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Staff & Volunteers

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Maya Briones
Educational Intern - Program Assisstant

" I thrive on two passions: ecology and environmental justice. One without the other feels incomplete. My experiences as an urban forester at Canopy, a habitat restoration intern at Grassroots Ecology, and a volunteer BioBlitz and citizen science coordinator with various nonprofits has shown me the imminent value and responsibility of involving the full community in both the planning and implementation of ecological projects.


As an undergrad at SJSU, I achieved both a BS in Environmental Studies and a minor degree in Mexican-American studies, giving me a well-rounded education focused on history and science. I am pursuing my master's in order to better live out my mission of teaching people about the environment through ecological projects, be they citizen science events or educational programming. It is my hope to gain experience working with Saved By Nature in order to work with communities that have historically not had access to nature and to implement quality education programs."


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Richard David Tejeda
Founder & Executive Director

Richard Tejeda is the Founder and Executive Director of Saved By Nature. Growing up in a drug and gang infested neighborhood in South San Jose, Richard is very familiar with the revolving door system many youth and adults can suffer due to social injustice.


When asked what nature means to him, Richard says, “Nature literally saved my life. I was supposed to be a statistic, but I couldn’t let that happen. I had to reinvent myself, and nature was a positive escape from the everyday negativity of my neighborhood. I made it out, and believe me, there were a lot of people that didn’t - all odds were against us. I think of that every day. Now I’m determined to change lives, and I plan to do that by using the same passions that transformed my life - that’s what this is all about. My name is Richard David Tejeda, and I have been.... Saved By Nature.


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Pictured above (left to right): Emily Van Poetsch, Arturo “Velaz” Muñoz, Denise Smith, Margaret Yoon, Matias Eusterbrock, Mayra Pelagio, Kenzie Ross, Pamela Campos, Leslie Anido, Robin Davis, Founder Richard Tejeda, Sean Reedy, Carlos Marquez, Luz Maria Marquez. 

Not pictured: Dawn Theirl

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Marcos Ortiz
Graphic Designer

The man behind the designs. Volunteer Marcos Ortiz has used his profound skills as a graphic designer to better the community around him. A skilled muralist (once frowned upon for his accidental run-ins with walls with a spray can in his younger years) he is a role model to our youth. Today, he is hired by business owners and advocates to create and paint beautiful murals on their walls of business; helping to attract customers, spread words of inspiration, as well as providing a visual eye treat to locals and tourists as they walkabout San Jose. 

Thank you for adding colour to our community Marcos!