Jenna Mendenhall, Board Chair 

jenna mendenhallFacilitator

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 as the Conservation Education Lead Coordinator for the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood. She was most recently 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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Tara LaidlawTara Laidlaw, Board Member

Southern Oregon Land Conservancy
Education Program Manager

Tara grew up spending her summers in the high Sierra, scrambling over granite, swimming in snowmelt lakes, and stargazing through dark mountain nights. Although she didn’t know it at the time, these experiences laid the foundation for a career in helping people connect with place. Tara has now been working in place-based environmental education for over a decade, using farms, wilderness preserves, and historic estates as living classrooms to spark curiosity and wonder in learners of all ages. As a frontline facilitator, instructional designer, and teacher trainer, Tara works at the intersection of formal and informal education, helping students develop scientific, environmental, and ecological literacy; she specializes in supporting the Next Generation Science Standards in out-of-classroom settings.

Tara holds a BA in Anthropological Sciences from Stanford University and an MAEd in Natural Science and Environmental Education from Hamline University. She currently serves as Southern Oregon Land Conservancy’s Education Program Manager, and she offers independent consulting services through her own business Out to Learn. She is very excited to be part of a board that is actively exploring avenues for more equitable, accessible, and inclusive environmental education throughout Oregon.

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Be On the Board

We are actively seeking new board members. Learn how you can be a board member by talking with a current board member.

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