Catherine Alexander | Interim Executive Director

Catherine grew up in Western Oregon where she spent her childhood exploring the forests surrounding her family’s farmstead and drawing the native plants and animals. After studying fine art and art history at the University of Oregon and Portland State University, she worked in New York art world for eleven years.  Following that, she Relocated to Sarasota, Florida, to direct an art gallery and pen art criticism for the Sarasota bureau of the New York Times Syndicate.

At the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, her childhood love of nature illustration was rekindled. Catherine studied and illustrated tropical and subtropical orchids for six years after which she returned to Oregon to reconnect with the ecological beauty of the Northwest.

In addition to her professional roles, Catherine participates in several regional art exhibitions each year. She teaches botanical illustration workshops for youth and adults, nature outings on behalf of the Kanawe Institute, and is the parent of Drew, a Reed College graduate and computer programmer with a talent for magical thinking. Catherine resides in Salem, Oregon.

email: /phone: 503-302-4645


Kate Matthews | Program Coordinator

Kate is a recent graduate from Willamette University who majored in Environmental Science and Spanish. Kate grew up on Bainbridge Island, WA where exploring the woods in her backyard and avid reading of National Geographic instilled in her a passion and curiosity for the outdoors. Through her work with Girl Scouts and as a trip leader and office staff for Willamette University Outdoor Program, Kate became passionate about outdoor education and the transformative power of sharing the outdoors with others. Besides working with Straub, Kate also interns at the state capitol as a legislative intern.



Lena Baucum | Education Consultant

Lena grew up in rural Oregon playing hide-and-go-seek with her siblings in the woods, collecting flowers for Mother’s Day, and running trails with friends. The outdoors have always been a part of her life and she loves to travel and experience nature around the world.  

As an educator, Lena spent nearly two decades working with diverse communities and language learners. She specialized in curriculum and instruction for language learners from early childhood through high school.  She has worked with educators across all disciplines and grade levels and believes strongly in the marrying of quality, discipline-specific pedagogy, integrated with applicable language supports and structures to ensure success for all students. She is passionate about the teaching of science as a means to develop scientific decision-making and stewardship.

email: 503-779-5227


Rachel Fischer | Research Associate

Rachel grew up in Anchorage, Alaska with some her fondest memories being of exploring the Chugach Mountains and hiking to pick blueberries as a fall tradition.

She currently attends Willamette University as an Environmental Science and Anthropology double-major, and is particularly passionate about sustainable living. At Willamette, Rachel hosts the WU Unplugged Energy Competitions, where she works with students to help decrease their energy use and promote mindful consumption of energy and single-use plastics. She also coordinates student sports leagues and activities as part of the Intramural Program on campus.

Rachel will graduate in 2019, after which she plans to either return to Alaska to spend quality time with her family, or remain in Oregon to pursue a graduate degree in a field related to sustainability, public health, or environmental health.