Friends of the Dunes

About Us

Friends of the Dunes (FOD) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has been involving the community in the conservation of coastal environments since 1982. Based in Humboldt County California, FOD is best known for coastal ecosystem restoration, education programs and guided walks. In its role as a land trust, FOD acquired 113 acres of coastal dune property now known as the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center (HCNC).

Our Mission Statement

Friends of the Dunes is dedicated to conserving the natural diversity of coastal environments through community supported education and stewardship programs.

Our Goals

Our Staff

Kim McFarland

Kim McFarland, Executive Director

Originally from the Midwest, Kim first taught school kids about dunes ecology along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan (yes, there are real dunes there!). Upon arrival in California in 1998, she immediately gravitated to our coastal dunes and settled in Humboldt to complete a BS in Biology at HSU in 2001. Kim first got involved with Friends of the Dunes through our Coastal Naturalist Training program in 2007 and can often be found out in the dunes telling folks about the nesting and mating behavior of our native dune silver bee, the topic of her Masterís thesis. After serving on the Board of Directors for the past few years, she is very excited to completely immerse herself in the organization. When not at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, you can usually find her in a kayak on the bay or with her head in the sand (literally) researching the underground nesting habits of solitary bees. (Go to our Science and Nature page and check out the Get Out, Explore! video about our native bees.)

Suzie Fortner

Suzie Fortner, Education Manager

Suzie has been a nature lover her entire life. Growing up in San Diego, she spent a lot of time camping, hiking, and swimming in the ocean. This love of nature inspired her to pursue a B.S. degree in Marine Biology at UC Santa Cruz, where she became infatuated with redwood forests. So she came to Humboldt County and earned a M.A. degree through the Environment and Community Program at Humboldt State University in 2010. Suzie has been working in the field of Environmental Education since 2004, and her Masterís Project focused on place-based environmental education. She started volunteering with Friends of the Dunes in 2007, and has been involved with Friends of the Dunes education programs ever since.

Jess Barger

Jess Barger, Community Programs Coordinator

Jess was hired as the Restoration Volunteer Coordinator in the summer of 2015. She graduated from Humboldt State University in spring 2015 with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and Conservation. Jess absolutely loves the beach and dunes, and is excited to have the opportunity to share her passion for conservation and natural biodiversity. She hopes to inspire others to help with restoration projects and to find the joy in getting your hands dirty while helping the planet. During her free time she enjoys birding and going on adventures with her dog, often to the beach and dunes.

Ashley Hansen

Ashley Hansen, Outreach Coordinator

Ashley moved to Humboldt County from San Diego where she gained experience rehabilitating native species through volunteer work at a Wildlife Center. She currently studies Wildlife Conservation at Humboldt State University and plans on applying her degree towards preserving and restoring local ecosystems. In her spare time, Ashley can be found hiking with her dog, Akela.

Adjunct Staff

John St.Marie

John St. Marie, Facilities Manager (Board President)

John has been involved with Friends of the Dunes since 1988. He was the Director of the organization in the beginning and helped play a key role in helping Friends of the Dunes become an official 501(c)3 nonprofit. John has served on the Land Trust Committee, helping secure the 115 acres that are part of the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center. John is also the caretaker of the Nature Center, helping maintain the building, native landscaping, and helping manage public use on the property.

Carol Vander Meer

Carol Vander Meer, Executive Support Volunteer

When Carol arrived in Humboldt County from Nebraska in 1994, she was immediately drawn to the coastal dunes. They were curiously reminiscent of the Nebraska sandhills where she did her Masterís work on the ecology of the Niobrara River valley. Carolís experience includes being a high school biology teacher, a nature center director and naturalist. She started with Friends of the Dunes as a volunteer docent while she worked as a park ranger at Redwood National Park. She served as Executive Director of Friends of the Dunes from 2004 to 2015. Carol lives in Manila along the shores of Humboldt Bay with her husband Steven. When the tide is high, they enjoy paddling the waters of the bay and up into the Mad River Slough.

Steven Vander Meer

Steven Vander Meer, Webmaster (volunteer)

Steven is an artist, animator and home brewer with an awesome studio in Manila, near the dunes. He owns and operates Meer Image, an art rubber stamp business, and is a self-taught hand-coder of HTML and CSS.


Dunesberry Newsletter

Our quarterly printed newsletter is mailed free to members and is one of the benefits of becoming a member! On the cover you will find an inspirational essay by our executive director, and on the inside - news, Naturalist Notes, a calender of events, volunteer highlights, thank-you's, announcements and more.

Download a PDF of the current issue here.

Job Opportunities

Operations Assistant

20-25 hours per week, $12-15/hour DOE

The Operations Assistant will be responsible for a variety of administrative, customer service, and fiscal management tasks that support the daily functions of the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center. The Operations Assistant serves as the first point of contact to callers and visitors and is expected to deliver outstanding customer service to all entering the Nature Center and faithfully representing Friends of the Dunes to our partners and the public.

For more information, download the full job description.

Dune Restoration Interns

100 hours over 12 weeks, $10.50/hour

Dune Restoration Interns will be responsible for removing invasive plants from the dunes, and supervising volunteer work days and California Conservation Corps work crews. Applicants should have an interest in ecology, an aptitude for fieldwork, and enjoy learning new concepts. Past experience with volunteer coordination and/or restoration is desirable. Candidate must be able to perform strenuous physical activities, such as walking in sand with equipment, removing weeds by hand, hauling up to 50 lbs, and working in rainy, windy, as well as sunny conditions in the sand.

For more information, download the full job description.

Or... You Could Volunteer!

Volunteering not only helps us keep things going around here, it's also a great way for you to get your foot in the door. Plus, you'll be one of the first to know about future job openings! Check out the volunteer page!

Friends of the Dunes | PO Box 186, Arcata CA 95518 | 707-444-1397 |

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