Women in Conservation who OC Habitats would like to honor for their inspiring work in restoration and conservation of our local habitats and species here in Orange County.
To celebrate this year's Women’s History Month, OC Habitats would like to highlight some of the inspiring women who work diligently to restore and protect our native habitats and species here in Orange County. Learn about some of the local women environmentalists in our county!
Chloe Van Grootheest
Assistant Director of Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy
Chloe Van Grootheest is the Assistant Director of Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy and the President of the Friends of Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge. She earned her master’s degree in Biology from CSULB and is now a Biostatistics instructor at the same university. Chloe’s environmental goals are to (1) protect, conserve and restore wetlands in Orange County; (2) raise awareness of importance of wetland conservation through education and community engagement; (3) inspire and prepare aspiring biologists for future careers; and (4) better understand ecological phenomenon in wetland ecosystems through research and monitoring.
Director of Media at Laguna Greenbelt, Inc.
Gabriela Worrel is contracted as the Director of Media at Laguna Greenbelt, Inc., a grassroot organization that works tirelessly in protecting wildlife habitat in Orange County and has been around since 168. Gaby studied biology and urban planning, and enjoys learning more about habitats, wildlife, and Native people in California. As an environmentalist, Gaby believes that it is important to keep trying to make a specific effort to deepen our connection to the natural world and each other every day, because our whole society is set up to sever this. And that it is up to us to seek out a more connected life for ourselves and other institutions.
Founder and Executive Director of SoCal Sea Turtles Inc.
Sabrina has been a lifelong lover of reptiles and the ocean, so sea turtles were a natural fit right from the start. As the Founder and Executive Director of SoCal Sea Turtles Inc., Sabrina's main areas of focus are communicating with the public through in-person and online lectures, classes, events, and social media, as well as designing and developing educational programs, curricula, materials, and interactive games and exhibits for SoCal Sea Turtles and partner organizations including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Navy, and other local non-profits. Sabrina is a Certified Biology Teacher (grades 7-12) in both New York and California. She holds a bachelor's degree in Art History from Skidmore College ('06), as well as masters' degrees in Secondary Science Education (NYC Teaching Fellows @ CUNY Lehman, '12), and Marine Biodiversity & Conservation (UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography, '16).
If you are interested in having Sabrina speak to your group in-person or online, or if you would like to collaborate with Sabrina on any S.T.E.A.M. projects or materials design for students and adults ages 14+, please email her directly at Sabrina@socalseaturtles.org!
Land Use and Conservation Advocate for 22 years
Conservation Consultant for Hills For Everyone
Melanie Schlotterbeck maintains and regularly updates the Hills For Everyone Geographic Information System database, works with decision makers and landowners to protect additional lands, and coordinates the events, direct mail, and monthly giving program. In 2018, she updated 100+ Year Fire History for Chino Hills State Park mapping fire ignitions, fire perimeters, and hotspots. She has led the conservation of 700 acres in the last three years, with about 840 acres left to protect on the eastern ridgelines of the park. This effort is 45 years in the making. Through this work, she was appointed by California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot to serve as a member of the Partnership Coordinating Committee helping to implement California’s 30x30 initiative. Since 2010, Melanie has been recognized by numerous organizations including the Orange County League of Conservation Voters, Sea and Sage Audubon, and Women For: Orange County, as well as the Association of Environmental Professionals and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for her conservation work. In 2017 and again in 2021, with a 5-0 vote, she was appointed to the Brea Planning Commission for another four-year term. She is an avid camper and hiker, visiting parks across the Southland every weekend. Her outdoor goals in 2023 include the 52 Hike Challenge and 365-mile Challenge.
OC Habitats Staff
Gina Thompson became a staff member at OC Habitats after being an OCH volunteer and intern. Throughout her OCH internship, she led several Coffee & Conservation (C&C) presentations, along with helping with restoration, education, and outreach projects. She is currently a student at Oberlin College studying Environmental Studies and English. Gina continues to bring her experience and knowledge with her as she continues her education with the hope of informing more people about environmental issues and furthering the work being done to solve the global climate crisis. Gina is proud of all of the work she is able to do for local habitats with OCH and especially loves education and community outreach. In the future, she is excited to continue getting experience in environmental nonprofit work and exploring how to raise awareness for environmental issues in her community.
OC Habitats Staff
Jess is one of the staff at OC Habitats and is a recent graduate of Cal State Long Beach with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy. She interned with OCH during her last semester of college. As an intern, Jess collaborated with Get Inspired and built our Sea Urchin Monitoring Program. Habitat restoration is her favorite part of OCH's work because for Jess, restoring habitats is such a gratifying experience to know that she is making a difference in the area. Her environmental passions center around the ocean, but she's also recently been interested in sustainable agriculture and urban agriculture since doing a research project on those topics for a class.
OC Habitats Staff
Kim joined OC Habitats as an intern in January 2021 before becoming a staff member. She is currently working on getting her bachelor’s degree in marine biology at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF).She's in the CSUF Zacherl Laboratory, where she studies the effects of a non-native bryozoan species on the recruitment and settlement of the native Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida, at Upper Newport Bay. As a staff member, she continues to help in restoration, monitoring, education, and other OCH projects. Kim's goal is to help restore and conserve our natural habitats and the organisms in these areas for future generations.
Click here to read about 2022 OC Women in Conservation!