Ernestine Smith, beloved SRJC teacher and environmental advocate, dies at 100

Ernestine “Ernie” Smith trekked the globe playing top-level field hockey as a young woman, then came to Sonoma County and scored powerful, lasting impacts in two arenas: women’s athletics at Santa Rosa Junior College and protection of the environment and wildlife from perils such as dredging, dams, offshore oil exploration, nuclear power plants and hilltop development.
Twinkle-eyed yet indefatigable, Smith would have turned 101 years old on Sept. 22. Longtime friend, former student and fellow coach Caren Franci of Sebastopol was with her hours before she died Aug. 12 at a care home alongside Santa Rosa Creek.Franci recalled, “I told her it was time to move on to other environments, that they needed her stewardship.”
Smith was for decades a key activist with the Madrone Audubon Society, Sonoma County Conservation Council, Sonoma County Tomorrow and Citizens Organized to Acquire Access to State Tidelands (COAAST). She volunteered as a docent and trained docents at Sonoma Valley’s Bouverie Preserve.
She successfully fought alongside other early environmentalists to halt PG&E’s plan to construct a nuclear power plant on Bodega Head, to protect Jenner’s Penney Island from inundation by proposed dredging at the mouth of the Russian River, and to persuade the state Highway Commission it would be devastating and foolish to proceed with plans to build a four-lane Russian River bridge at Bridgehaven, just inland from Jenner.
Read more at: Ernie Smith, 100, recalled as beloved Santa Rosa | The Press Democrat