Our Staff

Meet Our Staff


Torey Byington

Executive Director

Environmental and outdoor education is Torey's passion. Although her career has taken some turns, it has always involved that devotion to taking the classroom outdoors. After earning an Environmental Studies and Science degree from University of Michigan in 1998, she moved to Sacramento to work with Naturalists At Large, teaching outdoor education and recreation to students. She gained a great deal of skills and experience holding a collaborative position with the non-profit Yolo Basin Foundation and California Department of Fish and Game. And she deepened her understanding of the value of outdoor education for under-served communities as the Environmental Director for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Most recently, she and her husband ran a residential environmental education campus called Ebersole in Michigan for over 10 years. Torey became Executive Director of Effie Yeaw Nature Center in February 2018 and is loving it! In her free time, she loves hiking, backpacking, fishing, kayaking, riding dirt bikes, snowshoeing, snowboarding, watching her son skateboard and playing with their dog, Schotzi.


Brena Seck

Lead Naturalist/Lead Instructor (UCNP)

Brena Seck has been a naturalist at Effie Yeaw Nature Center since 1999. After graduating from University of California C Davis with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology she briefly worked as a field biologist but yearned for a place where she could be around wildlife and have people to talk to. She discovered the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, and it was the right fit! Brena leads the Maidu Cultural Programs during the school year, and enjoys being a nature camp leader over the summer, especially when she takes the campers fishing and rafting! Brena is also the coordinator and lead instructor for the UC California Naturalist Certification Course offered at Effie Yeaw Nature Center.

Kristen Angelini


Since early childhood, Kristen has been incredibly fascinated by all animals, constantly asking her parents to take her to zoos and museums so she could learn more. When Kristen was living in the Bay Area as a child, their neighbors called her family "The Doolittles" because they always had a variety of animals in their home! Kristen is currently studying Wildlife Biology, Zoology, and plans on continuing her education in Marine Biology. She has held several animal-related volunteer positions throughout her life and began volunteering at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in early 2018. She quickly fell in love with the animals, the nature, and the people and was honored to accept the opportunity to join this amazing team in August. On top of being an animal lover, Kristen is also a huge prehistoric animal nerd! And in her free time she loves to play ukulele, visit museums, read, take her dogs to the river, and travel anywhere and everywhere she can. Kristen says "I love exploring the nature, history, and culture of new places and sharing the knowledge with the people around me!"

Parker Stewart


As a young boy, Parker was always captivated by animals from all over the world. His passion was fueled by his grandma, who began volunteering at the Sacramento Zoo in 1998. Parker attended Humboldt State University and graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies. After college it was off to Moab, Utah where he worked as a seasonal park ranger for almost a year. Then he began working as a Naturalist at Whiskeytown Environmental School near Redding, California. Due to the Carr fire of 2018 Parker lost his job in Whiskeytown which led him to Effie Yeaw Nature Center. He has a passion for the conservation and preservation of wild spaces as well as educating the public about all things wilderness. Some of his hobbies include backpacking, hiking, playing soccer, and traveling.

Sara Tabatabai


Sara grew up with a love and fascination with nature and all the amazing species that live in it. That love was paired with respect and a desire to do all she could to safeguard the natural world. It wasn’t until taking an environmental science course in community college that she realized she wanted to pursue a study and career in the environmental field. Sara received her BA at the University of CA Los Angeles in Environmental Studies/Geography and recently graduated from New York University with an MA in Environmental Conservation Education. During her time in New York City, she interned as an environmental educator at Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center, the American Museum of Natural History, and More Gardens! Fund. After moving back to California, Sara found a new home, closer to family, in East Sacramento where she also found a place at Effie Yeaw Nature Center, and she has been loving it ever since.

Angie Cha


There's something about the water that calls out to Angie. She is always looking for an adventure when hiking trails that takes her right to a good view of rivers, oceans, lakes, etc... Her passion is to establish the enjoyment of hands on learning and growing through recreational and leisure activities, especially with youth. For example, Angie is also a team leader at a school garden program and teaches students about the importance of fruits and vegetables in addition to cooking healthy lunches with them. Furthermore, she completed her internship in Missouri as a camp counselor and received her BS in Recreation Administration and a minor in Business Administration. In her free time, if Angie's not getting herself lost in the beauty of the nature itself, she's working hard on completing a book which she hopes to publish one day.


Heather Gabel

Animal Care Supervisor

Heather worked as a zookeeper for several years before joining the staff at Effie Yeaw. During that time, her love of animals and nature deepened. With that came a passion for conservation. She is grateful that her work at the Nature Center allows her to educate the public about the important role they play in protecting the planet and all of its inhabitants.

