About Us

Sunset over the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge. Image by Britta Heise

Sunset at Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge. Image by Britta Heise

Mission | History | Programs | Staff | Board


The Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, California, is dedicated to educating the people of the San Francisco Bay Area about, and celebrating the beauty of, the surrounding natural world. We do so with the aim of inspiring residents to explore and preserve the diverse and unique natural heritage of the region, and of nurturing productive relationships among the many organizations and individuals working towards these same goals.


The idea for Bay Nature arose out of a conversation between Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books, and David Loeb, current publisher of Bay Nature, in February 1997. The concept was to create a luminous and intelligent publication that would reflect the natural beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area, honor the region’s legacy of environmental advocacy, and nurture its wealth of creative talent.

Margolin and Loeb launched Bay Nature magazine in January 2001, with invaluable collaboration from Marilyn Hope Smulyan, Amy Hunter, Tom White, Dennis Gallagher, and Dave Bullen; and with lead funding from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

Hikers on a Bay Nature outing

Hikers on a Bay Nature outing

Bay Nature began life as a project of the Clapperstick Institute, the nonprofit affiliate of Heyday Books. In 2004, Bay Nature Institute was formed as an independent tax exempt charitable organization and took over publication of the magazine. Today, the Institute publishes the magazine, sponsors the production of “Bay Nature on the Air,” arranges and leads outings to places featured in Bay Nature magazine, and hosts the BayNature.org website.

From its inception, Bay Nature has drawn from the legacy of conservation leadership and action that is a hallmark of the Bay Area. As such, Bay Nature is an expression of the dynamism and creativity of the region’s conservation and natural history communities—including local nonprofits, museums, research institutions, open space agencies, and individuals.

Want to find out more? Download the “All About Bay Nature” fact sheet here.


April-June 2013 cover of Bay Nature magazine

April-June 2013 cover

Bay Nature Institute works towards its goal of promoting a deeper connection to the natural world of the Bay Area through several programs, including:

1. Bay Nature magazine, a full-color quarterly publication launched in January 2001 that explores the landscapes and wildlife of the Bay Area, and highlights the people and organizations that are working to understand them, protect them, and educate others about them. You can subscribe to Bay Nature online; back issues may also be purchased online.

2. Bay Nature in the Field consists of free naturalist-led hikes and outings to places featured in the magazine, as well as occasional community events. Go to our Events page for more information or to sign up on our outings email notification list.

3. Bay Nature on the Air is a series of short video spots that run in between regularly-scheduled programs on Northern California public television stations. The 2-1/2 minute shorts showcase the natural diversity of Northern California and highlight the efforts of organizations and individuals who work on its behalf.

4. BayNature.org is an online gateway to experiences in the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area, with a brand new Trailfinder and park search, fresh stories and videos every week, a comprehensive regional nature events calendar, all Bay Nature magazine content, a directory of local organizations, and more!


David Loeb, Executive Director & Publisher david@baynature.org, (510) 528-8550 x101

Since 2001, David Loeb has served as editor and then publisher of Bay Nature magazine and executive director of the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute. A Bay Area resident since 1973, David moved here after graduating from college in Boston. The decision was largely based on a week spent visiting friends in San Francisco the previous January, which had included a memorable day at Point Reyes National Seashore. In the late 1990s, after many years working for the Guatemala News and Information Bureau in Oakland, David had the opportunity to spend more time hiking and exploring the parks and open spaces of the Bay Area. Increasingly curious about what he was seeing, he began reading natural history books, attending naturalist-led hikes and natural history courses and lectures, and volunteering for several local conservation organizations.

This was rewarding, but he began to feel that the rich natural diversity of the Bay Area deserved a special venue and a dedicated voice for the whole region, to supplement the many publications devoted to one particular place or issue. That’s when the germ of Bay Nature magazine began to take shape. In February 1997, David contacted Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books and News from Native California, with the idea of a magazine focused on nature in the Bay Area, and was delighted with Malcolm’s enthusiastic response. Over the course of many discussions with Malcolm, local publishing professionals, potential funders, and local conservation and advocacy groups, the magazine gradually took shape and was launched in January 2001. Over a decade later, David still finds it hard to believe that he gets to do what he loves — exploring the natural world — for “work.”

