Beth has worked with Nearby Nature since 1994, serving in a variety of capacities, from program director to executive director. Beth is a writer, educator, storyteller, and key developer and manager of much of the educational programming at Nearby Nature. She is our lead programmer for our School Nature Walks Program, a School Classroom Visits instructor, a grant writer, our lead organizer for yearly special events, and our newsletter editor. She has also been know to dress up as Frannie the Frog! Beth has a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Environmental Studies from Williams College. When she’s not working at Nearby Nature, you’ll find Beth hiking, biking, canoeing, baking, or reading.
Grace Chollar-Webb, Education Coordinator
Grace joined the Nearby Nature team at the beginning of 2019 as the Education Coordinator. Since graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2012 with a degree in Environmental Education, Grace has taught classes on a small organic farm, led sea kayak tours in the Monterey Bay, and managed multiple nature based programs with Avery House Nature Center in Corvallis. She is excited to be joining the Nearby Nature community after spending the last few years getting to know the lush natural history of the Willamette Valley! Unless she’s cooking or baking, you can find Grace outside hiking with her dogs, gardening, swimming in the McKenzie River, making art, and learning more about ethnobotany!
Shaun joined the staff in 2017 as Park Host and Learnscape and Restoration Coordinator. He grew up in a village in the Columbia Highlands of northeastern Washington, where he first learned to appreciate nature. After living in and exploring regions of the broader West and Midwest, Shaun is happy to be back in the Northwest. For his role at Nearby Nature, he is excited to draw on his past experiences as a farmer, musician, instructor, editor, house painter, and even a cave tour guide. He has an M.S. in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah and a Permaculture Design Certificate from Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Shaun loves reading, gardening, playing and writing music, hiking, and working on various home projects with his wife Teresa.
Bear joined our staff in 2017 as an Assistant Park Host to help with the myriad of tasks that come along with caring for our Learnscape site and Alton Baker Park. Since that time, has also taught summer daycamps, No School Days, Nature Quests, and a variety of other educational programs. He first joined our crew in 2016 as a Volunteer Nature Guide for our School Nature Walks Program. Bear originally hails from faraway Maine, where his family has lived for 11 generations! When he’s not busy at Nearby Nature, you might find Bear busy working on his Masters in Education at the University of Oregon or creating fun for kids as the Birthday Party Coordinator at the Eugene Science Center.
Thomas Weaver first joined Nearby Nature as a volunteer nature guide in the Fall of 2013. In the summer of 2014, he became a member of our summer teaching crew and has been teaching camps as well as occasional Nature Quests and No School Days ever since. He also acts in costume at the annual Haunted Hike! Originally a native of Virginia, Thomas enjoys hiking, camping, rock climbing, traveling, photography, volunteering, and doing theater in his spare time. He has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon (which included an internship planting indigenous trees in Ecuador) with a minor in Geology.
Tami joined our crew as a summer daycamps instructor in 2015, having spent the school year teaching sustainability education in Eugene/Springfield elementary school classrooms. Tami has been an environmental educator for young and old alike and in many types of environments, from Hawaii to Alaska and many places in between. Getting people excited about nature is one of her favorite things to do — in her free time she loves to be out and about doing things like backpacking, kayaking, and hiking. Tami has a B.S. in Geology from Humboldt State University and has earned most of her M.S. degree in Forest Ecosystems and Society from Oregon State University.
Avalon Reynolds-Brice, Educator
Avalon has been involved with Nearby Nature since she moved to Eugene in 2016. She started out as a Summer Daycamps volunteer, then began leading Nature Walks, and is now a Summer Daycamps instructor! She loves the opportunity to combine her two favorite things, playing with little ones and being outside! During the school year you can find Avalon on Catalina Island teaching marine biology to elementary and middle schoolers for an outdoor education program. During the summer, if Avalon isn’t at Nearby Nature, you can probably find her singing and dancing along the beach, near a river, or on a mountain! Avalon graduated from the University of Oregon in 2017 with a BS in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology.
