The Sacramento Valley Conservancy’s public programs would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our amazing docent crew. Each year, these passionate individuals donate their time to plan, prep, and lead more than 100 outings. They also spend hundreds of hours maintaining our beautiful preserves for the community, wildlife, and healthy future of the Sacramento region. Learn more about the docents here, then visit the Events page to register for guided hikes, rides, runs, yoga sessions, service projects, and more!
Interested in becoming a docent? Consider volunteering a few hours first to learn more about SVC, our properties, and meet current volunteers and docents. Learn more.
CAMP POLLOCK DOCENTS
EDUCATIONAL TOURS / HIKING DOCENTS
Thomas has worked as a naturalist and outdoor guide for close to 30 years, and joined SVC during the creation of Deer Creek Hills Preserve in the 1990’s. He has spent time working with The Nature Conservancy in restoration and public outreach and has guided bird walks with private parties and El Dorado National Forest Service for over 20 years. He has also worked as a contractor doing point counts for bird surveys in the Sierra Foothills. These experiences have brought him to the opinion that Natural open space is quite literally the life, health and savings account for humanity. When asked what land conservation means to him, Thomas answered: “We have bank accounts holding our savings, health insurance for times of illness, retirement accounts for later years. Nature is our ultimate account. Nature is the source of our medicine and our mental health recovery room. It’s aquifers hold and filter our water and it harbors the plants that gives us the very air we breath. Science discovers something useful from nature almost daily and it helps make our lives healthier and more productive. The word conserve means, to keep safe or protect from loss, I do not want to loose our collective life and health insurance reserve.”
The amazing history of California’s early indigenous people, first settlers, the gold rush and so much more is preserved upon the extraordinary 4500 acres of Deer Creek Hills. In the early 2000’s, David Scharlach, then a local scout leader, came to the Sacramento Valley Conservancy to volunteer as a hiking docent. He had reviewed some initial public records and was struck by the significance of the essentially untouched property. Soon, learning about DCH and sharing with others what he discovered became a passion for David. He took research skills developed as an attorney and reviewed old law cases, assessor records, maps and old newsprint. He spread out into fostering friendships with knowledgeable archeologists and descendants of its early settlers and miners. He walked the ground with Native Americans, history professors and relevant authors. As his “history hikes” became popular, he was approached by some who had personal stories and remembrances to share. David continues to lead history hikes into the gold fields and sacred lands of the Nisenan Indians and delights in sharing “the rest of the story.” He has received recognition by the CA State Indian Museum as an Honorary Native American Docent.
Summer came to SVC in 2016, but has been a nature lover since birth. She has taught yoga in the Sacramento community for 10 years and her favorite way to integrate mindfulness into yoga is by combining it with outdoor experiences. Summer believes conservation of open space is important because she has witnessed less and less time, attention and resources going into protecting the natural environment even though our human connection to it is vital to overall health.
Refusing to be pigeon-holed into a single subject matter or area of interest, I am an avid docent participating in a variety of outings at Deer Creek Hills, since 2011. My love of photography meshes well with natural history on many levels. With formal training is in biochemistry, microbiology and veterinary medicine and a penchant for learning, I have ventured into botany, entomology and local geology as well. I have lived in nearby Latrobe since 1986 and in California my entire life. In addition to docent led outings I help with YES outings, service days, and ‘Weed the People’ events to remove invasive species from the preserve. And you might even see me on a mountain bike on occasion. Currently, I am engrossed with expanding my knowledge by researching Fairy Moths and native bees along with their native plant hosts. Look for me at Deer Creek Hills dressed in ‘camo’ and toting a camera – you never know when the opportunity for that perfect photo will come your way. I find sharing knowledge with other docents and the public is always fun and surprising. Every outing we seem to discover something new that would not be possible if this expanse of open space at DCH had not been preserved.
Leslie joined SVC between 2013 – 2014 as an avid horsewoman, trail rider, and equestrian docent at Deer Creek Hills. Her favorite part about being a docent is learning from the other docents, as well as supporting the mission of the SVC in it’s preservation of open space, and by sharing access to its treasures with the general public. To quote Rachel Carson: “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Leslie considers open space to be one of those “wonders and realities” and that is why land conservation is important.
