Bay Nature’s 2021 Local Hero Awards

Thank you to all who joined us for our annual Local Hero Awards, where we honored the incredible work of Wendy Eliot, Clayton Anderson, Doug McConnell, Emma Lewis, and José González.

If you missed it, you can find a recording of both Zoom events below. A huge congratulations to our 2021 Local Heroes!

The second evening of Bay Nature’s 2021 Local Hero Awards featured Doug McConnell in conversation with Bay Nature’s editor in chief, Victoria Schlesinger. Watch the video below!

Meet the Heroes

Conservation Action

Wendy Eliot
Director of Conservation (1999-2021), Sonoma Land Trust

In her 21 years as Conservation Director for Sonoma Land Trust, Wendy Eliot secured over fifty million dollars of funding and conducted complex negotiations to protect nearly 20,000 acres of parks, habitats, and working lands from the Sonoma Baylands to Lake Sonoma to the coast. She advanced groundbreaking regional conservation strategies, including the regional Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor program; the Southeast Santa Rosa Greenway; and protection of over 5,000 acres of conservation lands along San Francisco Bay for restoration to counter the impacts from sea level rise and protect vital habitat and human infrastructure.

Meet Wendy Eliot!

Environmental Educator

Clayton Anderson
Youth Program Manager, Golden Gate Audubon Society

Clayton Anderson is an environmental educator and professional artist who became a naturalist and birder as a child, although he didn’t get his first pair of binoculars until graduating from high school. Clay worked his way through San Jose City College, then transferred to San Jose State University, graduating with a B.A. in Drawing and Painting. He joined Golden Gate Audubon in 2017, where he is the Youth Program Manager. He previously worked with a number of environmental education organizations, including California State Parks and Recreation, East Bay Regional Park District, and The Oakland Museum. Clayton has worked with Bay Nature, too—check out his article on where shorebirds sleep at night here.

Meet Clayton Anderson!

Community Hero

José González
Founder & Director Emeritus, Latino Outdoors

An experienced science educator, community builder, and outdoor instructor, José founded Latino Outdoors in 2013 to inspire, connect, and engage Latino communities in the outdoors on their own terms. The first organization of its kind in the country, Latino Outdoors gives immigrant and Latinx families the opportunity to enjoy nature as a safe, inclusive, and welcoming place while recognizing their unique cultural heritage. The organization José founded locally has rapidly grown into a nationwide network of volunteers that is developing leaders in outdoor education and stewardship to increase representation in the field for the US’ fastest growing demographic. José has written a number of articles for Bay Nature, which you can check out here. You can also follow him on social media @josebilingue.

Meet José González!

Young Leader

Emma Lewis
Natural Resource Specialist, City of South San Francisco

In 2019, artist and naturalist Emma Lewis, now 24, launched a comprehensive conservation and volunteer program focused on preserving and restoring endangered Mission blue butterfly habitat on historic Sign Hill in South San Francisco. Starting the Sign Hill Stewards program from scratch — and with minimal oversight— Emma has organized and led butterfly monitoring, data collection, invasive species removal efforts, educational nature hikes, and volunteer days for over 100 volunteers. She is now developing a summer interpretive program for South San Francisco that engages children and youth with nature in their own backyard. Emma is also a recently appointed board member of San Bruno Mountain Watch.

Meet Emma Lewis!

Bay Nature Hero

Doug McConnell
Host and Producer, OpenRoad and Bay Area Backroads

A beloved voice and presence for many thousands of Bay Area residents, Doug has inspired generations of viewers with his lively explorations of California’s special wild places and cultural landmarks — and the people who care for them — as host and managing editor of KRON4’s long-running Bay Area Backroads TV show. With 37 years of on-air experience, Doug has continued opening eyes to the unique beauty of wild California on his most recent series OpenRoad With Doug McConnell on NBC Bay Area. A great champion of local, state, and national parks and public lands, Doug gives his time freely to raise awareness and financial support for our natural treasures.

Meet Doug McConnell!

You can watch the video of our 2020 Local Hero Awards by clicking here.



Individual Sponsors:

Jorgen Hildebrandt
David Loeb
Mia Monroe
Don Weden
Nancy & Bart Westcott
Barbara Bessey
Maryann Rainey

In-Kind Sponsors:

Clif Family Winery
Jacqueline Gauthier
Jane Kim/Ink Dwell

Organizational Sponsors:

Anna’s Hummingbird

Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria logo

Green Hairstreak

Google logo

Mariposa Lily

East Bay Regional Park District logo with green leaf
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space logo with oak tree on hill and flying raptor
Redwood tree logo for Save The Redwoods League
Sonoma Land Trust logo with mountain peaks

Coho Salmon

East Bay Municipal Utility District
March Conservation Fund
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Peninsula Open Space Trust
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
Save Mount Diablo
Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP
Sonoma County Ag + Open Space
Union Bank
Valley Water