About Friends of the Owyhee
Our Mission & Values
Friends of the Owyhee exists to promote conservation advocacy, stewardship, and responsible recreation in the Owyhee region. We work collaboratively with conservation and recreation groups, landowners, ranchers, Indigenous tribes and nations, sportsmen and women, and government agencies to help ensure the Owyhee’s unique ecological, cultural, and recreational resources are protected for future generations to experience and enjoy.
Tim's roots run deep in Malheur County. Born in Nyssa, Oregon and going to school K-12 in Adrian, Tim has seen the landscape from many perspectives. He first learned from and came to appreciate the Owyhee’s wildness as a child. He then felt a need to protect this region, and did just that as a rangeland firefighter. Now, as father and the Executive Director of Friends of the Owyhee, he is enthusiastic about introducing people from near and far to the beautiful Owyhee he has loved his whole life.
Tim started Friends of the Owyhee during his tenure as a Correctional Officer for the Oregon Department of Corrections at SRCI in Malheur County, and transitioned to the full-time Executive Director in January 2019. Tim also participates in the Southeastern Oregon Recreation Advisory Council (SEORAC) and is a member of the Friends Grassroots Network through Conservation Lands Foundation.
Tim is most at home around a campfire or driving a desert road. In his free time, he enjoys rummaging through local historical archives, exploring historical sites, and any researching anything related to the Owyhee. Tim cares deeply about seeing the Owyhee cared for future generations. As he likes to say, “it's not about the moment, it's about the future.”
Programs Director, M.Sc. Geological Science
Sammy has been teaching Earth systems science, leading educational field trips, and adventuring outdoors for most of his adult life. Born near the San Bernardino mountains of California, he grew up on a cattle ranch in western South Dakota, which helped forge his deep appreciation of land stewardship and resources. Inspired by the conservation of Earth’s resources, he studied geology at the University of Oregon where he occasionally instructs summer geology field courses. He is an instructor at Treasure Valley Community College and an exceptionally active citizen of the Four Rivers and Owyhee communities. A permaculturalist at heart, Sammy and his family of five tend a rambunctious garden, steward wild places, and have a love of mysticism and storytelling.
Sammy directs the OwYHEE Program (Outdoors with Youth: Hands-on Earth Education), the creation of FOTO’s educational pamphlet series, and volunteer events.
Katalin, an eastern Oregon native, grew up with the Owyhee as her playground. Her love for the natural world and the ocean led her to study marine biology at the University of Oregon, where she also pursued her passion for the Spanish language. She lived and worked in beautiful Chile for several years while she immersed herself in the spunky language and rich culture. During her time as an assistant researcher at the Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas, she worked as a marine science instructor for Chile Es Mar, an educational program for young Chilean students. Teaching children about ocean biodiversity and conservation filled her with so much joy that Katalin knew that was her calling. Now back in her home state of Oregon, working with Friends of the Owyhee is an incredible opportunity to continue her quest in protecting and healing our natural world.
In her spare time, Katalin can be found volunteering at the Ontario Feral Cat Project, rehearsing for her big opera break, or taking a spin on her bike. She feels most at home by the ocean, but any outdoor landscape competes pretty well.
Board of Directors
Becky serves on the Friends of the Owyhee board and has a life-long passion for conservation. The mere mention of native plant restoration, trash clean-up, or wandering about in the heat removing invasive species puts her boots on. She has spent her career as a product and service designer and user experience researcher with a focus on executive and team leadership, organizational strategy, and accessibility. Becky’s love of the Owyhee started with a hike many years ago. Now she spends every moment she can in this amazing landscape! Her most memorable Owyhee experience was backpacking a section of the Oregon Desert Trail, from Lake Owyhee to Leslie Gulch. Her other memorable experiences include flat tires, battling with scotch thistle in Succor Creek, waiting out rain for days under a juniper, holding a tent down with all her might, harvesting native seed for post-fire planting projects, the hum of forbs filled with pollinators, dozens of “let’s just go around this next bend” hikes, and seeing the Friends of the Owyhees grow in its mission and impact.
Growing up in Brazil led Erik to a passion for surfing and exploring the long Brazilian coastline. With a B.S. in Agronomy and an M.A. in Biology, he returned to Brazil for his graduate research and focused on plant ecology in the Brazilian scrub forest. He has served as a research assistant at the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station in Ontario, OR since 1990, primarily focusing on irrigation and nitrogen management to reduce nitrogen and water use in local crops including seed production of native forbs. Erik enjoys hiking, biking, and backpacking. He has been captivated by the wonders of the Owyhee region since becoming involved with FOTO. He is happy to be part of an organization that promotes the conservation of public lands.
Kelly serves as the Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Friends of the Owyhee. She owns and operates Idaho Accounting Services, LLC, and has spent her accounting career helping small businesses and non-profits with their accounting, information systems, budgeting, and planning needs. She is excited to bring this expertise to FOTO. Kelly has spent her life enjoying the outdoors and highly values conservation. She has lived in Boise since 2009 and explores the Owyhee as much as she can in her free time. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, camping, hot springs, paddling, snowshoeing, skiing, and gardening with her 6 chickens and cat.
MJ has always had an interest in conservation, water management, and land use of Oregon’s vast and unique Owyhee. She cherishes early memories of long drives in the winding, colorful canyons with her father who worked for a local irrigation company, and MJ has been fascinated with the caves, rocks, landscape, and history of the area ever since. She began pursuing her education (pre-medicine and music) at the University of Oregon, but pivoted when life took her to Texas and then Greece, where she began raising her family. She eventually completed her education in Colorado, and after a stint in Washington, she was delighted to return home to the Treasure Valley to finish raising her four kids. MJ’s career has focused on offender case management while volunteering as a deputy coroner for her county. MJ loves relaxing with her beloved husband, children, and grandchildren—of course, she alternates that time with backpacking, hiking, and camping in the far reaches of the Owyhee as often as she can. MJ aligned with FOTO early on, eager to work to protect and preserve the Owyhee, so that her grandchildren’s grandchildren may enjoy the same exhilarating beauty that she relishes today.
Rhett grew up getting lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains of upstate South Carolina. A former attorney, he's been engaged in the Oregon conservation community for more than 20 years, now working for Forth, a transportation electrification non-profit in Portland, Oregon. Rhett enjoys backpacking and paddling with his wife and daughter around western Oregon, but fell head over heels for the Owyhee Canyonlands on a 2015 visit to southeastern Oregon. He's excited to bring his legal and conservation experience to FOTO’s efforts to protect one of the most special places on the planet.
Noah serves as a board member of the Friends of the Owyhee, contributing his love for outdoor recreation and passion for conservation advocacy. He works in management at Grover Electric & Plumbing in Boise, Idaho. Growing up in central Oregon, he participated in the Boy Scouts of America, and it was his involvement in BSA that led to a life-long love for the outdoors and conservation. In his free time, he operates Nowhere Pacific, a YouTube channel dedicated to outdoor adventures including camping, hiking, fishing, hot springs, and more. After a relocation to the Treasure Valley in 2002, Noah discovered the Owyhee during a filming expedition and immediately fell in love. This love for the Owyhee translated into a friendship with Tim, which led to Noah serving on the FOTO Board of Directors.
Dozens of volunteers make the work of Friends of the Owyhee possible every month, season, and year. Join us!