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The staff of Friends of the North Fork engages the enthusiasm of dozens of volunteers who provide hundreds of hours of support to our mission — and the health of our river — every year.

David V. Brotman

Executive Director

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A Virginia native, and graduate of Virginia Tech, David has broad experience in environmental field work, business, conflict resolution, and education.  Times spent in the Shenandoah Valley as a boy and young man — camping, hiking, fishing, and canoeing — are the very roots of his environmental interests, and his love of nature.

David is a natural public educator, and has taught all age groups in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings.  Subjects have included Chesapeake Bay ecology, Wild Edibles, and many more.  In Yellowstone NP, he trained citizen scientists in field methods.

In recent years in California, David logged thousands of hours on both public and private habitat conservation projects.  Training there too in conflict resolution, he practiced with Centinela Youth Services, and with the international mediation group, Mediators Beyond Borders.  Since his return, he has been active with the Woodstock Tree Board, Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards, Coming to The Table workgroup on race relations, and has helped at both Seven Bends and Shenandoah River State Parks.

David continues to be an avid hiker, camper, outdoor educator, and hunter of wild edible plants.  He finds great joy in studying our woods, wildlife, and landscapes, including the unique and historic, cultural heritage sites still scattered throughout the Valley.

Concha Mendoza

Operations Manager

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Concha joined the Friends staff in 2014. As a high school student, she assisted Friends with a water quality monitoring program. She developed an appreciation for the outdoors through recreation and through her volunteer experience, as she traveled to new beautiful places collecting water samples.

She holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Yale University. After college, she worked as a home-school liaison with the Shenandoah Valley Migrant Education Program, an editorial assistant for the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, and as an adult ESOL instructor.

At Friends, she enjoys working with volunteers, improving administrative systems, partnering with other organizations, writing and editing grants and other communications, assisting with fundraising and events, facilitating direct programs, and any chance to be in nature.

Julia Sargent

Volunteer Coordinator

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Julia brings a diverse set of professional experience in mental health, human services, community organization, and the service industry to her role of Volunteer Coordinator at Friends.

With a passion for bringing people together around common interests that transcend political, economic, and social divisions, Julia is focused on furthering Friends’ mission and building a strong community of stewardship around the watershed.

Mariama Dryak

Program Coordinator

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Mariama Dryak (she/her) is an earth scientist, science communicator, and an advocate for action on creating solutions to the global climate crisis. Her interest in the environment was honed whilst growing up on a small family farm in driftless Wisconsin, and was further developed whilst studying physical geography at Durham University in northeast England. Mariama received her Master’s from the University of Maine in 2019 in Earth and Climate Science, during which she studied glaciers and changing climate. Since that time she has worked in outdoor and environmental education, which took her from Alaska to New Mexico to Panama to the banks of the Mississippi River.

Mariama is ecstatic to work with and listen to the community along the North Fork of the Shenandoah River watershed to develop engaging, place-based educational programming and a more active engagement in science through long-term monitoring programs and citizen science. 

Daisy Blakely

Education Support Specialist

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Daisy started at Friends in May 2019 as a summer intern after graduating from Shenandoah University with a B.S in Environmental Studies. She currently works as our education support specialist helping with a variety of programs. 

Her interest in the environment grew from a young age experiencing the outdoors on family outings while camping, kayaking, and hiking, which she still enjoys doing whenever given the chance. She is interested more specifically on enhancing water quality, learning more about benthic macroinvertebrates and what they can tell us about rivers, and educating others about the river and environment. 

Volunteers

Our volunteers do the dirty work and have a lot of fun in service to the river.

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