Katie Ryan, Executive Director
Katie joined Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center in March of 2005. She brings fifteen years of experience organizing and leading field education programs throughout Oregon, Washington, California, the Yellowstone region, and Canada. Before coming to Opal Creek, she was directing programs at OMSI’s Cascade Science School in Bend, OR. At home in the mountains, she has dedicated her career to sharing these special places with students of all ages, believing 100% that people need to experience wild places in order to care about them. Having spent three years living full time at Jawbone Flats, Opal Creek has become one of her absolute favorite places to share. Katie worked as our Program Director building our ever growing programs from 2005-2009 and took over as Executive Director in October of 2009. She now lives in Bend, OR with her husband Joe and dog Murphy. When not working on behalf of Opal Creek’s amazing programs, Katie spends her time skiing, hiking, rafting, and just trying to be outside as much as possible.
Hometown: Cazenovia, NY
What are you thankful for this year?: New bridges
Playing on your iPod right now?: Phish – pretty much always
Currently reading?: In the Temple of Wolves by Rick Lamplugh
Guilty pleasure?: People magazine
Describe your ideal sandwich: A true NY deli sandwich–crusty bread, turkey, lettuce, fresh tomatoes, cheddar, and just a little dab of mayo. With a true NY pickle on the side.
Favorite outdoor spot?: Steens Mountain
When you’re not working, you’re: Hiking, rafting, skiing, spending time outside with my dog Murphy and my friends and family.
Who’s your hero?: The many people who face physical and mental disability with courage and grace.
Favorite quote: “The mountains are calling and I must go.” –John Muir
Grace Boehm, Program Coordinator
Grace hails from Kansas City, Kansas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in history and environmental science from Goshen College (IN). Grace grew to love the earth and its ecology under the shade of a ponderosa pine in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado after attending and working at a summer camp on the massif of Pikes Peak. Before finding her way to the PNW, she studied and worked in environmental education at the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center in Indiana. Grace came to Opal Creek first as a backpacking intern in 2015, worked as a Science Instructor for the 2016 season, and is excited to return for her third season at Opal Creek in 2017. At Opal Creek you’ll find her mixing a forest cocktail, delighting over the intricacies of mosses, or humbly attempting her hand in the garden.
Hometown: Kansas City, KS
What are you thankful for this year?: New wheels and new friends
Playing on your iPod right now?: Mandolin Orange
Currently reading?: New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry
Guilty pleasure?: Early 2000s fantasy/sci-fi
Describe your ideal sandwich: A hard, crusty French baguette, salami, green olives, balsamic, provolone, and caramelized onions. Doesn’t need to be in sandwich form.
Favorite outdoor spot?: A hop, skip, and a jump up Battle Ax Creek on a summer day when the sun is just right.
When you’re not working, you’re: out and about with a latte, a good book, and maybe an instrument. Or cleaning my cabin.
Who’s your hero?: Arlene Bloom, who was the expedition leader of the first American and first all-woman team summit of Annapurna in the Himalayas. Her team proved that women had the skill, strength, and courage necessary to make difficult and technical climbs. The 1978 Women’s Himalayan Expedition’s accomplishment had a positive impact around the world, changing perceptions about women’s abilities in sports and elsewhere.
Favorite quote: “I can’t seem to let go of the wondering. That’s a good thing. But meanwhile, I may give my life meaning by throwing myself recklessly into it daily, as if something astonishing is happening and I am part of it. It is and I am.” – Robert Fulghum
Isaiah Breckbill, Facilities Assistant
Isaiah grew up in the Mennonite tradition in Wayne County, Ohio, attending Goshen College in northern Indiana. Because the glaciers cleared most of the Midwest, Isaiah is extra stoked to be living by the mountains, streams and old growth forests of the Northwest. He came to Opal Creek because of the opportunities to learn about the unique geology and ecology of the area by backpacking.
Hometown: Kidron, OH
What are you thankful for this year?: Friends and clean water
Playing on your iPod right now?: Ratatat and Pink Floyd
Currently reading?: Environmental Geology and Consciousness Explained
Guilty pleasure: Singing loudly alone
Describe your ideal sandwich: Crispy bread, but not so crunchy that my mouth bleeds. Greens, soft cheese, dressing, avocado, and something spicy.
Favorite outdoor spot?: Red River Gorge in Kentucky
When you’re not working, you’re: Swimming in the creek, hiking, skiing, longboarding, throwing stuff.
Who’s your hero?: My educators over the years.
Favorite quote: “Strangers passing in the street, by chance two separate glances meet, and I am you and what I see is me.”
Simon Gray, Facilities Director
Simon is returning to Opal Creek this year for his fourth season, and is excited to take on the challenges of the Facilities Director position. Simon grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and attended the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, where he received a dual BS/BA in conservation biology and American history. Simon likes to think of himself as an adventurous soul who is open to all the greatness that life has to offer—soaking up the bright lights of the big city and basking in the solitude of wilderness. Commonly seen or heard singing and playing music around camp, Simon is an aspiring musician who encourages you to bring an instrument on your next trip to Opal Creek.
