top of page

Meet the Board & Staff

About Us

KEEN's Board is a 'working' board. We meet six times a year as a full board, but have active committee meetings more frequently and all board members help with events, fundraising, and even nature school activities. You'll see the board members at the native plant sale pick up day, staffing the booth at Get Intimate with the Shrub-Steppe, and more! Our staff are experts in their fields and we're thrilled to have these amazing leaders working with us. We are always looking for engaged and talented folks to join our team - reach out to Jill Scheffer at to find out more.

KEEN Board of Directors



Jill is one of the original founders of the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) non-profit based in Ellensburg WA.  Her educational background is in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria in BC. Jill served on the Ellensburg City Council for 9 years and participated in many committee positions for the City and County including the flood control district and lodging tax committee. She worked for 11 years as the Central Washington Director of Forterra, the largest land conservation organization in the state.  She is currently the Streamflow Restoration Planner at the Department of Ecology. Her two loves are her son and daughter who together explore the outdoors and also share their family love of music and dance. Jill serves as Vice President on the Ellensburg Dance Ensemble and you might see her on stage in a production of The Nutcracker Ballet around Christmas time.



Board Member

Delayna is a first-generation college graduate from the Kittitas County. She received a BA in
Multimedia Communications from The Evergreen State College in 2000 and BS in Food Science
and Nutrition from CWU in 2008. At Central, Delayna was part of the McNair Scholars
program, where the seed was planted to pursue a graduate degree. She began a career as an
Instructional Technologist at CWU and in 2018 completed a Masters of Learning Technology
and Instructional Design from Utah State University. Today she is the Director of Instructional Technology and Design at CWU.

As a young adult, Delayna enjoyed backpacking and hiking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The
pandemic helped her reconnect with the outdoors, which led her to volunteering with KEEN. She
is married with two teenagers at home and a step-son with a family in Texas. Her husband Ron
has homesteading roots in the Kittitas Valley and they enjoy their small hobby farm with alpacas,
bee gardens, chickens, dexter cattle.



Board Member

Dale is a retired geologist. He grew up on the Olympic Peninsula in Grays Harbor where he initiated his love of the outdoors. He began his many travels and moves to other states and countries after completing his BS, Ms, and PhD degrees in Geosciences at Western Washington University, University of Colorado, and The Pennsylvania State University respectively. Most of his 40+ year professional career was spent in computerised geological earth modelling with significant research and work devoted to paleo climatology. Dale relocated to Ellensburg in September, 2021, to be closer to family in retirement. Geology, geobotany and current and past climates of Washington hold a strong interest for him.



Board Member

Jason Irwin grew up in western Canada where he often wondered how animals and plants survived the harsh winter. His love of nature led him to study Biology at the University of Victoria (BS with Honours) and Miami University (MS and PhD) with a focus on ecology and physiology, especially as they relate to winter survival. He is now Professor of Biological Sciences at Central Washington University where he gets to share his love of Biology while teaching courses such as Human Anatomy & Physiology, Winter Biology, and Animal Physiology. His current research focuses on the physiological ecology of amphibians, reptiles, and insects, including how animals interact with Interstate-90 in the Snoqualmie Pass area (Washington State).

Snapchat-2123824989 (1).jpg


Board Member

I grew up in the small town Glenwood, WA, near Mt. Adams hunting, fishing, and camping. In my free time I like to create art using epoxy resin and other media. I also foster kittens and have been doing so for the past 9 years. My first job was walking landings and marking out spotted owl habitats and watersheds, ever since then I knew I wanted to work outdoors. I've worked with the Yakama Nation Fisheries Pacific Lamprey Project since 2011 starting as a temporary seasonal tech. I later attended CWU while working and going to school full time and graduated from CWU with a BA in Science with an Ecology and Evolution Specialization, so now I am currently a Lamprey Biologist with Yakama Nation Fisheries. Current research focuses on Pacific Lamprey restoration, aquaculture, translocation, habitat surveys, traditional ecological knowledge, and educational outreach. I really enjoy the educational outreach I've gotten to do and am excited to be a part of KEEN and be more involved in the community!




