DEREK POULTNEY, Executive Director, joined the Conservancy in February 2010 after 5 years at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC) and five prior years of environmental consulting and field biology work. Along with volunteering for various non-profit environmental groups, Derek earned a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from CSU-Fullerton and a B.A. in Music Composition (with significant environmental coursework) from UCSB. At OVLC, he managed a variety of wetland restoration projects in the upper Ventura River watershed and now leads the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy's efforts to preserve and improve wildlife habitat and outdoor recreational opportunities throughout Ventura. Along with spending time with his wife and kids, Derek enjoys music, wildlife and hiking. Get in touch with him at:


staff_dashiell.jpgDASHIELL DUNKELL, Conservation Director, rejoined the VHC staff in July, 2016 after spending 12 months in Colombia, South America working on environmental issues and learning Spanish. Dashiell, who previously served as VHC's Development and Conservation Projects Manager, now splits his time between managing VHC properties and working in the office. Dashiell grew up in Santa Cruz, and has held a lifelong interest in science and the natural world. While attending UCSB, he earned a B.S. degree in Aquatic Biology with honors, and volunteered with the campus Wetlands Restoration Project. Dashiell later received an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Management, with a certificate in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In Hawaii he worked on wetland science and restoration projects, and his research on impacts of feral pigs on water quality resulted in two published peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals. When not studying nature, he loves to surf and work in the garden. Email Dashiell at:


Adrienne_Stephens._smaller.jpgADRIENNE STEPHENS, Development and Marketing Director, joined the Conservancy in August, 2015. A long-time Ventura resident who has worked in the public relations,community outreach and marketing fields for most of her professional career, Adrienne holds a B.S. in Business Economics from U.C.S.B. and is passionate about keeping the public, press and Conservancy's growing member base informed, excited and engaged in the Conservancy's mission, projects and successes. When not at work, Adrienne enjoys hiking, biking, cooking and spending time with her husband, three kids and Australian Shepherd, Sydney. Email Adrienne at:


 Smaller.JessPic.jpgJESSICA WEST (formerly Jessica Nikolai), Stewardship and Education Manager, joined the Conservancy in November of 2015. Jessica has experience leading educational programming in California State Parks, museums, and other natural settings; caretaking animals in zoos and outreach organizations while overseeing volunteers; and helping to manage wildlife in Yosemite National Park. She possesses a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Humboldt State University, as well as a certificate of completion in Exotic Animal Training and Management from the Moorpark College EATM program and a California Naturalist certification from the University of California program. An avid hiker and generally outdoorsy-gal, Jessica loves the incredible diversity of California’s flora and fauna. She has a passion for urban ecology and human/wildlife conflict resolution, and is excited to connect Ventura residents to their own backyard and beyond! Contact Jessica at:


Employment Opportunities

The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is an equal opportunity employer. As a small non-profit land trust, we do a lot with just a small staff. Please see below for any job openings. We also offer internships for qualified students and graduates in interested in learning more about land conservation and the work we do, see our volunteer page for more details. Volunteers are integral to our fight to preserve open space and restore natural areas in Ventura, if you are interested in getting involved please fill out the form here, or contact the VHC office.


The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy has several internship positions available.

If interested, contact Adrienne Stephens: or (805) 643-8044.




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