BayNature_ESphotoEric Simons, Editorial Director eric@baynature.org, (510) 528-8550 x104

Eric joined Bay Nature in the fall of 2013 as editorial director. An almost lifelong Bay Area resident, he grew up exploring the creeks and pastures of the East Bay and graduated to longer hiking and backpacking trips across the Western United States. A former kayak instructor, newspaper journalist, freelance writer – and for eight glorious weeks, intern sorter of small frozen fishes in a UC Santa Barbara marine biology lab — Eric spent the last several years teaching reporting at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and managing the news site Richmond Confidential. He is also the author of Darwin Slept Here, a travel adventure and natural history that traces Charles Darwin’s route across mainland South America, and The Secret Lives of Sports Fans, an investigation into the scientific origins of his annual hockey-related temper tantrums. Eric now lives in San Francisco and enjoys exploring nature on the more sidewalk-square scale with his wife and young daughter.

alisonAlison Hawkes, Online Editor alison@baynature.org, (510) 528-8550 x103

Alison joined Bay Nature in November, 2011 in a new position designed to boost the Institute’s web presence and cover ongoing nature issues. She has worked in journalism for more than a decade as a former newspaper reporter turned radio producer turned web editor with each rendition bringing her closer to her dream of covering environmental issues. In 2009 she graduated from the Columbia University School of Journalism with a masters in science journalism and moved to the Bay Area as a freelancer. She co-founded Way Out West, a site dedicated to covering Bay Area environmental news, and following a good year’s run closed up shop after seeing the difficulty of monetizing online content. Alison is still dedicated to figuring out the puzzle of funding good journalism. She’s an avid hiker and traveler, although her adventures have taken a tamer turn since the birth of her son, Oliver, who she’s nevertheless enthusiastically introducing to the natural world, one tree and one bug at a time.

Judith Katz, Development Director judith@baynature.org, (510) 528-8550 x105

Judith joined Bay Nature in 2008. Judith brings a passion for donor communications that she refined over years of studying Nonviolent Communication, and working as a consultant to Bay Area Nonviolent Communication. Prior to working at Bay Nature, Judith coordinated fire education programs in the western US with the Student Conservation Association and federal land management agencies. She’s also worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Clean Water Action. She now helps to coordinate Bay Nature’s major donor program, the Publisher’s Circle, as well as Bay Nature In the Field outings, and other special events. She has a BA from Michigan State University’s Honors College, and a Master’s Degree in nonprofit management.

Laura SchatzkinLaura Schatzkin, Tech & Data Manager, laura@baynature.org, (510) 528-8550 x106
Laura’s been in the IT field for more than 20 years, having worked as a computer programmer, database manager of large-scale conversions, IT manager, software quality analyst, web designer and web developer. At the United States Environmental Protection Agency she won the Web Workgroup Award for Outstanding Web Achievement. Originally and still a visual artist, she creates mixed-media drawings. She also has about a 50,000 other interests besides art and coding, including hiking, biking, birding, partner acrobatics, learning to fly planes, and playing guitar in an alt rock band. She wishes she could be outdoors all the time.

Beth Slatkin, Marketing & Outreach Director beth@baynature.org, (510) 528-8550 x107

Ellen Weis, Advertising Director ellen@baynature.org, (510) 813-1903

Jenny Stampp, Office Manager jenny@baynature.org, (510) 528-8550 x100

Sue Rosenthal, Contributing Editor sue@baynature.org

Affiliates: Rick Bacigalupi, Producer of Bay Nature on the Air and Bay Nature in the Field videos rick@baynature.org
(Principal, BaciPix)

Volunteers & Interns:

Paul Epstein
Michelaina Johnson
Kaitlyn Kraybill-Voth
Chelsea Leu
Asbery Rainey
Carmen Taylor
Kimberly Teruya


Dr. Carol Baird, Executive Director
California Institute of Biodiversity
Moraga, CA

Christopher Dann, President & Owner
Drakes Bay Fundraising, Inc
Oakland, CA

Catherine Fox, Fundraising Executive (retired)
Berkeley, CA

Tracy Grubbs, Fine Artist
San Francisco

Bruce Hartsough, Technology Executive (retired)
Los Altos, CA

David Loeb, Director/Publisher
Bay Nature Institute
Berkeley, CA

John Raeside, Publisher (retired)
Oakland, CA

Bob Schildgen, Author
Berkeley, CA

Nancy Westcott, Chief Financial Officer (retired)
Palo Alto, CA