Jackie DeWeese

Animal Care Specialist

Jackie began as a volunteer in animal care and loved it so much that she joined the team in 2015. Jackie can be found at the Nature Center on weekdays and some weekends handling animals and educating visitors about how these educational ambassadors came to live with us.


Rachael Cowan

Volunteer Coordinator

Rachael, aka “Birdnerd,” is a lifelong Californian who holds a lifelong passion for the natural world. Her interests led her to focus on science education within the Liberal Studies program at California State University Chico. After a career of managing association membership and education programs, she happily switched back to her roots in nature and education and joined the team at Effie Yeaw Nature Center. As Education Coordinator and Naturalist Rachael enjoyed training and working alongside the docents and other volunteers who support the center. In December 2018, she transitioned into the role of Volunteer Coordinator! Rachael enjoys birding by ear and geeks out on astronomy, weather, geology, wildflowers, insects and mushrooms.

Rudy Davis

Weekend Receptionist

A native of Queens, New York, Rudy moved to California with his mother and brothers. Rudy is a ten year US Army Veteran, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Project Management, from American InterContinental University. Rudy started working for EYNC over 15 years ago. He is proud to still be here and, like Effie Yeaw was known for, using nature to teach our youth how to flourish in our society. Rudy respects what Effie stands for, and other than the preserve being here, he says it reminds him of Central Park in New York, and he loves it here. Rudy says ”Nature, my parents and the NY neighborhood taught me Humility, Love, and Peace, and how we can use it to teach each other with a passion.”

Heather Gabel

Development Associate

Heather worked as a zookeeper for several years before joining the staff at Effie Yeaw. During that time, her love of animals and nature deepened. With that came a passion for conservation. She is grateful that her work at the Nature Center allows her to educate the public about the important role they play in protecting the planet and all of its inhabitants.

Kimberly Rider

Administrative Manager

Kimberly grew up in Folsom, California, earned her Bachelors Degree in Art Studio at Sac State University and then moved, spending many years living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Bellevue, Washington. In 2015 she moved back to Sacramento and took a job with a company that promoted volunteer work. She decided to volunteer at Effie Yeaw Nature Center and promptly fell in love. She became a regular volunteer on Sunday afternoons, enjoying "chatting up" nature with the public. We were lucky to have her join the Nature Center staff in November 2017. Kimberly loves to get out and go on walks through the preserve.

Janay Sawdon

Weekend Receptionist

Janay is practically a resident at the Nature Center, having worked here for over 15 years! She serves as one of our weekend receptionists in our Visitor Center. You’re likely to see her on Sundays helping guests purchase parking passes or gifts from our Discovery Shop, or handing out trail maps to groups of explorers!

Jaclyn Teofilo

Development Coordinator

Jaclyn joined the EYNC team in February 2012. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology at California State University Sacramento. In her role at EYNC Jaclyn coordinates events, assists with fundraising and manages memberships. She can also occasionally be found hosting a day camp, providing trail tours, or introducing visitors to our resident birds. In her spare time, Jaclyn enjoys spending time with her family, and being constantly amused by her energetic young son.

Dorothy Wagner

Administrative Assistant

After working as a choir director/teacher’s aide in an elementary school for 16 years, Dorothy started as an EYNC volunteer in August 2014. She greeted visitors while working in the Discovery Shop, learned to care for the raptors and other critters in Animal Care, helped in Development and with the annual Art Gala fundraiser. She is now the Center's assistant to the administrative manager, scheduling Nature Area Tours and classroom outreach programs. In her spare time, she enjoys camping, crafting, music and drawing.

Steven Wolcott

Grounds and Building Maintenance

Steven has worked at the Nature Center as long as some of our senior staff! He keeps the grounds of the Nature Center well-maintained and keeps the building in tip-top shape. You may find Steven driving around the center in our GEM car, blowing leaves off the sidewalk or working on a squeaky door. If you see him, say hi!

Tova Fleming

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Currently, Tova is in the final stages of completing her master’s degree in Humboldt State University’s Environment and Community program, and has a background in non-profit administration, communication, and environmental education. She has a passion for the power of story to change the world, a deep love of animals, of the natural world, and of wonder-filled moments. She believes there is no better way to grow people’s love of place and their desire to care for the world than through direct hands-on experience. When not out on the trail, you can find her teaching or practicing yoga and meditation, playing music with friends, reading books (stacks and stacks of books) and hanging out with her dog and two cats.

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