Portland Parks & Recreation's stewardship coordinators are eager to help you connect with your local natural areas. Contact us today to find out how you can get involved!
In 2020, Portland voters approved an operations levy that has given PP&R additional funds to grow our teams and capacity. With this funding, the Natural Areas Stewardship team is excited to announce that we have hired a 5th Stewardship Coordinator, Ahmed Yusuf. Ahmed will focus on trails-based stewardship and volunteer opportunities to improve and maintain 120 miles of soft-surface trails throughout the City of Portland. Thank you Portlanders for supporting the levy! Please welcome Ahmed in this new role and say hello when you see him on the trail.
Susan Hawes - Johnson Creek Watershed
Parks and natural areas in inner SE and outer SE Portland
Susan works with partner organizations and volunteers in the Johnson Creek Watershed in southeast Portland. She loves to work with anyone interested in connecting with or contributing to the health of our city-nature spaces. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest cultivated her love of everything outdoors--even the rain!--and inspires her to connect community members with local natural areas and parks in ways that are meaningful to them. In her non-work life she likes to spend time with family, garden, fiddle, appreciate live music, hike (which to her means walking while checking out plants), give massages as a state-licensed massage therapist, host visitors to Portland, and play with her cat, Middie. As an AmeriCorps service member for two years in Portland-Vancouver, she became familiar with many of Portland's natural areas. She has a degree in Cultural Ecology from Linfield College, performed botany surveys in the Pacific Northwest for more than ten field seasons, and has managed volunteer programs for land management-oriented non-profits and government entities since 2000.
Mary Verrilli - Westside watersheds
Parks and natural areas in SW and NW Portland
Mary works and leads events in parks and natural areas on the west side of the Willamette River. She has a bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from Keene State College and has been engaging youth in environmental education and restoration projects in Oregon with non-profits since 2007. She has been working closely with the PP&R No Ivy League program since 2008 and currently manages this program. Mary enjoys connecting and educating youth and volunteers of all ages to Portland's natural areas while seeing ecological transformations occur in our parks. In her free time, Mary enjoys gardening, backpacking, canoeing, cooking, and listening to live music.
Anne Marie Santos – Willamette River Watershed
Parks and natural areas inthe East Willamette River Watershed and along the river
Anne Marie leads stewardship events in parks and natural areas in the East Willamette River watershed and along the river. She joined Portland Parks & Recreation in 2021, after spending the prior 6 years working for local environmental non-profits planting native trees with community members and taking youth on nature hikes. She has eleven years of experience teaching nature and farm-based education and playing with preschoolers in the woods. She grew up in Chicago and owes her connection to nature to her Mom, who taught her how to grow food and tend to the plants and trees around her. She is passionate about co-creating spaces with communities that have been historically marginalized to enjoy and connect with nature in whatever way makes sense for them. She is most alive when snuggling her two pups, romping in the woods birding and talking with plants, climbing, dancing, and creating art. Anne Marie has a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Yoko Silk - Columbia Slough Watershed
Parks and natural areas in North and Northeast Portland
Yoko leads stewardship events in parks and natural areas in the Columbia Slough watershed in North and Northeast Portland. She joined the Parks family as the lead instructor for the Jr Greenspaces Restoration and Urban Naturalist Team (now known as the Teen Naturalist Team) in 2010, and has been in her role as Stewardship Coordinator since 2015. Yoko is passionate about connecting people to nature. Recognizing the intersections of environmental, social, and racial justice, Yoko is deeply committed to serving historically marginalized communities and is dedicated to creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to have access to and engage in nature in meaningful ways. She has been in the field of youth work and outdoor education since 1999 and has experience as an environmental educator, a backpacking instructor and raft guide, a caseworker at a crisis shelter for homeless and runaway teens, a facilitator at high ropes challenge courses, and a lead instructor for a youth empowerment arts camp. Yoko has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. In her free time, Yoko enjoys going on outdoor adventures like rafting and backpacking, playing cello, juggling, listening to podcasts, and rock-climbing.
Ahmed Yusuf - Soft Surface Trails Stewardship Coordinator
Ahmed has been working on and off with Portland Parks & Recreation(PP&R) since 2011, first as a teen crew member, and then as an adult crew leader with the PP&R Youth Conservation Crew. After several seasonal positions with PP&R, Ahmed served as the Trails Program Manager with the Forest Park Conservancy where he got to combine his love of Forest Park with volunteer management and trail maintenance. Most recently, Ahmed was a trails technician for PP&R, helping to maintain and improve soft surface trails throughout the city. Ahmed has grown up in Portland and wants to continue building a healthy and welcoming community. When Ahmed is not out building and maintaining trails, he’s looking for new trails to hike with his dog (Misty). He also enjoys going to the mountain for snowboarding and taking photos.