Our Staff

//Our Staff
Our Staff 2017-09-13T17:49:29+00:00



Principal Vegetation Ecologist and Production Manager

IMG_2395-1-Edit (300x300)Laura Hanson received her MS in Environmental Science at California State University, Hayward where she studied the ecology of eelgrass habitats in San Francisco Bay.  As a contributing scientist for the Wetlands Ecosystem Goals Project she wrote Plants of Shallow Subtidal Habitat and Tidal Flats and worked in conjunction with others on the Plants Focus Team. At the 2000 Cal Fed conference in Sacramento Laura presented data related to changes in invasive plant cover and a visual representation of changes in wetland species composition after tidal enhancement.

Laura has monitored vegetation changes at the Point Edith Marsh Complex and McNabney Marsh for Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District and Mt. View Sanitary District. She has conducted rare plant surveys and mapping for the federally listed Cordylanthus mollis ssp. mollis. Laura is a member of the McNabney Marsh Management and Advisory Committee. Working as a free-lance naturalist for local organizations she has participated in Save the Bay’s Canoes in Sloughs Program, leads native plant walks for California Native Plant Society and has held workshops on native plant propagation for Friends of Alhambra Creek, Alhambra Adult School, the Master Gardeners, and Richmond High School. Laura is a partner in The Watershed Nursery, a nursery dedicated to growing site-specific native plants providing services for use in restoration projects around San Francisco Bay.

Principal Vegetation Ecologist and Project Manager

Diana Benner received her M.S. in Ecology and Systematics from San Francisco State University with a research emphasis on the role of a parasitic plant on species distribution and abundance in a wetland community. In 2004 she presented her research at the California Estuarine Research Society’s conference and at the national conference of the Ecological Society of America. She received her B.S. in Marine Biology from U.C.S.C. with an emphasis on toxicology. Her undergraduate thesis focusing on the Toxicokinetics of Pentachlorophenol in Topsmelt was published in the Journal of Environmental Toxicology. Diana is also certified in Rapid Vegetation Assessment techniques by the California Native Plant Society.

A native to the San Francisco Bay area, Diana has worked locally as a biologist and naturalist focusing on wetland issues. She is currently the lead vegetation ecologist for the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves vegetation mapping project and recently conducted field work in a Cal Fed funded project comparing function of wetland systems with various restoration histories. Her work with the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the E.P.A. helped develop a rapid assessment method for wetlands. She also worked with the Regional Water Board and A.C.O.E. to assess methods to determine the success of riparian restoration projects. Coordinating with local school groups she has initiated restoration projects in riparian and bunch grass habitats and has worked as an independent contractor for Hanson and Associates in several wetland plant inventory projects in Contra Costa County. Diana is a partner in The Watershed Nursery, a nursery dedicated to growing site-specific native plants and providing services for use in restoration projects around San Francisco Bay.


Plant Health and Maintenance Specialist

Maggie’s practical knowledge comes from Cerritos College courses in horticulture although her interest in plants started with home gardening and tending indoor house plants. She takes care of the pruning and plant maintenance for The Watershed Nursery. At The Watershed Nursery, Maggie keeps mature plants healthy and beautiful by pruning, removing dead leaves and applying integrated pest management practices to keep the plants from becoming overwhelmed with non-beneficial insects or diseases. She also uses her background in art to create whimsical signs and hand painted pots that add color to the nursery.

ValentineGrounds Maintenance

Valentin came to work at the nursery January of 2010. He came to the nursery from his home in El Salvador where he owns a farm and had extensive experience in growing crops and managing plant and animal production. He moved here with his wife and one son and his two other children remain in El Salvador. Don Vale is responsible for general grounds keeping of the nursery. He does the hand watering of container and bed material, keeps his eyes out for pest and weeds, assists with potting up of larger plant material, organizes containers, helps load trucks, builds shade structures, reports on any new problems and basically has become an integral and indispensable part of the nursery.

