Portland Parks & Recreation's Stewardship Coordinators are eager to help you connect with your local natural areas. Contact us today to find out how you can get involved!
Susan Hawes - Johnson Creek Watershed
Parks and natural areas in inner SE and outer SE Portland
Susan works with partner organizations and volunteers in the Johnson Creek Watershed in southeast Portland. Susan has a bachelor's degree in Cultural Ecology from Linfield College, performed botany surveys in the Pacific Northwest for more than ten field seasons, and has managed volunteers for land management-oriented non-profits and government entities since 2000. Susan also volunteered for AmeriCorps for two years in the Portland-Vancouver area and became familiar with many of Portland's natural areas during that time. Growing up in the woods of the Pacific Northwest cultivated her love of everything outdoors, and she is inspired to share this with fellow Portlanders. She likes to garden, fiddle, hike, backpack, botanize, give massages (she's a state-licensed massage therapist), and play with her cats, Scout and Middie.
Mary Verrilli - Westside watersheds
Parks and natural areas in SW and NW Portland
Mary works in parks on the west side of the Willamette River. She has a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from Keene State College and has been engaging youth in environmental education and restoration projects in Oregon with non-profits since 2007. She has been working closely with the PP&R No Ivy League program since 2008 and currently manages this program. Mary enjoys connecting and educating youth and volunteers of all ages to Portland's natural areas while seeing ecological transformations occur in our parks. In her free time, Mary enjoys gardening, backpacking, canoeing, cooking, and listening to live music.
Yoko Silk - Columbia Slough Watershed
Parks and natural areas in N and NE Portland
Yoko works in parks and natural areas in the Columbia Slough watershed in North and Northeast Portland. She has over 14 years of youth work and outdoor education experience, including time as an environmental educator, a backpacking instructor and raft guide, and as a caseworker at a crisis shelter for homeless and runaway teens. Yoko has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. In 2010, Yoko joined the Parks family as the lead teacher for the Jr GRUNT program with the Environmental Education department. Yoko is passionate about connecting people to nature and is committed to serving under-represented communities and creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in nature in meaningful and impactful ways. In her free time, Yoko enjoys going on outdoor adventures, playing cello, juggling and rock-climbing.
Isabel LaCourse - Willamette River Watershed
Parks and natural areas close to the Willamette River
Helping people connect with the world around them and reap the benefits of nature-based education has been Isabel's passion and life's work for over 16 years. Isabel has played roles in diverse formal and informal educational settings, including experience as the Garden Educator at Sabin School in NE Portland, a Para-Educator working with students with special needs, and as a trainer for Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue. For the past three years she has been working as Tualatin Riverkeepers' Environmental Education Coordinator. Isabel began her career as a volunteer with Portland Public Schools Title VII Indian Education Program, where she helped kindergarten through fifth graders connect with Native culture through land and plant-based learning. The common thread of her work is to give students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds the opportunity discover the value of nature through hands-on experiences. Isabel is excited to be working with Parks to create opportunities for diverse and underrepresented communities to engage in watershed health.
Emily Lytle- Westside Watersheds
Community Service Aide II
Emily is a Community Aide in the Stewardship Program. She helps coordinate the No Ivy League and other West Portland stewardship activities. Emily previously served as an AmeriCorps member with within the program as the Stewardship Equity Coordinator. She has a bachelor's degree in Global Studies and Sociology from UC Santa Barbara.
Emily is originally from the Bay Area of California. She served two years in AmeriCorps, one with Portland Parks and one on the East Coast in a food access program. Emily enjoys working directly with communities, creating opportunities for people of all ages to connect to nature. For fun, Emily is an avid gardener, hiker, painter and loves to cook.