The Ojai Valley Green Coalition Board is proud to announce their newest Board Member, Heather Mohan-Gibbons. Heather is delighted to be in a community she has grown to love and she looks forward to “extending her reach by joining the board of an organization devoted to improving Ojai.”
“I have found my people,” says Heather. “All the things that I am passionate about, mindful use of water and energy, our food system, environmental issues, community, and education, align with where the OVGC invests their resources.”
Born in Minnesota, Heather has been busy volunteering since moving to Ojai six years ago with husband Paul Gibbons, the Chief Operating Officer and reptile veterinarian specialist at the Ojai based Turtle Conservancy. As the Ojai’s Valley of the Moon Community Garden Manager, her mission has been to bring the garden back into balance and create a more functional resource for the community based in permaculture concepts.
“The garden provides other basic needs besides food,” said Heather. “It gives people a sense of community, a place to come to meditate, and native milkweed propagation. It’s even a type of therapy for some.”
She feels being on the OVGC Board is the natural next step in her volunteer life and hopes it will allow her to contribute to future projects as well as those already underway.
Currently Heather is the Director of Applied Research and Behavior for the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). She holds a Master of Science (Zoology emphasis) from Western Illinois University and a Bachelor of Science (Ecology emphasis) from Winona State University. Along with numerous other certifications, Heather is a California Registered Veterinary Technician. “The focus of my work for over a decade has included helping animal shelters save more lives in their communities” said Heather.
She often travels to teach workshops, improve the quality of life for animals in shelters, and publishes relevant research findings in peer-reviewed journals. Her recent work includes collecting data to minimize the risk of horses being exported for slaughter and co-edited the first textbook, Animal Behavior for Shelter Veterinarians and Staff. She serves as an ad hoc peer reviewer for the journal, Society & Animals (Brill), and the Journal of Animal Welfare Science (ASI).
Besides her time spent on her chosen profession, Heather has served as a moderator at various national conferences, provided free webinars and educational content for an array of organizations, and volunteered for “boots-on-ground events from trail restoration, river cleanups, animal neglect cases, to training new volunteers in the care of raptors and marine mammals.”
Last, but not least, is Heather’s volunteer work as the Coalition’s Valley of the Moon Community Garden manager. The Coalition fiscally sponsored garden, for several years, became an official project of the Coalition at the beginning of 2016. Heather puts in several hours a week maintaining social media, gaining new garden members, meeting the needs of the current members, managing water usage in the garden, land maintenance and weed abatement, overseeing volunteer work days, organizing dinner socials once a month, and exploring grant opportunities.
Heather’s many skills and expertise are sure to add strength and energy to our shared mission.