Executive Director: David Seibert
David Seibert grew up in Tucson and has been an Olympic-level hockey goaltender, a student of ancient garden design in Japan, and a logger, college instructor, wildland firefighter, horticulturist, and baker. He holds degrees in literature and philosophy (NAU 1990; UA 1995); linguistic anthropology (NAU 2004); and in cultural anthropology, historiography, and social memory (UA 2013), and will never, ever pursue another degree. David has practiced ecological restoration for more than 20 years by integrating erosion control, vegetation, fire, and cultural components on public and private land, including sacred site restoration work for the Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, and Zuni Tribe. He moved to Patagonia in 2012 in order to participate in a restoration economy that addresses the social and ecological challenges of the modern US-Mexico borderlands.
Ron Pulliam: Founder and Science Advisor
Ron Pulliam has conducted decades of research in the grasslands of southeastern Arizona and is one of the foremost authorities on grassland birds and ecology. Dr. Pulliam is Regents Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia were he was Director of the Odum School of Ecology He also has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of NatureServe, as Director of the National Biological Service, and asa Science Advisor to the Secretary of Interior in Washington, D.C. He currently resides in Patagonia, AZ, where his original research began in the early 1970s. Ron is one of the founders of Borderlands, and develops our ecological modeling.
Nursery Manager: Francesca Claverie
Francesca hails from the border town of Calexico, California and has spent her life in love with desert landscapes and ethno-botanical musings. Graduating from UC Davis with degrees in Native American Studies and International Agricultural Development, she worked for the UC Davis Arboretum Nursery as a propagation specialist and Plant Sale events manager. Francesca came to Patagonia, Arizona as a farm apprentice for Native Seeds/SEARCH, and is thrilled to now be a part of the Borderlands Restoration plant propagation and nursery dream team where she is putting her nurturing skills to work. Francesca is a lead horticulturist for Borderlands, a skilled volunteer and plant sale organizer, and she brings her cheer to community connections projects as well.
Restoration Horticulturist: Travis Gerkens
Growing up in rural New Jersey, Travis’ initiation into the natural world began through his love of gardening. This led him to study medicinal plants and botany on both the East and West coasts of the U.S., and it was in the Los Padres national forest of central California where he fell in love with more arid landscapes and the biodiversity that they harbor. This brief encounter inspired his move to southern Arizona, where he found work on the Native Seeds/SEARCH conservation farm, and later, at BR, as a citizen scientist. Travis is now our builder, native seed farmer, and nursery grounds keeper. As someone who’s personal and professional values lie in the realms of deep ecology and yogic philosophy, he’s also excited to further develop and inspire a collective approach to life that harmonizes humanity and the environment.
Assistant Nursery Manager: Perin Hailey McNelis
Perin grew up in the Sonoran Desert and feels a strong connection to this region’s sky islands and desert seas. She’s been in love with the native plants of the desert ever since a high school teacher encouraged her to pursue a research project on the extrafloral nectaries of barrel cacti. Professionally trained as a dancer in New York and Los Angeles, she returned to Arizona in 2015 to pursue educational opportunities related to her second degree in Anthropology. Her interests lie at the intersection of somatic practices, anthropology, and the relationship between community and ecology – particularly regionally specific ethnobotanical studies and conservation work. She is well utilized in Borderlands Restoration working with the MAPP Center growing native plants, collecting and processing native seeds, and expanding her knowledge of the region’s biotic communities.
Seed Lab Manager: Allegra Mount
Allegra grew up in Southern California, and comes to Patagonia bringing her love of being outside, getting dirty and working with youth. She comes to BR with diverse experience in youth programming, restoration, botanical field work, and nursery management in southern Arizona. Allegra manages the BR Database and curates the native seed collection, as well as assistant managing plant propagation activities. Allegra is at home in Patagonia, where she enjoys an endless diversity of activities. She’s immediately recognizable around town: covered in Bidens seed and dirt from the field, splattered with clay from throwing pots, or carpeted with Husky fur from her field assistant and dog, Delta.
Restoration Horticulturist: Eden Santiago
Eden joins Borderlands Restoration through the American Conservation Experience for the 2016 growing season. She is a recent graduate from the University of South Florida with dual degrees in Environmental Science and Policy and Marine Biology. She is returning to the southwest after spending most of her life in Central Florida, and is thrilled to return to a landscape of mountains and watercolor sunsets working at the BR Nursery. While she is in Patagonia, her main focus will be conducting field trials of native plant grow-outs for seed production targeted for our regional national parks and public lands. Along the way, she is indulging her gardening passion by planting pollinator gardens, windbreaks, and hedgerows around the growing “farm”!
Field Botanist: Ashlee Simpson
Ashlee’s love for botany started during her youth in the Sonoran Desert where she often found herself stinging with prickly pear glochids after crashing her bicycle. Her botanical experiences diversified when she moved to Flagstaff, AZ to study biology at Northern Arizona University. It is there she discovered a deep appreciation and giddiness for learning about plants and ecology while doing forestry field work on the Colorado Plateau. Ashlee has since happily returned to the Sonoran Desert region where she enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of the Sky Island ranges. She is currently working with the American Conservation Experience (ACE) leading a botany intern crew in seed collection and rare plant surveys. She assists Borderlands Restoration with a number of projects including seed lab support and development, and seed collection.
