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Our Teachers


Rob Miller 

Rob Miller’s personal life mission is to take people to the doorway of Nature and let them receive its wisdom.   Rob has been practicing and teaching Ancestral Skills for over a decade.  His gentle, focused, and passionate way of teaching inspires youth and adults alike to continue even when the task is difficult.   More recently, he has developed a passion for “vision quests”, where he holds the container for deep emotional work for participants engaging in multiple-day solo journeys into the wilderness.  His day job is wild-crafting native medicinal plants for sale in local herb stores.  also has extensive knowledge in wild-crafting and medicine-making.  All this makes him particularly effective in organizing events, creating and holding rituals, guiding practical and personal learning, and much more.

Woniya ThibeaultWoniya

Woniya has an educational background in biology and environmental science, and a passion for teaching.  Sharing knowledge of and skills for living in the natural world has been a lifelong passion:  She spent many years working in the field of Environmental Education, in a variety of capacities, from leading multi-day school group trips to being a naturalist to running a nature center at a state park.   In addition, for the past 18 years, she has been an instructor at a variety of ancestral/primitive skills gatherings around the country. Five years ago, she began her own education center in the Columbia River Go
rge where she has taught a variety of courses, from several month, live- in intensives to shorter day long and weekend courses focused on ancestral skills, organic gardening and homesteading, off grid living skills and more.  In the past year, she has cut back on teaching to work on a book project, Buckskin Revolution.

More information about her book project and the courses she runs in Hood River, Oregon may be found on her websites, and

Melanie Rios  Melanie Rios

Melanie Rios’ mission is to inspire and teach skills to help people discover and develop their life-enriching gifts and passions. She has taught and mentored young people in wilderness skills, gardening, communication, relationship-building, parenting skills, and decision-making, She served as Executive Director of the Lost Valley Center, and currently consults with intentional communities helping them with conflict resolution and effective governance.

Melanie incorporates tools such as non-violent communication, sociocracy, and deep democracy into her workshops and classes. Her teaching style is creative and interactive, including participatory music, theater, dance, and poetry. She has taught at George Mason University, Trinity College and The Sidwell Friends School, all in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and is a graduate of Dartmouth College, where she focused on environmental and women’s studies. She has lived in intentional community for thirty-five years, and currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

Justin Michelson 

pic of me

Justin Michelson’s mission is to reconnect youth and adults with themselves, each other and Nature. He sees the challenges in our world today rooted in the common misperception that we are alone, isolated, and disconnected. He sees that to better heal others and the world, we have to heal our own inner conflicts as well. To address these issues personally, he has taken up the practices of mindfulness meditation, community living, organic farming, and teaching/working at Lost Valley.

Justin has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Colorado College, and is a certified Permaculture Designer.  He has been a substitute teacher in Waldorf Kindergarten and 1st grade in Kula, Hawaii.  He has been practicing mindfulness meditation since 2001. He has been living in intentional community since 2006. He has been studying agriculture and Permaculture since 2007. He has taught organic gardening and led meditation groups on-site for the past 4 years. He has been the Director of Lost Valley Center for one and a half years, and currently resides on-site.

Rachel Freifelder

Rachel Freifelder grew up with her father’s abundant organic garden in eastern Massachusetts.  She holds degrees in ecology and environmental science from Stanford University and UC Berkeley, and studied agricultural ecology at UC Davis and herbology at the Pacific School of Botanical Medicine.   She apprenticed on two working farms and left the university world to join in the founding of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, an intentional community in rural Missouri.
Rachel first became a garden educator through giving tours and coordinating volunteers at Dancing Rabbit.  She returned to city life for the purpose of integrating social justice work with sustainable living, and has taught garden skills to both adult and younger neighbors in various schools and urban neighborhoods.  Since settling in Portland’s Cully neighborhood in 2007, Rachel has been the garden educator at Rigler K-8 School and works with a neighborhood group, the Green Rigler Project, to maintain and improve the school’s garden and other outdoor spaces. Rachel offers garden services, consultations and more classes as Handmade Gardens Edible and Native Organic Land Care.
Since 2007, Rachel and her partner, Robert, have been developing an organic mini-farm on a 9000-square foot lot in the Cully neighborhood.  They have combined their shared experience in agriculture, ecology and forestry to manage the land for demonstration, teaching and subsistence.  It incorporates fruit trees, honeybees, domestic ducks, abundant vegetable beds, medicinal plants and Pacific Northwest natives.  Various soil-building techniques are visible, including aerobic composting, cover crops, sheet mulching and on-site animal manures.

