Photo: Jay Mather.

Walk + Hike Leaders

The Deschutes Land Trust is extremely fortunate to have a wonderful pool of very talented Walk + Hike leaders. From self-taught naturalists to professional biologists, they promise to help you connect with the wonders of nature.

Questions? Contact our team!

Do you have questions, kudos, or other feedback? Let us know:

Sue Anderson has been involved with just about every natural history happening in Central Oregon for many years. She specializes in butterflies and has been conducting the Ochoco and Metolius annual counts for more than 20 years. She also has done butterfly inventories for several regional National Monuments. She is happiest when in the field introducing adults and children to nature’s art on the wing and using her macro camera lens. Sue leads butterfly walks for the Land Trust.


Rod Bonacker is a retired special projects coordinator for Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest. He began his Forest Service career in 1974 as a firefighter, and continues to work in fire suppression as Operations Section Chief for the Central Oregon Incident Management Team. When he is not volunteering for the Land Trust, Rod fishes, skis, rides his bike, and manages his rare book business, Black Butte Books.


Becky Burchell is a native Oregonian, born and raised and currently living in Madras, Oregon. She received a B.S. in Zoology from Portland State University and immediately moved back home to Madras. She worked as an experimental biological aide for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for three years, before landing a permanent role as a fisheries biologist for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. For nearly nine years, she worked as their bull trout biologist, spending much of her work time snorkeling and conducting redd surveys in some of the most beautiful and pristine areas. She learned about some of the new work Portland General Electric (PGE) was undertaking and wanted to be a part of it. When she started with PGE, she was a biologist working on the new fish collection facility called the Selective Water Withdrawal. She has been with PGE for 15 years and currently leads biologists and technicians in both adult and juvenile migration studies. When she’s not working, you can find her hiking around Central Oregon with her Belgian Malinois or traveling around the world.


Amanda Egertson is the Deschutes Land Trust’s Stewardship Director.  She manages the Land Trust’s Preserves and monitors our other conservation projects. Amanda and her husband Chris moved to Bend in 2003 and spend as much of their free time as possible outside—hiking and skiing the Cascades, tidepooling along the coast, and exploring the Oregon deserts. Amanda has an M.S. in Animal Ecology (with a research focus on songbirds and butterflies), and extensive experience in outreach and interpretation.


Stacey Forson grew up on her father’s working cattle ranch, east of Bend, Oregon, developing a deep appreciation and connection to public lands and their resources, shaping her passion for the outdoors, as well as her career and academic goals. In 2018, Stacey retired from a rich, diverse, and fulfilling 38 years with the Forest Service. She lived and worked in Prineville during her most recent post as the Forest Supervisor for the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland. She and her husband Ray live on their small, forested property near La Pine, close to all the outdoor activities they love: hiking, camping, backcountry skiing, paddling, boating, and fly fishing. Stacey serves on the Land Trust's Board of Directors.


Gary "Gus" Gustafson is a senior environmental and regulatory consultant living in Camp Sherman. A native Oregonian, Gus is a certified Oregon Master Naturalist who enjoys beginning each day at home with a walk along the nearby Metolius River. A former state agency director and elected city mayor, Gus now volunteers time as a hike leader for the Deschutes Land Trust and serves on several boards and commissions. Gus is particularly interested in identifying, observing and photographing the wide variety of fish and wildlife species found in central Oregon.


Jim Hammond moved to central Oregon in 2004 and has since been involved with the Land Trust as a volunteer and supporter. Participating in star parties at the Sisters High School, Jim has joined other amateur astronomers in providing opportunities for the community to learn about the night sky and the wonders of our galaxy and solar system. Jim is a retired physicist and has been interested in astronomy since he watched, at a very young age, his father build a telescope. Jim leads the Land Trust's star parties which currently take place at Rimrock Ranch--a private ranch with dark skies and open views in all directions.


Laurie Hildebrandt leads bird walks for the Land Trust. She is a volunteer bird surveyor for the Land Trust at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, and moved to Bend in 2021. Though she is new to Central Oregon, she is a long time bird watcher and she is happy to be living in this extraordinarily beautiful region where she can learn and share everything about it.


