Nonprofit News

Friend’s Education Program to Expand

Making an impressively agile leap from Board to Staff, Friends of the Desert Mountains is proud to announce Oscar Ortiz will serve as Friends’ new Director of Education. Oscar’s knowledge, community resources, and enthusiasm for connecting to the land will take Friends’ education programs to new heights.

Growing up in the Coachella Valley, Oscar finds many unique ways to contribute to his home community. A Stanford educated chemist, Oscar’s career has taken him from biopharmaceutical research and production facility management back to the classrooms of his youth as a substitute teacher for Desert Sands Unified School District. Representing District 4 residents on the Indio City Council since 2018, Oscar champions increasing community engagement and addressing issues of pollution and climate change.

Working with Friends’ Environmental Educator Venessa Becerra, Oscar is developing plans to increase capacity for delivering our popular environmental education programs throughout the Coachella Valley, with an immediate emphasis on recruiting more volunteers. “I’m really looking forward to working with our team to expand our Youth Education Program,” Oscar says. “We’re planning on engaging more volunteers and developing new courses so that we can reach more schools, including our local high schools.”

Having served on Friends’ Board since 2021, Oscar already is familiar with the mission, goals, and objectives of the organization. Chairing the Board’s Social Justice Committee, he has shown his commitment to moving Friends’ forward. Friends’ Executive Director Tammy Martin says, “I feel confident that working together we will improve our diversity, equity, and inclusion practices to meet the needs of all Coachella Valley residents and visitors.”

Friends’ staff and Board welcome Oscar and encourage all to support him in our collective endeavors.

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