Laura Jones joined us with 20+ years of experience in the fields of non-profit, human resources and volunteer management. She has lived in Clarkdale for the since 2005 where she has become an active member of the community through volunteer work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Verde Valley Land Preservation (VVLP) and Friends of Verde River Greenway (FVRG). Laura has a Masters of Education (MSEd) in Counseling and a Non-Profit Management Certificate from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. Laura loves living the small town life in her historic Clarkdale bungalow and floating the Verde River and Oak Creek.
Bonnie has worked in Healthcare where she has been an administrator for over 30 years. She is a graduate of Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, MA and with a degree from Ashwood University in Management. Bonnie and her husband moved to Arizona from Massachusetts eight years ago. They have two adult children, her daughter lives in Benson, AZ and currently their son is in the US Army. Since moving to Arizona Bonnie has worked with multiple companies to assist them in updating and streamlining their Healthcare related practices and ensure compliance with all State and Federal guide lines. She is excited and looking forward to this new chapter in her life outside of the Healthcare industry, where she can use her cumulative knowledge to work to support Friends of Verde River Greenway and all of their partners. Much of her work at FVRG is similar and transferable from administration in Healthcare to administration at FVRG.
Ben is a recent graduate of Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA and earned a degree in Political Science with a concentration in Environmental Studies. During his time in college, he spent a summer in Colorado with the Southwest Conservation Corps. After school, he joined Arizona Conservation Corps in Flagstaff, working with the trail crew in Sedona. After that, he joined AZCC’s Mentor Development Program and became a Youth Conservation Corps crew leader on the North Kaibab National Forest. After the summer, he became a crew leader on one of the restoration crews in the Verde Valley.
Melissa Robinson is our new Program Coordinator for One for the Verde. She is an Arizona native, who was raised in the Prescott area, and the White Mountains (Show Low), as well as has spent the past four years in Flagstaff. Melissa and her family have been drawn to the Verde Valley area for several years, before moving to Cottonwood in April 2016. Melissa and her family enjoy the abundant recreation the Verde Valley has to offer, and appreciate all that the water and the climate here has to offer. She is passionate about our environment and preserving the Verde River Watershed and also brings sales and marketing experience to this position. Melissa has spent the past 2 years as the Leasing Manager of Flagstaff Mall, where her focus was bringing the community back into the Shopping Center, and was very successful in building key relationships with tenants for the improvement of business. Melissa is an Ambassador of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce and loves to be involved in the community she lives in. She is a personable addition to One for the Verde and will tirelessly continue to move the program forward.
Happy to find herself continuing to do what she loves the most, Claire continues her career in watershed protection and restoration with Friends of Verde River Greenway as the Communications & Outreach Coordinator. Claire’s role is facilitated by Conservation Legacy’s Office of Surface Mining AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) program, dedicated to creating capacity for communities and environments affected by legacy mining. Claire has served previously as both an AmeriCorps VISTA and VISTA Leader in New Mexico, and spent the past five years living and working in the Gila River Watershed, in Silver City, NM. Claire recently managed a small stream restoration business, working on rural and urban watersheds alike. She is a certified Rainwater Harvester from Watershed Management Group in Tucson, as well as holds a M.A. in International Development, Sustainability & Environment from Denver University. Claire is looking forward to learning from the wonderful staff and community of Friends, and hopes to develop her photography and writing for the benefit of the Verde River.
Emily Garding: Friends GIS Specialist
Over the last decade, Emily has been involved in various conservation GIS projects across the western US. Her experience ranges from tracking wildlife and identifying potential wildlife corridors to assisting with recreation, land use, and conservation planning, in addition to mapping invasive plant infestations. Emily is a proponent of using GIS to make the world a better place for all beings, and uses social media to connect with like-minded people. Founder of #gistribe, an online community of geo-professionals, her other interests include blogging, tweeting, and organizing online events for geo-enthusiasts. Emily is putting her skills to use helping Friends of the Verde River Greenway manage data and map invasive plant treatments to help preserve and restore the Verde’s unique riparian ecosystem.
Riley grew up in the Verde Valley and graduated last year from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah with a degree in biology. After graduation she returned to the Verde Valley and took an AmeriCorps position working with The Nature Conservancy. Through her experiences in college and with The Nature Conservancy Riley has participated in science in the community outreach programs, researched native bird species, monitored flow levels in the Verde River and worked on various stewardship projects. With her interest in conservation and love of the Verde Valley she is excited to be working as the field assistant for Friends of Verde River Greenway.