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

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. Josie loves helping the organization run smoothly by making beautiful spreadsheets and assisting wherever she’s needed. 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 is a Birth Doula and loves to bake her famous chocolate chip cookies and explore new waterfalls every chance she gets.


Caitlin Carr

Connecting Youth & Food Coordinator

Caitlin is so excited to be a new member of the Corvallis Environmental Center. She loves spending her time with friends and family, some of her favorite activities being: cooking with others, trail running, and exploring new parts of town. Caitlin spent the last few years in Colorado where she and her friends hiked up a few 14,000+ ft elevation mountains! Caitlin is originally from Portland, OR and moved down to Corvallis to pursue her Master’s in Dietetics and Human Nutrition. Much of her passion for human nutrition revolves around the relationships surrounding food choices, personal health, and environmental impact. Caitlin cannot wait to share what she has learned with others.


Liz Habley

Community Agriculture Manager

Liz has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Hanover College, IN and recently completed her Masters in Natural Resources at OSU with a graduate certificate in Water Conflict Management and Transformation. She is excited to work with gardeners at the Dunawi Creek Community Garden and manage the production at SAGE to help provide local nutritious produce to those in need in our community. She brings to the CEC a passion for partnerships and collaboration, a desire to improve community food systems, experience in non-profits and a background as a natural resource and agriculture educator. She is comfortable speaking Spanish (habla español), she learned Spanish as an Environmental Community Management Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru.


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!


Casey Leslie

Nature Educator

Casey has recently graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor’s degree in both BioHealth Sciences and Public Health. She started as an intern last Spring with the NaturePlay program and continued through the Summer, as an Administrative Assistant, Summer Camp Educator and NaturePlay Educator. Now she has transitioned into a NaturePlay Educator Assistant position. She enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest, identifying new plants or animals along trails and painting.


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.


Mylea Mann

Natureplay Assistant and WILD Educator

Mylea graduated from St. Lawrence University with a combined bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and English and recently moved to Corvallis to start a new adventure. Originally from Thousand Oaks, California she is excited to be back on the West Coast. After graduation, Mylea spent the summer leading hiking trips for middle school students in Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. Mylea is ecstatic to connect to the Corvallis community in her role as a Nature Programs Educator. In her free time, she enjoys exploring places new and familiar, practicing yoga, hiking or reading a good book.  


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.



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.


Jessica Worden

Farm to School Coordinator

​Jessica is excited to work as the Farm to School Coordinator in connecting children with opportunities to experience fresh local food. Jessica has a Master’s Degree in applied anthropology from Oregon State University where she studied childhood and education. Her research led her to a passion in experiential and hands on learning. After graduating she worked in an elementary school for four years where she created and ran a school garden program. She also worked for an after school program creating S.T.E.A.M curriculum. Jessica loves all things plant related, from maintaining her own garden at home to being a plant mom to nearly 30 houseplants. When she isn’t gardening she can be found teaching and practicing yoga, hiking and camping, or cuddling with her dog on the couch.   


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.