Don grew up on a small farm in Maine where he fostered his love of the outdoors and caring for the land. After graduating from the University of Maine with an engineering degree, he joined a large industrial corporation where he traveled the world for 36 years and spent 13 of those years living in Germany. It was there he met his wife and their 3 sons got their early education.
After retirement, they opted to move West, and ended up in Mesa where Don fell in love with the Sonoran Desert, Tonto National Forest and western lands in general. He learned about the desert plants and wildlife while leading hikes throughout the area. He also started volunteering with the Mesa Ranger District of the Tonto NF and it was there he started learning about some of the threats to the desert, especially non-native grasses and the increasing fire threat.
Don has been instrumental in developing the tools needed for collecting data about non-native plant species in a format that can be utilized to communicate the location and extent of the infestations on a regional scale. He has organized regular volunteer events to remove fountain and buffel grasses with the current focus on an area in the western Superstition mountains.
Don is a founding member of Friends of the Tonto, past President, and currently Vice President. Don continues to enjoy hiking anywhere including the occasional international adventure.
Brian brings over 20 years of experience in leadership and project management to Friends of the Tonto National Forest. He is the Deputy Director of Wild Arizona, a statewide organization working to protect wild spaces for future generations. Brian is a U.S. Military Veteran and native to Arizona. He has a B.A. in Adventure Education and Environmental Studies from Prescott College.
Brian spends more time sleeping under the stars deep in the wilderness than in his home in Prescott, AZ. A love for adventure, solitude, long hikes, waterfalls, and the continual search for the perfect burger is what gets him to emerge from the woods to scout every hole in the wall and small-town cafe throughout Arizona.
Pete has been a FOTNF board member since its start in 2015. He moved to Arizona in 1964 and spent most of his career as a chemical and environmental engineer. He worked on projects throughout Arizona for business, government, legal, tribal, and individual clients.
Pete and his family love to explore the forest and Sonoran desert lands in our state. They have a special attachment to the Tonto National Forest. Three generations of his family visit the TNF for camping, fishing, hiking, running, birding, volunteering, cultural sites, photography, and wildlife watching. He and his family have also been volunteers and supporters of Valley/Arizona Forward, Arizona Audubon, Desert Rivers Audubon, Phoenix Zoo, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and Desert Botanical Garden.
Susan Sridharan, Treasurer
Susan was born in Detroit, Michigan and trained in both botany and accounting. She lived in places as varied as Chicago, India, and London, Ontario. After she retired from a Detroit-area accounting firm in 2016, Susan moved to Arizona. She developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of the Sonoran Desert while hiking with her local hiking group. An avid birder, Susan is a volunteer at Wild At Heart, a raptor rescue in Cave Creek.
Susan discovered the Friends of the Tonto at a Sears-Kay Open House in 2017. Since then she has taken part in milkweed planting, invasive plants training and the Riparian Photopoint project. Susan was impressed with the dedication of Friends’ volunteers and the importance of their projects. Therefore, she gladly volunteered for a position on the Board as Treasurer.
Patti Fenner, Executive Director
Despite moving to Arizona in the summer, at the tender age of 2 in an un-airconditioned station wagon, Patti Fenner chose a career working in the outdoors. She earned a degree in Botany at ASU. Then, to put the botany degree to practical use, went on to a Master’s program in Natural Resource Management. As she graduated in 1980, the Tonto National Forest created a new Range Conservationist job on the Cave Creek Ranger District. The job was created in part because of a lawsuit by the Audubon Society to improve grazing management along the Salt and Verde Rivers. Patti worked as a Range/Watershed staff for 23 years.
In 2003, Patti was offered the chance to create the Tonto’s first Invasive Plant program. This was undoubtedly the best job on the Forest! She spent hours discovering infestations and mapping them across the entire Forest. After mapping, she worked with District personnel, volunteers, other agencies, and contractors to control them.
Patti has served as President and on the board of the statewide invasive plant organization, SW Vegetation Management Association. She is currently on a committee who worked to revise Arizona’s Invasive Weed Rule.
Patti retired in 2014, and, unable to kick the habit of work, created Friends of the Tonto National Forest. Working with the brilliant and creative people on the Friends’ board is one of the great joys of her life (the others being her husband and friend, Scott Wood, son, daughter-in-law, and 4-year-old grandson).
Ann’s love of the desert developed almost instantly. In 2002, Ann first came to visit Arizona from her home state of Iowa. After only three days, she purchased a home in Apache Junction. Horses and the outdoors have always been a focus of Ann’s life. As a result she volunteers with the Forest Service through their Horse Trail Ambassador program. During Ann’s career, she worked in veterinary medicine, doing every job that was needed with animals, and as an ambulance Emergency Medical Technician.
Erin Bradham fell in love with the desert after moving to Arizona from the East Coast 15 years ago. Since joining Friends of the Tonto National Forest, she has enjoyed learning about the Hohokam through Friend’s archaeological projects and can often be found with a pick axe helping to remove invasive plants for Friend’s Save Our Saguaros habitat restoration projects. When not spending time on the Tonto, Erin is a partner at Dentons US LLP, where she practices commercial litigation.