Elaine first joined Nearby Nature as a Restoration Ecology Volunteer in 2017 and, a few months later served as a Volunteer Guide for our School Nature Walks program. Since then, she’s done a bit of everything for us — from dressing up as Frannie Frog, to working in our Learnscape Garden, to assisting with community programs. In the summer of 2018, she added teaching summer daycamps to her list of Nearby Nature roles! When she’s not at Nearby Nature, you’ll probably find her happily tumbling and jumping with kids in her role as a gymnastics instructor at National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics. She is a Virginia native, and worked as a member of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for a year after graduating from Dickinson College in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. Elaine holds certifications in Wilderness First Aid and Epinephrine Auto-injector administration from NOLS.
Emily Smith, Educator
Emily Smith joined our preschool daycamps teaching team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Southern Oregon, she has lived in the Willamette Valley for the past eight years. Emily holds a master’s degree in differentiated education, has been teaching elementary students since 2011, and has had over ten years of experience working with students of all ages. She is very fun loving and her passion is working with students. In her free time, Emily enjoys doing everything artistic, especially painting and drawing. She also enjoys fishing, gardening, and going on adventures with her husband.
The first time Erica participated in a Nearby Nature camp, she was one of the group’s ten-year-olds! In 2013, Erica came back as an adult to lead our Wheels to Water daycamp and has been with us ever since, working with everyone from tiny ones to teens. During her time away from Nearby Nature, Erica studied in Bolivia and Peru, fought wildfires from Colorado to Alaska, taught basic bike mechanics and other skills at Maple Elementary in Springfield, and chaperoned middle school bike rides for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. Today, when not working for Nearby Nature or hanging out with her toddler, you might see her in a garden, playing soccer, pedicabbing, or biking to Portland. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Biology from the University of Oregon. Erica will be forever grateful to Sharon Blick, one of Nearby Nature’s founders, and to those responsible for Eugene’s wildest parks and extensive bike system.
Lena joined our daycamps summer staff in 2019 and is an educator, curriculum writer, education consultant, and program developer by trade. Having grown up in the Eugene area, she is returning home after 26 years and will be teaching this summer’s Adventura del Parque and Adventura de la Jardin camps in Spanish. She comes to Nearby Nature with 19 years of experience teaching dual language programs and with a B.A. in Spanish, a B.A. in Education, and an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction. When she isn’t working, you can find Lena in the midst of a renovation project, Latin dancing, drawing, hiking, and being Mom to her two young daughters.
Network Charter School Instructors
Wendy has been a Network Charter School science teacher since 2003. She has worked with Nearby Nature since 1995 and served for many years as its Park Host, both in Alton Baker Park and at Armitage Park. She is an experienced gardener, an artist (the original creator of Nearby Nature’s Kinder Critters!), and a skilled teacher.
Denise Velasco started her career with Nearby Nature as a volunteer and has been at the Network Charter School since the fall of 2004. Her classes include math, health, and independent living. When she’s not teaching at the Network Charter School, Denise is a mom to a wonderful little boy, and enjoys reading, baking, and gardening.
Billy Hughes has been an instructor with the Network Charter School since 2005. He loves to garden, hike, backpack, kayak, fish, ride his bike, wild craft, and relax in the great outdoors with his family. His focus at the Network Charter School is teaching whole systems theory, Permaculture ethics, and design principles to his Urban Ecology class. He also teaches Ultimate Frisbee and is currently co-teaching Survival. He has a Permaculture Design Certification and a Permaculture Teachers Certification.
Tom has been an instructor at the Network Charter School since 2010. Originally from New York, Tom teaches math as well as classes that have a focus on law and the environment.
Pamela Lauer was raised in Wisconsin and has been working in education for 13 years. In 2006 she joined AmeriCorps as a salmon fisheries technician and thus began her passion for outdoor education. She spent a few years living in a rural community teaching the salmon life cycle in the field and in the classroom of a one room school house. After bringing her amazing son into the world she returned to her outdoor education career by working for a wilderness survival camp in Mount Shasta, CA. Later she taught elementary and middle school at a charter school there. In 2016 Pam moved to the Fern Ridge area where she lives in the woods and commutes to the at Network Charter School and teaches middle school health, social studies, and science for Nearby Nature. Pam enjoys hiking, hot springing, mushroom hunting, creating herbal remedies to keep her family healthy, reading, painting, and writing.