“I have found AloTerra to be an excellent collaborator and partner, producing high quality and technically sound projects in an efficient and 100% reliable manner”

~ Heather Knight, The Nature Conservancy of Colorado, Project Collaborator




John G. profile pic

John Giordanengo, M.S., CERP

John brings more than 24 years of experience in ecological restoration to AloTerra’s clients, and more than 200 completed projects in grassland, riparian, wetland, alpine, forest, and sagebrush ecosystems throughout Colorado, Wyoming, California, and Washington. His restoration strategies are driven not simply from a passion for accomplishing successful ecological results, but also from a deep understanding of soils, ecology, botany, hydrology, and the integration of these disciplines in a restoration setting. John’s dedication to excellence earned him the Colorado Riparian Association Excellence in Riparian Management Award in 2010.

John has developed native seed mixes and plant palettes for federal and state projects, as well as for numerous municipalities and private clients whose interest in the best ecological outcomes continues to press John to refine his knowledge and skills, as well as the skills of AloTerra’s staff. In addition to creating seeding BMP’s for Colorado State Parks and developing 157 seed mixes for all of Colorado’s State Parks, John also managed a team of Federal and local practitioners and scientists to implement a Stream Visual Assessment Protocol for 45 miles of the Big Thompson River and North Fork Big Thompson following the flood.

John has worked with regional, state, and local agencies to develop training curricula for willow restoration and riparian restoration, ecological restoration for the Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, and an Alpine Restoration Manual for the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. In 2016, in support of Rocky Mountain Flycasters and the Colorado Conservation Board, John lead a team of authors and a Technical Advisory Committee to develop Living Streambanks, a Manual to Bioengineering Treatments for Colorado Streams.

Education, Certification, and Training

M.S. Rangeland Ecosystem Science, with emphasis in ecological restoration and soil surface hydrology, Colorado State University, 2000

· Mine Safety and Health Administration Training (MSHA – surface, coal, metal, nonmetal) – Current

· Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (SER, 2017)

· Post-flood and Post-fire River Restoration  (2013-2014, D. Rosgen)

· Riparian revegetation (2006, NRCS)

· Wetland Delineation (2002, USACE)

· Functional Assessment of Colorado Wetlands (FACWet), 2015

· Rangeland restoration (1999, HAR)

John Plybon Profile PictureJon Plybon, MNRS, Restoration Ecologist / Construction Division Manager

Jon Plybon employs a wide skill set to manage ecological and biological assessments, and to supervise the diverse elements involved in restoration projects.  Managing interdisciplinary teams, is a strength that has led to many successful projects throughout Jon’s career. Growing up in Colorado, Jon often found himself in the woods, where exploration fostered an environmental ethic. The more he experienced nature, the more curious he became about human impact on natural systems. This led him towards an education to understand both the large picture and the practical, real-world processes of degradation and restoration. Jon completed an undergraduate degree in sustainability from Colorado Mountain College and went on to receive a Masters of Natural Resources Stewardship with a specialization in Ecological Restoration from Colorado State University.

Jon’s love of nature has inspired him to actively engage in the future of the planet and its inhabitants, both human and non-human. He finds refuge and renewal in natural settings, and his career in ecological restoration allows him a chance for reciprocity. His objective is to use his education and experience toward reconciliation between circumstances of ecosystem degradation and the rates those systems can once again become resilient. He is particularly interested in conservation biology, botany, biomimicry, citizen science, and ecopsychology.  He is a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby and the Society for Ecological Restoration.

Education, Certification, and Training

M.S. Natural Resources Stewardship, with emphasis in Ecological Restoration, Colorado State University

· Mine Safety and Health Administration Training (MSHA – surface, coal, metal, nonmetal) – Current

· Stream Restoration Design & Project Management

· Project Permitting & Regulatory Compliance

· Wetland Delineation & OHWM Surveys

· Stream Stability Assessments

· Ecological Restoration Design

· GIS Design & Analysis

· Ecological Research

· Interdisciplinary Communications

· Colorado Native Plant Master (2017, Larimer County Extension of CSU)

Lyz Bender, B.S., Restoration Project Supervisor & Wildlife Biologist

Growing up in Nashville, TN, Lyz volunteered for the Harpeth River Watershed which inspired her initial interest in ecological restoration. Since moving to Colorado, Lyz has been studying and working with wildlife and restoration for the past seven years. Following the 2012 Colorado Front Range floods, she has been involved with over a dozen erosion control and stream restoration projects in which she has lead revegetation crews of up to 20 members, completed Habitat Suitability Assessments, researched critical habitats of endangered species, and installed various erosion control and bioengineering treatments.

Working for AloTerra, Lyz supervises ecological restoration projects, trains and leads restoration crews, operates equipment, manages weeds, and provides a great variety of related services. Lyz also conducts wildlife reviews and completes reports associated with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. She holds two B.S. degrees from Colorado State University in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology and Natural Resources Management. Through her position at AloTerra she enjoys working every day to improve wildlife habitats across Colorado and Wyoming.

