CD Staff


Top Row: Emily Hirsch, Jeff Littlejohn, Katie Pencke, George Boggs, Frank Corey,Ryan O'Connor, Chris Clark, Kyle Cassady

Second Row: Dawn BekenyiWayne Chaudiere,  Scarlett Graham, Corina Cheever, Aneka Sweeney,

Front Row: Jenny Coe, Nichole Embertson, Meagan Harris, Dakota Stranik, Andrew Phay

Not pictured: Pauline Chiquet, Alexi Guddal


District Manager

Temporarily Vacant

Job opportunities page

360-526-2381 x115



Dawn Bekenyi, Administrative Assistant

Dawn BekenyiDawn has been with the District since November 1991. She is the office quarterback- some of her responsibilities include bookkeeping , clerical support, and reception. Dawn is another long time Whatcom County resident- having attended Ferndale High and Whatcom Community College. She is a big fan of baseball and rodeos. 360-526-2381 x101



Andrew Phay, GIS Technician/Cartographer/IT Admin.

Andrew PhayAndrew came to the District straight from Western Washington University where he majored in environmental planning and minored in GIS. His cartographic and GIS skills have been used on most of the projects that have been done at the District. Andrew is the in-house network troubleshooter, database manager and the Webmaster for this website. Working along side NSEA Personnel, Andrew has also worked on stream projects with local schools. It allows the students to get a different look at the area around their schools and homes while helping them plan their projects. 360-526-2381 x129


Habitat Program

Frank Corey, Resource Coordinator - Riparian Restoration

Frank CoreyFrank Corey joined the District staff January 5, 2004 to coordinate riparian restoration projects in cooperation with Whatcom County Public Works. Frank will be coordinating the activities of two Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department crews working to re-establish native plants on drainage and flood control projects.
Frank spent the last four years working for the Washington Conservation Corps, implementing riparian restoration projects for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association. Before that he spent many years growing and planting trees in nurseries and as a landscaper.
A Thurston County native, Frank has lived in Whatcom County for 20 years. As a child he split his summers between his grandparent’s 100 year old dairy farm in Oregon and his family property on the upper Nooksack River. After finishing Olympia High School, Frank earned an Associate of Science degree in Landscape Horticulture from South Puget Sound Community College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Western Washington University. 360-526-2381 x131

Wayne Chaudiere, Natural Resource Specialist - CREP/Firewise

Wayne ChaudiereWayne has been with the District since 1996. His responsibilities at the District include Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) project management, geographic information system (GIS) mapping and technical assistance for manure composting, farm planning and compliance with the County's Critical Areas Ordinance. Education and experience include a B.S. in Forestry, international resource management as a Peace Corps volunteer, stream restoration, agroforestry, forestry, forest surveying and road design and water quality and quantity monitoring. 360-526-2381 x116

Emily Hirsch, Natural Resource Specialist

Emily HirschEmily joined the District early in 2010 as the Plant Sale Intern and liked it so much she asked if she could stick around. Emily has assisted the District in several programs including monitoring CREP project sites, updating internal and state database records and conducting a survey of Whatcom County Ag for the WSDA.
Emily, a Midwest native, has a BS in both Biology and Geology from Western Kentucky University and moved to Bellingham in 2000. Prior to joining the District, Emily worked as a wetland ecologist for a private consulting firm. There she assisted clients with meeting land use objectives where critical areas and species are present. She has conducted numerous field investigations to delineate and characterize wetlands and streams in a variety of environments and worked with local, state and federal agencies.
She has also served as a Remediation System Operator and Environmental Technician for a Groundwater Extraction, Treatment and Recharge System and two Fuel Extraction Systems on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. She became a full-time employee in 2011, and continues to provide support for a variety of projects and offer her experience as a wetland specialist to the district. 360-526-2381 x114


Farm Planning Program

Corina Cheever, Natural Resource Coordinator, Farm Planner

CorinaCorina joined the District in 2011. She is here to assist landowners by providing technical assistance, farm plans and to answer other resource management questions. In her years at the District, Corina has been a part of the research team, assisted our engineer, helped with outreach and transitioned to coordinator for the farm planning team. Corina grew up in Snohomish County and graduated from Western Washington University where she spent four years earning a Bachelor of Science in Geology and exploring Whatcom County on foot, bike, and skis. During summer of 2014, she completed a bicycle trip across the US seeing the incredible beauty of the southern states. 360-526-2381 x104

