Welcome New CivicSpark Fellows

Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2018

  Welcome, New CivicSpark Fellows!

CivicSpark Central Inland Regional Team during their 50 Bikes for 50 Kids Service Event — The Water Forum’s Fellows are Kat Perkins (Top row, second from left) and Cassie Miller (Top Row, second from right)

The Water Forum is excited to introduce our two new CivicSpark Fellows who joined our team in November, and will work with us during their 11-month fellowship!


What is CivicSpark?

Map illustrating placement sites of CivicSpark Fellows

CivicSpark was launched in 2014 as a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program as a dedicated way to build capacity for local Californian governments to address climate change and water management issues. The program, administered by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, offers two Fellowship tracks: CivicSpark Climate (50 fellows) and CivicSpark Water (20 fellows). The fellows working at the Water Forum are both members of the Water track.

The 70 Fellows are placed in 7 regions across California, extending from urban centers to rural areas, north to south, and coastal to inland. The Fellows work with local governments to assist their agency’s response to climate change and water management through direct agency support, fostering regional partnerships, and supporting community engagement. Over the course of the service year, the Fellows complete research, planning and implementation of much needed climate and water-focused projects while striving to build long-term capacity to ensure that their work is sustained past their service year.

Meet Our Fellows

Cassandra Miller


Growing up in arid New Mexico, Cassie Miller developed an appreciation for the importance of water from a very young age. Cassie went on to pursue a degree in Biology with a concentration in Environmental Studies from Grinnell College and graduated in May 2016. Post-graduation, Cassie pursued her love of arid ecology and science accessibility by completing an 11-month Grinnell Corps Service Fellowship at Gobabeb Training and Research Centre, Namibia. At Gobabeb, Cassie developed and lead arid ecology programs for visitors and students, and assisted in the maintenance of the center’s long-term research. Living in the heart of the Namib Desert re-sparked Cassie’s interest in water resource management, thus leading to her current work with the Water Forum.

Projects at the Water Forum:

In addition to assisting in the exciting day-to-day at the Water Forum, which includes salmon carcass surveys and SGMA implementation, Cassie will be leading the continued maintenance effort for the Cordova Creek Naturalization project. She will coordinate and lead invasive species management and native plantings around the creek and work to develop a sustainable volunteer group in Rancho Cordova to increase awareness and use of the creek.

Why you applied to CivicSpark:

Cassie was attracted to the CivicSpark Fellowship because of its focus on creating links between environmental science and policy. Through this experience, Cassie hopes to gain a larger understanding of ways that science can guide policy to create solutions for a more sustainable future.

What are you most excited about this service year:

Cassie is excited to learn about the water world and the inner-workings of water resource management! She is eager to expand her understanding of aquatic science and is looking forward to transferring what she learns this year to policy work in her home state of New Mexico. She’s grateful to be in California and take advantage of the opportunity to explore new ecosystems and be in Sacramento, the nation’s leading actor on climate change policy!

Katherine Perkins


Kat Perkins graduated from UC Davis this past Spring with a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. Her passion for ecological stewardship extends back to her grade school days when she and her mom relocated thousands of spadefoot tadpoles from a stream near their inland San Diego County home threatened by suburban development. During college, Kat served as treasurer of her non-profit co-operative housing association and interned in educational gardens and farms. Before becoming a CivicSpark fellow, she worked as a technician on a study investigating the relationship between climate change and grapevine phenology. After shifting her focus to the terrestrial world, Kat has returned to a riverine ecosystem like the salmon she is now studying. She would like to continue working in social and environmental science, policy and planning, and to eventually earn an advanced degree, possibly in geography.

Projects at the Water Forum:

During her fellowship, Kat’s concentration will be on developing a methodology for aerial redds counts. She will take the lead on other GIS-related work like her current project of creating a triptych of the river for the conference room. Kat will also assist Cassie with the development of the Friends of Cordova Creek program and take on office tasks and fieldwork when needed.

Why you applied to CivicSpark:

Kat sees her fellowship as a prime opportunity to hone her project management and mapping skills while serving a region she has come to know and love over the last four years.

What are you most excited about this service year:

Kat is most looking forward to collaborating with and learning from Water Forum stakeholders and scientists as well as growing a powerful network of like-minded peers through the CivicSpark fellow community.


The Water Forum is excited to work with our Fellows and mentor them throughout the year! 😊

PostedMonday, January 22nd, 2018