About the Board of BeeQuilibrium
The Bee Team
Nicole Palladino Founder/Executive Director
Nicole is the Founder and Executive Director of the BeeQuilibrium Foundation. She is a two time graduate from Grand Canyon University. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Biology with an emphasis in Conservation. She completed a capstone project on the impact of environmental toxicities and the use of chemical fingerprinting. She also earned a B.S. in Accounting from the Ken Blanchard College of Business. She has always had a profound love for life and animals. Since she was a little girl, she was attracted to understanding higher knowledge and the intricacies of how things worked. She has been an avid gardener and cook since she was a late teenager and has had a huge fascination for bees. She began beekeeping 16 years ago and is also the owner of two live bee removal and relocation companies in Southern California, named Bee Catchers, Inc, and Bee Professionals, Inc. Her companies are family owned and operated and have been humanely removing bees for close to two decades. During this time, she has been an educator to thousands of children and adults on the importance of bees and why they are so important to our ecological and agricultural environments. She has worked on several research teams both in the past and present on honeybee anatomy, Colony Collapse Disorder, pollinator habitat, and conservation. She is an advocate of many and has a natural go-getter instinct. Once she is committed to something, her loyalty will last a lifetime. Her mother taught her to use her tenacity to fight the good fight and her father taught her how to be strong and not afraid, to grab the bull by the horns and to not let go.
When she is not out actively in the field amongst the rooftops and high up in the trees removing bees, she is running the BeeQuilibrium’s programs. Her love for both mirrors one another. Nicole wanted to take her knowledge, experience, and love for bees even further, and while Bee Catchers and Bee Professionals, give their rescued bees away at non-profit to those who need and can properly care for them, Nicole knew that having a sanctuary for the bees would provide an even greater capability to help California growers and farmers pollinate their crops during the year. Her idea all along was to gain as much experience and knowledge as possible during her lifetime, so that she could inspire and empower all those around her that would listen, on why we need our precious bees, and if they go, they are going to take us along with them. Her goal is to expand the foundation’s efforts to reach near and far, building and creating bee sanctuaries, and green belts; where bees can be used to help farmers across the country pollinate crops, educate the masses on how impactful their actions are to this planet and forever advocating for the bees; the world’s master pollinator.
Nicole is an active member of the Young Farmers Coalition, the Los Angeles Beekeepers Association, the American Beekeeping Federation, California Farmers Union, Northwest Farmers Union and completed the Master Beekeepers Program at the University of Montana. When Nicole is not working with bees, beekeepers, kids, land managers, farmers, growers, advocates and policymakers, she is spending time with her husband, her daughters, her family and can be found fishing, hiking, building things, painting, cooking and with the other three loves of her life, her dogs.
Mara Gourdine Environmental Liaison/Goodwill Ambassador
Ms. Gourdine, an eleven-year veteran of John Paul Mitchell Systems, has had her hand in many departments in her time with the privately owned, professional salon hair care giant and owner of Patron Spirits. From Shows to Events, Marketing, and Media, she has brought her knowledge and expertise to each department, leading her teams with clear vision and direction. With her recent promotion to Corporate Culture Ambassador, Ms. Gourdine’s new role has her leading health, wellness, and corporate culture programs within John Paul Mitchell Systems, as well as onboarding new employees. She is the spokesperson for the environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free company at public functions, speaking to its 35-year legacy of caring for the planet and giving back to those less fortunate.
Ms. Gourdine was born and raised in Davis, California, graduating from Davis Senior High School. Her higher education studies focused on Marketing and Communications, which led her to become an International Trade Show Manager for a premier global footwear company. She brought her global experience to John Paul Mitchell Systems in 2008 and has continued to rise within the company since her hire.
Ms. Gourdine currently lives in Hollywood, California, with her two feline family members, Sasha and Coltrane. Maria brings a great deal of knowledge with her and will play an integral part within the foundation. Her obvious love for nature and all things related mirrors her devotion and loyalty to the things she loves most. Her efforts in conservation and sustainability are remarkable.
