Land Trust Staff

The Deschutes Land Trust is staffed by a diverse corps of conservation and nonprofit professionals. We are passionate about land conservation and exploring the wonders of Central Oregon.


Rika Ayotte (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Executive Director. She is responsible for managing and administering the work of the Land Trust, supervising staff, and overseeing the financial and operational performance of the organization. She lives and works from Terrebone and in our Bend office.

Rika was born and raised in Southern Oregon and has lived in Central Oregon since 2015. She holds a B.A. in history from the University of Washington and an M.A. in museum management and an MBA in nonprofit management from John F. Kennedy University. She serves on the Boards of The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon and the Global Leadership Adventures International Foundation, and sits on the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund Commission. When she’s not working or volunteering, you will find her hiking and camping with her family and her dog and chasing after her energetic toddler.

Email: Rika Ayotte
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Erin Barnholdt (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Volunteer Program Manager. She collaborates with our community to build support for the Land Trust's many volunteer and community engagement programs. She lives and works in Bend. Erin holds her M.S. in Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management from the University of Wyoming and her B.A. in Art and Environmental Studies from St. Olaf College.

With a strong background in outreach and restoration, Erin has worked for conservation nonprofits in Oregon since the early 2000’s. Her passion for the outdoors does not stop at work. Be it with friends, family, or volunteers (soon to be friends), she is passionate about being outdoors exploring and protecting the amazing natural landscapes we have in Oregon. In the rare times she is not outdoors with her family, she enjoys cooking, art, and yoga.

Email: Erin Barnholdt
Phone: (541) 330-0017

Natasha Bellis (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Conservation Director. She is responsible for identifying and carrying out the Land Trust’s conservation projects. Natasha holds an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource Law. She is an active member of the Oregon State Bar. Prior to joining the Land Trust, Natasha restored streamflow to Oregon’s rivers and creeks with the Deschutes River Conservancy and The Freshwater Trust. Natasha lives and works in Bend and enjoys exploring Central Oregon by bike, skis, and boat with her partner and two kids.

Email: Natasha Bellis
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Pat Cohen (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Operations Associate. Pat is responsible for general management and organization of the Land Trust’s office. She lives and works in Bend. Pat received her B.S. in Business Management from the University of Maine. She most recently worked for the Bend 2030 Vision Project and brings a wealth of experience in office management, fundraising and campaign coordination to the Land Trust. Pat returned to her home state of Oregon in 2001 after spending over 25 years on the east coast, primarily in New England. When not working for the Land Trust, Pat enjoys the many outdoor recreational opportunities in Central Oregon and teaching her cats Lucky and Hoover new tricks.

Email: Pat Cohen
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Peter Cooper (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Stewardship Associate. Peter assists with the management and monitoring of our protected lands, as well as helping implement restoration projects and engaging with the local community. He works and lives in Bend. Peter earned his B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. After graduating, Peter worked as a seasonal restoration and stewardship associate for the Eugene-based McKenzie River Trust, where he helped with a wide variety of restoration projects. Peter has lived in Oregon his entire life and enjoys the variety of climates and landscapes that make this state so great. In his free time, you will find Peter exploring new places, backpacking, skiing, cooking, going to see live music, playing sports, and hanging out with his friends and family.

Email: Peter Cooper
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Amanda Egertson (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Stewardship Director and oversees the management of all of the Land Trust's protected lands. She lives and works in Bend. Amanda has a B.A. in Elementary Education and Music and an M.S. in Animal Ecology, with a research focus on songbirds and butterflies. She leads butterfly tours (often with her kids Lucy and Eli as co-leaders) on Land Trust Preserves and is guiding the Land Trust's work with regional monarch conservation.

Prior to joining the Land Trust in 2004, Amanda worked as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Central Oregon Environmental Center and as a naturalist for the Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory. Amanda is a volunteer at the local Humane Society and at Westside Village Magnet School, and is involved with SOMA (Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates) and MACO (Monarch Advocates of Central Oregon). Amanda and her family spend their free time exploring Oregon's great outdoors and snorkeling tropical waters. (Photo by John Williams)

Email: Amanda Egertson
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Jason Grant (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Restoration Specialist. His work is focused on restoration project planning and implementation. He lives and works from Redmond and in our Bend office.

Jason attended Oregon State University, where he received his B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Science. Over the past 11 years, he has worked in the fisheries field for two tribal agencies in Oregon--first for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and then for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Jason brings experience in floodplain restoration project management, natural resources interdisciplinary team project analysis, building and maintaining partnerships, and agency participation in technical review teams. He is a native Oregonian with a deep passion for land conservation in the state. Away from work, you might find Jason fly fishing, gardening, coaching his kids' sports teams, or hiking with his family.

