SCCC Awards

The 2020 Sonoma County Environmental Awards were presented at the SCCC & Sierra Club Sonoma Group’s
Holiday Networking and Environmental Awards Event

December 4, 2020

chat log
Inspiring Youth

Jamie Nakama, the Youth Program Manager at Landpaths, excels at environmental education and bringing children out into nature. Even in the midst of a pandemic she organized a safe summer camp for kids and created multi-media zoom lessons for teachers and parents. Jamie is committed to justice and equity and is training and mentoring the most diverse team of environmental educators in the county.


Janina Turner, Energy Program Coordinator, The Climate Center. Janina tackles the climate crisis from every angle: education, policy and protest. Her work has focused on expanding Community Choice Energy within California as well as organizing with the Sunrise Movement in Sonoma County, a youth-led movement to stop the climate crisis while creating millions of good jobs. She inspires those around her to fight for what’s right from climate to racial justice.

Local Produce Rescue

While best known as a top local chef, Duskie Estes has been a committed and dynamic sustainability advocate for many years, while supporting local food and small farmers. Recently she has focused on the issue of food waste through her work as the Executive Director of Farm to Pantry, connecting the dots between food waste as one of the top drivers of climate change, and the urgent need for food for families in our community.

2020 Ernestine I. Smith “Environmentalists of the Year” Forest Champions

2020 has been Northern California’s fourth consecutive year of major wildfires, one of the many serious consequences of climate change. As our forests transition to adapt to climate change, people must adapt as well. While continuing to protect the traditional roles of forest as wildlife habitat and an essential element of watersheds, we must re-think our relationships with fire and the landscape to safely adapt human communities to wildfire while maximizing carbon storage in forests and other ecosystems.

We would like to honor three leaders who are addressing these issues:

Rick Coates, Director of Forest Unlimited, has worked on forest protection for decades, collaborating, organization-building, educating, and planting trees. Under his watch, Forest Unlimited has marshalled volunteers to plant over 33,000 redwoods and oaks, form watershed groups, and oppose local logging of old growth and other irreplaceable forest areas.

Chris Poehlmann, in his 15 years volunteering (7 as President) with Friends of the Gualala River, led successful movements to stop several major logging, vineyard and development projects in north-west Sonoma County. Chris was instrumental in pulling together legal action, fundraising, protests, publicity, and collaboration with other environmental groups to stop these projects, which would have hugely impacted the forests and watersheds in the north-west county.

Maya Khosla is a Wildlife Biologist, Film Maker and Writer. Her background and interests converged following the 2007 fires to make her an unparalleled communicator about fire and forest ecosystems. Her films, Searching for the Gold Spot, and Firewise: The Scientists Speak, raise urgent questions about the current approaches to fire safety in the Wildland-Urban Interface and the demand for forest ‘thinning’ by timber and biomass industries.

The Sonoma County Environmentalist of the Year Award, initiated in 1975, recognizes people who made outstanding efforts to protect natural resources in Sonoma County, directly or indirectly, or advanced their better stewardship. The Ernestine I. Smith Lifetime Environmental Commitment Award initiated in 1994, was granted to persons recognized by the SCCC as having devoted a major part of their lives working for the conservation and improvement of the natural environment. Additionally the SCCC has made awards for Young Environmentalist of the Year; for Outstanding Educators, Projects and Programs; and for Special Recognitions.

Ernie Smith at the 2006 Environmental Dinner
Ernie Smith in 2006 at the Environmental Awards Dinner.

In 2016 the SCCC Board merged the Sonoma County Environmentalist of the Year Award with the Ernestine I Smith Lifetime Environmental Commitment Award. This award is now called the Ernestine I. Smith Sonoma County Environmentalist of the Year Award. Ernie Smith was one of the key early Conservation Council leaders and a long-standing Sonoma County environmentalist. This award recognizes Ernie’s inspirational legacy, her generation of trail-blazing environmental leaders, and environmental trail-blazers of today.

