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
Jay Davis, Director of Programs and Hospitality
Jay joined the Opal Creek team in 2016. An adventurer by heart and experiential educator by trade he has been inspiring awe and beauty within natural areas since 2002. Jay brings to Opal Creek his creative mind, years of program facilitation, and the ability to wonder at the natural beauty of the land. Previously he developed educational programs for a farm & wilderness preserve in Northern California and served as a field educator at an outdoor school in Southern California, in addition to his many years supervising residential programs. Jay holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an emphasis on Nature Center and Camp Management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a Master’s of Science in Experiential Education from Minnesota State University – Mankato. He enjoys trail running, biking, water play, scrambling, photography, and interacting with all types of animals.
Hometown: West Allis, WI
What are you thankful for this year?: I am thankful for my continued good health and the opportunity to travel, explore, and adventure.
Playing on your iPod right now?: Gramitik – Muy Tranquillo
Currently reading?: Experience and Education by John Dewey
Guilty pleasure?: hot water
Describe your ideal sandwich: My ideal sandwich is a grilled egg, cheese, and avocado sandwich with pickles and sprouts and a bag of sea salt & vinegar chips.
Favorite outdoor spot?: In a tree or on a rock.
When you’re not working, you’re: In the woods running or taking photos with my camera.
Who’s your hero?: I admire Dr. Seuss for having a strong positive impact on the populace through his simple and creative thoughts. This is how you influence the world in less than twenty words – “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing will ever change no it will not.”
Favorite quote: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” –Jimi Hendrix
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?: Forward movement
Playing on your iPod right now?: I See the Sign by Sam Amidon
Currently reading?: The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson
Guilty pleasure?: Cheesy sitcoms on Netflix
Describe your ideal sandwich: A hot, messy Reuben on sour rye
Favorite outdoor spot?: Anywhere on the Oregon coast overlooking the ocean
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: “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” – Che Guevara
Nick Hannar, Facilities Director
Nick came to Opal Creek after a long time of earning a paycheck as an hourly union employee in a mill in Battle Creek, MI. Nick has a very diverse life experience varying from construction, education, coaching wrestling, truck driving, youth pastor, long-term community volunteer, and many other influences that have imparted the gift of perspective to him. He is a 2005 graduate of Olivet College with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science and Communications; and a graduate of Ecumenical Theology Seminary in 2013. He has received training as a chaplain, and while serving in the US Army was an Information Services Operator. Nick is of the belief that Opal Creek is a magnet that drew him here in response to his constant prayers. His prayers were to learn guitar, learn the plants in the forest and their medicinal uses, and to live in a pristine environment that will aid in his life-long goal of spiritual development.
Hometown: Delton, MI
What are you thankful for this year?: The opportunity to work for Opal Creek, live in an old-growth forest, and learn from all the people this forest attracts.
Playing on your iPod right now?: I love the songs “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley, “Hallelujah” by any artist, “Amazing Grace,” and I also enjoy hip hop, bluegrass, and folk.
Currently reading?: The Elder Brothers: A Lost South American People and Their Message About the Fate of the Earth by Alan Ereira
Guilty pleasure?: Red meat, good beer, hot water
Describe your ideal sandwich: I will judge a place based on their reuben.
Favorite outdoor spot?: On a dock extending into a lake in Barry County, MI.
When you’re not working, you’re: On a lake, river, or in the woods
Who’s your hero?: Me
Favorite quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi
Janelle Hammerstrom, Registrar
After moving to Portland, OR from Richland, WA, Janelle joined Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center as Registrar in 2015. Janelle graduated from Willamette University with a bachelor’s in Mathematics and a minor in Studio Art. After graduating, she moved back home to eastern Washington where she spent a couple years working as a research associate in the Advanced Power & Energy Systems group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. A member of the Mid-Columbia Symphony and part of a very musical family, Janelle has played bassoon for roughly 15 years. Janelle is passionate about the visual arts and is working to boost her skills and exposure as an illustrator.
Hometown: Richland, WA
What are you thankful for this year?: My family and my health.
Playing on your iPod right now?: Probably Hall and Oates.
Currently reading?: Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.
Guilty pleasure?: Terrible puns
Describe your ideal sandwich: Breakfast sandwich! Delicious bagel, salty fried egg and extra sharp cheddar
Favorite outdoor spot?: The middle of a river on an inner-tube in summer
When you’re not working, you’re: Hunched over my dining room table working on a drawing, playing bassoon, running, or hiking.
Minnie O’Grady, Food Service Manager
Minnie joined the camp community in 2013 through the Boy Scouts of America. After graduating from Oregon State University studying biocultural nutrition she tried her hand at hospitality at the Grand Canyon. One very long month later, she returned home to Oregon and subsequently camp life. Fully surrendering to the call of the woods, Minnie joined the Opal Creek team at the beginning of 2017. As the Food Service Manager, she is excited to share her homemade meals and create a space for sass and shenanigans. In her off-time you might find her gardening, rallying a team of misfits, or taking a vow of silence.
Hometown: Lebanon, OR
What are you thankful for this year?: Oregon and its seasons
Playing on your iPod right now?: What was hot when I was in high school
Currently reading?: I’m not, but I wish I were.
Guilty pleasure?: Long, profound conversations with myself. But I’m not that guilty about it.
Describe your ideal sandwich: BLT – sturdy sourdough, plenty of mayo, thick cut bacon, beefsteak tomato, no lettuce, add cheese. Lettuce has no place on a sandwich.
Favorite outdoor spot: Quartzville, OR
When you’re not working, you’re: Traveling wherever I can.
Who’s your hero?: Alton Brown
Favorite quote: “Take care of your own sh*t. Make your own money.” – Beyoncé
Megan Selvig, Program Coordinator
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