Agriculture and conservation education, promotion and collaboration have been central to Karen Sweet’s numerous professional and volunteer roles. She helped establish the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition and now is the Executive Director. Karen provides various services for other conservation and agriculture entities. As the California Coordinator for the Leopold Conservation Award Program®, sponsored by the Sand County Foundation she works with Sustainable Conservation, California Farm Bureau Federation and numerous sponsors. Karen is a former Executive Officer of the Alameda County Resource Conservation District. Darrel, her husband, and Karen own and operate a cattle ranch in Livermore. They are active in local, state and national cattle industry and rangeland conservation leadership. Karen served as President of the California CattleWomen and continues to be active. Spare time finds Karen tending the yard and watching the wildlife.
Marilyn is a third generation rancher, now managing her family’s 5,000 acre ranch in Mendocino County. A retired biology teacher, Marilyn taught Livermore HS students about native flora and fauna for over 30 years. Marilyn is an avid equestrian, competing in long distance endurance rides, participating in Historic Trails rides, and currently active as the Vice President of the Tri-Valley Trailblazers. Currently, Marilyn is very involved with the Friends of Tesla Park. A member of the CA Rangeland Trust, Mendocino County Farm Bureau, and CA Rangeland Conservation Coalition, Marilyn is extremely active in ranching and conservation organizations in Alameda County, and throughout California.
Niki Wente manages the vineyards for Wente Family Estates in both the Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco, Monterey. As the Viticulture Supervisor, Niki works to promote healthy soils and happy vines while running a sustainable operation. Niki studied Viticulture and Enology at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After graduation in 2014, she worked in San Francisco and then in the North Coast wine region before joining the family business in 2017.
Mark Connolly is President of Connolly Ranch Inc., a cow/calf operation located in San Joaquin and Alameda Counties. The Connolly Ranch is a member of the CA Cattlemen’s Association, the American Grass-Fed Association, the CA Farm Bureau and the San Joaquin Farm Bureau. Mark served three terms (13 years) on Tracy Joint Union School District Board of Trustees and is a Director of the CALFAUNA Foundation. Mark also has a civil litigation practice in Tracy and is a graduate of the University of Santa Clara, School of Law, 1982. Mark is a member of the CA Bar Association.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Bill’s education and career have taken him across the United States and back again. Upon completing his M.S. in Environmental Biology at CSU Hayward, he worked as an Environmental Scientist (ES) for the El Paso Natural Gas Company. After earning his PhD from U.I. Urbana-Champaign, he served on the faculty at SUNY, Plattsburgh, was executive director of a non-profit in the D.C. area, and served as an Environmental Scientist with the EPA. Bill joined LLNL in 1991, first as an Environmental Scientist and later as a Water Guidance and Monitoring Group Leader. Since retiring, he has transitioned to supporting conservation through volunteer roles with the Tri-Valley Conservancy, Ohlone Audubon and the ACRCD.