Thomas C. Lamar, Executive Director
As PCEI’s Executive Director since 1990, Tom has launched multiple efforts to increase citizen involvement in numerous environmental issues. Tom has served as a Latah County Commissioner since 2015. Before that, Tom served on the Moscow City Council for over seven years. Tom also taught Conservation Leadership at the University of Idaho, Conservation Social Sciences Department for six years. Tom holds an MS degree in Environmental Science from Washington State University (1985). He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Anthropology at the University of Delaware in 1982. While at Delaware and WSU, Tom studied the medicinal use of plants by the Shipibo Indians of the Peruvian rainforest. Tom’s background includes Central American peace organizing in the 1980’s. He also worked with the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides for two years as an advocate for pesticide exposure victims. Tom is currently serving on the Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment Advisory Board. Tom enjoys swimming, running, bicycling, triathlons, and gardening. Email Tom
Kori Claffey, Business Manager
Although she traveled for most of her childhood, Kori is getting back to her roots in Moscow, ID where she was born. She has an extensive background in many different financial institutions and looks forward to eventually getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting at the University of Idaho with a minor in Arts/Music. Kori loves to travel, meet new people, listen to music/sing, read quotes, be outdoors as much as possible and enjoys spending time with her family any free moment she has. Kori is excited to be joining PCEI and says, “It feels so great to be a part of the working family I have always strived to find. I feel so lucky to be included in this amazing organization and the people that are involved with PCEI. Thank you to everyone who supports this beautiful place. I have completely fallen in love with it here and I can’t wait to see where the years take us.” Email Kori
Heather Huston Bell, Program Manager
Born in California, and raised in Illinois, Heather fell in love with the Palouse-Clearwater region and now considers this her home. Heather has over 10 years of program management experience in the Palouse and Clearwater region. She started working with PCEI in 2011 assisting with and overseeing the restoration and education – outreach projects and programs. Heather has formal training and practical experience in program development and management, grant writing, environmental education and outreach coordination. Her degrees are from University of Idaho in Human Development with minors in Psychology and Outdoor Recreation; and a Masters degree in Environmental Education with a certificate in Permaculture Design. She completed two terms with AmeriCorps, where she loved engaging community and youth in skill-building programs. Heather values the importance of creating a caring learning environment, working with mentors and volunteers and creating healthy communities. In her free time, Heather and her husband enjoy gardening, farming, cooking, camping and playing in water with their dog Moco. Email Heather
Frances (Frankie) Curet, Education Coordinator
Born on the Palouse and raised in the shadow of the Continental Divide in Salmon, Idaho, Frances, like many Idahoans is an outdoor enthusiast and is happiest when she’s surrounded by nature. After completing a Rotary exchange in Brazil post high school, Curet found herself at the University of Idaho where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture & Urban Agriculture with a Field Crops minor. During her time at the U of I she fell in love with the vibrant Palouse community and is humbled by the opportunity to give back to the community that supported her through university. Frances is elated to be a part of the PCEI family. You will find her camping, bouldering, skiing, bike riding, snow shoveling, propagating plant starts and flower picking in her free time. She adores puppies and loves seeing them at the PCEI Nature Center. Email Frankie
Cameron Nielsen, Education Outreach Assistant/AmeriCorps Member
Cameron is currently a student at Northern Kentucky University pursuing a degree in Integrative Studies. This includes focus areas in Environmental Studies, Photography and Journalism. While at school Cameron works as the Photo Editor for NKU’s newspaper and is the Vice president of the Hiking Club. She has always had a passion for the outdoors which was started by going on camping trips with her parents as a child. Through this passion for the outdoors, Cameron also developed a love for photography. She hopes to work as a conservation photographer to help spread the importance of protecting the environment through photos. While she is new to the area, she is very excited to learn more about environmental conservation and education during her time at PCEI. When not taking pictures, Cameron enjoys hiking, kayaking, sewing and historical reenacting.
