River Wranglers began in 1994 through a grant written by Mary Reid, Water Specialist, University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension. The objectives were:
To supplement water quality data collected by professional staff in water quality agencies and scientific institutions.
To educate the public about water quality issues
To incorporate water quality river monitoring into an ongoing school program
To provide field experience for science students in rural communities.
The grant was secured and $15,500 was allocated to determine the youth interest in water quality monitoring in central Nevada. When the grant funds were exhausted, Linda Conlin, project coordinator, continued to volunteer and kept the organization intact.
River Wrangler's initial goals were to incorporate water quality monitoring of the Carson River into high school science programs and to provide field experience for science students in rural communities along the river. Since that time, Conlin expanded environmental education by working with local, state and federal agencies, local schools and citizen groups to help implement Conserve the Carson River Days, Celebrate the Carson River, Trout in the Classroom, Carson River Festival, Make a Splash with Project WET and other events.
On October 20, 2000 River Wranglers incorporated and formed a 501c(3) non-profit organization. River Wranglers mission is to inspire youth, through hands-on learning, to explore, conserve and understand the importance of local rivers. We envision a community, aware and committed to healthy watersheds and rivers.
our staff & administrative volunteers
Will SHEPPaRD, Director
Will relocated from Brooklyn, NY, where he spent the last 5 years teaching high school biology, earth science and physics, and gaining his masters degree. Before that, he worked as a park naturalist, environmental educator, and wildlife technician following his graduation from Oberlin College with an Environmental Studies degree. In his spare time he fishes, hikes and cooks with his wife and dog, and is excited to get to work helping to conserve the Carson River.
Becki Schwindt, Environmental Educator
Becki has taken a childhood passion for learning, and used that love to teach children to find excitement and passion for learning through enthusiasm and the human connection. After leaving the peaceful sanctuary of middle school classrooms, Becki has moved to the peace of the outdoors to teach watershed science to adults, teens, and children. In addition, Becki advocates learning the value of a sound body and calm mind by helping to develop and grow school gardens. When the garden season slows down, Becki takes her passion for quilting and sewing to the indoors to use her creative energy and teaching skills to help others find theirs. In order to maintain her #1 Gram status, she has volunteered with scouting.
Sarah Muskin, Education and Outreach coordinator
Sarah grew up in coastal New England and spent her summers in the Green Mountains of Vermont as a camp counselor. She graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Sarah is passionate about stewardship, environmental health, and social justice. In her free time, Sarah enjoys running, hiking, reading, gardening, and learning new skills. Sarah Is excited to be a part of the River Wranglers team during her year serving as a Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership member.
Debbie Wren, Bookkeeper
Debbie and her family moved to Silver Springs in 1993. She began working for Nevada State Parks as an Accounting Assistant III in 2007. She has been married 44 years has two sons and three grandchildren. Debbie enjoys reading, Cooking and sewing. As she says, "I like to do almost anything that keeps my hands busy."
Our Board of Directors
The River Wranglers Governing Board of Directors help support and enhance the River Wranglers mission by participating in long-range planning, providing overall program guidance, building a stable financial base for River Wranglers programs, and representing the organization and its mission to the broader community.
DAN KAFFER, PRESIDENT
Dan began working with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service as a college student. He worked in CA and NV as a Range Conservationist, served 10 years as a District Conservationist and settled into the coordinator position for the Western Nevada RC&D Council. He retired from USDA/NRCS in 2011. During his 32 year career he was a founding member of 14 watershed/conservation and youth education organizations. His hobbies include fly fishing, hiking, hunting, yoga, and photography. Dan's family and spirituality are the center of his life.
Eric Johnson, Secretary
Eric Johnson was born and raised in Reno and graduated from UNR with a BA in Forestry. He has worked throughout the state of Nevada as a Park Ranger since he was 19 years old and is now the Nevada State Park Administrator. He lives in Fallon where he and his wife operate a small farm raising alfalfa and a variety of animals. Interests include auto mechanics, fishing and hunting.
BILL CONLIN, TREASURER
Bill works for the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. He helps ranchers and farmers manage and plan their use of natural resources by designing irrigation systems. Bill is involved in his family; six adult children and eleven grandchildren. He enjoys all things water-related; snowboarding, kayaking, and fishing. He is a long-time volunteer and supports activities which connect kids to their environment.
Linda Conlin, Board Member
In 1994, Linda worked for the University of Nevada, Reno on a grant to explore the feasibility of establishing a school-based water monitoring program. From that grant, River Wranglers was created and eventually became a non-profit. Linda is passionate about working with youth, having spent 23 years working with the Nevada 4-H program. She works as the director of River Wranglers and is excited to share her enthusiasm for learning about Nevada rivers. She enjoys quilting, camping and hiking, reading and trying to keep up with her eleven grandchildren and their parents.
Kim Zuch, Board Member
As a high school student, Kim volunteered at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum and went on to complete two internships and seven years with Utah State Parks. She graduated from Utah State University with a double major in parks and recreation and anthropology. In 2011 she accepted an interpretive Park Ranger job at Fort Churchill State Historic Park at Buckland Station, and in May of 2014 accepted a Park Interpreter job at Washoe Lake State Park. She joined the River Wranglers board in 2015 and enjoys working with everyone!
Carla Kuhn, Board Member
Carla grew up in the Mojave Desert of California, between the San Andreas and Garlock Faults to the delight of her grandmother who, as a passionate rockhound, was eager to share the extraordinary rock stories of the desert with her granddaughter. Carla worked for the Kansas Geological Survey as a cartographer, built log cabins in Colorado, and worked as a technical illustrator for an environmental consulting firm in Washington DC. On her return to the west coast, she raised 2 wonderful children, completed her B.S. in Geology and M.A. in Education, and eventually taught middle school science and mathematics. Since moving to Nevada she is part of Western Nevada College’s JumpStart program. She joined the River Wranglers board in 2016 and is eager to share the companion stories of rock and water found in the Carson Valley watershed.
Stanley Lawhead, Board Member
Stan is a retired interpretation ranger following 27 years with the National Park Service. He also served three years as a Rural Teacher Trainer of Environmental Education in Paraguay with the United States Peace Corps. In addition, Stan has worked as a seasonal employee for many years with Nevada State Parks. He enjoys most outdoor activities including camping, canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing and spending time with his family. He joined the board in 2017 and is excited to part of such a worthwhile organization.