About the Friends Staff
Janelle McCoy came to the Friends in January 2020, after leading a number of nonprofit organizations in Eugene and Philadelphia. “I’m eager to be joining such a well-respected and valuable community organization like the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah,” said McCoy. “The Howard Buford Recreation Area and its surroundings play a vital role in the conservation and restoration of rare habitat and provide compatible recreational access for our community. As a lifelong outdoors enthusiast and a former cross country trail athlete, I have been a frequent user and advocate for Buford Park and greater Mt. Pisgah.”
McCoy added, “I’m wholeheartedly looking forward to sustaining this environmental and recreational gem for future generations. With my past fundraising experience and avocational training in land management and holistic sustainability practices, it is an honor to carry forward our legacy in concert with our partners.”
Then Board President, Kevin Shanley stated, “We are excited to bring Janelle’s deep experience, skills and talent to help the Friends strengthen and grow in 2020 and beyond. Buford Park is a treasured community asset that the Friends are proud to protect and enhance. We were impressed with Janelle’s knowledge and connections to the community. Rather than looking for an environmental expert, we searched for someone who had a connection to the land and had a track record of building fiscally sound and sustainable nonprofit organizations.”
Jason Blazar, Stewardship Director
Jason has worked for the Friends since November 1999 and has a background in natural resource management, landscape design, and planning. He is particularly interested in understanding the ecological relationships between human activities and the landscapes in which they occur. He leads the implementation of the Friends Stewardship Program to care for habitat and recreational resources within greater Mt. Pisgah including Buford Park. Over his tenure, he has defined the Friends brand of stewardship and nurtured the relationship between the organization, its membership, the public, and this place we know as our urban wilderness. He is a principal author of the park’s Habitat Management Plan, as well as plans to guide management of the Sorenson Property (owned by BPA) and Turtle Flats (owned by the Friends).
Zac Miller, Lead Land Steward
Zac grew up hiking Mt. Pisgah and started working for the Friends in 2012. From 2015-2016 he simultaneously attended OSU and obtained a degree in Food Science and Technology in 2017. He has extensive experience in farming, machine operation and hard work. From 2017-2020 he spent most of his time working his family farm (just across the Coast Fork from the South Bottomlands) and building a cider company. In 2020 he rejoined the Friends as Lead Land Steward, where he enjoys working with others to make Buford Park a blend of native wilderness and a place for everyone to hike and enjoy.
Kurt Kamin, Land Steward
Kurt has worked as a Land Steward for the Friends since 2003, and has contributed to the organization as a volunteer, writer, photographer and supporting member since 1999. Originally from Wisconsin, he has been a Eugene resident for nearly 25 years. He appreciates the beauty of Oregon’s wild and natural areas and occasionally ventures to the mountains and coast with his daughter and partner. His hobbies include reading, gardening, biking, basketball, photography, writing and listening to music.
Lily Serrao, Land Steward
Alyssa Larimer, Trails Steward
Alyssa was raised in Western Washington and spent much of her childhood hiking, kayaking, and backpacking in the surrounding forests. When she moved to Eugene in 2016, Mount Pisgah was one of the first places she visited and she felt at home right away. Alyssa studied Environmental Science and Biology at the University of Oregon. Since graduating in 2020, she has worked with the San Juan Island Conservation Corps (ICC) and done contract work for the Forest Service. When she’s not on the trails, she spends her time painting, juggling, making soup and knitting. She is currently working on a life-size knitted replica of the largest living organism on the planet, Armillaria ostoyae: the Humongous Fungus. If you run into Alyssa on the trails, never hesitate to strike up a conversation, she’d love to get to know you.
Jared Tarr, Volunteer & Intern Coordinator
Mieko Aoki, Nursery Manager
Mieko Aoki has a background in biology, landscape architecture, horticulture, habitat restoration and wildlife rehabilitation. Mieko says she “loves working side-by-side with others outdoors and watching friendships kindle between people working toward a common goal.” Mieko works between staff and the nursery volunteers, matching interests and talents with activities such as native plant propagation and scientific inventory and monitoring.
April Dawne Christen, Nursery Assistant
April Dawne grew up in Eugene and has been hiking and exploring all over Oregon with her dad since she was a kid. Her love of plants, mushrooms, wild places, dancing, delicious food and being physically active has led to a varied work history. She has been a restaurant cook, worked for the Forest Service, coordinated natural history workshops and continues to run her own landscaping business. April Dawne joined the Friends Stewardship crew in June of 2016 and became the Nursery Assistant in May of 2020 where her infectious laugh can be heard throughout the nursery.
Teresa Aslin, Grants and Fiscal Administrator
Teresa brings fiscal experience overseeing and stewarding federal and state grants. She is excited to create working relationships and strengthening the fiscal position of the Friends so we can continue to restore, steward, and protect Buford Park and the surrounding Mt. Pisgah area. She is passionate about enjoying the beauty of nature, spending time with family and friends, and solving puzzles.