Joan (Alexander) Hofmann, AmeriCorps Placement Coordinator
Joan moved to Idaho in 1995 from the San Francisco Bay Area to raise her children in a small town atmosphere. She graduated with a BA in English from the Colorado College. Her professional background is in elementary education and in small business ownership. She is a singer/songwriter, an entrepreneur and the mother of three children. She loves to rock climb, swim, spend time with friends and her children, and enjoy sunshine whenever she can. Joan is dedicated to creating space and opportunity for people of all ages to do good things for themselves, their community and the world around them. Email Joan
Courtney Warner, Assistant AmeriCorps Placement Coordinator
Although she has been passionate about the outdoors as long as she can remember, Courtney began cultivating a more sophisticated taste for nature at age 4, consuming the mouthwatering dirt underneath her swing set. Courtney was born and raised on the Palouse, and grew up in the small hamlet of Deary. She graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in Sport Science but considers life to have given her the most valuable formal education, having lived and worked in a many places. Courtney played rugby through her twenties, and was on the US Womens National Rugby Team for most of those, traveling on tour to Scotland, Hong Kong and Dubai. In her post semi-professional sports life, she has branched out into more creative pursuits, playing music, building furniture, and cultivating a large summer garden. When she’s not busy getting things done or cracking jokes at work, you might find her out trailblazing with her two dogs, or recreating in some body of water. Email Courtney
Zoie Anderson, Restoration Technician/AmeriCorps Member
Zoie grew up in Washington state and has always had a love for nature. It took a while for her to figure out that natural resources was an actual career. This lead to returning to college at the University of Idaho. There she earned her Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Resources and a GIS certificate. She worked on Craig Mountain (near Lewiston) as a technician and has done work through the University on various bird projects. Zoie has helped trap and process data on sage grouse, a red-tailed hawk, and rough-legged hawks. Zoie and her husband can be be found hiking, camping, wandering or spending time with their two cats, Jasper and Echo. She also enjoys knitting and riding her horse, Bullet.
Dean Nizer, Restoration Technician/AmeriCorps Member
Born and raised in Oregon, Dean fell in love with the outdoors at a young age living an hour and a half from the Oregon coast and an hour and a half from Mt. Hood. Dean grew up fishing, crabbing, hunting, hiking, and camping. This upbringing encouraged Dean to pursue a degree that would involve the outdoors and caring for the Pacific Northwest natural resources. He attained his associate degree from Mt. Hood Community College in fisheries technology in 2016. Dean took a year off school and worked for Idaho Fish and Game as a fisheries technician and creel surveyor. After working for fish and game he worked for a private fisheries research company where he led a team for three years as a fisheries specialist designing and implementing beaver dam analogs (BDA’s) and post assisted log structures (PALS). In fall 2019, he completed his bachelor’s degree from University of Idaho in Natural Resource Conservation. He currently is finishing up his master’s at University of Idaho, in their online MNR program. Dean was introduced to PCEI in his last year of undergrad where he and his class helped create a restoration proposal, partnering with PCEI. After seeing the work that PCEI does and how much they interact with the public, landowners, and students alike, he knew he wanted to serve as an AmeriCorps member for the PCEI Nature Center. In his free time, Dean finds himself hunting and fishing with his friends and wife. Email Dean.
Olivia Shan, Restoration Technician/AmeriCorps Member
Olivia grew up exploring around the Umpqua, in Western Oregon, with a passion for nature. In college, she studied Natural Resource Conservation Science and worked as a Research Technician for the University’s Experimental Forest. It was during this time, that Olivia found a new love: Wildfire. The next four years, Olivia worked for Idaho Department of Lands, and the U.S. Forest Service as a Wildland Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. She lived in a remote bunkhouse, on the South Fork of the Salmon River for one fire season, which was where she became interested in Idaho’s declining salmon populations and wild rivers. From that point on Olivia has been a salmon activist, an active member of the Sierra Club, and has ignited a fire within herself to help preserve Idaho’s natural resources. She has recently moved back to Moscow, Idaho after traveling much of the West, in her converted van with her partner, Cole and cat, Charlie. Olivia enjoys backpacking, white water rafting, rock climbing, international travel, skiing, tending to her house plants, and mountain biking. After her work with PCEI, Olivia hopes to backpack the mountains of Patagonia and then come back to Moscow, to pursue graduate school in a field where she can truly make a difference.
