We are excited to announce that Bill Weiler, founder of the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute, will be our opening keynote, and Heather Fischer, a senior researcher at the OSU Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, will be our closing conference keynote! We are incredibly thankful to have two amazing experts coming to speak with us. They will they share with us aspects of their own work, as well as discuss how we as naturalist can see, interact with, and preserve the spaces around us.

Bill Weiler
Bill Weiler

Bill Weiler is one of our Master Naturalist instructors, and has lived in Lyle, Washington along the Columbia River for 30 years. Bill is a wildlife biologist and has worked as a Habitat Biologist for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, a Marine Reserves Planner for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, and currently as the Habitat Restoration Coordinator for the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council.

Bill is the founder of the Hood River-based environmental education non-profit, the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute, and he has authored several books, including “Don’t Run from Bears.”

Opening Keynote Presentation:

On the Trail to Awesomeness: Master Naturalists at Work in the Columbia Gorge

The Columbia Gorge has been the natural stage for three years of Master Naturalist activities.  To kick off the 2019 Master Naturalist conference, I’ll be featuring the Columbia Gorge Ecology Outdoors Environmental Education programs and offering their Leadership Guidelines that have been implemented successfully for the past 25 years. Then we take a virtual tour of the Sandy River Delta, where community stewardship combined with education have resulted in the planting of more than 1.5 million native trees and shrubs. The Delta has also been the focus of climate adaptation, rare species surveys, and Eco Blitzes. Find out how habitat restoration is accomplished in a place visited by 100,000 visitors and almost as many dogs!

Heather Fischer

Dr. Heather A. Fischer is a senior researcher at OSU’s Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning. Before to coming to the center in July 2018, Heather completed a PhD in Geography at Arizona State University in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

Her dissertation research focused on the development and research of the Map of Life-Denali citizen science program in Denali National Park and Preserve Alaska.

Heather’s research interests include data quality of volunteer-collected data, developing citizen science and informal learning programs with diverse groups of participants, evaluating the use of community-engaged (aka citizen) science data for scientific research, and open access to volunteer collected data. Heather has particular expertise in geographic information science, volunteered geographic information, and social science and program evaluation methodologies.

Closing Keynote Presentation:

Coastal marine debris collection to measuring snow in the Cascades – Exploring Community-engaged Science programs across Oregon”

Oregon offers exciting opportunities across its ecoregions for volunteers to participate in scientific research through a variety of Community (aka Citizen) Science programs. In this presentation, we will explore multiple volunteer opportunities in Oregon and the scientific findings that result from these programs. Dr. Heather Fischer will also share her insights from research she is conducting with community science program volunteers and show how you can be involved in the global engaged science community.