RCD StaffMeet Our Team of Specialists
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Paul Robins

Executive Director

Paul joined the RCD of Monterey County in July 2008 after serving as the Executive Director of Yolo County Resource Conservation District since 2000, before which he served YCRCD as Program Manager from 1995-2000 directing on-farm agronomic and natural resource management projects and monitoring, as well as outreach. The focus of his career has been on the interactions between agriculture, water quality, and wildlife habitat in California, with emphasis on the use of native vegetation systems and communicating their application to farmers and the public. Paul’s education includes an MS in Community Development and BS degrees in International Agricultural Development and Landscape Architecture from UC Davis.

(831) 975-7775   |     |   LinkedIn



Ben Burgoa

Program Engineer

Ben joined the RCD of Monterey County in July 2013. He spent six years as an Associate Professor in the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo where he taught and performed research related to on-farm irrigation management and ways to improve the efficiency and reliability of irrigation water delivery systems. Ben’s other experience includes design and evaluation of irrigation, pumping and distribution systems, and water management practices in field and greenhouse seed production, the study of runoff and leaching losses of pesticides and nutrients from soils, and measuring movement of contaminated sediments in watersheds during storm events. Ben has a BS in Agronomy and Agricultural Engineering from the University of Panama, MS and PhD degrees in Soil Science from the University of Florida, and a MS in Water Engineering from the California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. His areas of interest are water movement and nutrient transport in soil, soil-water-crop relationships, and water resources engineering.

(831) 975-7759  |  



Desideria Ramirez, PE

Civil Engineer

Desi joined the RCD of Monterey County in April 2017. She spent 5 years as Area Engineer for NRCS where she managed engineering workload and technical oversight for NRCS projects in 14 counties. Prior to that, for 6 years she was a Field Office Engineer in Monterey, Imperial, and Ventura counties. In 2009, she became a licensed Professional Civil Engineer in California. In 2005, Desi received her BS in Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University. She was born in the Imperial Valley with a family background in farm labor, labor contracting, and farming. Her engineering experience is centered around agricultural needs for erosion control, water conveyance (irrigation and stockwater), drainage, animal waste management, habitat restoration, and regulatory compliance.

(831) 975-7765   |  



Emily Zefferman


Emily became an RCD Monterey employee in April 2016. She was previously a Research Associate in Urban Ecological Restoration at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she led the first ecological inventory of Knoxville's Urban Wilderness. Emily received her PhD in Ecology with an emphasis in Restoration, as well as a certificate in Conservation Management, from the University of California Davis in 2014. Her dissertation research focused on the effects of stream and riparian restoration and management on aquatic plant communities, and she got hands-on restoration experience volunteering for the Putah Creek Council and the Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship program. Before graduate school, Emily worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on water quality criteria development. She received her BS in Environmental Studies from Florida State University. Emily's research and professional interests include native habitat restoration, invasive species management, and conservation planning. She is committed to finding equitable, science-based solutions to ecological challenges.

(831) 975-7761   |     |   LinkedIn



Megan Barker

Project Administrator

Megan came to the RCD in September 2016 initially as a Biological Monitor for the Salinas River Stream Maintenance Program. She currently supports the RCD as the Project Administrator, assisting staff with project and program permitting, reporting, and communications. She was previously an environmental scientist at Cardno from 2013-2015, working on a variety of projects including permitting and compliance, environmental communications, and construction monitoring. She received her Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from University of California Santa Barbara, where she focused on water resources and pollution prevention, and a BA in Anthropology and Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz.

(831) 975-7747 |  



Esther Haile

Field Biologist

Esther joined the RCD as a field biologist in March 2016. She is a recent graduate from CSU Monterey Bay with a Bachelors degree in Biology. She has worked to monitor the Western Snowy Plovers population along the Monterey Bay beaches and to improve flood control along the Salinas River. She has conducted research on the distribution of birds in the Moss Landing Wildlife Area and monitoring the overwintering population of Monarch Butterflies in Monterey Bay. She plans on continuing to study birds, their environment, and the effects human interactions and disturbances have on bird populations.