Email: Jason Grant
Phone: (541) 330-0017


Jana Hemphill (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Outreach Manager. She collaborates on membership development, assists with communications, and manages the Land Trust database. She lives and works in Bend. Prior to arriving at the Land Trust in 2016, Jana lived and worked in Japan and throughout the American West, including Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. She has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Iowa. Jana is on the Board of Directors of Bend Bikes and on the leadership team of Central Oregon Womxn in Conservation. She enjoys being outside as much as possible, including hiking, backpacking, bike commuting, cross-country skiing, and traveling the world with her husband. You can also find her cooking with veggies from her local CSA.

Email: Jana Hemphill
Phone: (541) 330-0017

Ava Jablonski (pronouns: she/her/hers) is an intern researching climate-smart agriculture practices and how to best integrate these practices into conservation projects and management plans. Ava is a fourth-year student at the University of California, Davis studying Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems with a focus on economics and policy. Ava competes on the UC Davis Cross Country and Track teams, and is a lead at the Student Farm. Ava grew up in Portland, Oregon, and now spends her summers in Sisters--trail running, camping, and farming at Seed to Table.

Email: Ava Jablonski
Phone: (541) 330-0017

Gabriel Juarez (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Stewardship Associate. Gabriel works with our stewardship team, maintaining and improving the infrastructure and trails at all of your favorite Deschutes Land Trust Community Preserves, keeping his eye on pesky weeds, and working with volunteers to help restore habitat for our community, as well as for fish and wildlife. He lives and works in Bend.

Gabriel has a decade's worth of experience in residential and agricultural land care. He also has an extensive background in the fly fishing industry and managed a local fly shop where he was able to engage the angling community in respectful resource use and cold-water habitat stewardship. Gabriel was born and raised in Bend and is grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside the Deschutes Land Trust to preserve the places he cherishes the most. During his free time, Gabriel enjoys playing the classical guitar, gardening, foraging, and spending time with his wife and rescue dogs. 

Email: Gabriel Juarez
Phone: (541) 330-0017

Ahmad Koya (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Skyline Forest Conservation intern. Ahmad assists with trying to find a conservation solution to permanently protect Skyline Forest in Central Oregon. Ahmad currently works and lives in Bend. Ahmad is a rising junior at Stanford University, studying for a B.S. in Environmental Engineering. Ahmad is from Chicago, so Central Oregon's fantastic landscape is a new experience for him! He's excited to explore what Oregon has to offer while helping to maintain its beauty! In his free time, you will find Ahmad exploring cool places, acting, socializing, relaxing, reading, and living his best life.

Email: Ahmad Koya
Phone: (541) 330-0017

Sarah Mowry (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Outreach Director. Sarah joined the Land Trust is 2005 and is responsible for the Land Trust’s outreach including communications, engagement, marketing, volunteering coordination and membership development. She lives and works in Bend. Sarah has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College and a M.S. from the University of Montana in Environmental Science with a focus on sustainable food systems.

Sarah is an Oregon Master Naturalist and is a co-founder and on the leadership team of Central Oregon Womxn in Conservation. She has served as Faculty and on the program committee for national and regional Land Trust conferences, and has published articles in True North Magazine, Cascade Journal, Bend Magazine, Central Oregon Magazine, plus several local newspapers. Sarah volunteers or has volunteered for Central Oregon Womxn in Conservation, Westside Village Magnet School, Bend Parks and Recreation, Planned Parenthood, and the Technology Association of Oregon's STEAM committee. Sarah grew up in Portland, but spent most of her time trying to escape to Bend. When not working or volunteering, she enjoys being outside swimming, gardening, hiking, canoeing, or skiing with her family.

Email: Sarah Mowry
Phone: (541) 330-0017

Michael Rubovits (pronouns: he/him/his) is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Operations Director. Michael is responsible for the overall operations and financial management of the Land Trust. He lives and works in Bend. Michael holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Reed College and an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise from Dominican University. Prior to joining the Land Trust, Michael worked and lived in Hawaii, Colorado, and California before coming home to Central Oregon. Most recently he was the CFO at Bronwen Jewelry, and has also served as Director of Finance at the League to Save Lake Tahoe. Michael is most happy and free in the open spaces of the high desert, on his skis or bike, and gets excited about planning the next adventure to a far-flung destination with his wife and daughter.

Email: Michael Rubovits
Phone: (541) 330-0017

Jen Zalewski (pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Deschutes Land Trust's Stewardship Manager. She is responsible for assisting with conservation and restoration at Land Trust protected lands. She lives and works in Bend. Jen has a B.S. in conservation biology and an M.S. in wildlife biology from Humboldt State University where her Master's thesis focused on river otter ecology. Prior to joining the Land Trust as a staff member, Jen led mountain bike and birding tours for our Walks + Hikes Program. In her spare time, Jen enjoys crafting, skiing, biking, and getting out on the water with her family. (Photo by Jay Mather)

Email: Jen Zalewski
Phone: (541) 330-0017