About the Friends
The Friends are a group of volunteers who are passionate about the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuges, and who love and appreciate the refuge lands, flora, and fauna as natural resources which deserve to be cherished and protected. The Friends come from all walks of life, but all their different backgrounds have in common this love for nature. While the Friends promote and represent the refuges at various events around the valley, their goals, first and foremost, are to directly support the refuge complex achieve its conservation and restoration goals and to foster awareness and appreciation for the refuges through recreational and educational opportunities. Read on to meet our Board of Directors and learn more about the Friends community!
Dave Landkamer, President
Dave is a non-formal resources educator with project experiences in aquaculture, fisheries, natural history, ecology, agriculture, archaeology, outreach program development and evaluation. He has studied at Utah State, Maine, Oregon State, Colorado State, and Northern Arizona Universities, and served as a university faculty member, Extension Service specialist, academic advisor, National Park Service ranger, and international trainer/consultant. His hobbies include wildlife watching, hiking, travel, gardening, woodcarving, canoeing, music, pottery, carpentry, and ice hockey.
Steve Suckow, Vice President
Steve is a lifelong lover of nature and wildlife, an amateur wildlife photographer, and a birder. In 2016, after a 33 year electrical engineering career with Boeing, he retired and moved to Corvallis with his wife Carolyn. Since then, he has spent many hours roaming Finley, Ankeny, and Baskett Slough. Joining the Friends Group to help preserve and improve these beautiful resources fit perfectly with his appreciation of nature and wildlife. Along with photography and birding, Steve also enjoys hiking, kayaking and attending events and activities in the Corvallis area.
Brian Wachelka, Web Manager + Membership Coordinator
Brian has been actively hiking the trails at Finley for years. After being inspired and joining the Friends Group, he jumped at the opportunity to join the board in early 2013. Brian works for HP in Corvallis where he lives with his wife and two boys.
Diane Young, Secretary
Diane has been a resident of Benton County since 1978. Purchasing and managing 26 acres of Douglas Firs in 1992 has made her realize the joyful yet hard work that goes into maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Prior experiences of living on 40 acres without the benefit of electricity or running water for many years has given Diane a love of silence which she now finds at Finley Wildlife Refuge. Diane lives in South Corvallis with her husband, and knowing that silence is just a short ride away, has prompted her to join this board.
Cowli Villiardos, Treasurer
Debbie Maynard, Newsletter Editor
Doug G. Spencer
Doug is retired from a 34 year career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He managed National Wildlife Refuges from New England, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Northwest states and the last position held was the Project Leader for the Willamette Valley NWRC, Oregon. Doug has a B.S. degree from Southern Connecticut State University, with major study in ornithology and ecology, and two years of graduate studies in ornithology. He is a veteran from the US Air Force in Security Police as a sergeant (1967 – 1971). Married with four children and five grandchildren, Doug’s hobbies are camping, hiking, wildlife watching, gardening, fishing and hunting.
Bird-watcher for 60 years and still learning!
Kris grew up in the outdoors with a huge love for the wild things. She spent 32 years of her life working as a white water river guide in Oregon and Arizona. The last 12 years of her guiding career was spent as a river guide on the Colorado in the Grand Canyon. While on the river, Kris interpreted the canyons flora, fauna, human history, and geology to her passengers. When she wasn’t on the river, Kris worked for 25 years at Chintimini Wildlife Center as the Education Bird Program Director where she trained the resident raptors for education programs. She became a full time falconer before retiring from CWC and now flies two Harris Hawks!
Jill recently retired from a 28 year career with the Oregon Department of Transportation, where she managed the budget, finances, and federal grants for the Technical Services Branch. She has recently become an Oregon Master Naturalist, with an emphasis in the Willamette Valley ecoregion. She is also an Oregon Master Gardener and a Marion County Master Recycler. Jill holds a BS in Art from Oregon State University and a BS in Psychology from Portland State University. She is an animal lover and has a Beagle named Toby and a tabby cat named Kiki. Jill is a born and bred Oregonian who loves to travel, read, and paint in oils. She relishes hiking, exploring Oregon’s varied and vast territory, and studying the region’s geology.
There are several vacancies on our Board… and there’s no better time to get more involved!
No prior experience is required. If you are interested in volunteering or serving on our Board, please contact our Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.