Dakota Stranik, Resource Specialist, Livestock Planner & Engineering Technician

DakotaDakota joined the District in January 2019. She works in support of our local dairy farmers, assisting with Nutrient Management Planning. Dakota was born and raised in Alaska where she enjoyed fishing, skiing, and trail running.  She earned her degree from Cornell University in 2010. After graduation she spent five months traveling solo by bicycle from New York to Colorado, exploring various aspects of agriculture on both small and large scale farms. She settled in the Denver area and worked for four years designing and managing small scale urban produce farms, and in 2016 she founded her own small farm in Ferndale. 360-526-2381 x108


Pauline Chiquet, Resource Specialist, Farm Planner

PaulinePauline joined the District in 2021 as a Farm Planner in support of our local non-dairy farmers and landowners. After graduating from Yale University in 2015, she decided to pursue a career in food and agriculture. Pauline received a certificate in farm management, with a focus on small-scale vegetable and livestock operations, from the Organic Farm School on Whidbey Island, WA in 2018. In 2019 she opened her own farm in the Skagit Valley. Since then she has served as a consultant for farmers and gardeners, with a particular focus on fertility management and soil best practices in regenerative systems. | 360-526-2381 x 105


Research Program

Nichole M. Embertson, Ph.D., Science and Planning Coordinator - Sustainable Livestock Production Program

Nichole EmbertsonDr. Nichole Embertson joined the District in 2008 as a Nutrient Management Specialist and Science and Planning Coordinator, and has been an adjunct at Washington State University since 2012. Nichole received her B.S. from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and M.S. from University of California Davis and Ph.D. from Colorado State University both in Environmental Management of Livestock Systems with a specialty in Air Quality. Dr. Embertson currently provides technical assistance on nutrient and environmental issues to farmers, agencies and industry and conducts research with livestock producers on effectiveness monitoring of conservation practices. She is leading the development of manure application risk management tools for producers including a real-time manure advisory, application risk management decision support tool, and on-line nutrient management planning. As of 2015, Nichole is also the Director of the new Washington Discovery Farms® program. Her experience with production needs, ecological systems, and manure management allows her a unique perspective in the development and delivery of information to producers, agencies, students, and communities alike. 360-526-2381 x126

Scarlett Graham, M.S., Conservation Research Specialist

ScarlettScarlett joined the District in 2016 as the Conservation Research Specialist. She provides technical assistance and research support to various programs through designing field studies, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting research findings. One of the main programs she supports is the Washington Discovery Farms®, where she works with dairy producers to conduct edge-of-field water quality monitoring.  

She received M.S. in Environmental Science and Toxicology from Western Washington University in 2016. She spent 8 years working in the private sector as an environmental consultant before migrating to Western Washington. | 360-526-2381 x 117

Meagan Harris, Water Quality Data Coordinator

MegMeg joined the District in early 2017 to manage the water quality monitoring data for the Whatcom Clean Water Program. Meg works to ensure that water quality information is up-to-date and easily accessible to partner organizations and to the public. She provides support to the many programs in this county that preserve our water resources, protect human health, and support local agriculture.

Meg is not a stranger to working with environmental data; she has worked previously with the Washington Stormwater Center, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and Western Washington University- with a focus on all things water. | 360-526-2381 x 107


Outreach and Education

Aneka Sweeney, M.Ed., Education Specialist

Aneka SweeneyAneka joined the district in 2014 to strengthen the community outreach and sustainable education programs.  Aneka works to enhance impact of district programs by working directly with community groups, school districts, state, county and city government as well as non-profit organizations to further the mission of Whatcom Conservation District.

A native of western Colorado, Aneka earned a bachelor’s of science in Biology with a minor in Environmental Restoration from Colorado Mesa University in 2001.  She then spent eight years as a Biological Science Technician for the USDA Forest Service in the Sierra Nevada of California.  She moved to Bellingham in 2008 to pursue a Masters of Education in Environmental Studies through Western Washington University.   After earning her degree in 2010 Aneka established and coordinated a youth environmental leadership program for North Cascades Institute, training the next generation of conservation stewards before starting with the District. or 360-526-2381 x103

