Over the past few months each member of Cohort 9 has found a new home here in Southern Oregon. Read below for some brief biographies, and please stay posted as we begin to share our experiences in this beautiful area with you.
Alessandro Broido first discovered his love for nature and working with young people while volunteering in a rural Honduran community as a teenager. After building a life changing relationship with his host family, he continued to work with the youth-leadership organization Amigos de las Americas for three additional seasons in Mexico, Ecuador and most recently in Costa Rica directing cross-cultural volunteer trail projects in Carara National Park. After graduating from the University of San Francisco Alessandro moved to the remote northwest corner of California where he deepened his love for the natural world. He spent two years in Del Norte County discovering new avenues for working with youth as a school-based mentor in the garden, woodshop, and ropes course. He also directed a summer trail crew of high school students removing invasive weeds in the Six Rivers National Recreation Area and led a Redwood Canopy Tour Zip Line. The following two years he spent working for the Smith River Alliance coordinating volunteer projects and counting salmon during the spawning season. Today, Alessandro enjoys surfing, ultimate frisbee, hiking, catching amphibians, playing music and brainstorming creative farm-based lesson plans.
Ashley Waymouth hails from the rolling hills and spring-fed rivers of the Central Texas Hill Country. After receiving a history degree from Texas State University, she unexpectedly fell in love with the crystal clear San Marcos River. This connection was so strong, it ultimately altered the course of her life and led her down the path of environmental activism and education. Sharing and exploring nature has been the source of Ashley’s passion for the last six years, leading her to work as an educator, a community organizer, and most recently as a park ranger at Crater Lake National Park. Ashley loves to deeply listen to the natural world and strives to be a voice for the voiceless. She sees storytelling as a bridge between connecting everyday people with science and is excited to create alluring E.E. curriculum. Ashley’s desire to have an even greater impact on her community has led her to SOU’s Environmental Education program and she is delighted to be working with such an amazing cohort.
Becky Yaeger grew up in Baltimore County, Maryland and spent lots of time recreating with her family by hiking, camping, kayaking and traveling. She attended Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY and earned a BA in Psychology while exploring the beautiful Finger Lakes, gorges, and forests of central New York. During and after college, she instructed with a youth program called Primitive Pursuits in Ithaca, and she became passionate about getting youth outdoors and connected to nature while learning wilderness survival skills and nature awareness. After college, Becky and her husband, Matt, road tripped across country twice and decided to relocate to Bend, Oregon where they explored mountains, lakes, high desert, and downhill skiing in Central Oregon. Becky worked for Cascade WILDS (Wilderness Immersion Learning Discovering Surviving), a 4-H youth program that Matt founded and instructed. She also studied to become an Oregon Master Naturalist, and then interned at the Environmental Center as an Outdoor School Intern and with Discover Your Forest as a Winter Conservation Education intern. After earning her MS in Environmental Education at SOU, Becky will continue tackling Nature Deficit Disorder by providing nature immersion programming in preschool, after school, and summer camp settings.
Bekah Campbell grew up in South Carolina, where she always had a passion for being a
teacher and being outdoors. It only made since to pursue a degree in Outdoor Education at Montreat College near Asheville, NC. After guiding people in outdoor adventures for a while, she realized she wanted to know more about everything in the natural world and connect people to their importance. It became more and more important to her to protect wild spaces that she loves to backpack, hike, bike, climb, and ski in. After marrying her amazing husband, she worked for 4 years in upstate New York for an academic and outdoor leadership program. The wild west began to call and the Campbells moved to Mammoth California to be ski instructors, and there decided she wanted to pursue a masters in her true passion.
Christy VanRooyen is a southern Oregon native, who developed a love for nature while exploring the forests near her childhood home. Her insatiable scientific curiosity led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in Applied Environmental Sciences from Oregon Institute of Technology (OT). She gained extensive research experience as an air quality inspector and a geographic information system (GIS) analyst prior to beginning a career in academia. She is currently an instructor at OT, where she teaches introductory chemistry, nutrition, and the occasional environmental course. She spends her down time hiking and backpacking with her husband and three children. Christy hopes to utilize her education and experiences to promote natural resource conservation and motivate people to pursue their own outdoor adventures.
