Staff and Board of Directors
Melina Barker, Education Director
Melina has worked professionally educating youth and community members about the local environment and sustainability for over 5 years. She has also worked as an organic farmer, and now owns and operates Meadowlark Farm with her husband. Melina attended the Environmental Studies Masters program at Southern Oregon University. Raised in Ashland, OR, Melina has a great love and appreciation for all that the Rogue Valley offers. She spends her free time hiking, preserving food, and playing with her children.
Tracy Harding, Executive Director
Tracy and her family moved to Southern Oregon in 2001. Utilizing her community organizing skills, she quickly became an active civic participant by engaging in local environmental protection and social justice campaigns. Often including her children in these movements to nurture their love and understanding of community participation, wild places, equity, and sustainability. Tracy has been actively advocating for sustainable agriculture and healthy eating for 20 years. Her farm and food system involvement lead her to creating the Ashland Saturday Growers Market and joining the OSU Extension Small Farms Program as a program assistant, both in 2008. Tracy is co-lead of the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network, has served on the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center Board of Directors since 2006 and is actively involved with Rogue Farm Corps as a member of their advisory committee.
Emma Abby, Seasonal Educator
Emma farm-hopped across the country in search of the ideal place to set roots and call home before settling in the Rogue Valley in 2012. She now farms with her husband at historic Hanley Farm in Central Point where she is also the Educational Programs Coordinator. As a Fulbright Fellow, Emma earned her M.S. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science from Lund University in Sweden and focused her thesis on alternative farm-based education. Emma is passionate about nutrient dense foods, Icelandic sheep, cob building and fostering community. Above all, Emma loves cultivating opportunities for children to learn about the responsibilities and rewards of farm life!
Dave Majzler, Seasonal Educator
Dave is one of two children's education coordinators at White Oak Farm and Education Center. He moved to Oregon with his partner Julie, the other children's education coordinator at White Oak Farm, in early 2012. Dave has a BA from the University of Colorado in Spanish Literature and Language. His background is in farming, he has a certificate from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Ecological Horticulture. Dave was also a apprentice at Black Cat Farm in Boulder, CO and the assistant farmer at Crystal Creek Farm in Santa Cruz. Dave has experience as a mentor for underserved youth at the Casa de la Esperanza in Colorado and worked for Life Lab in California, a leading national organization teaching farm and garden-based education for over 30 years.
Julie Pacholik, Seasonal Educator
Julie lives and works at White Oak Farm and Education Center in Williams. Julie has a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies. She has worked at camps as a counselor and teacher since she was 17. Before coming to White Oak Farm Julie was working in West Virginia at The Mountain Institute, an outdoor education facility that teaches students about watershed preservation, and in Maryland at Echo Hill Outdoor School, where kids came for 5 days to connect with the natural world and learn how to work cooperatively. Julie is a Wilderness First Responder and Life Guard certified. Dave and Julie split the duties of running the Rogue Valley Harvest Meal's at White Oak Farm, as well as running a preschool, summer camps, and extended overnight school visits at White Oak.
Brandon Schilling, Seasonal Educator
Brandon grew up in the rural woods of Merlin, Oregon, and raised pigs in 4-H for two years. Outside of that short experience, his view of food systems and nutrition was limited. It wasn't until he graduated from North Valley High School in 2006 and moved to Ashland that Brandon began to have the food on his plate show him the big picture. Attending SOU as a music and business undergraduate, he involved himself in organizations like ECOS (Ecology Center of the Siskiyous), OSPIRG, and student government. After three years at SOU, one year at Hochshule Harz in Germany, and a BA in Business and Music (classical guitar), Brandon went to work for Standing Stone Brewing Company. He didn't know his work there would completely shift his expectation for a career. As a self-taught waste manager, Brandon helped Standing Stone achieve a 95% waste reduction. Brandon also went on to organize a rooftop and porch-side garden made completely of recycled materials. Simultaneously he helped Standing Stone lay the foundation for their farm project, raising cattle, sheep, chickens, livestock guardian dogs, and implementing a post-consumer waste composting program. During these projects, Brandon also completed several OSU Extension programs such as the Master Gardeners, Master Recyclers, Large-scale composting series, Livestock Management Series, and many other classes. Currently Brandon is on the steering committee for GMO Free Jackson County PAC (Political Action Committee) working to pass a GMO crop ban in Jackson County. He believes health education, sustainable food systems, and hands in the soil are the answers to many of social and economic challenges we face today. He believes the greatest investment is in our children.
