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Naturalists and Instructors at Coyote Hills

Coyote Hills

Address: Coyote Hills Regional Park, 8000 Patterson Ranch Rd., Fremont, CA 94555
Phone No.: (510) 544-3220

Email: chvisit@ebparks.org

Sonja Gomez, Supervising Naturalist

Sonja has always enjoyed playing in dirt, watching birds and bugs, and exploring the world around her.  She began her career when she became a cofounder of The Nature Club at age six.  She has since earned a BS in Environmental Studies and an MA in Museum Studies, and has worked in a variety of settings from native plant research to conservation education.  After moving to the Bay Area from Oregon and leading a team of passionate educators at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco, she is thrilled to have returned to land at Coyote Hills, enthusiastically joining the East Bay Regional Park District in 2016.  Sonja loves exploring our connections to local ecosystems, and is honored to help share the stories of East Bay peoples, plants, and animals. She believes in building healthy, happy communities through positive experiences in our parks, and hopes you will spend some time at beautiful Coyote Hills.

Dino Labiste, Naturalist

Helping people develop an interconnection with our natural world and our past history has been a passion for Dino. He began his association with EBRPD while hiking through the various ecological communities within the regional parks. This led to becoming an Interpretive Student Aide for EBRPD in 2001. Later, Dino worked as a Temporary Naturalist for Crab Cove Regional Park and Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness. He joined the ranks of the permanent naturalist staff in 2006 and interprets natural and cultural history as a full-time employee at Coyote Hills Regional Park.

Dino also worked as a Program Naturalist for the City of Pleasanton. He designed and presented programs to the Pleasanton Unified School District, organized the summer nature camps, led nature hikes and conducted community outreach programs.

Dino received his B.F.A from California College of the Arts in Oakland. He enjoys backpacking, visiting museums, art, indigenous skills, seafood and good friends.

Francis Mendoza, Naturalist

Francis grew up and lives in the Tri-Cities area (Fremont/Union City/Hayward), and has worked at Coyote Hills Regional Park since 2014.  He remembers riding his bike through the park as a kid and enjoying beautiful sunsets atop the hills as a teenager.  He has worked as a Naturalist at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center, Literacy for Environmental Justice in the Bayview/Hunter’s Point District of San Francisco, and Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda, specializing in wetland/estuarine ecology, urban interpretation and youth development.  He has also worked as a social worker, teacher and environmental educator for more than 20 years, and holds a teaching credential from Cal State Hayward.  In addition, Francis has a B.S. in Integrative Biology with an Education Minor from UC Berkeley and is a Certified California Naturalist through the UC Davis Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources.  As a steward of the land and water himself, Francis holds the indigenous communities of the East Bay in high regard and strives to interpret their culture and history (past and present) with the utmost respect and admiration.

Kristina Parkison, Naturalist

Kristina Parkison holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. After graduation, she joined the Peace Corps to teach biology in Malawi. Upon her return, she became involved in environmental education, working as a naturalist for several outdoor schools throughout the state. Kristina has also worked for California State Parks as a Park Interpretive Specialist. She started with the East Bay Regional Park District in August 2001 and brings with her a love of teaching and shares an appreciation of nature.