Jenna Mendenhall, Board Chair (she/her)
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.
Charissa Jones, Treasurer (she/her)
Oregon 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.
Carrie Caselton Lowe, Board Member (she/her)
Greater Oregon STEM HubOregon STEM Hub
Career Connected Learning Facilitator
Carrie Caselton Lowe serves as the Career Connected Learning Facilitator for the Greater Oregon STEM Hub whose region covers a large section of Eastern Oregon. Carrie lives, works and plays in Northeast Oregon, surrounded by the Blue, Wallowa, and Elkhorn Mountains. Natural resources education is a thread that weaves through her work experiences over the years as an outdoor school instructor, classroom teacher, ecologist, organic farmer, food justice coordinator, and now as a STEM educator. Trained as an ecologist and teacher, Carrie has a penchant for community projects that bring youth into real world ecological projects. She partners with the Oregon Natural Resources Education Program and OSU - Outdoor School program facilitating professional development workshops for educators and scientists. With her husband and two kids, she gets lots of opportunities to explore the wild place they call home.
Libby VanWhye, Board Member (she/her)
I have been an outdoor educator since 2008, and I have an M.S. in Environmental Education. For the last nine years, I have been Nature Center Manager at North Mountain Park, which is part of Ashland Parks and Recreation. I bring a wealth of experience in youth and adult education, as well as grant writing, program administration, and collaborative systems building. My two greatest accomplishments have been our volunteer-led field trip program and the funding and construction of a new Nature Play Area at our park.
The impacts of the global pandemic prevent me from offering hands-on field trips when the world needs them most. So, instead, I look forward to helping EEAO organize the resources and share the skills that will allow others to work toward greater environmental literacy in our communities. I hope that through my participation on the Board, I can be involved in connecting and strengthening the great EE resources that exist throughout our state. My current professional network includes Nature Center Administrators and Parks and Recreation Professionals. I am on the Oregon Recreation and Park’s Association’s DEI committee, where I bring all my passion for equitable access to public lands and outdoor education. I am excited to work toward equity, alongside my colleagues in the EE field.
Sophia Anguilla, Board Member (she/her)
Friends of Outdoor School
Sophia grew up in Portland, OR. She attended several environmental education opportunities, leading her to become a high school student leader through MESD Outdoor School. There she deepened her passion for helping others which led her to pursue a career in nonprofit. Sophia currently works as the Network Coordinator for Friends of Outdoor School where she helps advocate for all Oregon students to have access to enriching and inclusive Outdoor School experiences.
Sophia now lives in Bend, OR. She uses her spare time to take in all of the natural beauty that Central Oregon has to offer and wants to ensure that beauty is preserved for future generations. She is excited to be a part of the EEAO board to connect her knowledge of Outdoor School to Oregon's broader environmental education movement.
Tara Laidlaw, Board Member (she/her)
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.