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Staff & Board Members

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Melanie Douville

Maple Educator

I am an environmental science/art educator and an interdisciplinary artist interested in cultivating connection between people and the natural world. Nature has always been my greatest source of inspiration, as it continues to complicate, deepen, and gradiate our understanding of the world and of ourselves. I grew up in rural Oregon, with many farm animals and pets and consider it a privilege to have had a nourishing and positive relationship with the environment throughout my youth.

My educational philosophy revolves around non-formal, outdoor education, with a strong emphasis on hands-on projects that bridge the gap between ecological science and the arts. My work is driven by a commitment to environmental and social justice, building community climate resilience, and providing equitable and accessible opportunities for children and young adults to experience outdoor spaces in ways that are unique and meaningful to them. 

I hold a B.S. in Anthropology & Biology from Western Oregon University and a M.A. in Arts & Humanities from Oregon State University. Currently, I am fully immersed in the captivating world of Bigleaf Maple sugaring, exploring the traditional and sustainable practice of extracting maple sap to make syrup from these bountiful trees. Maples have so much to teach us, and my workshops focus on all that we can learn by observing them.  

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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 fourth and fifth grade in Oregon. Working with kids in the 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, farming, running, backpacking, or cross-country skiing with my husband and two teenage sons. 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 B.A. in Photography & 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. My own children are students at a fabulous 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 Bigleaf 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 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

Board 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 & 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 14 years, focusing on English, Social Studies, Health, Urban Exploration, and American Sign Language. I currently teach ASL at McDaniel 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

Board Member

I am a native Oregonian raising two daughters and a flock of chickens on our small backyard farm in Portland. As an artist and Master Gardener who enjoys crafts, cooking, canning, and local food, I became captivated by Bigleaf Maple sugaring when I first witnessed it at my daughters' school. Since then, I have been a steady volunteer with the Oregon Maple Project, assisting with production, field trips, workshops, and the Board. My work as a counselor and board member at Camp UKANDU, as well as my position as a life & earth science educator at OMSI have provided me with relevant experience to contribute to OMP. My educational background includes a B.A. in Anthropology & Southwest Studies from Colorado College and a M.S. in Genetic Counseling from University of California Berkeley. 

 
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