Sarah joined SVC as a docent in 2008. Her favorite part about being a docent is sharing the wonders of this landscape with people who didn’t know it existed in their own backyards. She holds certificates in Natural Resource Management from American River College and has attended CNPS Vernal Pool Seminars, Sac State classes in Botany and plant identification. Sarah believes that getting outdoors and exploring nature is essential for mental and physical health and that is why land conservation is important.
Estella began as an Equestrian docent with SVC in 2013, after taking a break, returned in 2015 and is happy to be back this season. She has owned horses for 17 years, helped as a docent with American River Trail Patrol, participated in drill teams, and belongs to several equestrian clubs. Estella also owns a miniature therapy horse that travels around visiting shut-ins, clinics, nursing homes. Conservation is important to her because it allows for the preservation and enjoyment of our environment.
Pam has been a docent with SVC since 2011. She grew up around Sloughhouse and attended the original 4 room Cosumnes River Elementary Grade School. Raising/showing livestock and horses has always been a passion for her. Later she earned a degree in Agricultural Business and Animal Science and currently works as an agricultural real estate appraiser. Through her childhood experiences and her work and she has seen a lot of land she enjoyed growing up, that has sadly been developed for other uses that are not compatible to agricultural or open space. Pam believes it’s important for all of us (the rural or urban population) to preserve the natural beauty of working lands that provide habitat, nourishment & continuity for so many different lives and species.
CORDELL VAN REES
Maria became an SVC equestrian docent in 2015 and she enjoys being outside and meeting new people who are interested in enjoying the beauty of open space. She was raised out in the trees and roaming rangelands and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science with a focus on Rangeland Management. Maria worked for the Department of Interior as a Rangeland Management Specialist prior to owning an Insurance Agency. When asked why land conservation is important she said, “open spaces provide habitat for countless species of wildlife, birds and insects. These spaces also provide recreation for humans and improve our health. They are a valuable asset that should be protected and allowed to fully function. Open spaces are also known as rangelands and they are imperative to nutrient cycles, the water cycles and the carbon cycles. Conserving open spaces allows us to improve our life cycles.”
MOUNTAIN BIKE DOCENTS
Jim join SVC as a docent in 2015. He has been racing and riding mountain bikes recreationally since 1986. Jim’s favorite part about being a docent is sharing the trails with other riders and their acknowledgement when they really enjoyed the ride. Jim believes conservation is important because open space is good for an individual’s mental and physical health. “Besides,” he says, “without open space we would just be riding around in parking lots, believe me, I’ve done that and its not fun!”
Chris became a mountain bike docent with SVC in 2015 after participating as a rider for many years. He learned to mountain bike while visiting his family cabin in South Dakota. His favorite part about being a docent is DCH family and giving back to the MTB community at an ideal location. Chris believes that conserving open space preserves the opportunity for people to experience nature with all their senses at the same time.
Dave became a docent with SVC in 2011, during the first mountain bike season at Deer Creek Hills. He has participated as a mountain bike docent during the Monday evening and Saturday rides and recently began leading trail runs on the preserve. He has 15 years experience as a mountain biker and has been a runner all his life. Dave enjoys learning about the property’s history- from the miners to the original settlers and all the way back to the original native inhabitants- then sharing the experience with the public. When asked why conservation is important, Dave replied, “Open space enhances our quality of life here in Sacramento.”
NEW 2020 DOCENTS-IN-TRAINING
Ashley is a candidate to become a docent in 2020. She looks forward to helping on with hikes, yoga hikes and eventually equestrian outings at Deer Creek Hills. She has been a hiker & equestrian her whole life and has a Bachelor’s degree in Nature and Culture and has taken courses in ecology and wildlife. She looks forward to meeting new people who also love the outdoors and hopes to be helpful and supportive in her role as a docent. Ashley believes as our population grows & development sprawls preserving natural land is more important then ever. It secures critical habitat for native plants and animals. Conserving land also give humans a space to reconnect to nature and to participate in activities that are healthy for the mind, body and soul.