People

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Greer

Technician

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Greer began restoring trails in National Parks as a teenager, and has loved working and recreating outdoors ever since. When she moved to the Pacific Northwest, Greer worked in riparian habitat restoration and water quality with the Clackamas River Basin Council. She then obtained her Masters degree in Geography from Portland State University, where she researched the effect of dam removal on riparian vegetation. Greer is so excited to help people create native habitats in their own backyard.

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Victor

Community Coordinator

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Victor’s journey in protecting and studying the natural world started at the University of California, Chico where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science with a focus on wildlife biology and environmental conservation. Since his formal education, he has had the opportunity to work through many different avenues of conservation. From surveying Wild Chinook Salmon and Ringtail Cats in rural California to studying behavior of Northern Spotted Owls in the forests of Tillamook. Victor is proud of his Mexican and Indigenous heritage and strives to work with BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) communities within environmental and wildlife conservation. He has gotten the opportunity to foster this inclusive type of conservation by educating at BIPOC focused programs for nature centers throughout the Western United States and fostering community relationships while conducting environmental research. When Victor is not immersed in his work, he enjoys exploring the outdoors with his fiancé, Alexander, and their twin poodles, Meeka and Ash. They also have an adventurous cat, Olive. On a rainy day, Victor can be found curled up on the couch with his cat watching true crime TV shows and, on a sunny day, paddle boarding with his fiancé throughout the PNW.

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Karen

Technician

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Karen has been a freelance landscape designer since 2008, working with residential clients to create habitat friendly gardens. She has designed gardens for six Backyard Habitat Program applicants. She earned her landscape design certificate from Portland Community College, an Organic Master Gardener Certificate from OSU Master Gardener program and has also studied Horticulture at Clackamas Community College. She has worked at several retail nurseries since 2010, ordering plants from wholesalers and working with customers. She has also spent a season maintaining a 70 acre estate garden near Forest Park and currently maintains three gardens she designed. Karen’s most valuable experience has come from working in her own Portland gardens for over 20 years.

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Tracy

Technician

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Tracy has called Portland home for the last 14 years and has a strong affinity for mossy woods full of ferns, old growth trees and wild critters big and small. Tracy joined the staff after being enrolled in the Backyard Habitat program herself for 3 years and volunteering for the program for 2 years. Tracy’s specialties include DIY urban yard transformations to create native woodland or meadow settings at home using free or inexpensive resources available in the community. Tracy enjoys sharing tips on propagating your own native plants at home, co-habitating peacefully with opossums, spotting cool hybrids of the Eastern and Western Northern Flickers, and getting involved in eco-activism in Portland.

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Catherine

Technician

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Griffin

Technician

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Since moving from LA to Portland in 2020, Griffin has cultivated a passion to inspire community through building climate change resilient landscapes that provide abundance in food and habitat. With a music and permaculture design background, he enjoys finding creative holistic solutions to live in harmony with the natural world. Griffin is a landscape designer and frequent volunteer in various parks, farms, and organizations (Marquam nature park, Forest Park, Rose City Park). In February 2021, Griffin began studying permaculture design through OSU’s Permaculture Design certificate course followed by an internship at Playa Viva, a regenerative eco resort based near Zihuatanejo, Mexico. There, he learned that limitations can spark innovation when we step back and observe what nature has already provided. This experience has further driven Griffin to help provide lower income communities access and tools needed to live a more abundant and regenerative life. In his free time, you may see Griffin trail running through forest park, or strolling through at a snail’s pace studying plants and shooting film with his trusty old Canon AE1 camera.

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Anya

Technician

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Antonya(Anya) moved to Portland in 1998 –Oregon felt like home from the first visit, stepping off the plane! She grew up with bird-watching parents and loves to bird-watch still. Always an artistic person, she completed a BS in Apparel Design in Portland in 2002, and later an MBA focusing on Sustainable Business in 2011. She began getting interested more and more in native plants and joined the BHCP program as a participant in 2013, as a volunteer the following year, and as a Technician in 2017. Taking a deep dive into her plant self-education, she also became a Tree Steward with the City of Portland and joined her neighborhood Tree Team in 2016, and began pruning with Friends of Trees in 2017, and now leads Pruning teams in the winter season. She’s been doing garden design, consultations and maintenance for garden clients for the last 8 years. A self-professed “plant geek,” Antonya is passionate about the natural world and about helping people to transform and connect with their personal outdoor spaces!