Education, Certification, and Training

B.S. Natural Resources Management. Colorado State University, 2016

B.S. Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Colorado State University, 2016

MSHA (surface, metal, coal, nonmetal) – current

· Wildlife Reviews and Section 7 (ESA) reporting

· Plant and Wildlife Identification

· Biological assessments and ecological field research in Colorado

· Conducting Biological Surveys and Habitat Suitability Assessments.

· Supervision of restoration projects in riparian and wetland habitats

· Equipment operation (ATV, skid loader, excavator)

· Weed Management

Sarah J. Smith, M.Sc., Restoration Ecologist I & Regulatory Compliance Specialist

Sarah has worked across the United States as a botanist and ecologist. In Florida, she worked with land managers across the state, evaluating restoration efforts on Wildlife Management Areas and providing feedback for improving diversity. This included leading a seed bank study in a sand pine plantation to inform restoration treatments. In Yellowstone National Park, Sarah worked across the Park completing wetlands delineations with USACE and NPS standards, rare plant surveys, and monitoring for wetland mitigation and restoration. For three years, she led a crew of four people, training and teaching them how to identify hydric soils, plant species using dichotomous keys, and a variety of vegetation surveys throughout the Park. For the Great Basin Institute, Sarah followed NRCS Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring protocol to evaluate BLM land in the Sonoran Desert to determine overall species composition. Data was used to govern placement of solar panels with as little impact to native and rare plant and animal species. In Big Thicket National Preserve, Sarah worked with the Natural Resources team to restore longleaf pine and update monitoring protocol for the rare and endemic Texas trailing phlox. Sarah actively educated the public about the importance of longleaf pine to southeastern forests by leading volunteer groups in planting longleaf pine seedlings. Since joining AloTerra, Sarah’s role has included designing wetland mitigation and restoration plans for a diverse array of projects throughout Colorado. Sarah also manages AloTerra’s regulatory compliance program and leads wetland delineations to USACE standards. Sarah’s wide range of experience has given her a thorough understanding of how dynamic and nuanced plant communities across the U.S. are, and the efforts required to maintain and increase structural and functional biodiversity at every level.

Education, Certification, and Training

M.Sc. Environmental and Plant Biology, Ohio University, 2019

B.Sc. Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, 2011

· Plant identification for the Southeast, desert Southwest, and Rocky Mountain regions

· Technical report writing, manuscript writing, publishing in peer reviewed journals

· Use of R and GIS for data analysis

· Experiment design and implementation

· Restoration and mitigation design

· Project management

· Operational Leadership Training (National Park Service)

· Aquatic Invasive Species Training (National Park Service)

· Herbicide Application Training (Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection)

· Project Management (AloTerra)

Joe DiMaria, B.S., GIS & Wetland Specialist

Joe’s diverse background and interests provide a range of skills that he applies to projects undertaken at AloTerra. His combined expertise in hydrologic measurements, wetland delineations, geospatial analysis, and performing field work in a variety of environments is motivated by an interest in the interactions between human activity and ecosystems.

Joe provides detailed GIS-based design work for AloTerra’s wide variety of projects, wetland delineations, and restoration design support. Joe completed his undergraduate work at Colorado State University majoring in Watershed Science. He became immersed in a myriad of research projects, spanning invasive species to fluvial geomorphology. Following graduation, Joe applied his training and experience in a broad range of professional activities. As a field technician with the Forest Service he worked throughout the Rocky Mountains as a field hydrologist in remote areas collecting data and providing leadership to field crews. He has developed a proficiency testing water quality using laboratory techniques and procedures. Joe continued broadening his skillset by consulting on groundwater remediation projects that took place throughout Colorado. His passion for wetland ecosystems has driven him to pursue as much experience and training as possible, which he continues to build upon to this day.

Education, Certification, and Training

B.S. Watershed Science, minor in GIS, Colorado State University, 2016

Richard Chinn Wetland Delineation Training

· Wetland delineations and USACE permitting

· Land surveying

· Geospatial analysis and ecological design

· Water quality testing and hydrologic measurements

· Soil and groundwater sampling

Connor Thornton, B.S., Restoration Project Supervisor & Qualified Weed Supervisor

Connor’s passion for restoring natural landscapes steams from his lifelong experiences spent in the outdoors. After graduating college in 2016, he has worked for AloTerra Restoration Services as a crew member, and worked his way up to crew leader and then restoration project supervisor. During that time, he gained experience with revegetation, erosion control, bio engineering, forest thinning, heavy equipment operating, weed management, surveying, grading, crew leadership, project site management, site safety, and environmental compliance. He has worked with various government agencies and private landowners developing weed management plans and supervising restoration projects on the Colorado Front Range. Connor has also led projects involving the use of heavy equipment to re-grade wetland benches and riparian banks, and in skidding and chipping timber. He has experience in felling, bucking, limbing and chipping of tress in some of Colorado’s mountainous terrain using everything from chainsaws to heavy equipment. Connor has completed restoration projects from Colorado’s Front Range up to alpine ecosystems, developing vast experience in multiple life zones and the challenges of restoring a great variety of plant communities in these zones. This experience has provided him with a fine understanding of hundreds of species that survive in all of Colorado’s life zones, and the detail necessary to ensure their successful establishment in a restoration setting.

