Spring Intern Profile: Kelsey & Dion
Updated: Feb 7
My name is Kelsey Beechler, and I am one of the Nursery and Conservation interns with Sutro Stewards this Spring! I am a senior at University of San Francisco, majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Urban Agriculture. I am originally from Southern California, but have always loved San Francisco. Probably due to the fact that my parents began taking me camping before I was even a month old, I have been interested in the environment for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been interested in how ecosystems functioned and what every plant, from the largest Sequoias to the smallest of wildflowers, was. Since I’ve consistently found myself intrigued by and defending the environment, pursing an environmental major was somewhat obvious for me. Even though my minor is Urban Agriculture, I have focused my major electives around ecology and recently botany. This is where I’ve found one of my main passions, so working with Sutro Stewards has been a fantastic fit. Doing restoration and plant propagation on Mt. Sutro has given me a different perspective on my surrounding environments and has really expanded my knowledge of the various San Franciscan native plants. Some previous projects I have participated in have been native dune restoration on Lone Mountain here in the city. On the west facing slope of Lone Mountain on the USF campus, we have a designated Lone Mountain Native Plant Preserve with many dune species, including the endangered Franciscan Manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana). We did a monitoring report of the survivorship post-drought and presented our findings at the SCURR conference in Claremont, California. This gave me great exposure to native plants and increased my interest in restoration greatly. Another organization I have participated in is called Sprout Up!, which is an environmental education program for 1st and 2nd graders. Environmental education is another main passion of mine. I believe that it is the main way we can change our actions and the mindset of upcoming generations to more sustainable ways. Being able to educate these young kids about renewable energy, conservation, and so much more was a really rewarding experience that I hope to be a part of again in the future. As for my duties here at Sutro Stewards, I have been fortunate to be involved with both the Nursery work days and the Saturday work days. This has allowed me to see both sides of the work on Mt. Sutro and work with all of our fantastic volunteers. I have loved seeing familiar faces every week and getting our hands in the dirt together! We’ve cleared Himalayan Blackberry brambles, seeded, up-potted, and planted countless native plants in the nursery and at various restoration sites along the trails, really transforming those areas. I’ve also helped with creating an informational sign for our new water catchment system above the pot-washing station, along with washing many, many pots. I feel extremely grateful to be a part of this organization and to be able to learn and work alongside so many interesting and friendly people!
Dion Libutti recently joined Sutro Stewards as an intern at the Mount Sutro Native Plant Nursery. Dion comes to San Francisco by way of Santa Cruz, where he studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz and earned a baccalaureate degree in Global Economics. Since moving to San Francisco in 2014, Dion has worked at a housing- and jobs-focused non-profit serving homeless and at-risk San Franciscans. He comes to Sutro Stewards with a background in outreach, program management and administration, and, most importantly, a love for plants and the outdoors. He is excited to apply his experience as a home gardener and volunteer at other local environmental organizations while learning more about native plant care and conservation with Sutro Stewards.
“When it comes to horticulture, I’m definitely more of a layman, especially compared to the very knowledgeable staff, volunteers, and other interns at Sutro Stewards. However, since gardening at home has long been a favorite hobby, I’ve recently decided to pursue horticultural/environmental work more seriously.
Most of my time at the Sutro Nursery has thus far been spent learning to identify native plants, as well as weeding and re-potting them. I recently joined in my first weekend planting day along the Mount Sutro trails, which I found to be a lot of fun and very helpful in learning to identify native and invasive plant species. Moreover, it was a great way to meet other members of the community with similar interests and to contribute to other aspects of Sutro Stewards’ work outside of the nursery. I’m looking forward to attending many more planting days, getting to know more of my neighbors and fellow Sutro Stewards volunteers, and continuing to develop my knowledge of native plant care and conservation. I hope to see you there!”