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Irvine Ranch Conservancy Staff Spotlight: Brian Hughes, Interpretive & Training Manager

PictureBrian Hughes with a group of young adventurers

​Here at Irvine Ranch Conservancy, we are dedicated to not only protecting the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, but connecting people to the land as well. Our IRC-Certified Volunteers play a crucial role in helping people make these connections and teaching local residents the importance of preserving the Landmarks.
When someone signs up to become a certified volunteer, they are taken under the guidance of Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Interpretive & Training Manager, Brian Hughes. Brian has been a part of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy team from the beginning. In June 2005, Brian was the first Field Naturalist hired by the Conservancy and has experienced the growth of the organization, as well as the volunteer program.

​“When I first began it was all about the place, just being out on the land, leading tours, and that’s still high on the list, but over time, it’s changed to be the people I get to interact with, the relationships I’ve built with both volunteers and public participants, getting to know them and share with them how spectacular and special this place is, to facilitate their connections to it,” said Hughes.
As the Conservancy’s Training Manager, Brian develops recreational and interpretive activities, onboards and trains volunteers and docents, leads public activities and events, and assists with website management. He came to IRC from Inside the Outdoors, where he was a naturalist and educator, but has worked in a variety of fields including retail management, residential construction and teaching. Brian has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Concordia University, Irvine, and a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from Cal State Fullerton in Policy and Planning. He is also a Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) and a Certified Interpretive Planner (CIP), national certifications for interpretive guidance and leadership.
Brian was drawn to Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s mission to preserve the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, which hold a special place in his heart.
“The former ranchland that is now the City of Irvine Open Space, Bommer and Shady Canyons especially, play a meaningful part of my own personal history and provided my initial connection to this place when I first moved to OC in the mid-1990s for college,” said Hughes. “They remain a favorite place for me. The views and the quality of habitat and trails provide a very immersive experience.”
He also enjoys the opportunity to interact with other nature lovers and watch the IRC volunteers grow as they make their way through the training program.
“I really enjoy the opportunity to contribute to their journey and their connection to the land,” said Hughes. “Our volunteers come with such a wide breadth of interests and experiences and to be able to direct that into a role that brings them fulfillment and creates meaningful experiences for them is extremely rewarding. I love hearing their stories about things they see and experience while out on the land. Watching someone come into our organization convinced they’ll never ‘lead’ an activity and then witnessing their confidence grow and their desire to share increase, taking the docent class with me and then actually leading an activity brings me great joy.”
When Brian is not working and training volunteers, he enjoys hiking, biking, camping and fishing. He also loves spending time with his family and volunteering at his church. With his background in residential construction, Brian likes to share his skills while volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. He can also be found dedicating his time to Giving Children Hope, which provides food and services for low-income residents in the area.
For more information about Irvine Ranch Conservancy and the public activities offered, visit To learn more about the IRC-Certified Volunteer Program visit