Meet Your Staff
Our volunteer and paid staff are committed to sharing nature and history with kids and families in a meaningful and inspiring way, teaching through discovery and taking advantage of natural teaching opportunities. We pride ourselves in our enthusiasm, knowledge, and patience.
Executive Director – Karen Rainsong
Karen holds a B.A. from Cal State University Northridge in Art, and a Certified Naturalist Certificate from the Siskiyou Field Institute in Oregon. She is a graphic designer, photographer, and for many years was an art teacher. She is also a mom of a teen boy and an active part of the community.
She has always loved nature and natural interpretation. Throughout her years living in Eugene, she has worked often with teaching children, in both traditional school settings and non-formal outdoor settings. Some of her favorite jobs included teaching natural history and local history at Homesource, teaching many different types of art and natural history courses for Lane Arts Council, and teaching as an Audobon In the Schools instructor and at Whole Earth Nature School.
Previously she enjoyed working as an Educational Coordinator at Dorris Ranch, as an instructor for the City of Eugene Parks and Recreation, and an instructor at Nearby Nature. She was the Coordinator of the Alvord Farm and Museum from 2007- 2015, until the expansion into the Singing Creek Educational Center. More about her can be found at her business web site: www.rainsongdesign.net.
Sallie Vandagrift – Camp Instructor
Sallie Vandagrift first set foot on Oregon soil 21 years ago, fresh from California. From that moment, the wild beauty of the landscape enchanted her and claimed her for its own. She has lived on the bank of the Applegate River; has had a small farm in Central Point, has made her remote office in the coffee houses of Northwest Portland; and found her home base in the ecologically and socially diverse community of Eugene.
Sallie holds a BA in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. She has taught Creative Writing in classrooms and after-school programs throughout Eugene; and has led hands-on, historical unit studies on Lewis and Clark and northwestern trappers and traders for elementary school students. She is currently facilitating reading and writing groups with youth in detention at the John Serbu Campus’ Phoenix Program.
At the end of the day, her favorite thing is coming home to her big, boisterous family, and sitting on the porch of their rambling pink Craftsman house that always seems to have a fix-it project, or new ghost story, or fresh tomato in the garden.
Liza Starr Lilly – Field Trip Instructor
Jerry Gowins – Field Trip Instructor
A native Oregonian and lover of the outdoors, Jerry is an award winning photographer who specializes in nature/wildlife, people, and travel photography. An avid bowhunter, his passion for all things wild has led him to hunting as much with his camera as his longbow. To date he has sold close to 50 cover photos and penned many articles for Traditional Bowhunter Magazine, including a photography column to pass on some of his knowledge from 40 years behind the camera to folks who want to improve their photographic skills. To that end, he also owned and operated “Carpe Lumen (Seize the Light)” nature photography workshops for two years. His workshops were always full and well received. Jerry enjoys passing on his knowledge to others.
He has also been known to haunt the local streams and rivers with flyrod in hand, much to the trout’s amusement.
Some of Jerry’s photographic work can be seen at www.500px.com/jerrygowins
Susie Day – Field Trip Instructor
Lauren Zurcher – Administrative Assistant
Madison Wilson – Marketing Assistant
Jackson Hoeke – Curriculum Assistant
Jamila Baig – Curriculum Development/ Instructor