Meet OSU’s Newest Extension Master Gardener Faculty and Staff

Laurie Lee Bartlett

Laurie Lee Bartlett is the new Educational Assistant at the Curry Extension Office. She is looking forward to taking the Coos/Curry Hybrid Master Gardener class for 2022! As an educator and previous caretaker to her now grown son, she is starting the next chapter of her life with a desire to serve others. This includes reaching out to everyone who wants to learn more about home horticulture. Her family enjoys practicing sustainable gardening on their acre of land and taking care of goats and chickens. This winter she has been expanding her collection of air plants and orchids which she houses in her sunroom and office. Laurie is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the OSU community!

Amanda Woodlee

Amanda Woodlee is the Master Gardener program coordinator (EPA 2) for Umatilla County, based in Hermiston, Oregon. This position enables her to combine two of her longtime passions: gardening and education. Prior to coming to work for OSU, she enjoyed putting together an annual seed share and gardening expo for her local garden club, where she would talk to attendees about pollinators and compost and all things green. She is excited to apply that same passion and skill to developing, organizing, and enhancing Master Gardener events. When she’s not in her greenhouse or bringing up worms randomly in a conversation, she can usually be found with her nose in a seed catalog or a book, writing (with her garden and two bird feeders in sight from her desk), or studying languages (currently Spanish, French, and ASL). Her favorite thing to grow is the Pruden’s Purple heirloom tomato, and the best book she read recently is Alix E. Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches.

Evie Smith

Evie Smith is the new Master Gardeners (25%) and Small Farm (75%) Coordinator for OSU
Extension in Lincoln County. She is coming to OSU Extension from the University of California Cooperative Extension, where she worked in orchard crop research. In the past, she has worked in several different agricultural systems including mixed vegetable production, aquaponics and coffee. She has several years of experience working in a large mixed vegetable garden that donated everything it produced to the local food bank. She was involved in both volunteer coordination and agricultural management at the garden. She also worked on home gardening initiatives and small-scale agriculture projects in a variety of agricultural contexts in the southeastern United States (where she’s from originally), Guatemala, Cambodia, India and California. An avid gardener herself, Evie looks forward to learning about gardening in Oregon, and to using her experiences with volunteer coordination, gardening initiatives, and extension to support the work of the Master Gardeners in Lincoln County! In her spare time, Evie loves to hike, camp, and cook.

Jennifer Halter

Jenifer Halter has worked as a front desk Office Specialist for Washington County Extension since May 2016.  She was excited to join the metro area Master Gardener team as part of her duties in October 2021.  She always assisted MGs in the office, especially those working the phone helpline, an aspect of the job she loved.  Jenifer is thrilled to work more with this great group and our exceptional volunteers.  She tries to attend MG workshops and visit garden events when she’s able.  After going to a Fall seed saving workshop at Jenkins Estate (Beaverton, OR) she aimed to grow more of her own garden plants from saved seeds.  In 2021, almost all of her tomatoes were grown from previous year’s seeds!  She recalled, “That workshop was so memorable and useful!”  It was led by Washington County MG, Sarah Gramm Wolff, a volunteer at the OSU Extension Learning Garden at Jenkins Estate.  Jenifer’s forester father instilled in her a love of nature, and she enjoys hiking, berry picking (especially huckleberries), doing yard work, biking local trails, and catching sunrises and sunsets.   She looks forward to learning and helping MGs more in 2022!

Erika Szonntag

Erika Szonntag serves Jackson County in southwestern Oregon.  Forty percent of her time is dedicated to managing the Master Gardener Volunteer Program, while another forty percent is dedicated to developing programming and otherwise disseminating information to the community on topics of home horticulture.  Erika is really looking forward to supporting all the great work the Jackson County Master Gardeners are doing, including expanding their educational reach around native plants. 

Before coming to Oregon, Erika was a professional gardener in Colorado while finishing her master’s degree in agriculture and watershed science.  Erika also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay (2014-2016) in agriculture extension.  In her free time, Erika loves to hike and trail run with her dogs, mountain bike, paint and draw, and play in the snow.  Her favorite things to grow in the garden are any type of salad green and sunflowers.  She wishes she were better at growing root vegetables!  

Brooke Edmunds

Brooke Edmunds recently transferred to oversee the Master Gardener Programs in Marion and Polk Counties in July 2021. She has been with OSU Extension since 2014 and previously was in the same position in Linn and Benton Counties. Brooke is an Associate Professor (Practice) of Community Horticulture with a home in the OSU Department of Horticulture. Her background is in plant pathology (M.S. and Ph.D) so you’ll find her nerding out over cool diseases and insects in the garden. In addition to coordinating the Master Gardener volunteer programs in both counties, Brooke contributes to statewide programs related to food gardening (Grow This! Champions and Microgreens are two current projects), and develops online educational material for the OSU Extension website. It’s an exciting time for the OSU Master Gardener Program and Brooke is excited to try out a new flexible format that includes hands-on garden based learning. Brooke’s personal gardening goals for this year are to try growing winged beans (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) and to install a new trellis planted with Passiflora.

Danielle Knueppel

Danielle is located at the Josephine County Extension Office in Grants Pass and divides her time equally between the Master Gardener Program and the Small Farms Program. Danielle’s experience in horticulture includes farming at an organic fresh-cut herbs farm in Colorado, maintaining gardens alongside volunteers at the Cheyenne Botanical Garden, and working as a grower at greenhouses and nurseries in Colorado and Indiana, where she grew up. Before joining OSU, she worked internationally for several years on programs to improve livelihoods and food security among smallholder farmers. Danielle loves to garden and is excited to show new gardeners how fun, easy, and tasty it can be to grow your own vegetables, herbs, and fruits. 

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