Meet The Team
Jean Okuye Board Member
Jean Okuye has been an almond farmer with 73 acres near Livingston, Merced County since 1980. Her interests have focused on church, family, farming, and protecting our natural resources. Since retirement from teaching, she has kept busy volunteering in the community: serving on several boards; past president of Merced County Farm Bureau, a charter member of Valley Land Alliance, president of East Merced Resource Conservation District, past president Funeral Consumers Alliance of California (FCACA) and the affiliate, FCA Stanislaus & Merced Counties. She feels blessed to have good health and be actively able to give back to her community.
Trevor Hutton Secretary
Trevor Hutton grew up in Modesto, but spent the summers working on his family's sweet potato, peach, and almond farm in Livingston. After completing studies in music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he ended up working for an ag-biotech firm in the poultry industry for nine years before returning to the family farm in 2014. Trevor first became involved in issues surrounding environmental sustainability in college as a member of the UNC renewable energy special projects committee. In his spare time, Trevor enjoys live music performances, cooking, and playing board games.
Jake Magneson Treasurer
My name is Jake Magneson, and I've been working at my family's farm my entire life. I studied philosophy at CSU Stanislaus, and want to work towards a sustainable future for agriculture in the valley.
Peggy Hsu Board Member
After decades away, Peggy recently moved back to her hometown of Merced, eager to reconnect with the community and support sustainability-related issues in the region.
She studied design and architecture in graduate school, then ran a product design company for over ten years. In doing so, she saw first-hand the heavy toll that manufacturing and consumerism takes on the environment, so she closed her business to redirect her energy towards more purpose-driven work. She moved to Amsterdam, where she worked for an international NGO and consulted for a sustainable fashion marketplace. She recently returned to Merced to be closer to family and to raise her kids away from the stresses of big city life.
Inspired by her time in Amsterdam and by the importance of active transportation for a more sustainable future, Peggy is also a member of the Merced Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
Russ Speer Board Member
Russ was born and raised in Oakland, California. He attended UC at Berkeley and UC at San Francisco. Russ is a retired orthodontist who has always had a strong environmental consciousness.
Russ moved to Merced in 1999. He is working on many aspects of environmental restoration, both in the US and internationally. His focus is on restoring healthy soils and hydrology to degraded lands - agricultural, forest, and urban. He believes that once desiccated landscapes are hydrated and sufficient biomass has been allowed to flourish, severe weather events will become a thing of the past.
Along with being on the board of the Valley Land Alliance, Russ is on the Leadership Team of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate (bio4climate.org), a Principal at EcoRestoration Alliance (ecorestorationalliance.net), and a Co-Founder of Water Holistic West (waterholisticwest.com).