Simon Walter-Hansen Simon_Scythe-300x300

Simon Walter-Hansen (a.k.a. the Human Swiss Army Knife) has a curiosity for what makes life magical. When
he says that he sees each of us as a part of a living, breathing, evolving interconnected system, you might not guess he has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He loves to empower students to “do it yourself”, believing that we can provide our own needs while following nature’s example ~ which is to recycle everything. “I am here to facilitate exploration of your curiosity. Let’s do something fun, and see what happens.”

Having grown up tinkering on a hobby farm near Minneapolis, Minnesota, Simon draws on years of experience working
with farmers, masons, carpenters, electricians, architects, and engineers. Simon received a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2000 from the University of Minnesota. In 2008, Simon moved to the Pacific Northwest, to study ecological systems and live in community. While living in Portland, he volunteered with the City Repair Project; later taking on an advising role with the organization. Simon has also interned at the Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead on Orcas Island in 2011 and Aprovecho in early 2013.

Colin Doyle  Colin shot

Before coming to Lost Valley, Colin worked as an Outdoor Science Teacher in the mountains of California and New Hampshire, doing hiking-base
d environmental education with 5th- and 6th-graders.  This included basic ecology, nature awareness, biology, geology, and astronomy, as well as group management/morale and games that are fun, active, and educational.  During summers he led backpacking, canoeing, and other trips with teens, from 5 to 14 days long each.  He enjoys the enthusiasm and silliness of children, as well as their openness, and likes sharing outdoor and life knowledge with them.  Colin has a BA in Anthropology from William & Mary and a MA in Religion from Duke University.  He has lived and worked in various states and on four continents.  He has been the head of education at Lost Valley since early 2011.

Jacquelyn Byers  Jackie photo

Jackie has extensive experience working with kids and teens, and especially enjoys their breakthroughs, energy for new things, and seeing them lose their edges.  An interest of hers is helping young visitors understand the values of those living at Lost Valley and the future usefulness of this lifestyle. Jackie’s involvement in EarthQuest programs will be in the theater domain. She has worked with ages 6 to 18 in theater, musical theater, improv, dance, and public speaking. For the past 6 years she has taught young thespians at Upstart Crow Studios in Eugene (

Larry for webLarry Kaplowitz

We would call Larry a specialist in “Personal” and “Social” Sustainability.   Larry has been teaching interpersonal communication and awareness workshops for nearly 30 years, in places including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Portland, Seattle, Eugene and many intentional communities and festivals. He has also worked as an artist and designer, spent ten years as program director at Lost Valley Educational Center, co-produced the magazine, Talking Leaves: a Journal of our Evolving Ecological Culture, and, along with his partner, Luna Marcus, created Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, an organic, vegan ice cream available widely throughout North America. Larry is father of 3 children, and, along with Luna, is developing a community and retreat center just outside Eugene.

Brian Byers Brian for web

Brian Byers is a qualified permaculture designer and experimental farmer living and working at Lost Valley Educational Center in Dexter, Oregon. He has a background in organic agriculture and native ecological restoration, and currently runs the permaculture design firm Transterraform and helps manage the gardens at Lost Valley. Brian is passionate about permaculture and its potential to rehabilitate the holistic connection between humanity and nature. 

Ananda Reeves

Ananda Reeves has been a personal coach and teacher for over 30 years. She has led workshops and given presAnanda photoentations all over the country, for businesses and individuals. She now resides on-site where she enjoy the simplicity and beauty of living in Nature and living in community. “For many years, I was the one who hired centers and went to facilities. I decided I wanted to live in a community that ran an education center and bring people to me!” Our beloved Elder, Ananda, has demonstrated exactly what she has taught for decades around the country. She decided what she wanted, and then manifested it. Her lifetime of experience and knowledge about deep personal satisfaction, inner peace and “making life easy” shines out from her blue eyes.

