Meet Metha Klock, MALT’s New Director of Stewardship

July 17, 2023

Friends, meet Metha Klock.

As our new director of stewardship, Metha joined in May of this year to help guide our land stewardship efforts. We’re thrilled to have Metha onboard to complement our already robust team of land stewards.

There has never been a more important time for our land stewardship work to thrive. It is now widely recognized that land conservation and stewardship are central in our efforts to stabilize the planet’s climate. Our local farms and ranches provide the opportunity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, offer refuge for our imperiled biodiversity, and nourish our communities with clean air and water.

Metha is a native of Marin County and has worked for over 20 years in the fields of land conservation, ecological restoration, and invasive species research and management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College, a masters degree in forestry and PhD in biological sciences from Louisiana State University. She also completed a post-doctoral appointment at Cornell University, researching legume cover crops for organic farming. 

As a community-based conservation organization, MALT is a product of a tight-knit community of local ranchers and farmers, public agency partners, and a dedicated base of supporters. Our work is made possible through these relationships and the connections we have with one another. 

Watch the video, read our Q&A below and please welcome Metha as one of our newest members of MALT’s community.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your connection to West Marin and your connection to the land.

I have a long-term connection to this area. My grandfather grew up in Fairfax and was just always out on the land and he really instilled that connection for me.

He actually went to Tam High and he would cut class in the middle of the period to go out and check his traps that he had running out on Mount Tamalpais. This was during the depression when many folks didn’t have a lot of money, didn’t have food all the time, and so that was just one way that he had to help feed his family.

He spent so much of his life really traveling those trails, exploring the outdoor areas in West Marin, and he passed that down to my mom as well. So, I formed that love of nature and that connection with this area from really the beginning of my life.

Q. How did you get your start in land stewardship?

I got my start with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area at the Marin Headlands Native Plant Nursery. A typical day out there was amazing because I was living in those old army barracks that they have out in Fort Cronkite, and they had transitioned them into intern housing. I was 10 steps from the nursery itself.

We were growing native plants for restoration purposes and for bigger projects that were happening primarily within that watershed. So we would tend to the plants, make sure that they were surviving, water them, see if they needed any fertilizer.

My role was also doing seed collection. Part of my job was hiking around the Marin Headlands, learning how to identify native plants and collecting seeds at the appropriate time, bringing them back and storing them until we needed to grow them for restoration purposes. It was a great introduction into the field of land stewardship and restoration ecology.

Aerial view of Marin's thriving ranchlands. MALT

Marin County’s working and natural lands comprise one of the most biologically diverse regions of the planet. Stewarding this landscape is essential for the wellbeing of all local residents.

Q. From your experience, what is the best way to communicate the complexities of conservation science?

I had a moment of realization about this out at Muir Woods when we were doing native plantings. There’s a lot of tourists and people that come by and one day this fellow just stopped and asked me what I was doing. We had a nice long conversation about why I was planting tiny redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana) in the understory of these towering redwood trees. I got to explain to him the big purpose of why we were doing restoration, why we were planting these plants, what the real goal was of that, what that bigger picture of supporting those habitats was.

For me, it’s those smaller moments, those personal connections where the science can get communicated that it feels like I can really connect and explain the complexities of conservation science.

Q. From your experience, what is the best way to inform local land holders about the latest in the academic world of land stewardship? How do we best bridge the gap between the latest science and the boots on the ground?

This is something that as a board member for the California Invasive Plant Council I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately. Part of the solution is for supportive organizations like MALT to help weave together and distill this information. There is so much information for a land holder to process on any given topic. I see our role as helping make that information more easily digestible, like one-page summaries on recent scientific research, for example, so folks can continue to focus on implementation.

Another thing that I’ve been thinking, and I know MALT has already done some of this, is to develop workshops where people, both within the MALT staff and outside experts, could come and give more broken-down examples and discussions of what their research is and talk about the application aspect of their work. Again, the focus needs to be on helping distill this information and making it useful for practical application on the ground.

Q. Why MALT? What about this position gets you most excited?

MALT is making such amazing forward strides in being able to connect with people who are doing agriculture in a really positive way. And I’m excited to play a small part in this work. It’s a model for community-based conservation that serves such a positive role for agriculture and how land management can and should be approached around the world.

We’re living in such an incredibly historic moment and we’re on the precipice of an unknown climate future. Being able to come to work every day and feel that I’m able to contribute to building a brighter future and to help local land holders tend to this amazing landscape — it’s an incredibly rewarding profession and I’m lucky to be here.

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