Sasha Berleman

MYSTERY RANCH Fire Ambassador

Hometown

Temecula, CA

Resides

Oakland, CA

Profession

Director of the Fire Forward Program at the non-profit nature conservation organization Audubon Canyon Ranch. In the summers, I aim to get out on wildfires as much as possible, and specifically love life on handcrews.

Growing up, my hometown was surrounded by wildfire every summer, so it has always been a significant part of my life. But it took until my community college days to finally learn for the first time that fire has a valuable role to play in the west, that our ecosystems rely on fire to thrive, and that people lived with fire in a positive way for thousands of years before the arrival of Euro-Americans. This knowledge inspired me to pursue a career aiming to change the way we live with fire for the better. I went on to get a doctorate in wildland fire science from UC Berkeley, focusing my graduate research primarily on prescribed fire use for restoration of ecosystem health. 

Along the way, I stayed involved in Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges (TREX) and The Nature Conservancy, and have been honored to partner with the Redding Hotshot crew over the last few years. 

Audubon Canyon Ranch has really supported me to fulfill my dreams through working to change the way we live with fire, and I’m excited to be working with our great team there to launch a turnkey fellowship program this coming year for the future leaders in land stewardship and proactive fire management. I am thrilled every day that I get to work doing my dream job, spending time with incredible people coordinating and planning diverse prescribed burns, navigating all of the organized chaos that comes with that line of work, the daily opportunities to challenge my mind or my physical strength or endurance, the drive and grit that it takes to stick with it, and the insanely beautiful places I get to see.

Accomplishments:

  • Attended Berkeley on a full-ride academic scholarship after community college while working full-time in restaurants and part-time at nature preserves or in research labs throughout my college years. 
  • Actualizing lifelong career dreams building a program with my team that is seeing the tangible, actual change in the way we live with fire on cultural, practical, and political levels.

Foundations

What Mystery Ranch Packs do you Run?

  • I have and love the Hotshot TL fire pack! It’s practically a part of me now since burn seasons + fire season means year-round firework; it holds all of my essential fire gear and I always know exactly where all of my things are in it – everything in its place. 
  • The 3 Way Briefcase is the perfect crewboss bag for fire assignments and doubles as the perfect professional laptop bag for the rest of the year when I’m running between burn unit site visits and partner meetings across the region. Plenty of room for my daily essentials, my paperwork and notebooks, and a perfectly protective pocket for my laptop along with little pockets to safely store accessories. 
  • The Monster is my ideal redbag! It fits my tidily-packed two weeks of essentials with just enough room to spare for a couple of more indulgent add-ins. The pockets make keeping my dirty laundry separate from my cleans easy, and as Mystery Ranch is so great at doing, they set me up to always know exactly where everything is – no more chaotic fumbling for my things in the dark! 
  • For days when I’m throwing a saw around doing project work, the Gallagator is my new go-to. Lightweight and with no extra bulk, it perfectly fits the first aid kit and my lunch and water, keeps the saw fuel/bar oil stored on the outside, and still has a nifty separate zipping lid for all of my smaller nick-nacks. 
  • And of COURSE, MYSTERY RANCH shows up and follows through in their impeccable design efforts with their backpacking bags as well. For all of my backpacking needs, the Women's Stein 65 literally has my back and fits comfortably so that I can fly over trails even when that thing is fully loaded.

Favorite quote

"I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
-Jack London

I’m an avid outdoors enthusiast, world traveler, and hobby woodworker in addition to my outdoorsy profession, so I’m constantly exploring and adventuring, trying to learn more about this crazy world, the ecosystems, landscapes, and plants within it, and the way we interact with them.