Julia Carr

Julia Carr first began studying Yoga ten years ago at the University of Oregon.
Through the joys and challenges of raising a child, running her own business, and living in different parts of Oregon, Yoga has steadied and grounded her life path. She is now finishing up an intensive teacher training program to receive her certification. She has a passion for youth, and believes that being present with our breath, and present with the body in movement can help us focus, relieve stress, relax, and move through difficult circumstances. Julia now resides on-site at Lost Valley.

Rick Valley  Rick photo

Rick Valley has lived in 10 states and two other countries, but has called Oregon home for 2/3 of his life. With degrees in anthropology and education and extensive time in Latin America, he turned to horticulture upon his eventual return. Finding permaculture happened soon after, and studying with Bill Mollison in 1986 made it his life. He has been coming to Lost Valley to teach or participate in workshops and conferences since the first conference (Restoration Forestry) but finally took the Land Steward position and moved here in 2004. “Having known the land for a good time and seeing many changes as well as learning from many visitors has been a wonderful background for the Land Steward position, and working with forest, stream, meadow, community, and gardens is fun for someone who enjoys holistic design.”

Nava Isham 

Nancy Isham (aka “Nava”) is a Minnesota native who loves to explore the Oregon rivers and alpine lakes by canoe. She received a diploma in 1987 in Audio/Visual Production, working as a staff photographer for community papers and working as videographer in the local music scene. She especially likes to videotape and edit environmentally focused documentaries. Nava has been a professional cook since age 18 and started out by working as a prep cook at conference centers and country clubs in Minnesota. In 1990 she discovered natural food coops and — for environmental and spiritual reasons — became a vegetarian. Before leaving Minneapolis she worked for three plus years at the infamous New Riverside Cafe the first worker-owned collective in the Twin Cities. She has been cooking with whole foods and promoting organic farming practices and sustainable living ever since. She is an avid gardener who intermingles Biodynamic and Permaculture techniques together in her own back yard. She loves to cook with fresh produce harvested from the Lost Valley gardens. As a Lead Cook for Lost Valley programs, Nava enjoys working with kitchen volunteers and interns to create healthy, homestyle meals for the community, permaculture students, guests, and event patrons.

Chris Roth Chris for web

Chris enjoys facilitating connections between people and the natural environment. His nature walks can focus on slowing down to notice all there is happening, or can key on birding, native plants, wild edibles, or other group interests. Chris started working in environmental education more than three decades ago, was the head gardener at Lost Valley for years, and has guided children and adults on nature walks in Alton Baker Park, at Lost Valley, and elsewhere. He currently co-leads monthly bird walks, as well as regular nature walks for schoolchildren, at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum (

Mala Spotted EagleMala photo

Mala Spotted Eagle, son of Rolling Thunder and Spotted Fawn, is a Western Shoshone and Cherokee Native American who has studied and traveled with many different medicine people, spiritual leaders and native elders. He is dedicated to building bridges between cultures, speaking to diverse audiences throughout North America and Europe.  He is a leading member of Nanish Shontie, a land-based Native-inspired community near Triangle Lake, OR ( 

Devon Bonady Devonforweb

Devon Bonady has lived, gardened, and forested at the southern end of the Willamette Valley on a beautiful forested hillside for over ten years.  She loves to work with plants and does so through annual and perennial gardening and plant propagation.  She stewards and manages Fern Hill Nursery and Botanical Sanctuary with her family.  She teaches workshops and classes for adults on a variety of plant and permaculture topics including gardening with native plants, plant propagation, forest gardening, and year-round gardening in the Pacific Northwest.  Her specialty is ethnobotany- examining the past and present relationships between people and plants in the Pacific Northwest.  She also enjoys working with children and has assisted in the development of local plant-based environmental education projects.

Andrew Whitedove

Andrew Whitedove has been involved with solar technologies, peace activism, and permaculture for 40 years. In 1989 he completed a degree in electrical engineering where he earned Summa Cum Laude. In 1991 he was certified as Photovoltaic System Design Engineer by the Seimens Solar Corporation. Since then he has worked for several solar contractors in California and Oregon visiting hundreds of solar thermal and photovoltaic systems, created Sunfarmer Energy Services, a solar contracting company in Oregon, as well as taught and written technical manuals on the subject. He has worked with Lost Valley Educational Center in recent years to revive solar usage there and teach courses in solar energy systems. He is a permaculture entrepreneur and enjoys bicycling nearly everywhere he goes.