Corvallis Environmental Center Team


Diane Converse

Executive Director

Diane brings a passion for connecting people and place to her role as the new Executive Director of CEC. She has spent her career working in nonprofits with educational missions primarily in Western Washington and most recently in Alaska. She grew up in Oregon and Washington and is excited to return to the area to be part of such a vibrant and caring community. Diane has a degree in Wildlife Science and completed mid-career graduate work gaining a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Leadership and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She is also a fiber artist and enjoys spending time outside exploring and gaining inspiration for her work.


Josie Blakeney

Administrative Coordinator & Direct Install Coordinator

As the organizational hub of our central office, Josie is likely the voice you hear on the other end of the phone and the face that greets you in the office. She recently moved to Oregon from Mississippi with her husband in June, 2018.  With a love for traveling and people, she is enjoying the scenery in landscape and individuals that the Pacific Northwest provides. In her spare time, Josie loves to bake her famous chocolate chip cookies and sourdough bread and explore new waterfalls every chance she gets.



Liz Habley

Bilingual Nature Programs Educator

Liz received her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Hanover College, IN and has be doing environmental education ever since. She truly learned Spanish as an Environmental Community Management Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru, where there was no choice but to immerse herself in the language and culture. She is passionate about helping young minds absorb the wonders of the natural world and Spanish. She has received her graduate certificate in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, and is completing a Masters in Natural Resources at OSU. In her free time, she enjoys kicking back in her hammock or tending the garden with her kids.


Deb K.


After being away from Oregon for more years than she cares to admit, Deb returned with her family and landed in the Willamette Valley in the summer of 2016. She will tell you that bookkeeping is tailor-made for her because she is a natural investigator, and doesn’t give up on new challenges. Her drive for order, balance, consistency, and completed check-off lists make her happy on a daily basis. In her spare time, she is a maker; crafting, sewing, painting, building, landscaping, gardening, decorating, and coming up with even more ideas to be creative, but she always makes time to enjoy Oregon’s beautiful outdoors!


Faren Leader

Community Produce Stands Manager

Faren has a passion for fresh local produce, community building, and lifetime learning! With previous experience in teaching, social work, and farming, Faren joined our team in 2018 for the pilot year of our Veggie Rx produce stands program in partnership with the Community Health Centers of Linn & Benton Counties. She has returned in 2019 to continue this program, as well as produce stands in partnership with Samaritan Health Services. In her spare time Faren is a mom and loves to hike, camp, knit, read, tend her garden, and preserve produce through canning, pickling, fermenting, freezing, and drying.


Teagan Lochner

Outreach and Events Coordinator

Teagan is the one behind the event curtains. She brings over ten years of cumulative professional experience in public relations, multimedia design, event planning, and cat herding to the CEC, along with her love of the outdoors and a passion for protecting the environment. In her free time, she loves to ski, surf, rock climb, and go hiking with her dog Isabelle. Her favorite things are coffee and high fives.


Serene Mellenthin

Nature Program Coordinator

Serene worked for 7 years for Greater Albany Public Schools as a 6th and 8th grade science teacher and was a live raptor handler and educator at Chintimini Wildlife Center for 10 years. She truly feels that her purpose on this earth is to foster the connection between children and the environment through place-based, inquiry driven hands-on experiences. She is the mother of two children; Lilly is 5 and Penelope (Penny) is almost 3.


Melanie Nelson

Animal Care Specialist

Originally from the Big Island of Hawai’i, but then choosing a military life back in the late 90s, Mel has since called many places home.  After moving to Corvallis form the East Coast, she eagerly looked for opportunities to connect her three boys to the Willamette Valley environment and community.  Not only did she find an answer for them through the CEC, but something special that she also wanted to integrate into.  With a BS in Environmental Geography, a love for animals, and a need to be outdoors, Mel started in NaturePlay, transitioned to caring for the education animals, and then adventured with the summer camps.  When not at Avery House, she enjoys watching her boys’ sporting events, trains her air scenting K9SAR dog, and volunteers in the Chintimini Wildlife Center clinic and Raptor Education Program.


Emily Olivo

Program Director

Emily has been in the environmental education field for nearly a decade, focused on sustainability education, nature connection, and outdoor skills for people of all ages and abilities. She is so excited to contribute to the mission of CEC in her role as Program Director, where she will manage Nature Education, Farm to School, and Sustainable Agriculture programs while increasing the capacity of CEC to positively impact the local community. She holds close to her Jane Goodall’s famous words:  “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Emily is a New Jersey native and holds a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology from North Carolina State University. She spends her free time hiking, camping, doing yoga, and spending time with her husband, dog, and cat.


Marin Oschmann

Community Food Systems Program Assistant

Marin has recently moved to Corvallis after three years of working all around the United States and Central America. She studied Conservation Biology and Latin American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which also happens to be where she grew up. After graduation she continued her passion for conservation while working in ecological field work and education, but at this time she also discovered an interest in sustainable farming and accessibility to healthy, local food. Her experience with small-scale organic farms in Wisconsin, Montana, and Washington has allowed her to realize the beauty and importance of feeding a community healthy foods. She is very excited to learn with and work alongside all the amazing staff, interns and volunteers from SAGE and CEC as a whole.


McKenzie Tritt Rakes

Farm to School Coordinator

McKenzie moved to Corvallis to study Environmental Sciences at Oregon State University. Since graduating in 2015, she has worked as an event planner and lived overseas while volunteering as a youth educator. She is passionate about connecting people to the outdoors and is excited to get kids thinking about their food and local environment through unique, hands-on learning.


Anna Secreast

Nature Educator

Anna received degrees in anthropology and environmental studies from University of Michigan in 2008 and has been chasing student- and youth-centric outdoor adventures ever since.  She has worked as an outdoor educator, adventure camp counselor, and mentored students at educational gardens and organic farming projects.  Now back in school studying Natural Resources Education at OSU, Anna is excited to continue the adventure with Avery House students as they explore the natural world in their own backyard.



Natalie Wright

Nature Educator

Natalie is close to achieving her degree in Natural Resources with a specialization in Education from Oregon State University (September 2019). She truly enjoys spending time with students outdoors and connecting them to their local natural resources. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, exploring rivers, learning about plants and trees and watching for local animals have been her favorite things to do. She is a mom to a vivacious 7 year old boy, Brodyn. In her free time, she enjoys fishing the jetty in Newport, hiking, camping, drawing and painting, experimenting with new recipes, playing baseball and basketball with her son and cruisin’ around Corvallis on bikes.