In Spotlights

Jennifer Stern, Environmental Stewardship Analyst

Jennifer Stern is an Environmental Stewardship Analyst at the City of Oakland where she promotes environmental stewardship of Oakland’s public spaces and supports volunteers who have adopted “spots” in Oakland. Oakland’s award-winning Adopt a Spot program supports individuals, neighborhood groups, civic organizations, and businesses in ongoing cleaning and greening of parks, creeks, shorelines, storm drains, streets, trails, and other public spaces. Jen has a wealth of experience in creek restoration and invasive plant management from over ten years working in environmental conservation. When she isn’t connecting people with nature, she enjoys hiking, baking, practicing yoga and meditation, and gardening.

How did you become interested in environmental work?

I started off with an interest in city planning. After interning at the City of Petaluma and the City of Santa Cruz Planning Department for over four years, I decided I didn’t want to be a planner. Through this intern experience and classes in environmental policy and ecological restoration at UC Santa Cruz, I realized that I wanted to put my energy where my values were, so I changed course. My values lied in working with people and stewarding our natural resources. Since then, I have been fortunate to work with amazing people at some phenomenal organizations.

Discuss any mentors that have helped or inspired you to reach your aspirations.

My first job out of undergrad was at the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCDSCC), an organization whose mission it is to help people protect, enhance and conserve natural resources through education, funding and technical assistance programs. Karen Christensen, the Executive Director, was a mentor to me and an inspiration. She was a master at creating successful partnerships to achieve conservation goals and she believed in me. She let me create my own vision and programs at the RCDSCC. With her support, I managed the implementation of many successful restoration projects.

What is the educational and career path that led to your current career?

I attended UC Santa Cruz and earned degrees in Environmental Studies and Community Studies. After working for three years at RCDSCC as a Watershed Coordinator, I completed a Master’s of Science at CSU Monterey Bay in Watershed Science and Policy. After six years at the RCDSCC coordinating creek restoration projects including several fish passage barrier removals, I moved on to the California Invasive Plant Council as their Training Program Manager where I trained land managers on best practices for invasive plant management. Before joining the Stewardship Team at the City of Oakland, I also worked as a Resource Conservationist at the Contra Costa Resource Conservation District where I worked on creek restoration projects, permit coordination and conservation practices on agricultural land. I am grateful that my current career allows me to apply much of what I learned in school and connects me with the community I live in.