Growing up in a military family, Tara lived in various places around the US throughout her childhood. She pursued an undergraduate degree from the United States Naval Academy in Oceanography, after which she served in the US Navy for five years where she had the opportunity to drive ships around the world. As she finished her time in the service, she completed a Master’s in Parks, Recreation & Conservation from Clemson University and began working in the field of outdoor and environmental education. Tara has worked both in instructional and management roles in outdoor education, facilitating outdoor experiences for participants of all ages that focus on fostering deeper connections with the landscape. In her role as Operations Manager, she is honored to serve COFSF’s mission and to provide support to the partners and collaboratives we work alongside. When not working for COFSF, Tara also teaches rock climbing in Smith Rock State Park and adventure leadership at Oregon State University- Cascades. She is also currently working on a graduate certification in GIS and is excited to continue to serve COFSF’s mission of shared stewardship in Central Oregon.
Nikka was born and raised in potato country, Idaho. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree from Idaho State University in Pocatello, she moved to Bend in 2019. In Oregon, she has been working in the nonprofit sector in a variety of capacities utilizing her administrative and interpersonal strengths. In her role as Administrative Manager at COFSF, Nikka gets to indulge her passion for meticulous organization and spreadsheets, to COFSF’s benefit. When she’s not at her desk, Nikka can be found adventuring with her trusty sidekick, Joe the dog, or training for a marathon. She’s also an avid cook and enjoys whipping up delicious Greek dishes for her friends and family. In her free time, Nikka likes to relax in a hammock with a good book or learn new craft skills.
COSSA Program Manager
As the program manager for the Central Oregon Shared Stewardship Alliance (COSSA), Stephanie works to develop an approach for prioritizing shared restoration values on the Central Oregon landscape, working with COSSA’s multi-jurisdictional partners to implement cross-boundary stewardship projects efficiently. Stephanie was born and raised in Michigan, and after graduating from Central Michigan University with a BA in Environmental Education, she followed her personal migratory path through the Rockies and eventually landed in the Pacific Northwest. She went on to earn a MS in Geography from Portland State University, and focused on a career in on-the-ground conservation. Prior to joining the COFSF, she worked with land conservation organizations in outreach, coordination, and project roles, as well as seasonally with the USFS and NPS. Most recently, she coordinated the efforts of a national partnership focused on the protection of the monarch butterfly migration and native pollinators. She currently resides in Bend, Oregon where you might spot her on a bike, skis, paddleboard, or in her garden.
Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, Natural Resources and Environment Program Director
Dr. Vernita Ediger earned her doctorate in Environmental Anthropology from Stanford University, focusing on working landscape conservation, cooperative resource management, institutional structures and power dynamics, and mechanisms through which public perceptions influence land management. Prior to her time with COFSF, Vernita served as the Executive Director the Blue Mountains Forest Partners (BMFP), where she developed new approaches that enabled BMFP to triple their annual project acreage and their income. As the Executive Director for COFSF, she is excited to grow the Foundation by expanding and branding COFSF programs. Vernita provides strategic direction, facilitation, and fund development for the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project and Ochoco Forest Restoration Collaborative, and engages with other collaborative natural resource efforts, such as the Wild Horse Sounding Board and the Deschutes Trails Coalition.
COFSF Board of Directors
Trails Volunteer Program Supervisor, Deschutes National Forest
Retirement has offered Kit Dickey an opportunity to indulge her love of working in the woods by organizing several volunteer trail crews that specialize in wilderness trail maintenance and restoration, using cross-cut saws for log out, and hand tools to repair and restore trail tread and drainage. Sustainable trails require sustainable forests, so Kit decided to join the Ochoco Forest Restoration Collaborative (OFRC) in early 2015 and put her administrative and managerial skills to work, serving as the Chair for OFRC’s Outreach and Project Planning Subcommittees as well as serving on OFRC’s Executive Committee. She became a Board member in 2016 out of a commitment to ensuring OFRC’s success. Kit is actively involved in a plethora of other collaborative ventures including the Ochoco Trails Strategy Group, the Deschutes Trails Coalition, and Hooves and Wheels.
Rebecca Franklin, Ph.D.
Program Director, Forest Resources Technology Natural & Industrial Resources Department, COCC
Dr. Rebecca Franklin is the Program Director for Forestry Resources Technology at Central Oregon Community College. She also teaches at COCC as a professor in dendrology, natural resource conservation, resource sampling, and forestry. A large part of Rebecca’s commitment to educating the workforce of the future is creating connections between students and local agency and private industry professionals in outdoor laboratory settings so that thye may begin their careers with practical, hands-on and field-based skills. Rebecca has done research, field work, and agency work in seven western states and is currently interested in the geobotany and endemic plants of Oregon. She received her bachelor’s degree in Forestry from Humboldt State University and her PhD from the University of Arizona where she completed her dissertation on Dendrochronology in the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research.