Deschutes Land Trust welcomes eight new board members

KTVZ reports on the Land Trust's eight new board members.
KTVZ


BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Deschutes Land Trust announced Mondday that eight new members have joined the Land Trust’s Board of Directors. Each brings unique skills, expertise, and passions for conserving and caring land in Central Oregon to the Land Trust.  

“The Land Trust is thrilled to expand the size and expertise of our already amazing Board of Directors,” said Executive Director Rika Ayotte. “We’ve been focusing on building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive board that reflects the community we serve in Central Oregon. Our new members represent five Central Oregon communities and will bring their professional backgrounds and diverse life experiences to help shape the future of the Land Trust and our work. We are truly grateful for their service and commitment to conserving and caring for land in Central Oregon.”

New board members include:

Breck Flanagan-Caldwell enjoys a deep connection to the High Desert landscape after having grown up in Bend. Breck holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management from Oregon State University, and has worked with the U.S. Forest Service and Swalley Irrigation District. Currently. In his current role with the Jefferson County Soil & Water Conservation District, Breck provides technical assistance to local landowners, cooperators, and the public in the wise development and stewardship of our region’s natural resources. Breck is a graduate of the Leadership Bend Foundation Class of 2022, is a volunteer youth mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon, but is most motivated by his pursuit of constantly evolving as a father for his son, Arlo, and sharing in his exploration of the natural world. Breck joined the Board in 2022.

Stacey Forson grew up on a working cattle ranch east of Bend, developing a deep appreciation and connection to the land. She is retired from 38 years with the Forest Service, where 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. Stacey currently lives in La Pine and is the President of the Friends of Fish Lake, a non-profit partner with the Forest Service for the restoration, maintenance, and interpretation of a historic site and developing education center located on the Willamette National Forest. She is also a co-coordinator of Firewise activities in her neighborhood. Stacey joined the Board in 2022.

Rob Garrott has lived in Bend since 2015. He works for Linkedin Learning as a content manager designing curriculum and recruiting instructors for Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and 3D visualization education content. With a background in 3D animation, motion design, and video production, he taught for 12 years at Art Center College of Design and has created logos, graphics packages, and entire shows in the entertainment industry. When not in front of a computer, Rob can usually be found riding one of several bikes around town and out in the forests or skiing at Mt. Bachelor. Rob joined the Board in 2021.

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 more than 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. Daniele joined the Board in 2022.

Gonzalo Mendez lives in Redmond and is a fisheries biologist with Portland General Electric. He is responsible for Test and Verification studies associated with juvenile fish migration at the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project. This passage work supports the goals of reintroducing spring Chinook, sockeye and summer steelhead to the upper Deschutes River Basin. Gonzalo earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation at University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2002. He has been conducting fisheries related science for more than 20 years and in that time he has worked in marine environments, participated in Atlantic salmon reintroduction, and conducted fish passage work and stream habitat assessments. In his spare time, he pursues a variety of interests with his wife Hannah and his newly rescued pup Pip. Hannah and Gonzalo have been connecting with the Central Oregon community through various activities in the arts, early child education, and exploring streams. Gonzalo joined the Board in 2022.

Amy Miller brings professional experience in social justice and nonprofit management to the Land Trust Board, including serving as the Executive Director of Youth, Rights & Justice, a nonprofit law firm and juvenile public defender office. In her current role, as Assistant Deputy State Court Administrator for Programs and Innovation, she oversees state court programs and works hard to support access to justice for all Oregonians. In her spare time, Amy enjoys spending more time outside than inside. She loves to snowboard in the backcountry, hop on her paddle board, and go on long hikes. Her favorite place to be is in the mountains, and she tries to climb as many of our peaks as time allows. Amy joined the Board in 2021.

Austin Smith Jr. has lived in Central Oregon most of his life. He grew up on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and is an avid hunter and fisherman, exercising his rights as a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs like his ancestors before him. Austin is a wildlife biologist with the Tribes and has 11 years of experience as a field wildlife specialist with game and habitat management including reintroduction programs of big game species like Rocky Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and monitoring projects for gray wolves and other terrestrial animals on and off the reservation. Currently, Austin oversees the Wildlife, Range, and Agriculture programs for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Branch of Natural Resources. Austin enjoys his time with his family taking adventure trips to the "Inche'Wana" (Columbia River) and exercising his treaty hunting and fishing rights. Austin joined the Board in 2022.

Mike Shadrach is a retired Certified Public Accountant. He spent 11 years in public accounting and 17 years in corporate finance with several companies. He retired in 2007 as the Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development for AutoZone, Inc. Mike moved to Bend in 2007 to enjoy the many outdoor activities offered in Central Oregon, and, over the years, has participated in many of the activities offered on Land Trust Preserves including planting parties, weed pulls, fence pulls, nature walks and bike tours.  In 2017, Mike completed the Oregon Master Naturalist program offered by Oregon State University. Mike joined the Board in 2022.

The Deschutes Land Trust envisions a future of strong and healthy natural and human communities—where we work together to conserve and care for the lands that make Central Oregon an incredible place to live, work, and grow. As Central Oregon’s locally-based, nationally-accredited land trust, the Deschutes Land Trust has conserved and continues to care for more than 17,523 acres since 1995. For more information on the Deschutes Land Trust, contact us at (541) 330-0017 or visit www.deschuteslandtrust.org.