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Weina

Technician

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Growing up as a child in Jakarta, Indonesia, Weina was always charmed by plants and animals. She earned her BFA in graphic design from USF and volunteered for non-profit organizations around sustainability for their outreach programs. She enjoys helping people coming up with creative botanical solutions for small outdoor spaces using native plants to create green corridors in the Portland urban landscape. She joined the Backyard Habitat team in May 2022 and her backyard was Gold certified in 2019. During her leisure time, she enjoys gardening, visiting all native nurseries, hiking, bird-watching, playing pickleball, wiffle ball, tennis, soccer, and singing with her all female acapella group, DameNation.

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Lindsay

Technician

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I moved to Oregon in 2020 because I fell in love with the forest after visiting here and knew that this is where I wanted home to be. I immersed myself into learning as much as I could about native plants by going on nature hikes through Friends of Tryon Creek, received my Horticulture Certification through OSU and I’m currently completing my Master Naturalist Certification through OSU. I’m also a volunteer at the Nature Center at Tryon Creek. In early 2021, I became a Backyard Habitat participant and studied Oregon’s native plants to learn more about their amazing benefits to the ecosystem. Things I love to do are reading, gardening, camping and going hiking with my Black Lab Kona! My favorite part of the forest are the beautiful mosses and lichens that grow on the trees!

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Shelby

(She/They)

Technician

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Shelby is a nature enthusiast and environmental advocate who has proudly called Oregon’s Willamette Valley home for the majority of their life. They hold a B.A. in Environmental Studies – Sustainable Design with a minor in Outdoor Leadership from Pacific University. After finishing their education, they dedicated themselves to helping others create a connection, find belonging, and a sense of wonder in nature. They’ve had the privilege to work with several PNW based non-profits as an environmental educator and outdoor guide, encouraging folks to appreciate and protect the natural world around them. In their free time, Shelby finds joy by exploring outdoor spaces either by foot or kayak and is passionate about foraging for wild edibles, cooking them, and most importantly eating them!

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Catherine

Technician

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Catherine is a free lance gardener with a love of the unique Pacific NW native habitat since relocating to the west coast 10 years ago. Originally from the east coast armed with a BA from the Univ. of MD and Hunter College CUNY, she has pursued her love of plants and nature beyond books. Before becoming a Backyard Habitat Certification Program technician, she volunteered for 80+ hours with the program and maintains her own Platinum and Gold certified yards. As an active volunteer she has worked on native habitat restoration projects at Johnson-Tideman Park, Johnson Creek Watershed Counsel, Hoyt Arboretum and Overlook Bluff. Since 2010 she has served as a member on the Citizens Advisory Counsel for Trimet’s Portland Milwaukie Light Rail project and on a sub-committee focusing on habitat restoration, public education and viewing decks on Johnson Creek at the new Tacoma Light Rail Station. She has volunteered 50+ hours with the Portland Street Tree Inventory and completed the OSU Master Gardener program in 2012. She continues her horticultural education with classes/seminars at the Native Plant Society, Audubon Society, Hoyt Arboretum, EMSWCD, Japanese Garden, and the Hardy Plant Society.

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Mariah

Program Coordinator

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Mariah grew up in Portland, Oregon, and has spent seven years in administrative positions with nonprofits and education institutions. She received her B.A. in International Studies from Portland State University and her M.A. in Global Development & Peace from the University of Bridgeport. Mariah is excited to work for an organization that assists gardeners in creating a habitable backyard for people and wildlife. In her free time, you can find her hiking, shopping at local nurseries, reading, and cuddling with her cat, Kami.