Megan Hill has been studying Central Oregon fisheries since 2007, currently working as the fisheries manager for Portland General Electric’s Deschutes Hydroelectric Project. Throughout her career at PGE, Megan has had the opportunity to snorkel, conduct juvenile fish surveys, and locate spawning salmon and steelhead in the Metolius River and Whychus Creek.  When not at work, Megan also enjoys spending time outside and exploring natural areas with her family.


Kara Jakse leads bird walks for the Land Trust and volunteers surveying birds at Land Trust protected lands. She has worked on many bird-related projects for East Cascades Audubon Society including capping outhouse vents to prevent birds from falling into the vault, collecting mosquitoes to test for West Nile Virus as part of a Sage Grouse study, and helping to build a bird blind at Cabin Lake. Kara also enjoys hiking and kayaking (with her binoculars, of course).


Aaron Jenkins has resided in Central Oregon since 2018 and has enjoyed volunteering with great local organizations Deschutes Land Trust and East Cascades Audubon Society. In recent years, he worked seasonal positions conducting avian point count surveys in the U.S. West. Prior, he was the economist for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. In addition to birding, he loves learning about flora and other fauna, cross-country skiing, hiking/backpacking, and gravel biking. Aaron leads bird walks for the Land Trust.


Kolby Kirk is a writer, artist, photographer, and outdoorsman. His passion for the outdoors inspired him to become an Oregon Master Naturalist in 2012. He never hikes without carrying a journal to record both personal reflections as well as the natural wonders encountered along the trail. In 2011, he hiked for five months on the Pacific Crest Trail covering most of California by foot. h her binoculars, of course).


Mindy Lockhart (pronouns: they/them) is a Nature and Forest Therapy Guide certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. Practicing mindfulness in nature has been integral to their own healing journey and experiencing firsthand the benefits of a forest bathing practice inspired them to become a guide and help others. Mindy is also a nature and landscape photographer and enjoys exploring Central Oregon with a camera in hand.


Derek Loeb is a retired geophysicist with 26 years of experience in petroleum exploration and production. After moving to Bend in 2011, he is now enjoying learning more about the geology of the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the local geology, he is also fascinated by the history, archeology, flora and fauna of Central Oregon and how they are all related. Volunteering with the Land Trust gives Derek an opportunity to enjoy, share, and help preserve the many natural wonders that make Central Oregon such a great place to live or visit.


Martha Lussenhop moved to Sisters in 2005 after dreaming of living in the mountains of the West for decades. Martha has a diverse background that includes a master's in zoology, teaching middle school, taking school groups on tours of prairies and woodlands, and leading workshops for children and adults at the Field Museum in Chicago. Martha's home overlooks Indian Ford Meadow Preserve and she is becoming well acquainted with the birds along Indian Ford Creek.  Martha leads a variety of walks and hikes for the Land Trust.


Daniele McKay is a geologist who studies recent volcanic activity in Central Oregon and teaches at the University of Oregon. She has lived in Bend for over 20 years, during which she worked for several conservation groups and as an interpretative ranger. She grew up hiking and skiing in the Cascades, which inspired a life-long passion for exploring wild areas. This prompted her to travel the world extensively and ultimately to examine natural processes in detail by studying geology. In addition to contributing to the scientific understanding of volcanoes in Central Oregon, Daniele also enjoys sharing her interest in science with people of all ages. She has taught classes and led field trips for children and adults, including geology hikes for the Land Trust. Daniele serves on the Land Trust's Board of Directors.


Michelle McSwain graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Geology and holds a Master’s degree in Hydrology from the Forest Engineering Department at OSU. Her 30-year career with federal land management agencies began in Vale, Oregon. She moved to Prineville more than 25 years ago to work for the BLM and finished her career as an Assistant Field Manager for the BLM, leading the programs of Range, Fisheries, Hydrology, Wild Horse and Burros, Burned Area Rehab, and GIS. She serves on the Land Trust's Board of Directors.


David Miller is a retired electrician whose hobbies include classic guitar, writing fiction, and the study of native plants. He was a docent for six years at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden and more recently at the Audubon Canyon Ranch in California. Since moving to Sisters he has been fascinated by the flora on both sides of the Cascades. He likes to enliven his wild plant tours with stories, history, Native American uses, principles of botany, and even some evolutionary theory. He is currently working on a novel called The First Bird.


