In Their Own Words

My work at OAEC:

I manage the WATER Institute’s Bring Back the Beaver Campaign, conduct research, run our citizen-science initiatives, educate the public through presentations, and collaborate with multi-stakeholder groups and decision-makers to advocate for policy change. I help implement and write about the appropriate technologies that make up our Conservation Hydrology Demonstration Site.

 Kate fire-tending


My background:

I was raised in Santa Cruz County by my loving family and community, and by the non-human denizens of Aptos Creek watershed and the Monterey Bay. Through building a house together and traveling across two continents in a VW bus with my family of 6, I tasted the joy and sense of freedom that comes with learning how to be self-sufficient and make things with my own hands. I learned about the brilliance and beauty of place-based cultures that let the site inform their designs. I also became keenly aware of the importance of wild and intact ecosystems to my own health and that of the planet. Furthering my studies in the art of being human I got a degree in Italian from UC Santa Barbara and spent a year studying at the Università di Bologna in Italy. Over the past 20 years I have taught ecology and arts to youth and adults, have studied and practiced herbal medicine and massage therapy, have been a teacher and practitioner of natural building and have trained with professionals to hone my paleotechnical skills.

Why my work matters:

Water is life, so I’m helping others to cultivate hydrologic literacy and adopt innovative strategies to restore and protect the watersheds we live in. By modifying our behavior to lessen impacts on this precious resource, we can ensure greater food and water security and improve climate change resiliency for all.

My passions:

I am thrilled to be deepening my knowledge of watersheds through studying beaver ecology. I love learning about the ecology of place through tending and harvesting the wild foods, medicines and materials each ecosystem provides. I derive great pleasure from turning natural materials into functional art such as braintanned buckskin clothing. Every year I take several weeks to “go feral”—to wander in the mountains, preferably where beaver occur, relying as much as possible on things I have harvested or made myself. I love that I get to do all of this alongside amazing colleagues, teachers, friends, family and my partner Kevin.

My favorite resiliency resource:

I have become much more resilient in life and effective in my work through a self-inquiry process called The Work.

The best advice I ever received was:

“Don’t believe everything you think.”

How I regenerate:

I can’t be a good Earth steward if I don’t take good care of myself. Whether it’s in my wood-fired outdoor bathtub or the many wild hot springs I visit annually, soaking in hot water is by far the most rejuvenating practice I know.  Giving myself periods of unstructured time to just be is exquisitely delicious and really helpful.


Kate Lundquist_coho