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Kate

(They/Them)

Technician

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Kate comes to the Backyard Habitat program as a personal learner of permaculture, the patterns and relationships of the native humans and non-humans who live here, land stewardship and farming, and mental health care. Kate has always lived in what is now called Oregon and has a deep affinity with the places and biomes that make this place special. Recently they have begun a deep exploration of their own settler colonial worldview, and the impacts of this worldview on the humans and non-humans that call this place home for thousands and millions of years. They weave this process into their work at Backyard Habitat to learn alongside other non-native humans to deepen our care for the place we love and build new practices to engage with our fellow beings. Kate currently is a farmer, landscaper, and mental health therapist. They are passionate about water resiliency and waterbody creation, forest advocacy, wetland ecology, decolonization, and climate resilience. They are always excited to have conversations about these topics, so feel free to ask.

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JP

(He/Him/His)

Program Coordinator

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Meet JP, our dedicated Program Coordinator. With a BA in Business Administration and a decade of experience as an office manager in the healthcare industry, JP brings a unique blend of skills to the program. After moving to Portland and switching careers to work closely with nature, JP joined the program in 2017 and has been instrumental in its success.

JP is not just an employee but a passionate advocate for sustainable gardening. With a knack for databases and technology, JP ensures the smooth operation of the program. He maintains a healthy work-life balance with a simple reminder: “It’s just gardening, not heart transplants!”

As a Latino immigrant, JP’s journey to the Backyard Habitat Certification Program has been unique. From container-gardening with his mom as a child to immigrating alone at the age of 20, JP’s experiences have shaped both his personal and professional lives to make the world a better place, often one yard at a time.

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Katherine

(She/Her)

Program Co-Manager

Portland Audubon

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Born and raised in Oregon, Katherine has spent over 8 years working with nonprofits in the Portland area with a focus on advocacy and community engagement. She is passionate about the native plants and wildlife and began developing skills around habitat rehabilitation while volunteering with the Forest Park Conservancy. She joined the Backyard Habitat team in February 2023 and is excited to continue expanding her knowledge and skill set. Her hobbies include: hiking, backpacking, plant identification, creating nature inspired art, and reading with her indoor rescue cat, Merlin.

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Rachael

Technician

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Rachael Pecore-Valdez is an environmental scientist, educator and writer who began learning about Pacific NW plants as a child growing up on Two Rivers Farm in Aurora, Oregon. Her favorite plants are edible. After earning a B.S. in BioResource Research at OSU and an M.S. in Holistic Science from Schumacher College, Rachael worked for nonprofits leading programs in community science, clean water, nature connection and Science-Tech-Engineering-Arts-Math education. She also produced the Wolf OR-7 Expedition, a documentary film about the people along an Oregon wolf’s dispersal route. Work in habitat restoration brought her passions for wildlife, rivers and trees together, it took her about 5 years but her yard is now gold certified! As a kid with sensory processing sensitivities Rachael found solace in nature early on and still does. She enjoys spending time in trees and is working toward an arboriculture certificate. Her current focus is on oak habitat and finding homes for baby oak trees that sprout up in her yard!

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Susie

Program Co-Manager

Columbia Land Trust

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Susie grew up in the Pacific NW and has a deep love for its flora and fauna. She likes long backpacking trips, learning new things about local plants and insects, and spending time with friends, family, and her cat (Europa). She is a certified arborist and joined the Backyard Habitat team in July 2016. She has been a Backyard participant since 2010 and is Gold certified, but still has many projects in mind for her yard!

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Bethany

Technician

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Bethany Wray moved to Oregon during 6th grade and fell in love with our state’s natural beauty when her 2nd week at her new school was Outdoor School week! Throughout her education she has focused on watershed health, including earning her Bachelors degrees in Natural Resources and Community Education from Oregon State. Through jobs like being a park ranger, a Youth Conservation Corps Education Director, and a habitat restoration crew member, Bethany has discovered a love for outreach and education around these subjects. With experience in invasive species management, habitat restoration, naturescaping, and landscape maintenance, Bethany is excited to share her enthusiasm for Backyard Habitats with program participants. She is also the Program Coordinator at the Watershed Alliance of SW Washington, engaging the community in volunteer and educational opportunities. When she’s not working, she spends time with her husband and daughter and their two cats, and is actively involved in their local church community.