Sierra College professor earns Conservator of the Year

By: Staff report
-A +A
A Sierra College botany professor was recently recognized as the 2009 Placer Conservator of the Year. Placer Land Trust presented Joe Medeiros with the 2009 Placer Conservator Award at a fundraising dinner on July 18 at High Hand Nursery in Loomis. The Placer Conservator Award honors extraordinary individuals who enrich the quality of life in Placer County through resource conservation. A native of the San Joaquin Valley, Medeiros said he watched thousands of acres of native grasslands, wetlands and riparian forests fall to the plow and the chainsaw. He grew up on a dairy farm but traveled to the Sierra Nevada in the summers to escape the stifling heat. “I fell forever in love with wild places, wild creatures and all the incredible processes that enable life to exist on Earth,” Medeiros said. As a means of sharing his passion for the outdoors and environment, Medeiros dedicated 33 years to the California Community College system. He taught botany and biology at Modesto Junior College from 1974-1990 and was the founder and past executive director of the Great Valley Museum of Natural History at the college. From 1990-2009 he taught botany, ecology and environmental studies at Sierra College in Rocklin. During his tenure he was the first faculty advisor of ECOStudents, Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students, voted faculty of the year (chosen by academic senate), teacher of the year (chosen by students) and received a Lifetime Achievement Award. “Joe has inspired a new generation of conservationists. He helped students recognize the significance of their impact on the planet,” said Justin Wages, PLT’s land management technician and a former student of Medeiros’. “He’s the reason I’m here working for PLT.” In addition, Medeiros also served nine years as a National Park Ranger (naturalist) at Devil’s Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, was instrumental in the massive expansion of Henry Coe State Park in Morgan Hill, and helped in the establishment of Great Valley Grasslands State Park in Gustine. "As someone who has worked with Joe for many years on Sierra College projects related to Placer County and the Sierra Nevada, I can truthfully say that I have never met anyone who has shown as much passion and respect for and commitment to the land as Joe Medeiros. He richly deserves the Placer Land Trust Conservator of the Year Award," said Gary Noy, founder and director of the Sierra College Center for Sierra Nevada Studies.