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Staff

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Kristen Walz,
Executive Director

Kristen was born and raised in Iowa. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Portland State University. Kristen moved to Eastern Oregon after working in the Bering Sea as a marine fisheries biologist. She joined the Council in 2017 as a Restoration Project Coordinator. Since then she has taken on the roles as Restoration Program Coordinator and JDBP Coordinator. Kristen has a passion for conservation. She values creating partnerships with a variety of stakeholders as the Council works to implement programs that restore and protect the North Fork John Day River watershed. In her free time, Kristen can be found exploring the beautiful, rugged Eastern Oregon landscape with her husband and their dogs.

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Silke Meinl, 
Finance Manager

Silke was born and raised in Northern Bavaria, Germany and moved to the US in 2006.

She went to vocational school in Germany for retail, sales, and bookkeeping, and brings a background with her in customer service, hospitality, property management and the HOA field. Silke moved to Grant County in 2020 to be in a community that cared about their neighbors, and joined our team as Finance Manager in 2022. In her free time, she can be found hunting, working with her dogs, exploring Eastern Oregon, or traveling with her husband.

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Alex Rice,
Project Manager

Alex grew up in a military family, moving from place to place on a regular basis. Oregon is his ninth state of residence along with two other countries. He has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in forestry from Michigan Tech. Alex is passionate about conservation, ecological restoration, and working with landowners and local communities. He has worked in a variety of ecosystems from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Lakes and the Marshes of Louisiana and is very excited to get to work in and learn about the people and lands comprising the North Fork John Day Watershed. In his spare time he likes to read and get outdoors as much as possible. 

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Javan Bailey,
Restoration Program Manager

Originally from Port Angeles, WA, Javan joined the Watershed Council in order to focus her efforts on local restoration work in aquatic environments. She brings a diverse background in fisheries and water quality monitoring and research gained through working for several state and federal agencies and universities, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. In her free time she enjoys exploring the great outdoors through a variety of activities. 

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Zachary Robinson,
Restoration Program Assistant

Zachary grew up in Oklahoma but moved to Washington State to study plant ecology at Evergreen State College. After graduating, Zach worked on environmental restoration and trail maintenance crews for two years before deciding to get his master’s in geographic information science for environmental purposes through Unity College. After finishing his studies, he spent a year working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Wisconsin collecting biological data, creating educational events for the public, and creating maps for hiking trails and biological studies through an internship and a temporary position. He returned to the west coast after finishing his term with the US Fish and Wildlife and worked with the Bureau of Land Management in Prineville, Oregon collecting data on hazardous materials and abandoned mines lands as a temporary Cartographic Technician.

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Leigh Johnson,
Restoration Program Assistant

Leigh, originally from New Jersey, has had the privilege of living and traveling all over the country. Her journey in natural resources began at Haywood Community College in North Carolina, where she completed a Fish & Wildlife Management Technology program. Building on this foundation, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences from Oregon State University, specializing in Geographic Information Sciences. In the early stages of her career, Leigh devoted herself to community-driven restoration and ecological research, working with federal agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations. In her free time, you’ll often find Leigh capturing the beauty of Eastern Oregon through her nature photography. 

PASSIONATE PEOPLE:
Join Our Team

NFJDWC Board of Directors

Ed Farren - Board Chairman,  Eugene, OR

Ed is retired from his career as a hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service. He spent his later career on the Umatilla National Forest and has extensive background and knowledge in both restoration and local conditions.

​John Zakrajsek - Treasurer,  La Grande, OR

John is a biologist with the Umatilla Tribes. He brings a vast knowledge of project implementation and support to the project. His background will assure financial efficiency for the Council.

Rick Henslee - Director,  Long Creek, OR

Rick is a life-long resident of Grant County and of the Long Creek watershed. He is a rancher who directs a natural beef cooperative and sits on the Grant County Soil and Water Conservation District board. He has spent a lifetime of observing the landscape and citizens of the local community while doing all he could to help them.

Reiba Carter Smith - Director,  Long Creek, OR

Reiba is a retired teacher who supports our education and outreach operations. She has taught and helped to raise many of the residents of our immediate area. She has a deep awareness of the strengths and conflicts for the local population.

​Mark Reitman - Director,  Heppner, OR

Mark runs a ranch in the northwest portion of our community. He is a long-term volunteer in his home town and will reach out to those members of the community that are geographically somewhat distant.

Karen Flagg- Director,  Pendleton, OR

Karen grew up in California, exploring the Sierras and deserts of the region.  In 1999 Karen and Don founded Growing Solutions Restoration Education Institute to inspire and teach students how to improve environmental health. As an instructor at Santa Barbara City College Karen has had the opportunity to work with many students, encouraging them to choose a career in natural resources. 

​Don Hartley - Director,  Pendleton, OR

Don was born in San Diego California.  In 1997 Don began teaching at Santa Barbara City College, met Karen and they founded Growing Solutions Restoration Education Institute. He has been involved in restoration projects for the last twenty years with a focus on producing native plants. Currently, Don and Karen manage timber, grassland and farmland in Northeastern Oregon.

Nicole Lexson - Director,  John Day, OR

Nicole is a Fisheries Habitat Biologist for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. She has been in the field of Fisheries for 8 years and has served as the Senior Restoration Project Manager for CTWS- John Day Basin Office for the last 5 years. CTWS has been an active partner with NFJDWC for many years and Nicole hopes to support that partnership in any way she can. 

Dan Kreamier - Director,  John Day, OR

Dan is the owner of the Long Creek Mercantile. He was the owner and operator of a Fishing Guide Business for Salmon Steelhead and Sturgeon for 17 years and brings 30 years of experience in Financial Services with him.

BA Robbins - Director,  Mount Vernon, OR

BA was the book keeper for the Monument Soil and Water Conservation District for 15 years. She has extended fiscal knowledge and has also worked close with the MSWCD Board for years. She is interested in all aspects of NFJDWC. 

 

Mike Titus - Director,  Ritter, OR

Mike brings experience in construction, masonry, farming and timber management with him, and was a Board member on several Boards during his career. He is very interested in Conservation, improving wildlife habitat and the work the NFJDWC is doing.

Partners and Funders

Autzen Foundation
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Blue Mountain Land Trust
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Collins Foundation
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Cycle Oregon
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East Cascades Audubon Society
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Ecotrust Forest Management
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JDBP
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Rocky Mountain Elk Initiative
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