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Friends of the North Fork has a small staff  who assist dozens of volunteers providing hundreds of hours of effort every year.

Cindy Frenzel, Education Coordinator

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Cindy has served as the Environmental Education Coordinator for Friends of the North Fork since 2007. Over the years she has built our program of broad civic engagement in the schools and the community. Cindy has developed countless partnerships with other groups and agencies and has also provided river programs and workshops for all ages.

Cindy’s background includes working in fire prevention education with the Virginia Department of Forestry for 14 years. She has also served as a park ranger for federal, state and historical parks, including New Market Battlefield. She currently serves as an on-call Fire Prevention Team Leader and Information Officer for the US Forest Service nationwide.

She received her degree in Forestry and Resources Management from Virginia Tech.

Concha Mendoza, Operations Manager

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As a high school student, Concha volunteered for Friends in 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.

John Eckman, Executive Director

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John joined Friends as Executive Director in 2014. This move followed a long career with environmental and education organizations. Most recently he worked locally as Executive Director of Valley Conservation Council, helping landowners conserve their properties and promoting better models for development in the region. John is former chair of the Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council, served ten years on the board of the Virginia Conservation Network, and is current Treasurer of the Shenandoah Valley Pure Water Forum.

Earlier in his career, John taught Earth Science in Rockingham County’s Spotswood High School and worked in outdoor wilderness education on Spruce Knob in West Virginia.  He also served as the Chief Administrative Officer of The Mountain Institute, an international organization focused on conservation and sustainable development in Nepal, Tibet, Peru, and elsewhere.  John spent several years researching and advocating for place-based education and served as Information Officer for a national group, the Rural School and Community Trust.

John is a graduate of James Madison University and holds an MA in Environment and Community from Antioch University.

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

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