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
I grew up hiking Mt. Pisgah, and worked for Friends from 2012-2016. I have extensive experience in farming, machine operation, and hard work. I worked seasonally in 2015 and 2016 and attended OSU in Food Science and Technology, a degree that I finished in 2017. The last couple of years I have spent most of my time working my family farm, which is just across the Coast Fork from the South Bottomlands and building a cider company. I am now back and looking forward to working with everyone 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.
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 Christen, who joined the Friends Stewardship Crew in June, 2016, worked as our lead land steward. She has now moved into a new role as our Nursery Assistant. She brings years of experience helping plants thrive in the park.
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.
Beth Shervey, PhD, Membership Easter Seals Trainee
Beth grew up in Illinois and has been in Oregon for almost ten years. She has years of experience in higher education and resource development. She is also a trained ethnographer and an unrepentant Sondheimite.