Meet SYRCL’s River Captains!

SYRCL is excited to formally introduce our River Captains this summer season. Until Labor Day weekend, they will be stationed at popular South Yuba River crossings. They set up the River Ambassador booths and coordinate volunteers in order to educate and inspire river-goers to keep the Yuba clean, safe, and healthy.

We asked each captain what inspired them to apply for the role and what they love about the Yuba. You can find their answers below.

Jennifer Diaz, Bilingual Education & Outreach Coordinator/River Captain

Jennifer grew up by the Spokane River in Eastern Washington. She received her BA from The Evergreen State College with a concentration in psychology and sustainability studies. She worked in nutrition education and the social work field before becoming a River Captain with SYRCL.

What inspired you to apply to the River Captain position?

After I visited the South Yuba River for the first time, I knew there had to be a group of people preserving and protecting this special place. After doing some research I found SYRCL and read about the River Ambassador program. It aligned perfectly with my desire to become an advocate for not only the river but the entire watershed.

What do you love most about the Yuba River Watershed?

I love swimming against the current, sunbathing on huge rocks, and admiring the wildflowers. It’s always magical to spot an eagle, a family of quails, or a native plant that I hadn’t seen before. 

Maya Upton, River Captain

Maya grew up in the beautiful Nevada County foothills. After graduating from Nevada Union High School, she moved to Salt Lake City for her undergraduate studies.

What inspired you to apply to the River Captain position?

I was inspired to become a river captain because I love nature and love to make a difference in protecting it! As I am currently majoring in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and Geography, I was thrilled to work in the environment and have this job as a stepping stone for my future career! I have grown up around the Yuba River and have always thought of it as such a special and beautiful place. The thought of becoming a river captain and making a difference at one of my favorite places was exhilarating and I jumped at the chance to become part of SYRCL. 

What do you love most about the Yuba River Watershed?

I love the Yuba Watershed for its amazing and unique rocks. I have always loved rocks, I have baskets of them at my house that I’ve collected throughout my childhood. Every part of the yuba watershed is beautiful but the rocks have stood out to me my whole life. Thes rocks add such a unique touch to the Yuba making it so special and memorable to all. 

Russell Stabler, River Captain

After a long career as a medicinal chemist, Russell applied these skills to groundwater geochemistry. He worked on novel solutions to controlling water pH and dissolved metals. This was super fun background to have when he volunteered as one of SYRCL’s River Monitors.

What inspired you to apply to the River Captain position?

I enjoy the wilderness. Time hiking to remote areas of the Yuba Watershed, far and away from modern civilization renews my very soul. 

Hopefully as a River Captain I can impart a small sense of this spiritualism upon the visitors who trek here. Some unawares that the water is what their souls thirst for!

What do you love most about the Yuba River Watershed?

 The solitude found far up the canyons, a swim with my loyal dog, it’s my religion.

SYRCL is very excited to welcome these wonderful people to our team!

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