McIvor, Urban Agriculture and Local Access Program Director
Kristen is the director of Harvest Pierce County, the urban agriculture program of the Pierce Conservation District – supporting over 70 active community gardens and orchards. She has been working to develop sustainable food systems in Tacoma, WA since 2006 and received her PhD in Forest Resources from the University of Washington in 2011. In addition to her work with community gardens, her career has focused improving urban soil for agriculture through recycling of organic residuals, and the social conditions that influence how people learn in community gardens.
Micaela Cooley, Urban Agriculture Education & Outreach Coordinator
Micaela Cooley has worked as a Program Coordinator for Harvest Pierce County program since 2012. The focus of her work has been supporting Pierce County residents to reconnect with their food system and each other through community gardening. A graduate of University of Puget Sound, she also sits on the board of directors of the Tacoma Farmers Market and the Tacoma Urban Land Trust. In her spare time, she loves playing her cello and singing songs as well as frolicking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Wolky Samboy-Hillyer, AmeriCorps Service Member
Renee Meschi, Program Specialist
Renee Meschi joined the PCD as a Harvest Pierce County Program Specialist in August 2015. A graduate of the University of Puget Sound, her research centered on the human stories behind the different plants and mushrooms that make up the landscape in our watershed. Renee is passionate about finding the intersection between ecological and social justice, and sees capturing waste while providing fresh, healthy food for our local community as a living example of this intersection.
Wolky joins us come from Portland, OR, where he had been living continuously until attending the University of Puget Sound. He graduated from UPS with a degree in Science, Technology, & Society, and a minor in Environmental Policy & Decision Making. His major is an interdisciplinary one, that allowed him to pursue his interest of the interactions between human society and the environment, from historical, political, and natural resource use perspectives.
Water Quality Improvement
Melissa Buckingham, Water Quality Program Director
Melissa Buckingham joined Pierce Conservation District over 10 years ago and has experience in restoration ecology, environmental science, and project and program management. As the Water Quality Improvement and Monitoring Program Director you can find her in a stream, installing a rain garden, ripping up pavement, or planting a streamside. Her favorite part of her job is connecting community to the natural world around them through action projects.
Isabel Ragland, Water Quality Monitoring Program Manager
Isabel joined Pierce Conservation District in 1999 and coordinates the water quality monitoring programs. Her work focuses on providing education and opportunities for residents to get involved with protecting water quality in our streams and lakes. Her favorite part of the job is helping folks connect with the natural environment. When not in the stream, she enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors.
Belinda Paterno, Water Quality Technician
Belinda grew up in Western Washington and spent weeks during the summer months traveling to different national parks with her parents. Experiencing firsthand the beauty of nature and wanting to learn more about the environment led Belinda to study environmental science at the University of Montana and Washington State University. Belinda has a background in both field research and environmental education. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, camping, and running in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Caleb Mott, Water Quality Assistant
Caleb has worked as a Water Quality Assistant at the District since 2015. He graduated from the University of Washington Tacoma with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Studies. Caleb helps coordinate the Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program and various water quality improvement projects as well. Raised in Washington State, Caleb is very passionate about the health of its natural resources and looks forward everyday to improving the environment around him.
Joel Eklof, AmeriCorps Service Member
Joel recently graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma with a B.S. in Physics and minors in Environmental Studies and Math. Joel is passionate about returning water to historic levels of health and productivity, and enjoys assisting in Pierce Conservation District’s water quality improvement programs. In his spare time, he likes to mountain bike and backpack across the Pacific Northwest.
Habitat Improvement & Environmental Education
Jayme Gordon, Habitat Improvement and Environmental Education Program Director
With PCD since 1998, Jayme was the District’s Stream Team Coordinator for 10 years before taking on the Habitat Improvement and Environmental Education programs. A graduate of Western Washington University (Huxley College of the Environment), Jayme enjoys working with Pierce County citizens to engage them in dynamic ways to teach and instill a sense of stewardship for the plants and animals that share our green spaces and natural landscapes. When not leading a streamside planting event, workshop, or field trip, Jayme and her family try to get out on the water or into the woods as much as possible
Chris Towe, Environmental Education Program Manager
Chris Towe joined the District in 2010 after graduating from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Chris primarily works with volunteers on restoration plantings and providing environmental education to students throughout Pierce County. He actively participates in local networks that focus on environmental education and outreach. One of his favorite parts about his job is seeing how excited kids get when they explore their environment and see new, interesting things.
Kate Terpstra, Habitat Improvement Coordinator
Kate joined the Pierce Conservation District in 2016. She is a graduate of the University of Washington, and has worked with various AmeriCorps, non- profit, and government programs and organizations to conduct environmental work throughout the state. As the Habitat Improvement Coordinator, Kate primarily coordinates the Habitat Restoration and Knotweed Control programs. One of her favorite parts of her job is engaging with a variety of landowners and organizations to effect change over an entire watershed, and seeing improved natural resources and habitats as a result of that work.
Farm Planning & Agricultural Assistance
René Skaggs, Farm Planning and Agricultural Assistance Program Director
Rene’ has been a farm resource specialist with the Pierce Conservation District since 1997 educating livestock farm owners on management practices that both improve their farm productivity and protect natural resources. She and her family live on a 10 acre, 7 horse farm in rural Pierce County where she practices what she teaches.
Sofia Gidlund, Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor, and Islands Watershed Program Manager
Sofia Gidlund joined Pierce Conservation District in 2014 after working for King Conservation District. As the Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor and Islands Watershed Program Manager Sofia works with local landowners and farmers to provide technical assistance, promote conservation of our natural resources and secure funding for implementation of best management practices. Sofia has a background in livestock and equestrian farming, working for several different farms and for the agricultural university of Sweden. Outside of her passion for local farming, Sofia loves homestead projects, foraging for wild mushrooms and time in the outdoors.
Chrissy Cooley, Climate Resiliency Program Manager
Chrissy is the Climate Resiliency Program Manager, leading up our goals to prepare for a changing climate. From renewable energy on farms and small businesses, to adaptive planting and forestry practices, Chrissy is able to assist Pierce County residents in the ways that they see climate impacting them.
Finance & Administration
Selena Corwin, Senior Finance and Administrative Director
Selena is the Director of Finance and Administration for the District and coordinates grant administration as well. She enjoys supporting local farms by purchasing local produce and shopping at Farmer’s Markets. She has worked for the District since 1997.
Kathryn Mahan, Budget and Fund Development Coordinator
Kathryn manages the District budget and coordinates various fund raising campaigns. She is very interested in salmon recovery, wildlife habitat restoration, and tribal cultural history. She has worked for the District since 2001.
Cynthia Ross, Finance Coordinator
Cynthia joined Pierce Conservation District in January, 2017 as the Finance Coordinator. Cynthia is responsible for assisting the Finance & Administration team with the day to day financials of the District as well as related activities and future planning. Cynthia enjoys gardening, reading, and volunteering in and around the community. Cynthia believes in continuously doing her part to help reduce the dependency of natural resources by limiting her use of water, gas, and electricity and by recycling.
Allan helps each of the District's departments tell the story of how important their work is in improving Pierce County's natural resources, edits the Tahoma View newsletter, and manages the website and social media. In addition, Allan provides support through grant writing and strategic planning. Growing up in Alaska, Allan developed a deep love for the natural environment and cherishes the opportunity to conserve it through his work at the District.