As many readers in the north Valley are aware, our friend and colleague Amy Grotta passed away in late December in Portland. Amy had been living with cancer for a number of years and her fighting spirit had been an inspiration for all of us. She was an incredible human being, deeply respected and loved by all who knew her. We will carry her memory with us always.
Amy was the OSU Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) Extension agent in Columbia, Washington and Yamhill Counties. I had the pleasure and good fortune of working with Amy for ten years since she joined FNR Extension. Since we worked in adjacent Counties with many similarities in climate, forest types, and audiences, I guess it was natural for us to collaborate on projects. We shared writing for the Tree Topics Blog and our individual newsletters, designed and taught many classes and events together. She was very talented and such a pleasure to work with. Amy was an inspiration to me.
Amy had a strong passion for her work that came from a deep love of the natural world, and a commitment to helping people better understand and care for it. Amy was compassionate, unflappable, inclusive, and organized. She liked to involve people, build community and get things done.
Amy leaves a void in the lives of her family, colleagues and communities of which she was such a part. There will be a celebration of life this summer, and other events in her memory will be organized in the future, such as work parties at the Matteson Demonstration Forest. A memorial fund has been established to help continue her work there. I have included more information about that and about Amy’s life below.
Amy Grotta Obituary
Amy Grotta, 49, died December 24, 2019, in Portland, Oregon, after a four-year battle with chondrosarcoma.
Amy was the wife of David Dreher, mother of Anna (17) and Eben (13), daughter of Emily Grotta and James Grotta, step-daughter of John Boudreaux and Kathy Dreyfus, and sister of Jacob, Andrew and Ben Grotta.
Amy was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, and moved around quite a bit as a child, living in Israel, New York, Mississippi, Colorado and Massachusetts. Eventually her family settled in Houston,Texas, where she graduated from Bellaire High School in 1988. Amy was an honor student, a talented gymnast, editor of her high school yearbook, and active in many high school clubs and youth organizations.
Amy attended the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in Conservation and Resource Studies. After graduation, she moved to Vermont where she worked as a wilderness trail crew leader, farm hand, gymnastics coach and high school teacher. In 1996, Amy left Vermont for the Peace Corps and spent two years working in rural Paraguay as an agroforestry technician and travelling with friends and family to Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil.
After completing her Peace Corps service, Amy returned to Vermont and married David Dreher. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Corvallis, Oregon and Amy began graduate school at Oregon State University. After receiving her master’s degree in Forest Science in 2002, Amy was hired by Washington State University Extension as the forestry agent for King County. In 2008, Amy and her family returned to Oregon when she joined the Oregon State University Forestry & Natural Resources Extension as an assistant professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. She became a tenured associate professor in 2015.
Amy was a passionate educator who engaged effectively with the family forest landowner community as the Forestry and Natural Resources Extension agent for Columbia, Washington, and Yamhill Counties. She actively supported a group of Master Woodland Managers, members of the Women Owning Woodlands Network, three local chapters of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, and the Oregon Woodlands Cooperative. Amy succeeded as an educator largely because she was not only knowledgeable but also very approachable. She embraced the challenges of working in a very diverse area and was equally at ease working with rural forest landowners, discussing rural/urban interface issues, or helping Portland neighborhoods maintain a healthy urban forest. These skills made her an effective, well-respected, and welcome leader among her colleagues.
In her work Amy sought to include and empower the people she worked on behalf of through her involvement in a number of citizen science initiatives. She was the driving force for the Oregon Forest Pest Detector program, a collaboration with several state agencies that trains volunteers to monitor for the arrival of invasive insect species. She was given the Vice Provost Award for Excellence, OSU Outreach & Engagement for her work on the program in May 2019. Her efforts with the Oregon Season Tracker program, which involves community members in climate science research through observations of precipitation and phenology, were recognized in September 2019 with the OSU Extension Association Search for Excellence award. Most recently she had been very involved with the Oregon Bee Atlas in their efforts to involve family forest owners in studying and understanding the role of wild pollinators in Oregon. Every project Amy was involved in benefited greatly from her participation.
Amy’s neighbors and friends knew her as an avid gardener, a strong parent, and a lifelong lover of nature and wilderness who was always looking forward to the next adventure. She will be greatly missed by friends, neighbors, family, and colleagues.
A celebration of Amy’s life will be held Saturday, June 6, 2020 at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon. If you would like additional details for the celebration, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Details will also be shared on Facebook through the In Memory of Amy Grotta group. Cards can be sent to the Dreher Family, 4706 NE 18th Ave, Portland, OR 97211.
Donations in memory of Amy may be made through the OSU Foundation. In alignment with Amy’s values and life’s work, all donations will be used to support the research, outreach and education activities of the OSU College of Forestry. Please send donations to: OSU Foundation, 4238 SW Research Way, Corvallis, OR 97333-1068. Please include this form with your donation and state that it is “in memory of Amy Grotta” and for the College of Forestry. If you are including a check, please write “College of Forestry, in memory of Amy Grotta” on the memo line of your check.
For online donations, please visit the OSU Foundation’s Giving page. To ensure your donation is tracked correctly, 1) choose the ‘College of Forestry’ on the “Direct my gift to a specific OSU College or Campus” AND 2) put “In memory of Amy Grotta” in the comment box.