Alexi Guddal, Education & Outreach Technician

Alexi GuddalAlexi joined the District in 2021 as an Education and Outreach Technician following her passions in conservation and community collaboration. She grew up near Mount Rainier National Park on a small hobby farm. Her passion for wildlife led her to earn a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from Western Washington University. She fell in love with Whatcom County and continued to work for the university for several years as a Program Coordinator before beginning her Master of Arts in Biology with focuses in conservation and community outreach from the Advanced Inquiry Program, a partnership between the Woodland Park Zoo and Miami University. She then joined the district to continue working towards fostering community-based conservation in Whatcom County. or 360-526-2381 x112

Jenny Coe, Resource Specialist, Community Wildfire Resilience


JennyJenny initially joined the Whatcom Conservation District in early 2017 to take on the newly revamped Lake Whatcom Homeowner Incentive Program, but in 2019 she was able to restart the Community Wildfire Risk Reduction Program and has transferred into a new role.

Jenny is serving both Skagit and Whatcom counties as the Community Wildfire Resilience Coordinator.  This is not a new field of work for her as she previously spent 15 years working at the Skagit Conservation District coordinating a similar program.  Jenny built lasting partnerships throughout Washington State and around the nation in this line of work and is well-respected for her leadership and ability to empower communities and partners to work collaboratively to build resilience.  She is looking forward to continuing this work and building the capacity for resilience within communities throughout Whatcom and Skagit Counties.

Jenny has also spent time working on other programs over the years such as CREP, forest health programs, youth education, outreach, and public relations.

In her spare time, Jenny enjoys spending time with her partner and 3 kids, enjoying the outdoors, taking dance classes, and appreciating all that is great about Bellingham and Whatcom County. | 360-526-2381 x 106

Ryan O'Connor, Resource Specialist, HIP Project Coordinator

RyanRyan O’Connor is our HIP Project Coordinator for the HIP target program. Ryan is a Western Washington Native and has a deep appreciation for nature and how lucky we are to live in the great PNW. Ryan received his bachelor’s degree in Geology from WWU. He served as an environmental field technician for the Upper Skagit Tribe specializing in water/air quality and salmon habit restoration. Ryan spent several years as a geologist and WABO/ICC certified special inspector for a geotechnical, environmental, and testing lab in Bellingham. Ryan has experience coordinating with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as local contractors and landowners on everything from large scale civil projects to small rural developments. He is a journeyman electrician, mountain biker, gearhead, and a 20 year Bellingham resident. As a Lake Whatcom watershed resident, he enjoys spending time with his three kids, and travelling to anywhere with a view of the ocean. 360-526-2381 x118

Kyle Cassady, Resource Technician

Kyle CassadyKyle joined the District in March 2018 as a water quality research intern, while finishing a B.S. in environmental science at WWU. He has since been utilized in almost every facet of work that the District does. This includes being a main helping hand in the annual Plant Sale, completing project inspections for the CREP program, and performing outreach and education for various events and in elementary classes. Prior to working at the District, Kyle spent two years working at the Lake Padden golf course as a member of the grounds crew, and before that spent several years working in landscaping and construction near his hometown of Maple Valley, Washington, in King County. He most enjoys spending his time taking water quality samples and constructing or maintaining related research sites around the county, although he is very keen to continue learning and taking part in any and all of the various conservation efforts made by the District. 
In doing so, Kyle aspires to learn how to develop and best deploy research projects to aid in our understanding of the health and trajectory of the natural environment, while continuing to make connections to the larger picture of environmental health as it relates to local urban and agricultural land uses. 360-526-2381 x119




Jeff Littlejohn, Community Development & Water Quality Assistant.

Jeff LittlejohnJeff started as a Backyard Monitoring volunteer in June 2015.  In October he was asked to join the district part-time as Community Development & Water Quality Assistant.  Jeff helps with the implementation of the Citizen Science and Landowner Engagement Program to enhance the efforts of the Whatcom County Public Works Pollution Identification and Correction Program and the City of Lynden Stormwater Community Education and Outreach Program.
By training, trade and passion Jeff is a community developer and naturalist.  He serves as the Executive Director of Imagine NW! an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) non-profit.  Jeff operates Visual Impressions, a video production group part of Imagine NW!.   When glaciers ruled Jeff was born in Washington D.C.; and has lived all over the U.S. and world.   A FAA certified Private Pilot; FAA registered Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) operator.  He studied at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Calvin Theological Seminary, and the ABCD Training Institute.
Jeff loves living in Washington State with the spectacular mountains, cold clear streams, the moss and lichen, the beaches…ocean, and even the rain are all highly valued.

This page was last modified on 07/07/21 - 08:24