Board of Directors
Benton SWCD Directors and Associates
The Benton Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been serving local landowners since 1956.
Benton Soil & Water Conservation District is led by seven volunteer directors, who are elected to represent five geographical zones in the county, and two at-large directors. Other volunteers are appointed to serve as associate directors. These volunteers contribute substantial insight, expertise and energy to the Board.
If YOU are interested in serving as a director or associate, please email us, call or stop by. Several pathways to serving on the board exist! Here is an info sheet about Zone and At-Large Board Director Roles, Responsibilities and Eligibility Criteria. Here is an info sheet about the roles and responsibilities of Associate Directors- a great first step for District engagement! Use this fillable form to submit an application at any time. Before submitting your application, save it using this naming convention: YYYY-MM-DD Board App Last Name. For example, Jane Smith’s application submitted November 25 2020 would have the name 2020-11-25 Board App Smith.
For information about Director Elections and to see the Zone Map, click here.
ZONE 1: Henry Storch
As Henry travels around the county, he is on the lookout for invasive weeds. “If I find the next meadow knapweed or false brome on my horseshoeing rounds hopefully we can get rid of it before it becomes a problem.”
“I first got interested in being involved to help identify new invasive plants and get new infestations eradicated before they become a threat to agriculture and native ecosystems. As a farrier I drive all over Benton County and see a lot of new weeds before they are widespread. Now I have a place to go when I find something new to the area.”
“Besides being on the lookout for new weeds, I’m also interested in rare native plant species. I’m a firm believer in the stewardship of families that make their living off the land. It’s no coincidence that most of the healthiest native prairies in Benton County are on private land. Grazing, farming, logging and other disturbance factors that are a way of life for rural residents have “preserved” the habitat for many species that have become rare on unmanaged public lands. We should take the concerns of private land owners and those who make their living on natural resources into consideration when working to conserve or expand these habitats. Incentives that reward good stewardship should take precedence over arbitrary regulations that infringe on land management decisions.”
“I live outside Philomath and grow produce and plants for the Corvallis Farmers Market. I enjoy collecting native wildflower seed and sharing it with neighbors. I’m motivated to protect the quality of life in rural Benton County for my son and daughter.”
ZONE 2: Faye Yoshihara, Chair
Faye Yoshihara and her husband, Kevin Kenaga own a small woodland, their Forest Fractal, in the Soap Creek Valley. Drawn by its biodiversity, their goal is to preserve and protect Oregon oak savannah and woodland while encouraging biodiversity in a healthy mixed species forest with diverse habitats, including riparian and wetland areas that feed into Soap Creek and the Luckiamute River watershed.
Professionally, Faye merges a 20-year corporate career with over a decade of brokering cross-sector partnerships and supporting social enterprise development. Faye was a general manager for Nike Inc., where she provided regional line management in emerging markets. At S. C. Johnson & Son, she held diverse positions from R&D to business management, including expatriate assignments based in Venezuela, Mexico & Malaysia. These corporate experiences prompted Faye to launch Pontes Consulting LLC, where she worked with businesses, NGOs, CBOs & government agencies promoting collaborative models for job creation.
Returning to her own rural roots having been raised on a farm in Malheur County Oregon, Faye now focuses her efforts on rural livelihoods and experiential learning with Forest Fractal, LLC, a social enterprise dedicated to the restorative economy. Faye served as an adjunct instructor at Portland State University School of Business, Master of International Management the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Collaborative Design spanning a ten-year period. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Benton Soil Water Conservation District and Biomimicry Oregon. Faye holds bachelors’ degrees in Food Science and Technology and Microbiology from Oregon State University and a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.
ZONE 3: Jerry Paul, Treasurer
Jerry’s formal education is in Architecture and Urban Planning. He worked as an Urban Planner at both the city and county level before becoming a principal partner in a planning consulting firm based in San Francisco, CA. He preferred working in the public sector, so he left the private sector and went to work for the City of Salinas, CA.
For the first 15 years at the City, he worked as a Senior Planner, Assistant Community Development Director, and Community Development Director. He then changed careers and became the Information Technology Manager for the City. For the next 17 years, he directed the computer and telephone operations and developed the City’s GIS system, retiring in July 2004.
During his working career in the Salinas Valley, he and his wife, Judith, owned and ran a cow/calf cattle operation. Their interest in landscaping with native plants brought many new species of birds to their ranch. Before selling their ranch and relocating to Corvallis in August 2006, they had recorded 90 species of birds on the ranch. In addition to birding, his other areas of interest are carpentry and woodworking.
Jerry served for four years on the board of directors of the Audubon Society of Corvallis. He worked on the interpretive trail and the revitalization of the Hesthavn Barn, now being used as ASC’s educational facility.
He started as a Chintimini Wildlife Center volunteer in November 2006, was elected to the board in March 2008, and was elected President in July 2009. He also serves as Chintimini’s site manager.
Jerry has worked on the annual Native Plant Sale for the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District for several years and was elected as a District Director in November 2012.
ZONE 4: Grahm Trask, Secretary
Grahm Trask was born and raised in Alsea, Oregon and has lived in Benton County for 25 years. His passion for nature was kindled by a childhood of hunting, fishing, and exploring throughout the Coast Range. He and his family currently manage a small livestock operation within the Alsea Valley raising cattle, pigs, hay, and a small timber stand. Grahm is a habitat restoration contractor specializing in aquatic ecosystems. He has spent the last fifteen years working in streams, rivers, and forests throughout Oregon. “A big reason I am involved in conservation is a hope that my kids and future generations are able to enjoy a thriving, diverse landscape when they step off the beaten path”.
