Katie Chipko has been with the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon since 2012. Previously, she has worked as an educator and Program Coordinator at North Cascades Institute in northern Washington, and Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center in Oregon. She received her B.A. in Biology and Geography from the University of Colorado. In her spare time, Katie can be found chasing around her two young children, hiking on local public lands, cooking, or enjoying a good book.
Jacqueline Ruggieri joined the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon staff in 2020. Before making the move to Bend, she called Yosemite National Park home for 8 years. While in Yosemite she worked as a Wilderness Ranger for the National Park Service and as an Environmental Science Educator with NatureBridge. She received her B.S. in Environmental Education and Interpretation from Humboldt State University. She loves adventuring with camera in hand, experiencing cultures through travel, and spending time with family and friends.
Latino Outdoor Engagement Coordinator
Zavier Borja is a first generation Mexican-American, born and raised in Central Oregon. His passions include serving our youth and communities, equity, and getting outside. Zavier has worked for various youth programs for the past eight years, including the Boys and Girls Club, Bend Parks and Recreation District, and Education Outside in San Francisco. Most recently, Zavier worked for Bend-La Pine School District, as a Mentor Specialist for at-risk youth at Summit High School. In 2019, Zavi founded the Central Oregon chapter of Latino Outdoors. Zavier is joining the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon in 2020 with a new position that works to increase access to the outdoors for our LatinX populations here in Central Oregon. The position works on behalf of the Central Oregon Partnership for LatinX Outdoor Access.
AmeriCorps Member – NatureHoods Coordinator
Cara Gates is an AmeriCorps Volunteer serving with the Children’s Forest of Central Oregon as the NatureHoods Coordinator for the 2019-2020 school year. She received her B.S. from Humboldt State University in Zoology. Cara’s work experience includes wildlife rehabilitation and informal education.
Board of Directors
Rika Ayotte (President)
Executive Director, Discover Your Forest
Robi Phinney (Vice President)
Vice Principal, La Pine Middle School
Gwen Jones (Secretary)
Project Manager, Central Oregon Health Council
Kevin Cole (Treasurer)
Chief Financial Officer, Mid-Oregon Credit Union
Recreation Services Manager, Bend Park and Recreation District
Retired School Teacher
Central Oregon Ambassador, Latino Outdoors; Mentor, Bend-La Pine School District
Behavior Program Administrator, Bend-La Pine Schools
System Pediatrics Clinics Manager, Mosaic Medical
Vice President, Visionary Homes
Anna Higgins (Ex officio)
Director of Innovation, High Desert Education Service District
Education Director, Upper Deschutes Watershed Council
Kileen Mitchell (Ex officio)
Partnerships and Conservation Education Program Manager, Deschutes National Fore
Rangeland Management Specialist, Ochoco National Forest
Dual Immersion Program Director, Bend-La Pine Schools
Visitor Experiences Coordinator, Oregon State Parks
Communications Manager, The Environmental Center
Equity Committee: Committee Job Description
Laura Handy (co-chair), Zavier Borja (co-chair), Kathya Avila Choquez, Priscilla Calleros, Karen Gentry, Becca Gilbert, Alyssa Grove, Amanda Jamison, Kecia Kubota, Kinsey Martin, Tyler McRae, Kileen Mitchell, Carolyn Nesbitt, Jill Nishball, Sasha Sulia, Sophia Anguilla, Karina Smith, Mary Bowker, Katie Chipko, Jacqueline Ruggieri
Program Committee: Committee Job Description
Katie Chipko (chair), Alyssa Grove, Karen Gentry, Carolyn Nesbitt, Becca Gilbert, Kileen Mitchell, Jill Nishball, Jennifer Mickelson, Tyler McRae, Eric Denzler, Amanda Accamando, Cara Gates, Jacqueline Ruggieri
Marketing Committee: Committee Job Description
Lauren Williams (chair), Kassidy Kern, Amy Jensen, Becca Burda, Katie Chipko, Jacqueline Ruggieri
Fundraising Committee: Committee Job Description
Kolleen Miller (chair), Bruce Abernethy, Rika Ayotte, Dana Whitelaw, Lynnanne Hayes, Lauren Williams
Health Committee: Committee Job Description
Tamarra Harris (chair), Dr. Rebecca Hicks, Dr. Leslie Rust, Dr. Kristi Nix, Gwen Jones, Sue Boettner, Rebekah Berry, Tory Kurtz, Nicole Lex, Anna Morris
Committees are open to community members. Please contact email@example.com if you have an interest in joining a committee.
The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon welcomes students and participants of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, military or marital status, age, sensory, physical or mental disability to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students and participants of our programs.
Equal Employment Opportunity: The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, military, genetic information, ancestry, marital status, age, citizenship or any other basis prohibited by law in any of its policies or programs.