Elizabeth Schyling very much wanted to be a zookeeper when she grew up. Then, she went to Yale and studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and thought, perhaps, she would like to be a population ecologist when she grew up. After the folks at Yale said, “Nice, well done, move along now,” she moved to Washington to live on a volcano and somehow tricked people into paying her to hike and play with small mammals. One day, while yammering at some high schoolers about neotenic salamanders at Mount St. Helens, she had a bit of an existential crisis and thought, perhaps, she would like to teach when she grew up. So she came to SOU, where she now thinks she might not grow up after all but has made a very good choice anyway.
Erinn Holmes originally hails from the rolling hills of northern Illinois, where she spent some period of every day on the back of a horse or with her toes buried in the mud. She fled to rural Wisconsin for her BS in biology at University of Wisconsin – Platteville, she was so inspired by the many facets of the natural world that she changed her career path a whole six times. During her time there, she got to spend two summers under the star-lit sky studying the impacts of White Nose Syndrome on local bat populations, which sparked her interest in research. But, after every ecology class she took, she found herself enthusiastically rushing home to her English-major roommate to share the knowledge she’d gained about the world around them. After considering many career options (seriously), it became clear that she wanted to invoke the joy in others that the natural world brings out in her. She found SOU and made the 36-hour trek across the US to join this cohort of environmental educators and has never looked back. She looks forward to a career in environmental education that allows her to minimize the gap between the scientific community and the general public. In her free time, Erinn loves to explore Oregon by foot, kayak, and ski with her cohort and trusty sidekick, a pup named Nova.
Eva Roberts grew up in the mountains of Montana, and has long called the rugged wilderness her home away from home. Eva spent her final semester at Montana State University student teaching in New Zealand, which sparked an immense passion for travel. After obtaining her B.S. in Elementary Education, Eva sought out a volunteer teaching experience in Austria, which allowed her to explore the mountains and cultural experiences of Europe extensively. Soon after, Eva fell in love with SCUBA diving, and traveled to faraway places to submerge herself in foreign oceans. Throughout all of this, Eva still aspired to connect people and educate communities about what truly matters to her – the great outdoors. That is what brought her to the Master’s of Science in Environmental Education program at Southern Oregon University. It is her dream to help others recognize and appreciate the natural world as much as she does. Eva hopes to incorporate her sense of adventure and love for the wild in a life-long career based around environmental education.
Hope Braithwaite spent much of her childhood romping through the forests and deserts in her backyard in southern Utah. Her passion for the outdoors grew from those experiences exploring, hiking, and searching for her favorite rock, agate. Hope attended Utah State University (USU) and earned a B.S. in Wildlife Science. During the summers she helped on research projects, from conducting plant surveys in the Colorado Plateau to trapping geese in the Yukon Delta, Alaska. With the help of fantastic advisors and a co-researcher, Hope conducted a research project to identify diet supplements for elk management. Although Hope found great joy in being outdoors collecting data that could help answer important ecological questions, she felt that something was missing. When Hope worked for Water Quality Extension at USU she found her missing piece, environmental education. Hope loved learning, sharing her newfound knowledge with others, and then watching those students explore and make their own discoveries. Ultimately, Hope would like to have a career in environmental education with public outreach and research components. She is thrilled to be in the environmental education graduate program at Southern Oregon University, and wants to thank her family and friends for their continued support and encouragement.
John Ward grew up on a small farm in southwestern Missouri. There, his curiosity for nature was nourished spending time in the woods on the farm, fishing at local lakes and streams, and hunting with his father. John attended Missouri State University, where he received a B.S. in Biology with and emphasis in Wildlife. While attending college, John worked part time for the Wonders of Wildlife Museum, developing and implementing environmental education curriculum for a wide variety of groups. One of his favorite experiences was helping to train teen volunteers to handle educational animals and present them at public events. These experiences helped develop John’s passion for education and led him to a position, teaching outdoor science education at Hancock Field Station through the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). While employed with OMSI, John developed his skills as an educator and, after two seasons, decided he wanted to take his skills to the classroom. He moved to Corvallis, OR and started working at a Boys & Girls Club afterschool program and teaching at an alternative school for rehabilitating youth. John hopes to leave the Environmental Education program with the skills to bring project based learning to the public school setting as a high school biology teacher.
Lianne Bailey is an Oregonian who calls Gresham and the Portland area home. Growing up, she loved going on family hikes and camping trips on Mt. Hood and down the Columbia Gorge. As an undergraduate at Pacific University of Oregon, she continued to explore the state’s natural wonders while earning a degree in Environmental Studies. After graduating, Lianne found enjoyment working at summer camps in the Cascades and at after school programs with the YMCA. She then stayed in the Portland area, working as an educator for the Columbia Slough Watershed Council during the school year and as a nature day camp instructor during the summers. In the fall of 2015, Lianne got the chance to be a Field Instructor for the Portland metro area’s Outdoor School. She loved the combination of outdoor science education and the innate community building that happens when people live and learn together. She came down to southern Oregon to join the Environmental Education and Masters of Teaching programs at SOU. She is looking forward to working with some amazing educators and exploring more of this beautiful area.