Carol Moorehead (pronouns: she/her/hers) has felt a sense of place in central Oregon since moving here in 1976. Her love of the natural world began with a college Alpine Biology class set in the Washington Cascades. Although her career in education, spanning over 30 years, kept her inside classrooms, offices or meeting rooms, she always sought solace in nature. Exploring the Cascades and surrounding areas through self-study until 2013 when she participated in the Volunteer Master Naturalist program, broadening and deepening her appreciation of our natural world. When not hiking among wild flowers, you will often find her on her bicycle or traveling the world. Her most recent adventure was hiking over 100 miles on a walking Safari through Tsavo National Park, Kenya.


Leslie Olson has lived in Bend for more than 45 years, has been a leader for Bend Parks and Recreation since 2003, and loves joining folks outside. Leslie is an Oregon Master Naturalist and loves to share her natural history knowledge during hikes, and snowshoe outings. All of that face time with flowers and birds has stimulated her ongoing enjoyment of all things natural.


Coleen Pidgeon is a birder and an outdoor enthusiast with a background in biology. She has lived in Central Oregon for 10+ years and continues to enjoy learning about the natural world in this region. With experience that includes some teaching, Coleen enjoys sharing her passion of nature with everyone who is interested.


Amy Sanchez (pronouns: she/her/hers) is an avid bird watcher and loves being outdoors. She’s even raised pet chickens most of her life and could identify each hen by its voice. Today, she can identify 80 birds by sound alone, and loves sharing her knowledge of birds with others. Amy leads bird walks for the Land Trust.


Michele Sims is a retired land surveyor who lives in Sisters. She plays flute and button accordion in a local Irish band, rides bikes, and takes every opportunity to prowl around looking at plants, birds, mushrooms and bees. In 2018, she began volunteering with the Oregon Bee Atlas, which turned out to be a great excuse to mess around outside and to hang out with people who are curious about the world. Michele leads native bee walks for the Land Trust.


Tom Wainwright has a life-long passion for nature and conservation that began during his formative years in Prineville and continued throughout his migrations around the West. He is a retired research ecologist, and has done field work with both plants and animals in montane forests, deserts, estuaries, and coastal waters. Since returning to Central Oregon, he is rediscovering his first love of arid lands botany and general natural history. Tom volunteers with the Land Trust, the Oregon Citizen's Rare Plant Watch, and the Native Plant Society of Oregon, and is an Oregon Master Naturalist. He also enjoys gardening, tinkering, and hiking as much as old rusty knees allow.


Carol Wall's background is as an academic and an anthropologist who taught cultural anthropology and linguistics for many years at the University of California, Davis where she was a professor as well as a dean and vice chancellor. Today she enjoys retirement thoroughly, traveling widely, spending time in the outdoors, and continuing a 40 year hobby of bird watching. She has taken as her dedicated avocation to know and understand the natural world in this place she has come to call home. She has done this through reading and learning from others involved with the Land Trust. More recently the Oregon Master Naturalist program has broadened her understanding and her horizons. Carol is a certified Oregon Master Naturalist.


Karen Oonagh Walsh (pronouns: she/her/hers) develops and delivers conservation education programs for families and youth for the Land Trust. Karen holds degrees in Botany and Soil Science from Southern Illinois University and completed graduate studies in the Botany Department at the University of Tennessee. After graduating, Karen taught at Michigan State University and spent the first part of her career as Director of Education. Later, moving to Oregon, she continued her teaching career with OSU-Extension and is currently Executive Director at Discover Your Forest. When not teaching or volunteering, she enjoys being outside paddleboarding, hiking, gardening with native plants, and recreating in the mountains with her two sons.


Mary Yanalcanlin is a Montessori teacher with nearly 30 years of experience. An active member of the East Cascades Audubon Society, Mary volunteers to lead Audubon’s education programs for kids and their parents. In her spare time Mary enjoys birding, exploring nature and taking photos. Mary has lived in Bend for five years and thoroughly enjoys our rivers and streams after 20 years in the arid southwest. Mary is currently working to complete her Oregon Master Naturalist certification.


Jen Zalewski is the Deschutes Land Trust's Stewardship Manager. Jen leads mountain bike, beaver, and birding tours for our Walks + Hikes Program. Jen enjoys skiing, canoeing, surf trips at the coast, fussing over her landscaping, and trying to get things to grow in her garden.



Join the Deschutes Land Trust on one of our free, guided Walks and Hikes from April-November.

Interested in Volunteering? Learn more about how you can get involved.