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Board and Advisory Council

Board Members

Samara Phelps

President: Board member since 2012. Formerly Travel Lane County’s Director of Stakeholder Relations, Samara has been part of Nearby Nature’s family ever since the mid 1990s, when she first starting volunteering for us. Over the years, Samara has led nature walks, trained volunteers, helped direct school programs, and even dressed up as a Kinder Critter! Samara also worked as the Director of Education at the Science Factory and as the Director of Early Childhood Education at the Kauai Children’s Discovery Museum. Samara loves trail running, travel and exploring natural places nearby and faraway.

Salmon Norgaard-Stroich Board member since 2014. Salmon Norgaard-Stroich has committed his life to educating others about the outdoors, ecology, and our connection to wild places. He currently works for the University of Oregon Outdoor Program as the Assistant Director, supporting students leading adventures in the outdoors. Salmon came to Eugene in 1996, and has a strong connection to the great rivers coming together in our town, and the many wild places close by. He loves to garden and spend time with his family in the outdoors. He believes that it is the responsibility of a city to focus on positive and healthy youth development; engaging youth with nature becomes the foundation for healthy living. Salmon is an avid botanist, birder and lover of watching natural forces at work in the river.

Kirstin Haugen Secretary: Board member since 2017. Kirstin is a long-time educator with interests in nature-based learning, inclusive education, and free and low-cost curriculum. She works for Nature Explore, a non-profit that provides research-based outdoor classroom design services, educator workshops, and natural learning materials, and for the World Forum Foundation for Early Care and Education, providing networking and collaborative opportunities for early childhood professionals worldwide. Outside of work, Kirsten enjoys leading nature walks at Nearby Nature, kayaking, sailing, backpacking, gardening and traveling whenever possible, and especially loves spending time in Hendricks Park, on the Willamette River and anywhere on Puget Sound.

Jessica Ward Board member since 2023. Jessica fell in love with Nearby Nature when her two children began attending programs in 2022. After graduating with a degree in Elementary Education, she was a preschool teacher for several years in Portland. In 2018, she moved to Eugene with her family. She is now using her education and experience to homeschool her children. She has a passion for allowing children to grow at their own pace, while providing many opportunities for them to learn and expand their horizons. In her free time, she enjoys biking, hiking, rockhounding, and exploring all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Ian Whitelaw — Board member since 2023. Ian first encountered the wild beauty of Oregon in 1988 while visiting a college friend on the west coast. He returned in 1990 to make Eugene his home. Ian is the owner of a small design/build firm specializing in adapting older homes to fit the changing needs of their people. He has been a part of Nearby Nature’s volunteer corps since the very beginning, when he was a nature guide in the early years of our School Nature Walks Program. Ian has been on call ever since the 1990s for a wide range of critical projects and events. He was the lead planner and on-the-ground creator for our office renovation project in 2021!

Non-voting Board Member Joseph Minato Board member (non-voting) and co-founder (1992). Joseph teaches natural sciences, and is a former executive director, board member, and lead instructor for Nearby Nature. He served two terms on the Board of the Alton Baker Park Citizens Planning Committee. He holds a B.S. from M.I.T., has completed post-graduate work in astrophysics and geophysics, has an Oregon teaching certificate, and is currently teaching high school science in Portland, Oregon.

Interested in joining our Board? Learn more here.

Advisory Council Members

Rebecca Daniels Rebecca Daniels is the former Executive Director at the Network Charter School and a volunteer at Sacred Heart Hospital. Mother of four kids, Rebecca also has a degree in classical piano and plays the cello. Rebecca served on Nearby Nature’s Board from 2009-2014.

Alan Dickman Alan Dickman has undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a doctoral degree in biology from the University of Oregon. He has been teaching at the college level since 1984 including short stints at Lane Community College and Pacific Lutheran University. He was director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon until his retirement in 2015. Alan was active in undergraduate science curriculum development and reform and directed summer science outreach programs for middle school, high school, and community college faculty. He continues to work part-time, teaching a forest biology class and an introductory environmental science class.

Patricia Hasbach Patricia Hasbach, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Eugene, and a faculty member at Lewis & Clark College and Antioch University Seattle. As a clinician, Patricia incorporates ecotherapeutic practices with traditional therapy. She consults with hospitals, schools, businesses, and community groups on various topics related to the human-nature relationship. She is the co-author of two books published by MIT Press: Ecopsychology: Science, Totems, and the Technological Species (2012) and The Rediscovery of the Wild (2013). Patricia volunteers as a Master Gardener, and enjoys hiking, backpacking, kayaking, birding, and is a lover of all things wild. Pat served as as member of our Board in 2014-15.

Greg Hunt Greg Hunt raised 13 kids/stepkids, much of the time outside. Now spends time outside and inside with grandkids. He has also worked as an attorney for 37 years, with an emphasis on adoptions, guardianships, wills, and probates.

Bruce Newhouse Bruce Newhouse is a Willamette Valley native, and a field ecologist specializing in plants, butterflies, birds and fungi. As the owner/operator of Salix Associates, he does biodiversity inventory, community mapping and assessment, and focuses on native species and the invasive species that threaten them. He is active in the Native Plant Society of Oregon, the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah, the McKenzie River Trust and the Cascade Mycological Society. Bruce and his spouse Peg Boulay maintain their Eugene yard as a living experiment of a small, wild, urban habitat for native flora and fauna.

Alice Parman Alice Parman has worked in and around museums since 1971, as an educator, director, and––since 1989––as an exhibit planning consultant. She has created interpretive plans for Explore Oregon at the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History, and for Mt. Rainier National Park’s visitor center, several Alaskan wildlife refuges, and the Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska. As a community volunteer, Alice facilitates board retreats and strategic planning sessions.

David Wagner David Wagner, Ph.D., was the director of the University of Oregon Herbarium for 17 years before starting the Northwest Botanical Institute. He has been teaching field botany and bryology for over thirty years. He is currently Courtesy Associate Professor and Associate Member of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon. He is on the Board of Directors of Flora North America and serves as a Taxon Editor for FNA. He has been active in the Eugene Natural History Society, the Mount Pisgah Arboretum, and Native Plant Society of Oregon, having served terms as president for each. He now writes a monthly nature column, “It’s About Time,” for the Eugene Weekly newspaper. His website is