OC Habitats (OCH) was founded in July 2017 and is based on the clear need for more habitat protection throughout the county.
First, our founders felt that areas in Orange County needed more monitoring and data to support the protection of both the habitats and the species therein that already exist or need restoration. OCH has partnered with various nonprofit and government agencies, such as Sea and Sage Audubon, Bolsa Chica Conservancy, USFWS, and California State Parks, to support the furtherance of these protections. We monitor habitats, collect data, and share this data with key players in habitat protection to ensure healthy and viable habitat and species populations for years to come.
An equally important goal of OCH is education and outreach. We at OCH believe that knowledge is power and the more individuals we can empower the better off our environment will be. We educate directly on site during field monitoring, during scheduled habitat tour events, and through our habitat education programs that we provide to public, private, and home schools in and around Orange County. Our goal is to eventually be active in most of the habitat types in Orange County and to provide a vital service the public in this area.
Restoration of degraded habitats is the third arm of our organization. In 2019, we began to make an impact in earnest here in Orange County. We have helped restore wetlands in Huntington and Newport Beaches and coastal sage scrub and chaparral in Tustin and Orange.
All three of the goals come together to make OC Habitats. We strive to make world better one person and event at a time. If our mission speaks to your heart, join us!
Board of Directors
Habitat protection and species conservation is a passion of Stacey Chartier-Grable. Stacey has both a business and environmental degree and background and is using her education and experience to build a strong and enduring grassroots organization that will last beyond her own tenure. Stacey has worked in the environmental field in both private and government agencies in Orange County starting as far back as 1996. One of her top life goals is to preserve and protect our natural resources and species for the sake of future generations but also for their intrinsic value. Stacey grew up in Southern California and has raised two children, Q and Sam, with her husband, Don. She believes education is a powerful tool and is confident that the youth of today will be the leaders our world needs to handle the heavy task of moving our planet to a healthier place in the future. Through OCH and its mission, Stacey is working to give them the tools of knowledge and understanding to build positive habits will ensure a long and biologically diverse world that will continue to sustain all species of life.
Virginia “Ginny” Gregurek is a natural resource interpreter with over ten years of experience leading interpretive tidepool education in Orange County. Ginny is an avid hiker and has walked the California Coastal Trail from Oregon to Mexico. Recognizing the need to promote environmental literacy and the value of “nature learning”, Ginny continued her education by becoming a California Master Naturalist and a Certified Interpretive Guide. Ginny’s formal education is in Art History and uses this knowledge of interpreting the artwork of mankind into interpreting the masterwork of Mother Nature. Ginny's enthusiasm for life and for the environment is contagious to all those she encounters. She is an excellent educator and children and adults alike find her lessons interesting and informative.
Ross Griswold has never been a scientist and has never taken a biology class, it just wasn't his thing! Ross earned his Geography/History degree from USC, worked in retail sales and service, married, and had three boys, who are all now grown men. Ross retired early (in 2006) and wanted something to keep him out of trouble so he took up birding. He had never birded in his life and was so impressed by what great people birder's are! He has always been a photographer and started photographing birds early on. He considers them easier to photograph since birds don't have a bad side, don't blink or get red eyes! Ross is a Western Snowy Plover and California Least Tern monitor with CDFW at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. He loves to share his knowledge and is willing to train others, which he likes to call Gilligan's Island Beach 3-hour Tour!
Kimi Garcia first got involved with OCH through the MBA program at CSULB where she and a team of three others created a business plan for the organization. She also serves as a board member on the greeNG club at Northrop Grumman and is passionate about educating others on environmental protection and holding large corporations accountable for their environmental impacts. With Kimi’s background in business and her determination to create positive change in the world, she is an excellent addition to the team.
Melissa King joined our team as a volunteer and is now excited to be our newest board member! She loves our educational hikes, training others in our habitat monitoring program, and engaging in community outreach. Born and raised in New York, she is an alumnus of Columbia University where she studied economics and environmental science. She discovered her passion for environmental issues while studying abroad in Australia where she learned about the effects of globalization on the environment and the importance of maintaining diversity in our ecosystems and preserving natural habitats. When she returned to the U.S., she decided to pursue a career in law, obtaining a J.D. from California Western School of Law in San Diego. Melissa has interned and volunteered with various nonprofits, agencies, and associations, including the San Diego Coastkeeper, SANDAG, and the OC Bar Association. She is currently practicing law with a boutique law firm out of Anaheim, but loves spending her free time with us! She is now the proud owner of a pair of binoculars and bird-spotting guidebooks.
Joyce Vu - Associate Director
Joyce graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a concentration in ecology and evolution in August 2020. From her classes, her interest in the environment arose when she learned about how healthy the Earth used to be and how it has slowly changed over time. She joined OC Habitats as an intern in the Spring of 2020 with the interest to create and develop a project where she could share her knowledge about the different animals and habitats that she has she studied in school. Her efforts at OC Habitats has proven her invaluable to our team and she is officially our first employee. She will continue to work on conservation and preservation on our team and provide a source of leadership in our programs and projects with the end goal of continuing to conserve the natural environment for future generations to enjoy.