Education, Certification, and Training

B.S Natural Resource Management, Ecological Restoration Minor, Conservation Biology Minor, Colorado State University, 2016

· Light and Heavy equipment operation (Excavator, skid loader, ATV)

· Weed management (chemical & mechanical)

· Restoration planning, crew training and supervision

· Forest thinning and chipping

· Education/Training

· Qualified Supervisor, Certified Operator, Herbicide Application, Colorado Department of Agriculture

· Mine Safety and Health Administration Training (MSHA – surface, coal, metal, nonmetal)

Claudia Strijek, Restoration Design Specialist & Wildlife Biologist

Claudia has been involved in habitat restoration and biology for over 20 years. She has worked on projects in a variety of western landscapes, primarily in Colorado’s Western Slope and Front Range. She has worked for numerous agencies like USGS and non-profit groups such as The Nature Conservancy. In addition to her vast knowledge of western ecosystems, she has an array of computer, GIS, restoration design, and business experience that she brings to AloTerra. Having had her own graphic design business for 25 years, Claudia produces professional marketing materials that speak to and inspire clients.

The project she is most proud of occurred in the Gunnison Valley and showcases her many skills. In 2013 she worked with The Nature Conservancy and other project partners to restore Gunnison Sage Grouse habitat. Over the course of several months she designed and conducted baseline vegetation monitoring, developed and proposed a corresponding bird monitoring protocol.

As a field ornithologist, Claudia has several years’ experience conducting bird and wildlife surveys. Point counts (sight and sound ID), nest searching, and mist netting are some of the field skills she has. Breeding bird mapping and data analysis in GIS rounds out her biological resume.

Niah Venable, Water Resources Specialist/Scientist I

Niah brings a diversity of natural resource management, earth science, data analysis, and technical writing experience to AloTerra. Her broad field experience ranges from cruising timber in the Northwoods, collecting tree-cores and rangeland vegetation data in the Khangai Mountains and central steppes of Mongolia, and teaching students to collect hydrometeorological and natural resource data in the Front Range and adjoining Rocky Mountains of Colorado. In addition to teaching several field and classroom-based watershed science courses at Colorado State University, Niah has published extensively on water-related topics, including snowpack properties and changing snowpack trends in the Rocky Mountains, the sedimentology and stratigraphy of shallow bedrock aquifers in Michigan, hydroclimatic change in Mongolia, and the use of indigenous knowledge with station-based hydrometeorological observations. Her post-doctoral work with the Colorado State Forest Service culminated in a collaborative report for the Colorado Water Conservation Board and Colorado Legislature entitled Forest Management to Protect Colorado’s Water Resources: A Synthesis Report to Support House Bill 16-255. She is working with AloTerra staff to develop science-based restoration solutions to meet the needs of clients and stakeholders.

Education, Certification, and Training

Ph.D. Earth Sciences, Watershed Science, Colorado State University, 2016

M.S. Earth Science, Hydrogeology, Western Michigan University, 2006

B.S. Forestry, minor in Geology, Oklahoma State University, 1997

· Technical writing and synthesis

· Research and data analysis

· Logistics, planning, and project management

· Education and outreach

· International and domestic project experience

· Wilderness First Aid and CPR (ECSI, 2018)

Cheryl Giordanengo Profile PictureCheryl Giordanengo, Controller

Cheryl is highly detail-oriented, analytical, and a systems thinker. She “runs in the background” at AloTerra, making sure all the systems are functioning smoothly, from payroll, human resources, bonding, financing, and insurance to payables and receivables. She brings over 20 years of experience in accounting for small locally owned companies and publicly traded companies and a depth of accounting knowledge to AloTerra. Because of her, AloTerra has the ability to manage well a variety of federal (FEMA and other federal financial tracking requirements), state (CPW, CWCB, and others), and local (County, City, and Private) financial accounting needs to ensure important details are handled right the first time.

Cheryl has served as Accounting Manager for a company with 80 employees and $6 million in annual sales and as a Senior General Ledger Accountant responsible for the international division and the corporate office accounting for a company with $1 billion in annual sales.  From this experience, as well as from her experience in accounting with several local and regional companies,  All of these skills and innate abilities make her a great accountant for a small business, as she leverages her top notch corporate accounting principles and practices to bear upon a local business environment in which she thrives. Her role with AloTerra also includes payroll, human resources, bonding, financing, and insurance.

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