Stephanie Benavidez is currently the supervising naturalist at the Lake Merritt Rotary Nature Center where she has been employed as a naturalist for over 38 years, since she graduated from Mills College.  Budget cutbacks have lead to Benavidez being the only full-time employee at the Center for the past few years, with only a part-time staff to run the classes, community programs and protect the wildlife.

Benavidez sees herself as Lake Merritt's protector and "keeper of the flame."  She has dedicated her entire adult life to overseeing the wildlife refuge, caring for the plant and animal life (including the beloved Canada Geese) at Lake Merritt.

During the summer Benavidez supervises "Touch the Earth" "Shake, Rattle & Roll" "Counselor in Training" and "Young Naturalist" summer camps for children, which teaches them a love of animals and nature, while employing local teens and young adults who gain valuable experience working as camp counselors.

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