Morgyn Ellis has spent the better part of her life living at the intersection of salt marshes, preserved forest, and the Atlantic Ocean in her home state of New Jersey. Having grown to love these environments she earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and found out the best way to protect what you love is to get others to love and care about it too, prompting her to switch gears and pursue a career in outdoor education. Since then, she has been an educator in New Jersey, South Carolina, California, and finally Oregon. She is passionate about sensitive ecosystems and sharing the fascinating facts of nature with those young and old! While not working towards her Master’s she can be found outdoors exploring all the wonders that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Malia Sutphin grew up in Seward which is a small coastal town in south-central Alaska. Growing up she enjoyed spending time in nature and around all kinds of animals. As a child she grew up on a goat farm and learned about proper animal care and husbandry. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Anchorage, Alaska at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Environment and Society. Throughout her college career she worked seasonally for Kenai Fjords National Park as an interpretive ranger. After completing college she shifted federal gears and spent the summer as an interpretive ranger for Fish and Wildlife at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. It was here Malia’s love for environmental education fully blossomed. Malia then spent the next two years traveling internationally with her sister, road tripping through Alaska, and working for the Department of Natural Resources-Public Information Center. In her free time Malia loves spending time with her guinea pigs Mr. Lahey and Baloo, working on crafts, and biking. She loves Southern Oregon and the Environmental Education program and hopes to stick around once she completes her degree.
Matthew Solberg grew up in Eugene, Oregon, but left the Ducks to pursue his passion in wildlife studies at Oregon State University. While working towards his BSc in Fisheries and Wildlife, he sought out experience abroad in Africa. Fostering close connections with local communities, Matthew found a niche in human-wildlife conflict. His interest in human dimensions of wildlife conservation grew as he spent time with the San Bushman of Namibia, working to trap and relocate large African carnivores in close proximity to livestock. For a time, Matthew found himself in the dark studying clans of spotted hyena (Malawi). Research alone did not fulfill him. It wasn’t until his Peace Corps service in Sierra Leone, West Africa, that Matthew discovered another love… teaching. There in the village, his students pulled his heartstrings and shaped Dauda (Matthew) in ways he could never imagine. Now he strives to combine his passion in wildlife studies with teaching. He is excited to work with a cohort who hail from all walks of life to implement the best environmental education the world has ever seen! In his spare time, you can find Matthew surfing, catching lizards, and fueling his healthy addiction to coffee (damn good coffee).
Melissa Donner is originally from Santa Clarita, CA, but truly found her home in the Pacific Northwest. She studied at Humboldt State University in Northern California earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Management and Protection focusing on Environmental Education. It was there that she discovered her passion for Environmental Education especially with early childhood education. She has spent time serving in the Peace Corps Paraguay in South America teaching Environmental Education in Spanish and Guarani. After returning to the U.S., she entered into the Environmental Education Master’s program at SOU. She is also doing a dual Master’s program for a Masters of Arts in Teaching plus an Oregon State Teaching License for Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. She has a wide range of interests and skills including early childhood education, graphic design, hiking and international travel! Her dream is to one day find a career in which she can utilize her skills and passions in Garden and Farm Education, Early Childhood Education and Graphic Design, whether that be at a museum, botanical garden or in the classroom!
Suphasiri Muttamara (a.k.a. Jam) is from Bangkok, Thailand. Despite being a city girl, she didn’t like the city. Her favorite childhood memories are of when her family went birding and camping in the forest. It has always been her dream to work in nature. She attended Mahidol University in Thailand receiving a degree in Conservation Biology. While discussing conservation topics with her classmates, she realized that how connecting with nature from an early age inspired peoples’ attitudes, and how important this connection is for environmental conservation. After graduating, she worked with the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) as a project junior consultant. The work took her to the top of mountains of the Northern region in Thailand. There, she worked with local schools, and students to develop ecotourism practice, and a curriculum that included the forest ecosystem that influences the community. Realizing education is the best way to conserve nature, she flew over 100,000 miles to acquire knowledge and tools so she can bring them back to help develop her country.