Cristina received her Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University of Long Beach and protects marine life with research, education, and by advocating for plastic pollution prevention. She is the founder of @PlasticMeNot, a website and social media presence dedicated to spreading awareness on marine debris, plastic alternatives, and zero-waste options. Cristina has been a whale-watching naturalist for Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's Whale Watch Program, a community scientist for the Aquarium of the Pacific's Southern California Sea Turtle Monitoring Project, is a pen pal for Letters to a Pre-Scientist, and is a NOAA affiliate for the Protected Resources Division focused on sea turtles and marine mammals. She previously provided environmental science education for OC Coastkeeper and Laguna Ocean Foundation, and just started Bren's Master of Environmental Science & Management program at UC Santa Barbara. Cristina hopes to help reduce whale entanglements off the West Coast and create better approaches to prevent plastic pollution through source reduction.
Keeley Rasich - Assistant Bookkeeper
Keeley is a current student at Gonzaga University majoring in accounting and minoring in sustainable business. Her interest in connecting with and preserving the environment led her to volunteer at OC Habitats starting in May of 2020 as a seasonal beach monitor.
She is excited to further combine her interests in business practices and the environment as the year-round assistant bookkeeper at OC Habitats. While at school, she is involved in the Gonzaga Environmental Organization (GEO) as a GEO Thrift Shop operations volunteer and student volunteer for Spokane-based environmental improvement endeavors. She hopes the combined efforts of the OC Habitats team will help the habitat stay healthy and vibrant for all to enjoy.
Cheryl Dyas - Bookkeeper
Cheryl joined OCH in spring of 2020 and brought with her more than 30 years accounting experience. She currently serves as the Director of Administrative Services and Treasurer for the City of Mission Viejo. She is a graduate of California State University Fullerton and a CPA. Her interest in protecting the environment and love of nature led her to volunteer at OCH. Her extensive knowledge of accounting principles, internal controls, financial reporting, grant management and budgeting will help our organization as we continue to grow. Her interests include camping and reading. Her favorite national park is Olympic National Park in Washington State and one of her favorite memories is scuba diving off the shores of Maui with a school of dolphins.
Alice Carter - Advisor
Alice has worked in the finance industry for over 20 years and brings her experience to her role as OCH Treasurer. She is committed to being a good steward to the earth and is excited to learn all she can about habitats through OCH. Alice is an animal lover and enjoys traveling. With Alice's financial background, strong writing skills, and love for the environment she is an integral part to the development and maintenance of our organization.
Danny Rivas - Monitor Trainer
Danny Rivas graduated from UC Merced with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with an emphasis in ecology and evolutionary biology. He joined OCH to develop his skills monitoring at-risk coastal wildlife and aid in restoration efforts. His passion for conservation arose early, being in awe of the vast amounts of biodiversity present and learning of the current issues that threaten the health of biological communities. He is committed to serve his community and work towards preserving our habitats for future generations
Kyle has been with OCH for almost a year and quickly made a name for himself in terms of drive and leadership. He has been working on a variety of projects and programs as well as becoming a trained monitor for our coastal dune monitoring program. Kyle has a quiet confidence and leads by example through his hard work, sense of style for our projects and marketing, and his attention to detail in all of the projects he works on. Kyle is a graduate of UC Riverside with his degree in Environmental Science. Kyle is passionate about wild animals and marine life and hopes to someday work with or for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Kyle recently acquired a Scientific Aid position with the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board and is already being given more responsibility at his position there.
Dominique Murillo- Social Media
Dominique is an Orange County, CA native and can see first hand all the changes that have taken place locally, like strip malls on every corner, shops, restaurants, and a massive increase in road traffic. Understanding the profound effects that this has on the environment and biodiversity, she has taken personal strides to do her part. She is passionate about veganism and firmly believes in the saying, "Be the change that you want to see in the world".
She currently works as a loan processor for an OC company that specializes in business loans as well as loans for companies that were hardest hit by 2020's turn of events. She also holds a degree in Cyber Security as well as special training and certifications in networking, security, governance, risk mitigation, and compliance.
In April 2020, she started volunteering with OC Habitats because she was so impressed with their hands-on approach to making a difference through volunteerism and education. She feels privileged to be a part of this outstanding organization and team of people. OC Habitats is truly making a difference in our beautiful county.
OCH Monitors, Educators, and Volunteers
OC Habitats relies heavily on our volunteers to accomplish the many tasks of our mission. We have active volunteers who work with us each month to work on a variety of projects and programs and we have our OCH Friends who join us for events throughout the year. We are thankful for all of our team and all the hard work and dedication they provide our organization.