Trent is a retired software developer, currently responsible for the Water Source Inventory volunteer program for Friends. Growing up in an Air Force family created special opportunities for travel for Trent’s family. Before he was twelve years old, Trent had lived in four foreign countries including Japan, Philippines, France and Germany and had visited at least seven others. His family moved to Arizona in 1967 on his father’s final assignment from the US Air Force to Luke Air Force Base. Trent graduated from Camelback High School in 1974. Trent earned a bachelor’s degree in Forest Management from Northern Arizona University in 1979. For summer college employment, one summer Trent worked in a Louisiana Pacific lumber mill near Fort Bragg, CA and lived in his van on the Mendocino coast. The following summer he worked seasonal for the Forest Service in recreation law enforcement in Oak Creek Canyon, Coconino National Forest. After graduation, Trent worked as a summer seasonal employee of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest working in fire prevention, fire suppression and living at the Chevelon Work Camp, 40 miles south of Winslow, AZ. But the best job he had during that time was the peace and solitude of working as a fire lookout. Trent worked at Promontory Lookout on the Mogollon Rim and also worked at the old wooden Dutch Joe Lookout, both on the Chevelon Ranger District. Today, Chevelon is called Black Mesa Ranger District and the old wooden Dutch Joe tower no longer exists though Promontory is still in use.
Permanent jobs with the Forest Service and the timber industry were scarce in 1980 and the seasonal jobs didn’t pay very well, so Trent went back to school to take some programming courses to enhance his resume. With hopes of a forestry career dashed, Trent moved his young family to the Silicon Valley in 1981, which would be the start of a long career in software development, applications consulting and database consulting. After eight years in California, Honeywell-Bull offered Trent a job in Phoenix in software engineering, where he was employed for over 29 years.
When his three girls were young, his free time was spent as a volunteer youth soccer coach, a passion he had for over 10 years. In 2000, Trent became the founder and first president of the SC del Sol Soccer Club, a nationally recognized youth soccer club in Phoenix, AZ, which hosts the President’s Day Cup Tournament.
Trent has been a volunteer on Tonto National Forest since 2011 with the Tonto Recreation Alliance or TRAL, maintaining the integrity of the Tonto motorized trail system with route inspections and trail repairs. When he is not doing volunteer work for the forest, he likes to spend time with his family. His hobbies include off-roading, jewelry making and lapidary. Trent is also an accomplished silversmith, something he has done since high school. To Trent, volunteering is important. He feels a strong sense for stewardship toward our deserts and forests and to the Tonto National Forest in particular, and that is where he likes to spend his time.
Scott was born and raised in Arizona, and has lived, worked, or attended school, all around the state. He worked for the Tonto National Forest for 40 years and retired from his job as Forest Archaeologist in 2015. During that time, he spent significant time on the preservation and interpretation of cultural resources in Arizona. He worked with volunteers, and promoted public archaeology and the importance of using citizen scientists in archaeological research and preservation. He helped found the volunteer Site Steward Program for State Parks and still works with them through the Arizona Site Stewards Program Foundation.
As a member of the Board of the Friends of the Tonto National Forest, Scott leads ruin preservation projects and public interpretation at archaeological locations. He conducts research through Friends’ volunteer projects in collaboration with the Arizona Archaeological Society, Arizona State University, and Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument. Scott has one son and one grandson. He has been married to Patti Fenner, Executive Director of Friends for over 40 years, which is how he got involved with Friends in the first place…
Eric moved to Mesa, AZ in 1996. He is a volunteer Wilderness Steward for the Mesa Ranger District in the Tonto. Eric has been a member of Friends of the Tonto National Forest since 2016 and a Board member since 2017.
Eric has worked for Boeing for 29 years. He coordinates Adopt-A-Site cleanups for the Boeing EcoLogicals at the Canyon Lake Boulder and Acacia Sites. Eric also coordinates Adopt-A-Site cleanups for the Asian-Pacific Lions at Rattlesnake Cove on Bartlett Lake.
Originally from Chicago, IL, Urb worked there following his graduation from the U. of Illinois and military service where served as a Captain in the US Army Ordinance Corps. A love for the outdoors was developed following relocation with his family to MN. Later, having moved to the north shoreline of Lake Superior, he frequented the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and often hiked on the nearby Superior Hiking Trail. Urb also lived for several years in Asia (Hong Kong & Singapore).
Upon arriving in AZ, Urb has been an active board member of the Sierra Club Saguaro Group for 15 years. His current role is leadership of the Group service projects, which include trail maintenance on the Maricopa Trail and at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area; maintenance support to Wild at Heart Raptor Rescue and SW Wildlife Conservation Area; and leading Sierra Club support of the Photopoint program and Milkweed planting in the Tonto.