ECO·Fam   /ee-koh · fam/  n.
The passionate people who work hard to make sure ECOLIFE’s mission is met

BILL TOONE

BILL TOONE

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER - BTOONE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Bill always dreamed of being an ornithologist and working for the Zoological Society of San Diego.  He started applying for jobs when he was 8 years old.  Hired to pick up trash when he was 16, Bill spent his time at work quietly observing birds and their behavior.  He left to study causes of reproductive failure in endangered birds.  In 1979, Bill graduated with a master’s degree from the University of California where his work focused on the reproductive behavior of the highly endangered California condor. He was hired by the Zoological Society of San Diego and was simultaneously appointed to the federally mandated California Condor Recovery Team.

 

After rising through the ranks to the level of Curator of Birds, Bill became disillusioned by traditional efforts in conservation.  He was allowed to launch a new division in Applied Conservation and ultimately left the zoo as the Director of Applied Conservation Programs.  In each of these positions he traveled extensively and ultimately worked in over 30 countries including Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Paraguay, Cameroon and Madagascar.  He worked with animal species from the birds of paradise, iguanas, Chacoan peccaries, giant armadillos, elephants and gorillas.

Through all this work there seemed to be an association between impoverished resources and impoverished people.  Hoping to find a more successful path in conservation Bill co-founded ECOLIFE Conservation in 2003. In 2008, Bill resigned from the zoo to devote full-time effort to seeing ECOLIFE succeed. 

KAIT COLE

KAIT COLE

AQUAPONICS EDUCATIONAL MANAGER - KCOLE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Kait is a San Diego native who is passionate about creating positive change in our food system. She pursued her degrees in Psychology and Communication, where she graduated with honors from San Diego State University. At ECOLIFE, Kait manages the Aquaponic Educational Programs, where she leads sustainable agriculture, STEM, Next Generation Science, and environmental education programs. She spends her free time with loved ones, playing music, practicing yoga, traveling, cooking, gardening, tasting new food, crafting, and focusing on self development.
ALEJANDRO TAVERA

ALEJANDRO TAVERA

MEXICO PROGRAM MANAGER - ATAVERA@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Alejandro manages ECOLIFE’s Mexico stove and pilot aquaponics programs. He is passionate about improving the quality of life in Mexico, protecting the monarch butterfly habitat, and building a team of empowered citizens. Alex is a Mexican industrial designer with a degree from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. He is interested in climate change, ecology and social development, and is drawn towards sustainable technologies. Alex worked at the National Autonomous University of Mexico as an investigator and technician on improved cookstove projects for over six years. In his spare time, he enjoys playing soccer, traveling, and experiencing new cultures and foods.
BELLA GUERRA

BELLA GUERRA

EVENT & DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR - BGUERRA@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Originally from San Francisco, Bella received a BA in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University. She has several years of non-profit experience from first coordinating her first event for a homeless shelter at the age of 15,  to working with a substance abuse recovery center, typical and special needs children, and fundraising for her sorority, Alpha Phi’s, philanthropy throughout her college career.

 

Aside from her passion for non-profits, she is highly driven by helping others and enjoys coming up with new and creative ways to give back to the community. Bella strongly believes we live to positively impact others and the world around us so when she’s not at the office, she’s devoting her time serving on the youth ministry at her local church, C3, feeding the homeless, outdoors, or at the gym.

MARTIN NIWINSKI

MARTIN NIWINSKI

AQUAPONICS TECHNICIAN- MNIWINSKI@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Martin is a San Diego native who earned his BA in Sustainability from San Diego State University. Soon after, he built his first aquaponics system and discovered his passion for growing. Throughout his career he has helped design, build, maintain, and consult on a variety of systems from backyard to commercial. Martin strives to be on the cutting edge of aquaponic innovation and is dedicated to teaching others how to grow nutrient dense food in a sustainable manner.

 

 

His other interests include horticulture, sustainable design, and food production technology. In his free time, Martin enjoys traveling, cooking, playing music, and working on his food forest where he grows over 50 kinds of rare fruit.

CONNOR LEONE

CONNOR LEONE

AQUAPONICS EDUCATIONAL COORDINATOR - CLEONE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Connor is pursuing his degree in Environmental Science at California State University San Marcos. At ECOLIFE, Connor is responsible for maintaining and building our ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kits. Additionally, he provides a variety of assistance to teachers involved in ECOLIFE’s education program.  He is passionate about bringing awareness to environmental challenges through education.

EMILY VEGA

EMILY VEGA

MARKETING MANAGER - EVEGA@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Emily graduated magna cum laude from Sonoma State with a BA in Communications Studies. Previously, Emily was the Development and Marketing Coordinator with the Carmel Bach Festival, where she discovered her passion for working in the nonprofit sector. She has also spent time helping nonprofits like Petaluma Valley Hospital Foundation and San Francisco SafeHouse. In her spare time, Emily volunteers for Camp Pendleton’s military families, fostering family readiness for upcoming deployments and spouse morale groups.
LINN SPLANE

LINN SPLANE

VISUAL MEDIA SPECIALIST - LSPLANE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Linn is a Southern California native and a grad student studying Conservation Biology. She earned her bachelor’s in Anthropology at UCLA, where she alternated between taking classes on campus and working on archaeological digs. Linn is studying under Miami University and the researchers at San Diego Zoo Global, and is concentrating her work on resilience in social-ecological systems.  She has long harbored a passion for making the sciences accessible to the general public, and has several years’ experience creating videos for science and innovation. Her overall aim in outreach is to appeal to audiences resistant to scientific thinking and to promote a shift in society’s perception of humanity’s relationship with the environment.  Linn‘s other interests include dancing, Golden Age films, archery, piano, and travel.

CLEMENCIA TORO

CLEMENCIA TORO

BOOKKEEPER - CTORO@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Originally from Colombia, Clemencia pursued university studies in England, France and in New Zealand. She worked as Administrative Assistant in the banking industry in Colombia and for the Department of Statistics in New Zealand. While living in New Zealand, she also majored as a Professional Pastry Chef. In the past she volunteered her time as a bookkeeper for the Escondido Children’s Museum. She loves her job and feels very proud to be part of the ECOLIFE team. She loves hiking, cooking, adventure traveling and exploring new places.
JOSH MCMURTRIE

JOSH MCMURTRIE

MEDIA SPECIALIST - JMCMURTRIE@ECOLIFECONSERVATION.ORG

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Josh is an artist, photographer, and videographer born and raised in Southern California. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from USCD in Visual Arts/Media, with an emphasis in Photography.

 

His international travels and love for nature, wildlife, and the outdoors led him on his path to photography. He finds passion in sharing the importance of conservation through his digital views and creative talents. Josh loves his work as it allows him to experience powerful connections with both people and animals. Through his authentic media content, Josh promotes ECOLIFE’s mission to impact our planet in a positive way.

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