Hometown: Berkeley, CA
What are you thankful for this year?: Clean water
Playing on your iPod right now?: The Harder They Come soundtrack
Currently reading?: Chapterhouse: Dune by Frank Herbert
Guilty pleasure: Burt Reynolds movies. No wait, why would I feel guilty about that?
Describe your ideal sandwich: Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy
Favorite outdoor spot?: Palisades Lake along the John Muir Trail
When you’re not working, you’re: Strumming my guitar or exploring the woods
Who’s your hero?: Werner Herzog
Favorite quote: “All I know is that I know nothing.”
Gabrielle Haber, Development & Communications Manager
A New England native and long-time Oregon resident, Gabrielle Haber spent three years working as Opal Creek registrar before transitioning to development and communications at the end of 2014. After graduating from Lewis and Clark College with degrees in both Art History and Anthropology, she spent six years in farmers market work and food access activism, culminating in the founding of Kitchen Share NE in 2013. She loves putting her writing and strategic planning skills to good use for Opal Creek’s grants and communications, and is currently on a continuing mission to hike all of Oregon’s 45 wilderness areas.
Hometown: Westford, MA
What are you thankful for this year?: My house, my bike, my garden, and my family
Playing on your iPod right now?: Paul Simon or the Grateful Dead
Currently reading?: Annals of the Former World by John McPhee
Guilty pleasure?: Cheesy sitcoms on Netflix
Describe your ideal sandwich: A hot, messy Reuben on sour rye
Favorite outdoor spot?: My next campsite.
When you’re not working, you’re: Either hanging out with all my favorite farmers at the Hollywood Farmers Market, or exploring the trails of the Pacific Northwest.
Who’s your hero?: My cancer-beating, twinkly-eyed grandfather who can out-cycle me any day of the week, and then do it again tomorrow.
Favorite quote: “Envisioning a deluge is easy. It takes imagination to perceive a sea change.” — Marcia Bjornerud
Bryan Kurz, Facilities Assistant
Bryan is returning to Opal Creek for his second season as the new facilities assistant, after completing a fire fuels reduction project with the Student Conservation Association in Southern California. In 2016 he worked as a backpacking intern at Opal Creek and spend the summer exploring the Opal Creek Wilderness guiding expeditions. He is excited to return in this new role and help keep things up and running at Jawbone Flats.
Hometown: Lawrence, KS
What are you thankful for this year?: Good friends and good beer.
Playing on your iPod right now?: Hit that shuffle button, yo.
Currently reading?: The King Killer Chronicles: The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss
Guilty pleasure?: Flaming hot Cheetos and crispy M&Ms
Describe your ideal sandwich: Large
Favorite outdoor spot: Mondos Beach, Ventura, CA
When you’re not working, you’re: Sitting around playing music
Who’s your hero?: My older brothers, Danny and James
Favorite quote: “Become like water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee
AnaCapri Mauro, Registrar
AnaCapri grew up in the woods of rural New England where she learned to love the trees and all of the creatures hiding in her back yard. The first thing she did when moving west was go on a week-long backpacking trip in the Opal Creek area where she discovered the mountains and giant trees of the Pacific Northwest and decided she was never going to leave. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in Environmental Studies, an enthusiastic obsession with volcanoes, and three summers of leading trips to Opal Creek with LC’s outdoor adventure program under her belt. She is always stoked to talk about how amazing Opal Creek is and hopes you enjoy your time in this place as much as she has!
Hometown: Foster, RI
What are you thankful for this year?: A healed shoulder and lots of new places to explore.
Playing on your iPod right now?: Brown Bird
Currently reading?: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Guilty pleasure?: Breakfast Oreos and ABBA. Not at the same time.
Describe your ideal sandwich: Grilled cheese! Nice sourdough, pesto, tomato, and extra sharp cheddar.
Favorite outdoor spot?: Anywhere on, near, or where you can see a volcano (or five).
When you’re not working, you’re: climbing up a wall, rock, or piece of fabric; baking some cupcakes; or trying to find the best chai in Portland.
Who’s your hero?: My family can all share this spot.
Favorite quote: “It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.” — Oscar Wilde
Megan Selvig, Program Director
Megan moved to Jawbone Flats in 2015. A proud Midwest native, she has been fortunate to live and work in many distinct places. After graduating from Luther College in Decorah, IA, with a degree in Environmental Studies, Megan was a teacher/naturalist of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed where she developed an affinity for wetlands and the amphibians and reptiles that inhabit them. Most recently she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Paraguay, where she learned to slow down and listen to the howler monkeys and dwarf frogs. At Opal Creek she enjoys hunting for ‘phibs, playing in the snow, conversing over yerba mate, and learning and teaching about the ancient forest.
Hometown: St. Michael, MN
What are you thankful for this year?: Living close to nature and far from distraction
Playing on your iPod right now?: Buena Vista Social Club
Currently reading?: Woodswoman by Anna LaBastille
Guilty pleasure?: Spanish love ballads
Describe your ideal sandwich: Anything grilled
Favorite outdoor spot?: A mucky swamp
When you’re not working, you’re: playing the piano in cabin 9, or drinking mate/tereré
Who’s your hero?: My dad
Favorite quote: “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo