Category: Impact Stories

Peter Ruddock with Fonzie the baby goat

Peter Ruddock: A Passion for Sustainable Food Production

Many of us dream of ditching our day jobs to follow our passion, but few people actually do it. Former software developer Peter Ruddock is one who successfully made the leap. In 2011 he switched fields to focus on organic food, initially volunteering with a number of organizations, including Slow Food and the San Mateo...

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Wendy Chou: Becoming an Advocate for Environmental Justice

Wendy Chou is a climate change advocate who works as the Coalition and Project Senior Manager at Acterra: Action for a Healthy Planet. In 2022, she participated in the Green Foothills Leadership Program. At the time, she was working as Acterra’s communications manager, and she wanted to gain more experience and training in advocacy and...

Isabella G.

Using Her Leadership Skills to Help Her Tribe: Isabella ‘Amne Gomez

Isabella ‘Amne Gomez is a Muwekma Ohlone Youth Ambassador and a first-year undergraduate student at Santa Clara University. Because of her youth leadership work, she was accepted into the Green Foothills Leadership Program during her last semester of high school. She plans to use the skills, knowledge, and connections gained in the Leadership Program to...

Everything Comes from the Earth: An Interview with Lizbeth “Xochipapalo” Amador

Everything Comes from the Earth: An Interview with Lizbeth “Xochipapalo” Amador

The connection between Aztec dancing and the environment might not be immediately apparent, but Lizbeth “Xochipapalo” Amador will tell you why they’re linked. Liz is a longtime member of San Jose Aztec dance group Calpulli Tonalehqueh and is also a 2021 graduate of the Green Foothills Leadership Program. She explains that nature and Aztec culture...

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Bees and High Tech: Kian Nikzad Creates a Buzz

Kian Nikzad was a computer science student at UCLA when he signed up for the Green Foothills Leadership Program to learn how to make a difference for the environment. “I’ve always had a really deep passion for sustainability, but in college I got interested in computer science. I viewed information technology (IT) as a path...

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Building Bridges Over Barriers

Mel Sarmento’s passion is connecting people with the outdoors. This 2020 graduate of the Green Foothills Leadership Program works for Guadalupe River Park Conservancy in San Jose as a Program Director. As a direct result of her participation in the Leadership Program, she now also serves as an Associate Director with Guadalupe-Coyote Resource Conservation District...


Learning By Doing: How One Concerned Citizen Deepened His Impact

Bryan Beck is an accomplished computer engineer who has always been passionate about helping the environment. His first foray into local environmental advocacy also happened to be his introduction to Green Foothills: when the Cargill company was fighting to build 12,000 homes on salt ponds along the bayshore in Bryan’s hometown of Redwood City. Bryan...


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