Richard Baril & Dolores Barrett
“Change does not come from the top down. It comes from the ground up. Most social and environmental change happens because folks become aware, care and give back to the community at the local level. LandPaths attracted me because of its commitment to community and getting people connected to nature, with a strong focus on kids. This is how I give back.” - Mapache
Richard Baril and Dolores Barrett, more fondly known as Mapache, and Dandelion Dolores in the LandPaths world, are yet another example of powerfully dedicated volunteers we are lucky enough to call family. They are quite literally, the heart and soul of Owl Camp and many other LandPaths endeavors. The ripple effects of their generosity and dedication to children and the environment are outstanding.
Mapache hails from Maryland, and moved to Sonoma County in his early teens, graduating from Santa Rosa High School. He spent many years as a contractor in the area before “retirement” (to see why we put retirement in quotes, just keep reading!) He was a founding member of the Friends of the Mark West Watershed, and was instrumental in helping preserve the 900 acre Saddle Mountain Preserve. Dolores was born in San Francisco and moved to Healdsburg when she was 26 and had a long career as a registered nurse.
They met at an Easter Egg hunt hosted by one of Richard’s cousins, and little did they know they would meet such “good eggs” in each other. They have been married for 40 years now, and are still going strong.
Mapache became involved with LandPaths after meeting our CEO, Craig Anderson at a paddle outing on the Estero Americano, and we haven’t let him go since! Mapache’s carpentry skills can be witnessed at nearly every LandPaths property. He helped lead a volunteer crew to replace the roof on the cabin at Riddell, as well as constructed the new deck. Mapache helped break ground at Bayer Farm and led the installation of the fencing that still exists today. At Rancho Mark West, he has led nearly all of the restoration projects of the 1860’s barn: re-roofing, re-flooring, and even raising the foundation and replacing the siding. After retiring from nursing 4 years ago, Dolores planted herself in the garden at Rancho Mark West, and that is pretty much where she can be found on any given day…tending the earth and sharing her love of gardening with children and volunteers. True to her namesake, her love pops up all over the garden and has profound medicinal properties for all who visit.
Mapache and Dandelion Dolores have impacted hundreds, if not thousands of kids from both Owl Camp and IOOBY. When reflecting on any given day’s activities at Rancho Mark West or Owl Camp, children consistently say “I loved the garden!” Of Mapache they say that “building the raft together was the best experience I’ve had this summer” and that Mapache was “always there for him”. They are a testament to how a few dedicated individuals can truly change the world.
Thank you Mapache and Dandelion Dolores for who you are, and all you do!
"Beverly has been a volunteer spanning back the breadth of LandPaths programs, places and people. In fact, I don't think of her as "volunteer" - but as a friend, fellow staff and LandPaths family member. She's continually sunny and personable, doesn't know the word "late" and keeps the big picture perspective on what to worry about and what not to. What more can you say of someone that shares your values and is willing to support the community other than "we love her"? Besides that, she kicks me into gear and keeps me and my desk organized!" Craig Anderson, Executive Director
Beverly has the distinct honor of being LandPaths’ longest standing volunteer. Approximately 17 years ago, while on a hike with Howard Moes, she was told that LandPaths needed help. Beverly stepped into the (then one room) office and put her expertise in accounting and office management to work. Beverly has volunteered anywhere from 2-4 hours a week ever since, which if we did our math right, totals somewhere over 3,000 hours of volunteer service! Beverly has seen LandPaths grow from a one room, four-person staffed organization to now afour-room office bursting at the seams, hosting a staff of 14. While it was LandPaths’ amazing outings that originally drew her to support LandPaths, she now speaks most proudly of how LandPaths connects young people to the land, noting “Teaching kids to love the land is the most important work we can do”.
Beverly grew up in Marin, and moved to Sonoma County in 1990 and now lives in Cotati. While she has a B.A. from Berkeley, and a Business degree from SSU, Beverly’s abundance of skills and desire to be outside led her to a wide range of past job adventures including managing the Mt. Tamalpais Swim and Racquet Club, working for Cesar Chavez and the “Great Boycott” campaign, and even managing a cruise line gift shop traveling to the Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.
Beverly is a world traveler, and has visited and hiked all over Morocco, Spain, China, France, South America and more. Beverly is an artist and art collector, and her watercolors can be found in a many a friend’s living room throughout the county. Beverly has also volunteered with Hospice for over 6 years, bringing great comfort to hundreds of clients in their final moments on earth.
Beverly’s favorite LandPaths’ memory is the first hike she did out at Cooley Ranch. “The naturalist taught us so much about the terrain and the Oak trees. It was just breathtaking”. When asked what she would like to see in LandPaths’ future, she said “I would love to see the LandPaths’ office move to a more rural setting, and have more space- you need more space!”
Beverly continues to volunteer with us every week after her Tuesday hiking group. She is an invaluable member of the LandPaths’ team, and a true local hero. Thank you Beverly for 17-plus years of dedication to LandPaths! We look forward to 17 more! (wink-wink!)
Jim & Betty Doerksen
photo credit: Gary Hundt
After a very successful career as a city engineer in Belmont, CA, Jim Doerksen and his wife Betty decided it was time to retire, and follow their heart to their property in Sonoma County with dreams of working on the land, and enjoying the “good life”. It was 1983 when they packed their bags, and made their 122 acre parcel, now best known to LandPaths’ as Rancho Mark West, their permanent residence. Jim and Betty worked tirelessly to improve the property, planting upwards of “1 million trees” according to Jim, in addition to managing the Doerksen Christmas Tree Farm- a local favorite holiday tradition for many families throughout the Bay Area. The exposure to the property gained through the tree farm naturally grew into inquiries from various groups interested in utilizing the property for both recreational and educational purposes. Jim and Betty graciously opened up the use of their land to several groups such as the Sierra Club, and Acorn Soup, several schools, and eventually LandPaths. As Jim confirms, “We never charged anyone a dime.”
What began as a beautiful partnership continued to grow over the years and Jim and Betty became actively involved in the many programs and events that LandPaths hosted, including IOOBY, Owl Camp, and the countless other outings and stewardship efforts made at Rancho Mark West. According to Betty, “Jim’s dream was to keep our property forested and be used as a park. Having a non-profit like LandPaths with Craig & Lee’s passionate vision of bringing kids outdoors is exactly what we envisioned.”
Historic Rancho Mark West, a 122-acre "outdoor classroom," is home to the oldest barn in Sonoma County, organic community gardens, towering stands of old-growth redwoods and an abundant stretch of salmon-bearing Mark West Creek. Jim and Betty wanted to ensure their property would remain intact and available for others to enjoy after they were gone. Betty expressed “Our most favorite memory is the day we signed and sealed the Life Estate Agreement with LandPaths. That was the day we knew that our property would be preserved and used as a nature center for kids and adults in perpetuity.” With generous assistance from the California Coastal Conservancy, LandPaths purchased Rancho Mark West in 2011. Under the unique terms of this purchase, Jim and Betty Doerkson now own a remainder estate on the Property.
The hours of time that Jim and Betty have devoted to LandPaths cannot be counted, and their graciousness and desire to share their beautiful piece of land is remarkable. Jim and Betty are a testament to community centered, heart driven, and nature loving people we at LandPaths are so lucky to keep company with. We are grateful for their abiding generosity and support of our work.
Please give a hearty LandPaths cheer for Jim and Betty!