Mountain Watch Welcomes New Stewards

Once Iris Clearwater, our Stewardship Coordinatior and Nursery Manager, announced that she would be leaving us, the hunt was on for her replacement - a seemingly impossible job. Her 1 year tenure was WAY too short, but her desire to be close to family back East sort of trumped everything. She will be missed. Her replacements will be 2 people - each working part time.

Ariel Cherbowsky will be the new Stewardship Coordinator. Ariel will be busy assessing prime restoration sites on the mountain - some old and some new. He will recruit and train volunteers and interns to work on stewardship restoration projects. There's a lot involved - plus he will work closely with the incoming nursery manager.

Ildiko Polony is our new Mission Blue Nursery Manager. The nursery has become a huge success and is an ongoing source of revenue for Mountain Watch - plus it's an important link to the native gardening community in the Bay Area and habitat restoration projects in the county. Managing the nursery is a big job - Ildiko will run the nursery with the help of volunteers and interns, with new volunteers always welcome.

Ariel Cherbowsky was born in Mexico City and grew up mainly in Encinitas, California, near the wonderful San Elijo Lagoon, a coastal estuary where he first tasted the fruitful work of habitat restoration. He continued to cultivate a passion for the diverse activities that encompass ecological restoration during his studies at UC Berkeley as a steward of Strawberry Creek and its watershed.

Ariel spent the last year helping lead restoration events in coastal San Mateo County at Mori Point, Milagra Ridge, and Rancho Corral de Tierra with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

He is passionate about historical ecology, the democratic promise of community-based restoration, bioregionalism, environmental art and poetry, and the magic of remnant ecosystems in a massively altered world.

Ariel is inspired by all who have been involved in San Bruno Mountain Watch, like many others working to protect nature in their backyard. He is deeply committed to improving the health of the Mountain and helping facilitate more loving connections between it and the communities that surround it.

Ildiko Polony has been a lifelong environmentalist. She mostly focused on advocacy for action on climate change - until she started gardening in her San Francisco backyard and discovered local wildlife. Asking herself the question, “how could I foster the birds, bees, butterflies, and surprisingly diverse wildlife I see,” the answer came in planting locally adapted California native plants. She quickly became a native plant fanatic, a habitat restoration gardener and knew the direction her life would now take.

A year later, she graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Conservation and Resource Studies, completing her thesis titled “Connecting People, Connecting Wildlife: A Bicycle Wildlife Corridor on Arguello Boulevard in San Francisco.” Since graduation she has worked at Larner Seeds, a California Native Plant Seed Company, worked as a backyard habitat landscaper and is currently a coordinator for Nature in the City’s Backyard Native Nursery Network. She is thrilled to join San Bruno Mountain Watch to help nurture native plants for restoration on the mountain and to work with all the talented and dedicated volunteers to continue the legacy of conservation and restoration.

Ildiko is also a professional modern dancer.

Stewardship of the Mountain is important - there are several opportunites to participate, both in the nursery and in the field. Check out all of our Stewardship Volunteer Programs - something for everyone!