Rebecca Slosberg, Seasonal Educator
Rebecca loves any excuse to be outside and feels lucky to have a career sharing this love and enthusiasm of our local environment. Rebecca has worked as an interpretive park ranger and environmental educator all over the country from Alaska to Florida. She spent several years as an educator at an outdoor science school in California and moved to the Rogue Valley to get her Masters degree in environmental education at Southern Oregon University. Rebecca is also the coordinator for Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners. Rebecca enjoys being out in the Rogue Valley, whether it's hiking, skiing, backpacking, chasing after her toddler or helping kids get their hands dirty.
Karen Tassinari, Seasonal Educator
Karen began exploring local food systems and whole foods cooking in 2001 while attending the University of Massachusetts. As her knowledge and palette grew so did her landscape, leading her to work on farms and care of gardens. While she cultivated vegetables the weeds ultimately captured her attention, sowing the joy of eating bountiful weeds and foraging for wild edibles. Ultimately these food adventures led Karen to her passion for herbal medicine. When she arrived in southern Oregon in 2008, she was introduced to a new variety of wildflowers and herbs and she's been exploring them as an Herbalist ever since. Karen shares her love and enthusiasm for the plant world with children on farms, during environmental education programs, at camp, and digging in the dirt at after-school garden programs.
Sarah Tumpane, Seasonal Educator
Sarah is a proud Pacific north-westerner, this gal enjoys anything outdoors, creative, educational and person-centered, with the goal of bettering oneself and the environment around them. In 2010 Sarah was the AmeriCorps volunteer for Rogue Valley Farm to School. Over the past few years she's continued helping with Harvest Meals, and the RVF2S booth at the Medford Growers Market in partnership with Kids Unlimited and Dunbar Farm. Sarah is also a licensed massage therapist practicing in Ashland. She has been an English teacher in Japan, a Wwoofer in Europe, and a social worker in Eugene. She values connecting with and being a liaison for youth, leading as example the importance to take care of oneself via taking care of the land, and always having a laugh. A very special gift Sarah has had with RVF2S is getting to work with her nieces through this lovely community-based program.
Dana Yearsley, Farm Site Manager
Dana moved to Oregon from Pennsylvania in 1977. Dana is a Southern Oregon University graduate and mother of 4 children. Dana has been an organic flower grower for over 15 years and teaches gardening, hiking, fitness, yoga and cooperative games at Willow Wind Community Learning Center for 9 years. Dana has been a ski instructor for more than 25 years and plays lots of tennis. She has been involved in the Eagle Mill Farm Education Project since it began in 2000.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kelly Gustafson Eaton
Kelly is a graduate of the SOU Environmental Studies Biology program and also holds a degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management. She works as a Landscape Designer, allowing her to combine her formal education with her passion for sustainable building, architecture, and gardening. Kelly and her husband have lived in Ashland for nearly 9 years and are happily adjusting to life as new parents.
Kelly was born and raised in northern Minnesota where harsh winters and short summers severely limited the availability of fresh, local produce. Coming to the Rogue Valley has opened her eyes to whole new approach to buying and preparing food which has greatly improved her overall health and well-being. Seeing such a dramatic change in her own life through dietary changes, she's compelled to help educate children and adults about the importance of sustainable agriculture and nutritious eating.
Chris spent 10 years living, skiing, and cooking in central Vermont and Jackson, Wyoming before settling in the mountains south east of Ashland in 1987. Besides 25 years as a chef, he has been a mechanic, brewer, farmer, and carpenter. He is currently a self-employed contractor specializing in natural building and sustainable technologies.
