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Gina Martin

Gina Martin
Administrative Coordinator, Cache Creek Conservancy
I have worked here since April of 2004, and it has become a part of me.

Gina Martin has worked as the Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Cache Creek Conservancy for the past 8 years. She organizes all events held in the Nature Preserve and coordinates with teachers and board members to improve the various educational programs the Conservancy has to offer. In this interview conducted at the Nature Preserve by UC Davis students, Martin reflects on the invaluable experiences the Preserve offers to society, specifically to our youth.Can you tell me your name and your relationship to this place?

My name is Gina Martin, I have worked here since April of 2004. I've been involved with a lot of the different activities that the Conservancy has done on the nature preserve, doing a couple of different restoration projects on the property. From planting one small plant to trimming a bush, it's pretty rewarding to work in this kind of environment.

Could you describe where we are and what you see around you?

Right now we are sitting in the Jan T. Lowrey Memorial Grove, which entails a high variety of native plants and trees.  The amphitheater we’re currently in was designed for events, classes, and workshops that we may have out here. If you listen in the background you can hear the water running down the creek or the slough, and the birds – it's a very peaceful area to me.

Why is this place important to you?

This place is important to me because of the man that originally hired me, Jan Lowrey. He grew up in Rumsey, and his family owned property on Cache Creek. He grew up in the Capay Hills, fishing out of the creek and knowing all of the Yocha Dehe Wintun tribe members that lived up there. I think being raised that way made him so passionate about preserving the creek and bringing it back to life after the gravel companies had mined it for many years. The preserve as a whole is a showcase of what can be done when different communities come together. Many years ago there were gravel wars that went on, and the land owners along Cache Creek resented the gravel companies for their mining of the creek channel. Since then, many things have taken place. The formation of the Cache Creek Conservancy became a conduit for landowners to reach government in the county. Jan was very involved in that; the gravel companies admired him and worked with him closely to further restoration on the creek.  A lot of the creek has been brought back to what it was, but there's still a lot of work to do. I'd like to see his dreams continued.

What has been some of your favorite experiences here?

I think some of my favorite experiences would have to be some of the events that we've had out here. We have an annual 5K -10K fun run, which involves families, students, and people from all ages that want to have a nice experience on a bright spring morning. I enjoy seeing the different school groups from all over, from wee-little preschoolers up to college students. They get to spend time here in the nature preserve at their leisure, and we've [even] had people come from the Bay Area to participate in that run! One year we had a group of—I want to say it was about 90 students—that were from Japan. We broke the students up into smaller groups and rotated them through different activities. As they did so, they were able to see different parts of the nature preserve. We tried to educate them as best we could. Some of them were bilingual, but a lot of them had their own interpreters. It was just a wonderful day out here to see their eyes open and the learning that went on. It was almost like their eyes had been open to a whole new world. Any young student that comes out here really becomes engaged, as far as finding a lizard on the ground to hearing the birds in the trees. You don't see that when they're sitting playing their video games. We're a hidden gem within the community that not a lot of people know about.

Another event that I enjoy a lot is our annual event when we thank all our partners and our funders. It's an invitation only event, and we get anywhere from 100 to 150 people. We have an evening reception in the barn, with music and hors d'oeuvres. It's fun to see everybody come together at one time during the year, and I get to decorate the whole place and make it all pretty and special.

Can you tell me about an activity that you have been involved in on this land, or an experience that really stands out to you?

One of my favorite events that I have the pleasure of organizing every year is our annual creek clean-up, done in conjunction with the California Coastal Commission on the third Saturday of September. We end up with about 70 to 80 volunteers that clean up the roadways and the creek bed for about 3 to 4 hours one morning—and I feed them lunch. It's always fun to see what they pull out, the excitement that people have for making the Nature Preserve a better place by picking up garbage.

What impact has the preserve had on you, or others you know?

Well, I’ve become a lot more conscious of the environment around me, everywhere I go. I mean, if I go on vacation with my husband, I tend to want to do more outdoors things. It really helped me to become more aware of my surroundings.

Solesne Blosse

Written by: 
Solesne Blosse

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