ZONE 5: Kerry Hastings
Kerry Hastings and her husband, Mike, moved to Oregon from Indianapolis, Indiana in 2017 to settle on a small vineyard and woodland west of Alpine, situated in the Upper Muddy Creek Watershed. As a Purdue (Indiana) master gardener Kerry developed an interest in native plant species that support biodiversity; an interest that continues with the move to Benton County. In particular, she is motivated to protect the old Oregon white oaks on their property and work to restore the oak savannah and woodland. Her mission is to eliminate invasive weeds: Himalayan Blackberry beware!
Originating from the United Kingdom, Kerry’s education in agricultural chemistry and soil science led to a career she describes as “a corporate research and teaching sandwich” which included eight years in R&D investigating the fate of xenobiotic chemicals in soil, air and water; a decade teaching 11th and 12th grade chemistry in the UK and Indianapolis, then a return to the agricultural chemical industry with seven years in regulatory management, rounding out her career as a human health risk assessor, modeling human exposure to agricultural chemicals.
Always a country person at heart Kerry is thrilled to be immersed in nature once again. An avid hiker and outdoorswoman she regards her adopted state of Oregon as her forever home. In addition to advocating for environmental conservation she has volunteered for the Alpine Community Center at the Monroe Resale Store for the past four years and was a committee member for the Monroe Farmers Market in 2019. A keen stained glass artist she was one of the founding members of the Monroe Arts Association.
Bob Morris, Vice Chair
Bob Morris, previously an associate director, joined the Benton SWCD Board during the summer of 2019 as an At-large Director. A retired veterinarian, educator extraordinaire, and passionate photographer, Bob can be easily spotted on BSWCD tours and during field days because he carries a camera with a gigantic telephoto lens.
Eliza holds a BS in molecular biology and a PhD in microbiology and works as a contract editor for scientific manuscripts. After years of working and volunteering at different farms, Eliza found the perfect spot to found Lilliputopia in Monroe, OR. This “tiny eco-farm,” which is named after the famous little people in Gulliver’s Travels, was created to serve as a model for sustainability and local community building. Her primary interests include dry farming and natural building, and she hunts for wild mushrooms when she has free time.
Associate Director since 1995. BS in natural science and a M.S. in environmental soil science. Rana is an avid naturalist and outdoors adventurer. Supports Corvallis Chapter of the Audubon Society through volunteering for conservation projects/issues. Assists Natural Resources Conservation Service with archaeological and natural resource projects. Involved with the City of Corvallis Development issues as a concerned citizen.
Marcella Henkels has been a resident of Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District 2 since 1988. She enjoys living on acreage of mixed pasture and oak savannah north of Corvallis. After moving to the property, her family bought the resident cows and had a small cow-calf operation which lasted 20 years. More recently, the farm animals are smaller and more diverse, with a variety of market lambs, meat and egg-laying chickens, turkeys, and goats. She also grows a large vegetable garden. Her family was involved with Benton County 4-H for 10 years, where her son raised market lambs and dairy goats.
Marcella is a retired plant pathologist with a 30 year research career (23 years at the Corvallis USDA Horticultural Crops Research Unit) working mostly on the mechanisms of biological-control of soil-borne pathogens. She has a BS in Botany from Utah State University and an MS degree in Plant PathoIogy from Colorado State University. She currently creates ceramic art which often reflects themes of agriculture and nature. She enjoys canoeing, birding, exploring the local surrounds, and wild mushroom foraging.
Nate has lived in Benton County since 2013, and has been a gardener since 2009. He and his wife, Yadira Ruiz, operate Sunbow Produce, an organic fruit and vegetable farm on the outskirts of Philomath and Corvallis. Along with a livelihood, he gets daily instruction in natural dynamics, horticulture, local ecology, landscape design, business and resource management, personal limitations, and the mighty power of cooperation. He’s devoted to improving the health of the soils he stewards and wants to ensure future farmers and gardeners also have opportunities to thrive. He’s a member of the Marys River Grange, the Dry Farming Collaborative, a volunteer with Ten Rivers Food web, and an advocate for true food security, for everybody, for the long haul.
Student Associate Director: Sierra Linnan Smith
In 2020, BSWCD created a new Student Associate Director position in partnership with Oregon State University’s chapter of the North American Youth Parliament for Water (NAYPW). The position is currently held by Sierra Linnan Smith, who is in her 4th year at Oregon State University, studying Ecological Engineering. She is working with other senior Ecological Engineering students on projects based in stormwater management around the OSU campus and looks forward to working on equitable distribution and use of water resources. She is excited about conservation education and volunteered throughout high school with Multnomah County’s Outdoor School program to teach 6th graders science. She hopes to strengthen the connections between OSU students and the Benton County community through BSWCD and the North American Youth Parliament for Water. She loves adventuring throughout the Cascades, and has spent the past three summers around Mount St. Helens, working as a guide and ecological technician. This past summer she has been looking for beavers around to determine what factors influence their habitation of volcanically disturbed ponds and lakes. Sierra has worked in the OSU Indoor Climbing Center for the past four years. She has a budding interest in mushroom foraging and is unsuccessfully attempting to teach her dog to sniff them out.