Who We Are

 Creating thoughtful connections with the natural world through education and engagement

The Oregon Environmental Literacy Program (OELP) was created to implement Oregon’s Environmental Literacy Plan signed into law (2011) by creating thoughtful connections with the natural world through education and engagement of young people.

The goal of the Oregon Environmental Literacy Program is to support teachers in collaboration with non-formal educators to foster Environmental Literacy of Kindergarten through 12th grade students by engaging students in activities and experiences that:

  • Increase their awareness, understanding, and knowledge of the environment and their relationship to it
  •  Participate as citizens in the stewardship of the environment
  • Prepare them to engage in actions that ensure a sustainable future
  •  Contribute to establishing healthy lifestyles

To accomplish this goal OELP works to build the capacity and confidence of educators by:

  • Providing statewide professional development for non-formal educators to cultivate excellence in Environmental Education. Providing support for improving program quality and alignment to education standards
  • Conducting Research and Assessment of current environmental education programs to qualify and quantify educational, social, behavioral benefits of environmental literacy
  • Providing access to support and provide resources for teachers, community educators, general public via an on-line Resource Database
  • Building capacity for environmental literacy through statewide partnerships, including Regional Teams

Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service is the administrative home of the Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan as of 2014. OSU Extension agreed to administratively support the Oregon Environmental Literacy Program, which was developed to implement the plan statewide.

The Leadership Team is comprised of OSU Extension staff who have committed part of their time to oversee the Environmental Literacy Program, move it forward, and provide institutional sustainability. The team is comprised of eight Extension staff from across Oregon, and Susan Sahnow, the Director of Oregon Natural Resources Education Program.

The OELP Council comprised of 12-15 members representing organizations and stakeholders across Oregon with a strong interest in Environmental Literacy.  Members are ambassadors of their sector and are selected to represent all of Oregon through diversity of regions, community sizes, organizational types, content focuses, and roles they serve in his/her community. The Council works in partnership with the OSU Extension, OELP Leadership team to develop the framework for and implement the Oregon Environmental Literacy Program.

Regional Leader Team members work together to engage a network of local environmental education providers in the work of the OELP, by sharing information and resources between regional and the OELP statewide leadership. It is our hope that a statewide network of Regional Leader Teams will ensure that we have a statewide story of impacts of environmental education, and that the OELP will be able to provide support for growing these efforts. Currently there are 10 teams who are supporting and promoting K-12 environmental literacy in Oregon.

The OSU Leadership Team are OSU Extension faculty that provide administrative oversight of the program and work with a Program Council to provide strategic leadership and implementation.

Susan Sahnow
Director, Oregon Natural Resources Education, Corvallis
OELP Coordinator
Shanna Northway
County Leader, Extension Faculty, Agriculture & 4-H Agent Grant County
OELP Financial Tracking
Renee O'Neill
Coordinator, The Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences (SMILE) Program and Oregon Sea Grant StreamWebs Program
OELP Communication and Outreach Coordination
Pat Willis
4-H Youth Development Faculty, Washington Co.
OELP Grant Coordination
Maggie Livesay
OSU Extension
4-H Natural Resources Outreach, County Leader
Jenna Mendenhall
Oregon Environmental Literacy Program
Project Coordinator
Janet Nagele
STEM Outreach, Clackamas Co.
OELP Project Coordination
Emily Anderson
Coordinator, 4H Program
Elissa Wells
4-H Youth Development Faculty, Douglas Co.
OELP Impacts, Awards and Recognition Coordination
Barbara Brody
4-H/Familiy Community Health Faculty, Malheur Co. Extension
OELP Regional Network Coordination

The OELP Program Council is a “working” council comprised of 12-15 members representing organizations and stakeholders across Oregon with a strong interest in Environmental Literacy. The Council works in partnership with the OSU leadership team to develop a strategic plan, sets priority projects in each identified focus area, and implements priority projects. Council members are selected by the leadership team through an application process.

Steward Janes
Southern Oregon University
Professor of Biology/Education and Director of Environmental Education Masters Program
Steven Braun
Lane County STEM
Statia Ryder
Curry Watershed Council
Watershed Education Coordinator
Norie Dimeo-Ediger
Oregon Forest Resources Institute
Director of K-12 Education Programs
Lisa Phipps
Tillamook Estuaries Partnership
Executive Director
Kirin Stryker
Powell Butte Charter School
Place Based Coordinator
Kathryn Lynch
University of Oregon
PH.D., Co-Director, Environmental Leadership Program
Joy Tally
South Slough NERR
Education Coordinator
Jennifer Grube
Philomath Outdoor School
Director, Philomath Outdoor School Program
Jenn Berry-O'Shea
Powell Butte Community Charter School
Fran McReynolds
Tillamook Forest Center
Carolyn Nesbitt
High Dessert Museum
Curator of Education
Amy Thomas
US Forest Service
Engineering Partnerships Program Leader
Alison Heimowitz
Oregon Zoo
School and Teacher Liaison

These are teams of 2-3 individuals from an area of the state that bring together their local networks agencies, organizations, tribes, business and others who deliver or engage in K-12 environmental education programming. They are promoting regional collaboration in sharing information and resources, assessing needs, and providing training.

North Willamette Valley

Stephanie Wagner
Portland State University
Jen Nelson
Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District
Bonny Glendenning
Port Blakely Tree Farms
Bethany Thomas
Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors

Central Coast

Sarah Shaw Roberts
Oregon Coast Aquarium
Cait Goodwin
Oregon Sea Grant

South Willamette Valley

Robyn Anderson
The Museum of Natural and Cultural History (University of Oregon)
Beth Krisko
Forests Today and Forever


Libby VanWyhe
North Mountain Park Nature Center


Kirin Stryker
Powell Butte Charter School

Central Willamette Valley

Jody Einerson
OSU Ext. Benton Co. Sustainability Stewards
(541) 766-6750
Heath Keirstead
Benton Co. Soil & Water Conservation Dist.
(541) 753-7208


Daniel Leavell
OSU Extension - Klamath Basin Research & Extension Center (KBREC)


Amy Busch
Wallowa Resources