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Board of Directors

EMRCD is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of local landowners. The EMRCD board members collaborate with private and public landowners to address natural resource concerns on their property utilizing Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to enhance conservation awareness in the community. Click the following link to view the Resource Conservation District Guidebook volume 1. A guide to district operations and management.

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Shirish Shah


Shirish Shah has been involved in agriculture since 2007.  What began as a hobby evolved into a passion for nurturing the environment. Prior to farming, Shirish worked as a material engineer in the semiconductor and solar industries for 20+ years with 5 awarded patents. Shirish has an M.S. in Chemistry from San Jose State University.  Conserving resources and maintaining nature's equilibrium is Shirish’s main priority.  

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Jean Okuye

Vice President

Learn More about Jean's Farm

Jean Okuye and family took over the Okuye Farm in Livingston in 1980.  Since that time Jean has been involved in protecting farmland, putting the farm in the Williamson Act and establishing an easement which the California  Farmland Trust monitors to make sure the land stays in farming for perpetuity.

She also is a charter member of Valley Land Alliance, a board member of Merced County Farm Bureau and participates on the advisory committee for Merced County Association of Governments.

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Bob Bliss has been a member of the EMRCD board since 1967. Throughout the years he has found membership on the board to be a rewarding and positive experience. 

Bob Bliss

Board Secretary


Board Treasurer

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Lynn Sullivan


Lynn Sullivan is a dedicated restoration advocate for the Merced River. For over forty years, she and her husband, Michael, with some help from NRCS and USFWS, Partners for Wildlife, have transformed dredging tailings into native riparian habitats with remarkable success. They have witnessed the insects, birds, and mammals return in great abundance.


She received her bachelor's from California State University, Fresno, in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology and a minor in Chemistry. All along, she has been growing pistachios and educating the public within the field of urology; later, she obtained her advanced degree from the University of California, Merced in Environmental Systems, with an emphasis in Hydrology. Lynn lecturers several environmental engineering courses where students can reflect and synthesize cutting-edge technology relevant to sustainability. Most students pledge a greater social awareness.


Lynn enjoys traveling to regions of high biodiversity loss to SCUBA, photographing, and imparting her stories to her students. She has been actively involved with the Salmonids in the Classroom Project and Sierra Nevada Research Institute over the decades. Lynn is an All-American Swimmer in High School, College and a Master Swimmer. You may find her at the UC Merced Swimming Pool.


Reyn Akiona


Reyn Akiona is a San Joaquin Valley ecologist and the Executive Director and owner of the ecological services company, Valley Eco. He has spent his career implementing habitat restoration and lands management in the San Joaquin Valley of California. His focus is on building partnerships and cross-applying ecological and agronomic principles to maximize ecological benefit, impact, and sustainability of the landscape.


Past work with USFWS, agriculture, and conservation nonprofits is core to his perspective on land management. He holds a BS in Biology, minor in Chemistry, and an MS in Ecology and Sustainability from California State University, Stanislaus.  Aside from managing Valley Eco, he currently serves as a watershed coordinator in the Tule Subbasin and agricultural instructor at Modesto Junior College, and he holds a seat on the local Resource Conservation District board.  Reyn’s experience in natural resource management will augment the team’s capacity to evaluate the natural resource implications of a shifting ESG framework for specialty agriculture and resource management.

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