I am an ex-middle school teacher with degrees in Environmental Science and English. My husband and I own and manage rental property. When I'm not shoveling snow or fixing toilets at our rentals, I volunteer as a CASA (a guardian ad litem to foster children), serve on the KEEN board, and climb as much as possible. Next month, my husband and I will be traveling to El Potrero Chico, near Monterrey, Mexico, to rock climb for three weeks. In the summers, our sights turn to alpine climbing in the Enchantments and Washington Pass areas.


I'm passionate about conserving natural areas and exposing children to the outdoors. In my younger days, I spent summers teaching mountain travel courses for what was then Pacific Crest Outward Bound School. So I'm excited that KEEN is working to provide outdoor education and experiences for both children and adults. I look forward to someday seeing the completion of an interpretive center in the mouth of Yakima Canyon, an area in which I've spent years hiking (and occasionally floating on inner tubes, which I highly recommend.)



Board Member

Growing up camping, fishing and playing in the woods, Elise loves the outdoors and nature experiences. As a pediatrician for 32 years in Ellensburg, she always encouraged families in her practice to get their kids outside daily to improve their physical and emotional well-being. She is happy to be part of KEEN and help make outdoor experiences in nature accessible to all, and has especially enjoyed helping with the summer outdoor kids’ camps. 

Now retired, she is thrilled to have more time to hike, backpack, kayak, garden, and ski. She also volunteers at local elementary schools teaching art and coordinating a ballroom dance program for fifth graders.



Board Member

Sasha Wohlpart is a writer, community volunteer, educator and nature enthusiast who joined the board of KEEN in the summer of 2022, shortly after moving to Ellensburg. She also serves as First Lady and Associate to the University at Central Washington University where she is dedicated to initiatives that support student success and a thriving campus community. In her earlier career, Sasha taught as an environmental educator, a high school science teacher and an Instructor in the Department of Marine and Ecological Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from FGCU and a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from Eastern Carolina University. Her biggest joy is to spend time hiking and exploring with her husband, Jim, and their dogs, Annie and Leopold.



Board Member

Abby Chien (she/her) moved to the pacific northwest four years ago and fell in love with the outdoors. Having grown up in Illinois before wandering through Connecticut, Missouri and Michigan after college, it's safe to say outdoor adventures in Washington have fully captured her heart. She currently works in education policy, advocating for meaningful and equitable policies to ensure students of all ages can access and complete postsecondary education in Washington. Abby has a Bachelor's Degree in Music (oboe) from Western Illinois University and a Master's degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Connecticut. Abby continues to play the oboe with a local classical trio, and can always be found outdoors hiking, skiing, paddleboarding, and soaking up the sun. 

KEEN Staff

Carlyn Saunders Pic.jpg


Environmental Education Director

Holding a BA in anthropology from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Carlyn focuses on connecting people with the natural world. Carlyn has worked with the Sierra Club as an outreach representative for Central Washington, encouraging residents to explore their local public lands, safely and responsibly. Through her work at her colleges’ challenge courses and as a kayak instructor and guide in the North Cascades National Park, she has instructed a wide variety of individuals including elementary students, fellow college peers, and corporate team-building groups. By creating an all-inclusive atmosphere focused on stewardship education, Carlyn educates both front-country first-timers as well as back-country veterans.

Jen Smith Pic.jpeg


Nature School Lead Teacher

Growing up in the Methow Valley, Jennifer was immersed in a vast, rural landscape that provided many opportunities to witness mother nature in action. As a child she experienced ice dams, flooding, fires, violent thunderstorms, impressively long winters, and massive amounts of snow. These experiences led to a constant questioning and wonder of the natural world around us. A love of nature and natural curiosity are qualities that Jennifer hopes to instill and foster in KEEN’s nature school.

Before CWU, Kids, and KEEN she spent her days behind the counter at William’s Florist where she was a floral designer. Mom to four and longtime Lincoln Elementary volunteer, she is happy to get back to her first love: children. When not at KEEN, Jennifer can be found in her garden, cooking, working on various art projects or making plans for a future sustainable off grid mountain cabin.

bottom of page