Board Members

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Eliza Nelson

Director

As my friends and family will tell you, I am captivated by maple. It began during my high school semester at The Mountain School in Vershire, Vermont, where I got my first taste of sugaring. After graduating with a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University, I settled out West, where I spent two decades teaching at Arbor School in Tualatin, Oregon. Working with kids in the Arbor woods, I renewed my maple mania, learning to tap native Bigleaf Maple trees, and launching the Oregon Maple Project in 2020. When I’m not tromping through the sugarbush, I’m usually still outdoors, running, backpacking, or cross-country skiing with my husband and two teenage sons, and dog. Indoors, I continue to pursue the old, slow arts: letterpress printing, bread making, and yoga. I am delighted to be focusing this chapter of my life on nature, community, and the irresistible work of sugaring. 

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Erin LeFevre

Treasurer

Growing up in upstate New York, I spent many summers wandering the woods with my Grandfather around the farm that my Great Aunt and Uncle owned in the Catskills. It was during this time that I began to understand and appreciate the power of being in nature. These early experiences helped guide me toward realizing my need for an experiential and project based education that was grounded in nature and the environment, which led me to Prescott College in Arizona. This is where I grew as a photographer, while exploring the landscape of the Southwest, ultimately graduating with a BA in both photography and counseling psychology. Following my time in Arizona, I was drawn to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Living in Portland I have continued to grow in my photography, which includes event and portrait photography. Since high school, I have had the opportunity to work with many different children, those that are typical, differently abled, and neurodiverse, in classrooms and home settings. Currently my own children are both students at Arbor school, where I volunteer on a regular basis, both as a photographer and also in the classrooms. This is where I was first introduced to the idea of creating maple syrup from Big Leaf Maples. I relish the time I get to spend in the woods, learning new skills and participating in the process of creating maple syrup. 

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Jair Cruikshank

Secretary

I hail from New England, where I grew up tapping Sugar Maples as a child. That experience and many others in the outdoors led me to the Oregon Maple Project. Having completed a B.S. in Environmental Science from UMass Amherst and a Masters in Education from Western Governors University, I am now teaching middle school in Hillsboro, Oregon. I also have many years of experience as an outdoor guide and educator. My goal as a teacher is to provide opportunities for people to connect with nature, especially those who have not had access to exploration of the outdoor world. 

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Ben Malbin

Member

I grew up in Portland, Oregon and spent most of my life out in nature or trying to be out in nature. During college I studied Linguistic Anthropology and Studio Art at NYU, before returning to Portland to get my Masters in Education at Marylhurst University and Arbor School. Since then I have taught middle school and high school for 12 years, focusing on English, Social Studies, Health, Urban Exploration, and American Sign Language. I currently teach ASL at Lincoln High School. Recently, it has been a true joy for me to expand my love for trees into the world of Bigleaf Maple tapping.

 
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Kristy Morlan

Member

 
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Elisabeth Neely

Member

My affection for maple trees began when I was a kid growing up in Ohio. There was one big old Sugar Maple that stood alone in the pasture behind our house, with a swing, and I spent many happy hours playing beneath it. Then one snowy day we took a school field trip to a local sugar shack, and we kids all got a little bowl of sap and a popsicle stick to stir it into sugar. That was my first magical taste of real maple syrup. Later I moved West to receive a B.A. in American Studies from Reed College, followed by an M.A.T. from Lewis & Clark. I’ve been a nature educator and a teacher in Portland for the past 25 years. My husband and I are raising our three children here in this beautiful place. Each fall, out on walks and hikes, we collect the huge yellow leaves of the Bigleaf Maple that have fallen on the ground and admire them. When I’m not teaching outdoor kindergarten at Shining Star Waldorf School, I enjoy low-key birding, hiking, and tending to our backyard chickens and two ornery goats.

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Katherine Kinser

Emeritus Member

Educator, EMT/ski patroller, business owner, and medical provider, I have a passion for learning, the outdoors, and adventure. Born and raised in Minnesota, I was introduced to the wonders of tapping maple trees and boiling syrup as a young child. Later I ventured West, where I received my B.A. in Geography from the University of Oregon. Combining my love of adventure, the outdoors, and children, I taught at Arbor School and developed an interest in gardening. When I began to long for cold temperatures, steep mountains, and snow, I was lured to Montana, where I became an EMT/professional ski patroller. I gardened during the summer months, realized I was passionate for lavish perennial and container gardens, and transformed this passion into a successful gardening business. A decade later, I turned my attention toward medicine and pursued PA school at OHSU. I am now a Physician Assistant in Vascular Surgery. Throughout this time, my love of the outdoors, learning, new challenge, and activity has continued. Skiing, biking, reading, cooking, camping, and surfing humble me to no end.