Misha Cleveland, Palouse Roots Director & Lead Teacher
My journey with PCEI began at the first Palouse Roots gathering of parents, children (including my then 1-year-old Josephine), and teachers in the yurt at an old farmhouse. The vision resonated with some of my dearest aspirations and I knew right away that I wanted to be connected. Since then I have become increasingly involved and inspired to share my time and skills. My work experience is a mix of childcare, environmental ecology, and nonprofit leadership. I am most naturally drawn to working with children and have been a babysitter, nanny, camp counselor, nature center program leader, and home daycare provider. I also have a graduate degree in Ecology and a rich assortment of related work and travel experiences. As a child I spent a lot of time outside in creeks and trees, both by myself and with friends. It is those early adventures that led me to embrace the outdoors as I do today! Exploring nature with children is intuitive for me, and has also become a delightful part of the time I spend with my family and friends. It feels like a natural next step for me to work with Palouse Roots at PCEI, and I am eager to begin!
Morgan Stevenson, Palouse Roots Assistant Teacher
Hi! I’m excited to be joining Palouse Roots as assistant teacher this year! I am originally from the East Coast and grew up in a homeschooling family where I was able to learn in a relaxed, flexible environment. Although l was a city girl, after living in the Palouse for almost a decade I feel a strong connection with the land and a deep love for this area. Through hiking, gardening, and even just experiencing the diverse seasonal changes, I have found great strength and healing in a life lived in harmony with nature. Over the years, living close to the land & learning in the context of my environment has become ever more important to me.
After graduating from U of I with a Psychology degree emphasizing childhood development, I became increasingly curious about alternative and nature-based learning approaches. I have been keen to get involved with PCEI’s Nature Center for a while now, and was so happy to hear that Palouse Roots was looking for a new teacher! Since marrying into a big family, my experience with children has grown exponentially. My nieces & nephews (26 and counting!) have taught me so much about interacting with kids of all ages & have shown me just how wide the range of children’s interests and emotions can be, even within one family. I am very much looking forward to combining my experiences and education in my new assistant teacher capacity. Childhood is such a joy to me and I am honored to be a protector and advocate for these crucial years of your little one’s life. I am delighted to be joining Palouse Roots and am eager to get to know you all!
Brooke Lowry, Nature Explorers Director
Brooke grew up spending as much time as she could outdoors in Calgary, Canada. She has since enjoyed living in Utah, Norway and Spain. Since moving to Moscow in 2008 and becoming a mother of three, she has discovered new ways to enjoy exploring outside with kids. She finds biking, rafting and skiing with her family especially happy making. Brooke previously worked as the Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Moscow schools and coached competitive badminton internationally. She is currently on the PCEI Board and is thrilled for the opportunity to create an exceptional Nature Explorers program for children in our Moscow community where they can experience learning and moving outside at the beautiful PCEI Nature Center.
Marley Pankratz, Nature Explorers Camp Assistant
Marley is a student at the University of Idaho studying Natural Resource Conservation & Remote Sensing of the Environment. She is a bus driver for the Moscow School District during the school year and spends the summers in Jackson, Wyoming working for a whitewater rafting outfitter. She loves hiking, camping, river trips, and backpacking.
Chrissy Hoefgen, Nature Explorers Camp Assistant
Having recently moved to Moscow to complete her B.S. in Agriculture Education, Chrissy is glad to have found the PCEI community! Chrissy, a farmer at heart, grew up in Wisconsin but spent the last six years living and working on small farms in Bellingham, WA where she deepened her passion for experiential outdoor teaching and learning. While in Bellingham, she lived in a barn, pruned a lot of fruit trees, ate a lot of delicious farm-fresh produce, and of course, spent all her free time in the mountains! When she’s not digging in the dirt or talking about her favorite apple varieties, you can find Chrissy doing science experiments in the kitchen, planning her weekend adventures to the mountains, sewing holes in her favorite sweaters, spending time with friends and family, or, likely, doing schoolwork! Chrissy is excited to have the opportunity to cultivate her teaching skills while actively engaging with and getting to know the Palouse-Clearwater Region.
