Jenna Mendenhall, Board Chair 

Oregon Environmental Literacy Programjenna mendenhall
Project Coordinator

Jenna has worked in the field of environmental education for over 10 years; first as a volunteer interpreter at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, then most recently as the Conservation Education Lead Coordinator for the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood. Currently, she is the Project Coordinator for the Oregon Environmental Literacy Program. She also facilitates educator training with the Oregon Natural Resource Education Program, and is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation. She has a Bachelor of Science in Human Dimensions within the Environment from Oregon State University. Jenna believes the best way to teach is through personal experiences, especially those that take you outside, and has a passion for developing relationships that cultivate an interest and love of the natural world. As a native Oregonian, Jenna loves all that this beautiful state has to offer, especially the coast. Her other passions include: owls, paper crafts, the ocean, and adventures with her husband and son.

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Amy Busch, Past Chair

Wallowa Valley Center for Wellnessamybusch
Public Relations & Development Director

Amy is passionate about getting kids and adults outside and believes in its power in transforming lives. Amy joined the board to support environmental and outdoor education across the state. EEAO helps her network with others and to learn what is happening across the state. This is extremely beneficial since she lives and works in the northeast corner of the state – Wallowa County, the home of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, Hells Canyon, the Zumwalt Prairie, the Grande Ronde River, and other amazing places. For eight years, she was the Youth Education Coordinator for Wallowa Resources and ran a slew of outdoor programming for K-12 for her small rural town. She now helps her community in promoting mental health and wellness with Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness. She still believes the outdoors can help people of all ages in enhancing mental health and wellness and excited to tie the outdoors and health together with her new role.

Amy got her bachelor's degree at University of California, Santa Barbara and thought she would pursue marine/coastal ecology. But once she discovered her love of teaching at a residential camp, she realized she wanted to share the outdoors with others, no matter the topic. This love took her all over the West until she went back to school for her Master of Science in Environmental Education and certificate in Nonprofit Management at Southern Oregon University. Amy's love for the outdoors and rural places has never stopped and neither has she. If you happen to make it out to her neck of the woods, look for her flying by in running shoes, in hiking boots on the way to a peak, on her bike, on her skis, or on the soccer field.

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Charissa Jones, Treasurer

charzyOregon State University Extension Service - Outdoor School
Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator

Charissa is an educator and advocate with a passion for nature, DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and helping people (re)connect to the environment. She has worked in the environmental field for over 10 years. She was the Environmental Education Coordinator for Tualatin Riverkeepers. Now she works on engaging others across the state around Outdoor School and making sure all communities in Oregon have access to Outdoor School.She has a Master of Science degree in Environmental Education from Antioch University New England and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from New College of Florida.

Originally from Suriname, South America, Charissa moved to the States when she was four and uses her personal experience of trying to feel grounded in her new surroundings as a guide to implementing place-based and community-based conservation education. She is a member of the Youth Mentoring Collaborative and on their Planning Committee. She also participated in the Portland STEM Hub Partnership to provide feedback on how to transform curricula that is STE(A)M and NGSS focused. Charissa also represents EEAO and Oregon as our affliliate at the NAAEE affiliate meetings.

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Gerard Gonzales, Secretary

gerard gonzalesEnvironmental Educator and Dad

Gerard grew up attending and then working at summer camps throughout Southern California. He discovered residential outdoor education after studying philosophy in college. He developed a passion for exploring nature with children that took him across the country. The years of having bus loads of youth coming to beautiful places Gerard called home, having intense experiences, and leaving again; created a yearning in him to have a deeper, longer term impact within a community.

This yearning led Gerard to Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, CA where he developed and led environmental and outdoor programs for youth and families. He also became involved at the local, state and national levels of the environmental education movement. His interests include early childhood outdoor play, increasing access to nature for stressed communities, and spiritual connections to the environment. He loves exploring and playing in nature with his wife and two young children.

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Alison Heimowitz, Board Member

alison HeimowitzOregon Metro Waste Prevention and Environmental Services
Education Specialist III

Alison is the Education Specialist for Oregon Metro's Waste Prevention and Environmental Services. For many years she was the School and Teacher Liaison at the Oregon Zoo. She brings years of experience of working in the environmental education field in a variety of capacities. Prior to working at the Oregon Zoo, Alison was an instructor at Clackamas Community College Environmental Learning Center. She has been a key Oregon representative on several NAAEE initiatives, like eeCapacity, guidelines for excellence, and more. She is also a certified guidelines for excellence trainer. Alison serves on the program council for the Oregon Environmental Literacy Program. She brings a wealth of history around environmental education in the state of Oregon and is excited about moving the field forward and creating a more diverse network of environmental educators.

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PO Box 686
McMinnville, OR 97128
Call (503) 857-7884