The volunteer work Chris has committed himself to include: Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, board member 1989 to present; Headwa ters, board member 1996 to 2006; Mount Ashland Association, board member 2006 to present; Eagle Mill Farm Education Project (now Rogue Valley Farm to School), board member 2001 to present.
Deborah completed her medical and family practice residency training through the University of California at San Francisco and the Family Practice Center in Santa Rosa, California. She was drawn to the beauty of the Rogue Valley as well as the outdoor and cultural opportunities we enjoy here. Deborah moved here in 1985 as the first Medical Director for the Clinica Del Valle, then called Clinica Azteca. Her current medical practice incorporates Classical Homeopathy, Family Practice, hormonal and nutritional therapies at Madrona Homeopathy in Ashland.
Ever since she learned to garden during a medical school rotation in Takilma, Deborah has valued fresh, homegrown and organic food. A late in life introduction to competitive rowing sparked her interest in combining challenging athletics with a support for farms, and thus was born the idea of the Siskiyou Challenge. She is still rowing competitively as well as gardening and raising chickens for eggs and meat at her home in Talent.
Barbara Collins Heyerman, Board President
Barbara is a native of the Rogue Valley. A graduate of the SOC, (SOU) Teaching Program, she is now retired from the Ashland School District having taught primary grades as well as co-founding and teaching The Blenders Multiage 1-5 Classroom. She and her husband have lived in Ashland since 1974. She enjoys spending time with their extended family, gardening, reading, sketching, hiking, camping, skiing, traveling, and playing Old Time Music. She is an Advisor for the Robertson E. Collins Foundation for historic preservation and a member of the Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau.
Laura holds a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition from Arizona State University and is a Registered Dietitian. Her interest in child nutrition and public health began with her thesis work studying vitamin A deficiency blindness in children of developing countries and a possible solution to this epidemic. After graduating, she stayed on with ASU as an adjunct faculty member teaching introductory nutrition classes and working at the Food Science Laboratory. She moved to Ashland in 1995 and has worked as a clinical dietitian for a variety of organizations in the Rogue Valley and Northern California including Providence Medical Center, Rogue Valley Manor and Medford OB/GYN Clinic, Far Northern Regional Center and Stanford School of Medicine Pediatric Gastroenterology Outreach Clinic. Laura is the mother of two, Shea and Bryn, and currently works at home attending to her family and volunteering time to endeavors related to her passions of child wellness, nutrition and the environment. She enjoys spending quality time with her family, being in nature, cooking with her children and playing/listening to music.
Joan Ewer Thorndike
Joan is a flower farmer originally from Santiago, Chile. Her farm is Le Mera Gardens, now a part of Fry Family Farm. She has just completed her fifteenth year growing and selling certified organic commercial cut flowers to Rogue Valley florists, bridal parties, private homes, restaurants, designers and guest accommodations. She serves on the board of directors of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. She is the mother of two daughters who grew up knowing what a compost pile is, how to eat close to the land and loving all flowers. In the wintertime, Joan coaches 6 year olds on Mount Ashland to ski well and love the snow.
David Tourzan has taught middle school math and science for 15 years, with an emphasis on environmental education and project-based learning. He was a co-founder of the Outdoor Discovery Program at Talent Elementary, and has volunteered for years with KS Wild and RVF2S, as well other community events. As a teacher, David has extensive contacts with local environmental groups and has collaborated with Lomakatsi, Coyote Trails, Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners, SOU, OSU Extension Service, RVCOG, Jefferson Nature Center, and Kids Unlimited. As a business owner, David co-founded Rising Phoenix Biofuels, Oregon's first biodiesel station, which still sells only locally recycled cooking oil converted into ASTM-certified biodiesel. As a father, David coaches both his sons soccer teams and involves his family in stream monitoring, watershed enhancement, and environmental projects that are both fun and educational. Say hi to the whole Tourzan crew up in the snow, biking the trails, or at the next community event.