Kelly Garbach

Senior Ecologist

As a senior ecologist with Point Blue, I work with the Rangeland Watershed Initiative team. My research background is in agricultural ecology and conservation/restoration of ecosystem services. I am fascinated by how our land management decisions shape (and are shaped by) natural resources and the benefits they can provide for society. My personal research interests focus on integrating social and ecological data to advance the science, policy, and management of agricultural landscapes.

I grew up in Kansas and my passion for conservation started as a teenager, working on horse ranches. One of my favorite summer jobs was baling grass hay with Jim Biesel, owner of Settler’s Acre. Jim shared his knowledge of botany and extensive field experience, making the hot, itchy task of putting up hay fascinating and fun. This set me on a path of learning about human influence on working lands in both the U.S and Latin America.

After working with conservation-focused non-profits in Chile, Argentina, and San Francisco, I pursued a doctorate in ecology at the University of California at Davis. My graduate work focused on rangelands in Costa Rica, where I was a Fulbright Scholar. In addition to learning all about cattle, I found a lasting interest in birding at my field sites. I credit friends at the CATIE Center for Tropical Agriculture and the Palomarin Field Station for helping me become an “aspiring bird nerd.”

My recent collaborations include: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; the Gates Foundation; and contributing as a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Americas Assessment. I am also part of the Integrated Crop Pollination project, exploring how communication networks among growers, extension, and researchers can support innovative management of pollinators to provide consistent, reliable crop pollination. My CV is available here. Outside of work I can usually be found at a horse barn—working with adopted ex-racehorses—going for a run, or cooking/biking/hiking with my husband, David Páez.