Meghan Foard, Nature Explorers Assistant Facilitator
Meghan has over nine years of experience in teaching and outreach, and an additional 20 years of experience in the environmental sciences–as a student, researcher, and educator. She has a Ph.D. in Water Resources, Science and Management and a graduate certificate in Statistics from the University of Idaho. She joined the team at PCEI because she is passionate about place-based environmental education (EE) and outreach, and believes they are essential to promote community involvement in natural resource conservation on the Palouse. She combines her educational background in environmental sciences, and her experience teaching and developing environmental curriculum, to support youth and communities in growing their interest in environmental conservation through engaging experiences.
Jen Hiebert, IT Coordinator
Jen was born and raised in northern Manitoba, Canada, where she developed a love for the outdoors and a commitment to environmental issues. A convoluted career path has led her to her current position at PCEI. Jen has a B.Sc. in Ecology and a Master’s in Watershed Ecosystems. She has been a research assistant working with everything from fish eggs to seal pups, has taught self-defense for women, and was a Front End Manager at the Neighborhood Co-op Grocery in southern Illinois. Jen has enjoyed living in many places (including France and New Zealand) but thinks Moscow is the perfect picnic spot. Jen loves knitting, gardening, photography, and spending time with her husband and two loveable but demanding rescued dogs. Email Jen
PCEI collaborates with this fabulous Portland-based non-profit
Elizabeth Cabral, CEC AmeriCorps Program Director
ecabral [at] confluencecenter [dot] org
Elizabeth is Confluence’s Program Director. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Public Health from Portland State University.
Elizabeth was raised in the Gorge and is the proud daughter of immigrant parents. Before joining Confluence Environmental Center, Elizabeth worked for six years in active transportation – leading efforts to create safe access to walking, biking and transit in undeserved communities in Portland. Elizabeth brings with her experience at the intersections of transportation, housing and the environment and strong commitment to racial and environmental equity, She hopes to bring her passion and background in equity and culturally responsive programming to the organization and its AmeriCorps members. During her free time she organizes bike rides with Portland based Mujeres en – a local Latina bike group she co-founded 3 years ago to encourage more Latinas to bike. She also enjoys to spending time with her family, visiting the gorge, wine tastings, and exploring new hiking trails in the PNW.
Ashlie Tainer, CEC Operations Coordinator
atainer [at] confluencecenter [dot] org
Ashlie grew up in Portland, Oregon, and after a combined eight years of pursuing graduate studies in environmental studies and working abroad leading experiential learning programs, she is excited to be putting down roots back in the Pacific Northwest.
Her career started unknowingly with Confluence in 2011 when she worked as an AmeriCorps member with PCEI, which is where her passion for environmental education and community service was solidified. She then completed a second term of service as an AmeriCorps member with The Nature Conservancy in Phoenix, Arizona and knew she wanted to pursue a permanent role with the AmeriCorps program in the future. Coming full circle, Ashlie is excited to work closely with PCEI again and have the opportunity to put her experiences from the AmeriCorps and international travels to use leading the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders.
When she’s not working, Ashlie enjoys spending time outside hiking, camping and wine tasting. You can also find her catching up on her favorite true crime podcasts and trying to find a way to put chocolate in almost everything.
Samantha Vernon, CEC Program and Outreach Coordinator
svernon [at] confluencecenter [dot] org
Samantha hails from the Hoosier state, but she’s called Oregon her home for the past 4 years. Before joining Confluence Environmental Center, Samantha completed terms of service with AmeriCorps FEMA Corps, AmeriCorps NCCC, and AmeriCorps VISTA. Most recently she was working in homelessness services here in Portland. Samantha is currently Confluence Environmental Center’s Program and Outreach Coordinator.
When she’s not working, she’s studying to complete a degree in Women’s & Gender Studies. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the gorge, hiking, snowshoeing, yoga, and petting other peoples dogs.