Board Members


Eliza Nelson


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, 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. And I'm thrilled to be collaborating with my Mountain School roommate, Elisabeth Neely, as well as my former Arbor colleague, Katherine Kinser, in launching the Oregon Maple Project. 


Katherine Kinser


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. 


Elisabeth Neely


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.