Eugene Etheridge Educator / Master Grower Certified Organic
Owner of Etheridge Farms, Eugene Etheridge aka Pop Gene, is also known as a veteran, baseball coach, teacher, 40 years as a high school principal, a history teacher of 18 years, and of course farmer! Fruit farming is his highest passion! He started his farm in the late ’70s and went on to raise 8 children…his Grandson will take over the farm one day.
Gene’s passion for organic farming and the benefits of eating organic foods has been a passion he has shared relentlessly with others. He has been a guest speaker for many school districts. Gene has spent years filling his trunk with fresh food for distribution to underserved kids each week. He has spent much of his life connecting youth to unprocessed foods. This passion and dedication have allowed him to serve in many vital roles, such as; The Clinton Foundation (2004-2010), Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
This program was designed to create a healthier generation by working on getting better, healthier, non-processed food in schools throughout the United States. Gene is part of the national Healthier Generation committee who recommends policy changes that translate into healthier communities.
Gene worked on the CSET Foundation which helps underprivileged and poor families. Additional programs & foundations include kids’ education, Chair of the Advisory Board of Secretary of Agriculture, He was the Chairman for the Farmers Markets in Southern California for eight years, leaving that position in 2012. Gene has been on several advisory boards and is and has been a board member for several organizations as well.
Gene is a person who was born to teach, inspire, and simply “do good” and “be good”. He has coached little league, high school baseball and created opportunities for kids to interview our Veterans. His philosophy has always been, “let’s not focus on what we can’t do, let’s focus on what we can do”. This philosophy ties into his convictions on being an Organic farmer…we can do better by the people who consume our fruits and vegetable…NO PESTICIDES-TOTALLY ORGANIC. Gene brings a plethora of knowledge with him and has been a speaker at hundreds of events. His ability to reach children and adults with reliable information is second to none.
Jesus “Chuy” Mendez Master Food Grower / Crop Specialist
Jesus aka Chuy is a prolific berry grower working fertile land in northern California. Chuy was born in Mexico and worked for Coca Cola there for many years. He worked his way to a supervisor position at Coca-Cola in Mexico. He left Mexico and came to the United States at age 24. He worked in farming for several years and as an irrigation specialist. Chuy has a “green thumb”. What he plants grows and grows, beautifully. After close to eight years working in farming and supervising nurseries, Chuy set out to become a farmer himself. Chuy is working a wilderness farm of almost 10 acres nestled between shallow canyons in southern San Luis Obispo county He has been farming his own fruits and vegetables for more than 18 years. He is well known throughout the farmers’ market communities in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles County.
Chuy’s berry farm grows blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and very large, tasty blackberries. He also grows summer squash, varieties of squash, and will start with passion fruit this year and a few others things up his sleeve. He also has over chickens on his farm in which he sells fresh farm eggs. Chuy is extremely innovative and is a fine carpenter. He builds all his own housing for his chickens, including automatic food and water feeders. He has an eye for successful crop layouts and irrigation designs
Dr. Peter Parish Educator / Solar Energy Expert
Dr. Parrish is the Founder and CEO of SolarGnosis. He also owned California Solar Engineering for 10 years. He is a graduate of University California, Berkeley with a Ph.D., in quantum electronics, superconductivity. He received his BS in Physics from the University of Colorado Boulder. He is an Assistant Professor and Department Chair at College of the Canyons, an Adjunct Professor at Irvine Valley College, and an Instructor at Pierce College.
He is certified by the NABCEP PV Professionals and has developed a solar curriculum at College of the Canyons. He has published many research papers and is also the author of the Photovoltaics Laboratory. Dr. Parrish will bring his knowledge and expertise to the foundation on so many levels. He will help to create the layout and installation of the solar panels at the sanctuary and will advise on best practices and procedures. As an educator, he will share his knowledge of all ages about the importance of the environment and how each of us can do our part. Dr. Parrish is a bee lover himself and has kept bees for several years. He enjoys his chickens and his bees and they roam his backyard together. Bee Catchers has provided Dr. Parrish with hive installation and helps him to maintain his hives.