Kristina_Chang.IMG_0099Assistant Production Manager

A Bay Area native, Kristina grew up in Berkeley surrounded by a garden full of fruit trees and vegetable beds. She eventually found her way to UC Davis where she studied Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry. Most recently she worked at the Presidio Native Plant Nursery in San Francisco where she learned to love and respect our California natives. In her spare time, you can find her playing outdoors, crafting, or hula dancing.

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Since the beginning of her horticultural education at UC Davis, Carly was interested in ecosystem restoration and the nursery business, naturally leading to her desire to work at a restoration nursery. While at UC Davis, she interned and worked at the nursery on campus, and found she has a passion for plant propagation. After graduating in December 2016 with a degree in Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry, Carly now works at two native plant nurseries and enjoys teaching gardening to elementary school students. Here, at The Watershed Nursery Carly cares for both plants and customers. In her free time, Carly likes to write stories and practice archery.


Teresa, Valentin’s wife, started working at The Watershed Nursery in January 2013 as a potter in the plant production process of the nursery. Her background in farming in El Salvador and charming nature make her a welcome addition to this part of the business. Teresa has also contributed to the nursery for several years by making our office sparking clean every week (not easy to do is a dirt based business 🙂

CAM01180 Landscape Gardener

Jessica grew up among Redwoods, tromping around in creeks and foraging for berries. When a friend introduced her to his garden, she realized and solidified her love for the living world around us. While earning a Bachelor’s in Geography from SFSU, she catalogued pollinators and plants in several gardens, learning first hand the value of native plants for pollinator habitat. At The Watershed Nursery she is responsible for designing and maintaining the health, beauty and aesthetics of the nursery gardens. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, fermenting, crafting, and dancing.

Isabel Hernandez (2)Potter

Isabel came to the nursery from El Salvador where she farmed Corn, Beans and Coffee. Since age 11 she would knock down weeds using a machete. It was her parents who taught her how to care for plants. At The Watershed Nursery she now pots up little baby seedlings by the thousands. Isabel has very nimble fingers as well as a strong back. From her native language of El Salvador, she has been learning English at a rapid pace and helping some of us with spanish in return.

Stefanie Homitz (1) editNursery Operations Manager

Stefanie studies Landscape Horticulture/Urban Agroecology at Merritt College in Oakland. Though she was born and raised a child of the concrete jungle, she fell in love with plants during summer camping trips to the Russian River in Northern California. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at Cal State East Bay, with a focus on environmental studies and social justice issues. While pursuing her B.A., Stefanie visited the Peruvian Amazon, and was astounded and inspired by the biodiversity and beauty of the Amazon rainforest. Upon return, she interned with the Pachamama Alliance, a non-profit that works to protect the Amazon region and empower indigenous tribes living within it. She hopes to start her own CSA where city kids can learn to farm and get in touch with nature, one day. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting and urban farming in downtown Oakland.

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Ken is a graduate of UC Berkeley where he studied the ecology of urban watersheds from an interdisciplinary perspective. After graduating, he worked at the university which focused on the transport of water through trees in context to California’s unprecedented drought. He possesses a strong passion for plants, especially natives, and enjoys caring for them. Now, Ken has joined the team at The Watershed Nursery to share his gardening and horticulture knowledge with customers who seek help. After hours, Ken enjoys camping, reading, and spending time with his family.

IMG_2612Assistant Project Manager

Matt’s interest in habitat enhancement was sparked when he planted his first willow cutting in the bank of a waterway at the Jepson Prairie Reserve.  He then realized this was the best way to fit himself in concert with the natural surroundings. After college he gained experience planting, collecting seed, and growing native California plants.  He deviated from his path a bit with forays into organic farming, soil ecology, and aquaculture.  After moving to Pt Richmond Matt feels fortunate to have landed so close to a California Native Plant Nursery although he was bemused to find most of the plant names have changed.  “A Potentilla by any other name…”.