Kara Heckert leads the overall strategic direction and delivery of American Farmland Trust’s programs in California as AFT’s California State Director.
Kara has been in the agricultural sustainability and natural resource conservation field in California for 17 years. Throughout her career, she has initiated programs to provide greater opportunities for farmers and ranchers to engage in sustainable environmental stewardship practices. Kara is passionate about fostering the reconnection of consumers to the land and the people who produce their food, seeing the protection of our farmland as critical to the preservation of our natural resources and communities.
In her previous position, Kara was the Executive Director of the Sonoma Resource Conservation District for 11 years where she worked with a diverse cross section of the community on landscape scale conservation planning, agricultural sustainability and education programs. During her tenure at the Sonoma RCD, Kara spearheaded fundraising and organizational capacity building efforts that resulted in a doubling of the organization’s staff and the successful merger of two conservation districts.
Kara has also held positions as the Russian River Soil Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and as a Project Manager with the Sotoyome RCD and California State Parks. Her work has comprised of planning and implementing on the ground watershed scale conservation planning and farm scale restoration projects. Kara has co-authored a variety of stewardship guides and watershed plans focused on the balance of agricultural sustainability and natural resource management. She has extensive background in fundraising, coalition building and local and state policy focused on agriculture.
Kara is an alumnus of Sonoma State University where she studied environmental studies and planning and biology. Kara is a native Californian, raised in the Napa Valley and the granddaughter of a Nebraskan dairy and corn farmer. She lives in Sonoma County with her husband, Chris, and her children, Noah and Leah.