Diana Totten: A True Community Friend


Diana Totten after a fire. [Photo by Kim Sallaway, see his Facebook page here.]

This week, the Garberville Rotary Club recognized the contributions of Southern Humboldt resident Diana Totten with its Public Service Award. “We have the Rotary award for outstanding public service,” explained Southern Humboldt Rotarian Ernie Branscomb. “It is kinda our highest honor that we give out.”

Totten was honored for the many areas she works to help the community.

“Diana is everywhere,” Branscomb said. “She deserves [the award] more than just about anybody.”

Totten wasn’t recognized for any one act but for the myriad of ways she steps in to assist, Branscomb explained. “She’s always out there helping,” he stated. “She is just a nice person. She’s a hard worker and does a lot for the community.”

The award notes her efforts to improve public safety, her work as a fire fighter, her assistance finding missing persons, and her efforts to introduce young people to nature among other endeavors.

Totten said the presentation was surprise. “It was kind of embarrassing,” she laughed. “Those of us who do emergency services work don’t do it for notoriety.”

But, she said, she accepted the award for the people like her who volunteer to help. “A lot of times “Diana Totten” is plural for lots of people. There are a lot of people who don’t talk publicly….so they don’t get recognized. This award recognizes them, too.”


Garberville Rotary Club Public Service AwardDiana TottenFor dedication to the Southern Humboldt Community. Public safety. Fire Protection. Fire prevention. Man tracking. Finding missing people. Swift water rescue. High angle rescue. Technical rescue. Work with young people to help them become more aware of their world. Local historian. A true community friend. Clif Anderson, Garberville Rotary Club President 2015/16

Totten said she was touched by the support of the Rotary. “A lot of people there have known me my whole life. I just looked around the room. All those people—it was kind of a collage of the history of Southern Humboldt. To get an award from them meant a lot.”

Branscomb said when Totten received the award she talked about the Mountain to the Sea Wilderness Camp that Totten helped to organize that takes girls 10-14 into nature to teach them about themselves and the wilderness.

Totten explained, “Now being 60 years old, it really becomes important to start passing on things I know. Also to inspire people to go out in the wilderness….I think it is so necessary. My mom used send us outside and lock the freakin’ door. You just went out and had adventures. Every family went camping. Nowdays we virtually have to pass a law to get kids to go outside. Right now kids average five hours a day on electronics.”

At the end of last summer’s Mountain to the Sea adventure, Totten said the girls chose to attempt lighting a fire without matches to show their parents what they had learned. “Everyone of them was successful…Some of them it took almost an hour but they didn’t mind. After spending time in the wilderness, time becomes more fluid. They were successful eventually….The parents wanted to hurry them but the girls were so focused on what they were doing. A short time in the wilderness changes how quick things happen.”

Totten said that it was important that the girls learn to be part of the natural world. “Being part of nature is different than just being there,” she explained.

We agree. And being part of a community is different than just being there. Totten who volunteers to help in so many different aspects is a huge part of her community.


Please note: Diana Totten and I have been friends for over 50 years. I am definitely not an impartial reporter when I write about someone who has given so much to help not only this community but has been a dear friend for most of my life.



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