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STAFF

Save The Whales focus is on education and outreach to school children, teachers and the public around the world. Staff members can be contacted through maris@savethewhales.org




Maris Sidenstecker I

Executive Director

Maris Sidenstecker I (M1) is co-founder of Save The Whales, founded in 1977. Without her there would be no Save The Whales. Maris grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin and was a journalism major at the University of Minnesota. She was managing a law office in Los Angeles, CA when her daughter (M2) designed the T-shirt that was their beginning. They took their messages and T-shirts to neighborhood and environmental fairs. Acting on a suggestion, M1 got nonprofit status for Save The Whales. She garnered publicity through print articles and television appearances where the daughter’s T-shirt and important message about whales could garner public attention. M1’s keen writing and editing skills have developed the excellent content of the website, e-newsletters, and educational materials.



Maris Sidenstecker IIMaris 2

Program Director/ Outreach Instructor

Maris Sidenstecker II (M2) is co-founder of Save The Whales, founded in 1977. She designed a T-shirt at the age of 14 to save the whales after reading how they were slaughtered and has carried the passion of protecting marine life throughout her life. She developed and implemented hands-on interactive classroom programs for school children and has educated over 280,000 students about protecting the fragile oceans and the life within it. As a student, she assisted with field research on orca pods in Washington State and British Columbia. M2 is also an accomplished artist and followed up her original T-shirt with other designs. B.A. double major in Marine Biology/Zoology from Humboldt State University, California. Awards: Educator of the Year award in 2007 from The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), 2009 Member of The Year by Madison Who's Who.



Tom Kieckhefer

Outreach Instructor, Program Development and Website Manager

Tom Kieckhefer infuses excitement and interest about protecting marine life in every class he visits in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties! His rich background in marine species research: humpback whales, killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, elephant seals, sea otters, sea birds, schooling fish and krill give him a vast resource to draw on when inspiring school children. Tom also did studies on Humphrey – the wayward humpback whale – who swam up the Sacramento River in CA. Students and teachers alike rave about Tom’s classes. M.S. Marine Science degree from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories/San Jose State University, California. His Master's Thesis was on the Feeding Ecology of Humpback Whales in Continental Shelf Waters near Cordell Bank, California.



Cheryl Butner

Education Specialist and Facebook Manager

Cheryl Butner has an M.A. in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, where her main focus was on Marine Conservation and Ecotourism in California and northwestern Mexico. She has also lived abroad in Spain, Guatemala, and Mexico. Cheryl has worked on several bilingual conservation projects on both sides of the border, including outreach and education to save the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita porpoise, from extinction. The Monterey Bay and the Sea of Cortez in Mexico are her favorite places on Earth and she loves to teach people about these areas so they can truly appreciate their uniqueness and the importance of protecting them for future generations.




Ray Villanueva

Storm Drain Stenciling Coordinator

Ray Villanueva is a retired public works employee from the City of Salinas, CA. Ray works with school children to stencil their school campus storm drains with the important message, “No Dumping Flows To Bay,” in English and Spanish. He imparts his enthusiasm about ocean protection during this activity with children and adults. Ray divides his time between plant restoration and storm drain stenciling, in order to help inspire others in his community to protect watersheds leading to the ocean.







Erin Ver Hage

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist

Erin Ver Hage is a recent graduate from California State University, Monterey Bay. Since 2011, she has assisted Save The Whales throughout the Monterey Bay area with educational outreach, storm drain emblem application, water monitoring of storm drain outfalls, and data entry. Upon graduation, Erin has focused on GIS mapping as a tool to assist local cities and the County of Monterey with updating information on their storm drain inlets and outfalls, and whether the inlets have been marked with educational emblems with the message “No Dumping Flows To Bay.” Erin’s passion for community outreach, GIS, and marine protection aligns with her passion to protect the oceans.




Susan Robinson

Grant Writer

Susan Robinson is a grant writer for Save The Whales and several other organizations in the Monterey Bay area, and is currently coordinating the planning effort for the Greater Monterey County Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. Her passion for education, water policy, and protecting the environment comes through in her writing. Susan's other full-time job is music. She tours nationally as part of a folk and old time duo with her husband, Dana Robinson (www.robinsongs.com).







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