Operations Manager: Shani Stewart
Shani is a native of Tucson that loves anything outdoors. She grew up with a family tradition of spending summers at Patagonia Lake, and pursues her passion these days by getting out of the office and running marathons, where it’s all about fun and running with friends. She graduated with a masters in Educational Leadership from the University of Arizona, and since has worked with populations in need to secure funding as a grant-writing lead for many different non-profits. She comes to BR most recently from Pima College, where she was a grants analyst, writing to support programs to help students succeed. She loves the mountains of Arizona and resides in Vail with her husband Joshua, son Trey, and three step-children Questin, Elijah, and Imani. Between work and family life, not to mention the 5 furry companions, Shani barely has a free moment and she likes it that way! She brings her energy, laughter, optimism, humor, and many other blessings to the BR office where she is developing systems to make BR L3C and its partner organizations more efficient, sustainable, and better for their employees.
Restoration Specialist: Kate Tirion
Kate is an inspirational instructor in all things permaculture, horticulture, and sustainable living. Her background and experience are unique in the field of sustainability. From her roots on a Welsh Amish-style farm to the present, she has practiced as a permaculture designer and teacher (and continuing student) since 1990, consulted, designed, and implemented small and large-scale projects nationally, and internationally for individuals, schools, communities, corporations, and developers, designed, developed, and ran a community garden from 1999-2009, graduated from UC Santa Cruz Ecological Horticulture Apprenticeship Program (’92-’93).
Caleb Weaver works to cultivate meaningful relationships between people and the natural world. Growing up in rural Connecticut, he developed a bond with the natural world that followed him to the arid Southwest. After graduating with degrees in Ecology/Evolutionary Biology and Geosciences from the University of Arizona, he moved to Patagonia to design habitat restoration features to benefit both farmers and wildlife. This project led to his current position with Borderlands Restoration as lead wild seed harvester. Caleb designs restoration and reconciliation sites at the human/nature interface, leaning on years of experience as a permaculture certified landscape designer. He also leads the youth & nature connections team through his work with Patagonia Union High School, Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) Institute and Windsong Peace and Leadership.
Restoration Specialist: Zach Yourgules
Zach hails from Patagonia, where he has done landscaping & construction work. One of the Restoration Crew members whose been with Borderlands the longest, he joined in the early stages of the Babocomari River Restoration project. Zach has found a calling at Borderlands, he was introduced to rock work, erosion, and the importance of water on the landscape; he especially enjoys that the work is preserving the landscape, not just making it look good! He is the crew leader of our restoration rock crew, someone we know we can always count on to get the job done right. In the rock-crew off season and between grants, Zach works for BR as a restoration contractor and at our native plant nursery as a maintenance technician.
Science Advisors and Consultants
Borderlands would be nowhere without the assistance and expertise of scientists, engineers, and restoration practitioners in our community.
The Restoration Rock Crew
Our restoration rock crew is composed of Patagonia locals that enjoy working outside and getting the job done. They bring diverse experiences in masonry, carpentry, ranch work, handiwork, and military service.
Foundations of Borderlands – Past Employees
Administrative & Program Support: Bethany Brandt
Bethany Brandt is a Birth and Postpartum Doula and Mother of two. She is an expert at supporting people and organizations. At Borderlands she facilitates all the work through office support, collecting time sheets, taking meeting notes, connecting & weaving all the various pieces. Bethany is the co-owner of Revitalist Botanicals, which serves to educate about the medicinal uses of invasive plants. She has studied the use of plants medicinally for 4+ years through North American Institute for Medical Herbalism and is working towards a Master Herbalist Certification with Demetria Clark. Her focus of self study has incorporated the works of Western Herbalism as well as the principles of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. You can see her gardening, spending time with her daughters, Pasithea & Ama, or whipping up delicious fermented foods.
Greenhouse Assistant Manager: Andrea Stanley
Andrea was born and raised in Phoenix. She grew up traveling across the Southwest with her Dine grandparents visiting family and friends in tribal communities. Dine and Acoma Pueblo on her mother’s side, and Honduran on her father’s side, she has always felt most at home in desert landscapes. A student of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, she has worked as an Americorps member on a trail crew, Hurricane Sandy relief in NY, and SCC Ancestral Lands on the Navajo Nation where she picked up Wildland Fire chainsaw certification. Before moving to Patagonia with her bulldog Dublin, Andrea worked for the Desert Botanical Garden. Andrea is excited to be apart of the Borderlands nursery team and seed lab, and loves helping baby plants grow!
Summer 2015 Watershed Restoration and Horticulture Intern: Karen Gravely
Karen comes all the way from Pickens, South Carolina to join BR for the summer of 2015. She ventured to Patagonia in search of a theme for her senior capstone project. She is interested in wildlife corridor connectivity and the policy that makes conservation happen. A plant enthusiast, Karen is enjoying her time exploring the various facets of BR: from greenhouse to invasive species to collaborative conservation and pollination ecology. Karen is a double major in environmental studies and government at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. The senior thesis project she developed involves surveying landowner attitudes towards pronghorn antelope, information that will help inform land management decisions.
Summer 2015 Watershed Restoration Intern: Sam Parrott
Sam just graduated from Wofford College in South Carolina with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in business. He jumped at the opportunity to come to Patagonia and intern with Borderlands, having heard, “nothing but the highest praises for you all, the work that you’re doing.” He is excited to explore the beauty of the sky islands region and to help out in any way he can. Sam’s research project for the summer of 2015 involved developing an evaluative experiement for restoration success using native bee nesting boxes.
Board: Ron Pulliam, Chairman; Jack May, Gary Nabhan, Sy Rotter
Invested Partners: Valer Austin, Josiah Austin, HMN/Susan Wethington, Jack May, Randy Moore, Laurie Monti, Ron Pulliam, Sy Rotter, David Seibert, Kate Tirion, Gerald Rodman, Richard Pritzlaff, Jill Johnson