Ernestine I. Smith Sonoma County Environmentalists of the Year

2020 Rick Coates, Chris Poehlmann and Maya Khosla
2019 Woody Hastings
2018  Chris Brokate
2017  Teri Shore
2016  no award
2015  Kimberly Burr and Larry Hanson
2014  Stephen Fuller-Rowell
2013  Dennis Rosatti
2012  Steve Birdlebough
2011  John Herrick
2010  Jane Neilson
2009  David Keller
2008  Daisy Pistey-Lhyne
2007  Anne Hudgins and Suzanne Doyle
2006  Dave Henson and Keith Kaulum
2005  Rue Furch
2004  Peter Ashcroft
2003  Pavitra Crimmel
2002  Margaret Pennington
2001  Diane Hichwa
2000  “Look around, there’s on within 10 feet”
1999  Peeter Vilms
1998  Christa Shaw
1997  Mark Green
1996  Sandra Elles
1995  Krista Rector
1994  Juliana Doms
1993  Richard Charter
1992  Dick Day
1991  Joan Vilms
1990  Elizabeth Eddins
1989  Dee Swanhuyser
1988  Helen Libeu
1987  Carol Vellutini and Brenda Adelman
1986  Bill and Lucy Kortum
1985  David and Shirley Thatcher and Len Swenson
1984  Clark Nattkemper
1983  Barbara Meyn
1982  Joel Hedgpeth
1981  Ken Stocking
1980  Ernie Smith, Martha Bentley and Iva Warner
1979  Virginia Hechtman
1978  Chuck Rhinehart
1977  John Crevelli
1975  Chuck and Jean Hinkle

Special Recognitions
2020 Janina Turner and Jamie Nakama, Inspiring Youth; Duskie Estes, Local Produce Rescue
2018 Caitlin Cornwall and Betty Young, Leadership in Post-Fire Ecosystem Regeneration
2014  Wendy Krupnik, Queen Bee
2012  Duane De Witt, Outstanding Grassroots Environmentalist
2008 Iva Warner
2007 City of Sebastopol Sustainability Program
2006 Portia Sinnott, Environmental Innovator of the Year (LITE Initiatives)
2005 Pat Wiggins and Keith Kaulum (COAAST founders)
2004 Ann Hancock
2003 Ann Stroberger
1998 Frances Tanti
1997 Teresa Ramondo

Sonoma County Young Environmentalist of the Year
Initiated in 2011, this award is granted to younger people who are stepping up to help protect and restore our environment.

2011  Jessica Jones, Student Vice President of Santa Rosa Junior College

Lifetime Environmental Achievement Award
Initiated in 1994, this award is granted to persons who are recognized by the SCCC as having devoted a major part of their lives working for the conservation and improvement of the natural environment in Sonoma County.

2019 Pat & Ted Eliot
2014  Anne Teller and family, Oak Hill Farm
2012  Roger Raiche
2009  Betty Guggolz and Betty Burridge
2008  Brenda Adelman
2007  Bernie Album
2006  Peter Leveque and Phyllis Schmitt
2005  Marty Griffin and Ken Stocking
2003  Barbara Biebush
2002  Martha Bentley
2001  George Ellman
2000  Dick Day
1999  Bill Kortum
1998  Chuck Rhinehart
1997  Len Swenson
1996  Clark Nattkemper
1995  Barbara Meyn
1994  Ernestine Smith

Outstanding Educators, Projects and Programs Award
Initiated in 1990, these awards are granted to persons, projects and programs recognized by the SCCC as having used special innovation and insight to teach students – young and old, about the environment.

2014  STRAW: Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed
2012  Nichole Warwick, Sebastopol schools
2011   Conservation Corps: North Bay
2010  Daily Acts (Trathen Heckman)
2009  Cotati Creek Critters (Jenny Blaker and Wade Belew)
2009  Pachamama Alliance
2008  Cool Schools Program, Climate Protection Campaign (Maitreyi Siriguri)
2008  Leadership Training for a Sustainable Future and Sonoma Academy Youth Program (Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy)
2007  Michael Teller
2007  In Our Own Backyard and Adventures in the Big Outdoors (Land Paths)
2007  Sonoma County Conservation Action
2006  Danny Bever, Jeff Tobes, Wendy Losee, and Tina Poles
2006  The Student Commute Project (Analy High School AP Statistics Class)
2006  Environmental Pilot Program (Oak Grove Union School District)
2006  Bouverie Preserve Docents and Audubon Canyon Ranch (Madrone Audubon)
2006  Russian River State Parks Environmental Education Program (Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods)
2005  Bonny Stene
2004  Dave Casey and John Klobas
2003  Fred Hall
2002  Krista McAtee
2001  North Bay Science Project (Sharon Janulaw)
2000  Sharon Mansfield
1999  Marci Cook and David Neubacher
1998  Kathy Angell and Mike Heffernan
1997  Tom Furrer, Jennifer Creeth and Ron Head
1996  Chris Peterson, Paula Fogarty, Kathy Angell, Anne Harris, and Leslie Supan
1995  Kathy Vyenielo