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2024 OC Women in Conservation

[Featured women from left to right] Berta Caceres (Honduran environmentalist & Co-founder of Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), Wengari Maathai (Kenyan environmentalist and founded the Greenbelt Movement), and Mollie H. Beattie (first female director of US Fish & Wildlife). Art by OCH Intern, Tiffany Sun.

In celebration of this year's Women’s History Month, OC Habitats would like to highlight the following women in conservation for their diligent work to restore and protect our native habitats and species here in Orange County. Learn about some of the local women environmentalists in our county!

Carissa Macias is the executive director of Bolsa Chica Conservancy. Growing up in Ventura County, she found her passion for the environment at a young age, being able to explore nature in wild spaces through hiking with family and close friends. Although she has an affinity for all things nature, her heart lies with ocean habitats, like kelp forests and intertidal zones. Carrissa studied at California State University, Long Beach, where she earned her undergraduate degree in Marine Biology. After graduation, she went on to work with both non-profit organizations and government agencies. At Bolsa Chica Conservancy, Carrissa manages the conservancy/interpretive center, ensuring the programs are running smoothly, whether that be educational field trips, restoration events, or site surveys. Carissa also does a lot of behind-the-scenes work at the conservancy. Due to the conservancy being a non-profit organization, Carrissa does a great job looking for funding opportunities for Bolsa Chica to continue providing services to the public and support to her team. As a woman in conservation, she loves being able to work so closely with the environment and mentor her team to take Bolsa Chica Conservancy to the next level and continue to grow the opportunities for programs and fundraising.

Wendy Berube is currently a biology instructor at Orange Coast College; she also runs the MPA Watch program for Orange County Coastkeeper. Wendy got her bachelor’s in Evolution, Ecology, and Marine Biology  at UC Santa Barbara. She also has two master’s degrees in education and biology! Teaching and writing are a big part of Wendy’s work in environmental conservation. Wendy knew she wanted to work in environmental conservation since she was in high school. She wanted to teach marine biology and environmental science and be more in the frontlines after being in education for so long. One of Wendy’s inspirations is the renowned marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle. As a woman in conservation, Wendy’s advice for other women pursuing a career in environmental science is to do as many internships as you can and put 100% of your effort in it. 

Karen Boortz has a Bachelor’s of Science in Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology and a Master’s of Science in Biology both from California State University, Fresno. As a graduate student, Karen worked on a project that  focused on Chinook salmon restoration in the San Joaquin River. After grad school, she worked with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), where she had the experience of seeing and working in California wilderness that most people have never seen. This sparked Karen’s interest in preserving local habitats and providing education about local wild places. Karen grew up near giant sequoia trees in the Sierra National Forest, so habitats there will always a special place in her heart.  She is currently the Community Service Senior Leader at Turtle Rock Nature Center in Irvine, where she acts as a naturalist, landscape manager, and volunteer coordinator. As a woman in conservation, Karen loves to see new and exciting places where she always looks for a local nature preserve or botanic garden! 

Click here to read about our 2023's OC women in conservation!

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