Benton Soil & Water Conservation District has six employees: an Executive Director, Administrative Specialist, Resource Conservationist, Soil Health Coordinator, River Restoration and Invasive Species Program Coordinator, and Communications & Community Engagement Manager. We also work closely with an NRCS District Conservationist. Numerous volunteers and interns assist us in our mission.

Holly and Maple1980CrossonHHolly Crosson

Executive Director
Holly Crosson joined the Benton SWCD as the new District Manager in January 2013. She is an aquatic ecologist, botanist, and educator with more than 25 years of experience in natural resource planning/management, sustainable agricultural practice, and community outreach related to conservation and stewardship on public and private lands. While working for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Water Quality Division, Holly oversaw the state’s Aquatic Invasive Species Management Program and led aquatic and riparian habitat restoration projects in collaboration with landowners, watershed councils, and other local, state, and federal partners. In 2002 she moved west and began working at the University of California, Davis, in several capacities, including with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Sea Grant Extension, and the UC Davis Arboretum and Botanical Garden. While at UC Davis she initiated and led many programs and collaborative partnerships, from drafting the State Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan and developing Best Practices with the aquarium, aquaculture, and horticulture industries, to designing educational exhibits, developing outreach materials, and implementing watershed/habitat protection training programs for master gardeners, irrigation districts, natural resource professionals, and others. Prior to moving to Corvallis in the spring of 2012, Holly spent five years living and working on a 145-acre organic farm in the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon. Holly is thrilled to be working with BSWCD staff, Directors, and partners to ensure healthy watersheds and a strong natural resources legacy in Benton County.

Donna SchmitzDonna SchmitzDonna Schmitz

Resource Conservationist

Donna has over 25 years of experience in natural resource management.  In her current position, Donna provides natural resource technical assistance to Benton County landowners who seek solutions to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and wildlife habitat and assists them in finding funding sources to help pay for conservation work. Prior to her work with the Benton SWCD, she was Project Manager of a large watershed scale research project conducted through the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, monitoring the effects of agricultural nutrient and pest management practices on water quality in Iowa.  Past projects included conducting hydrologic analysis of storm water and developing storm water storage and soil erosion control plans for proposed urban development.  With the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Donna evaluated highly erodible land and developed conservation plans for federal farm program participants. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, South America teaching agro-forestry concepts at an agricultural school. She has a B.S. in Forest Management.

IMG_0161 Melissa Newman

River Restoration and Invasive Species Program Coordinator

Melissa joined Benton SWCD in June 2016. She brings over ten years of experience in the field of natural resources working in government, non-profit, private industry, and academia in a range of habitat types including riparian and stream, wet and upland prairie, oak savanna, agricultural, forest, and urban. Previous to joining Benton SWCD, she worked for Lincoln SWCD on the Oregon coast where she collaborated with landowners and partners to develop and implement projects and programs to assess, prioritize, and restore riparian and stream habitats and protect water quality for sensitive fish and wildlife species. Melissa grew up in California, obtaining a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Biology from U.C. San Diego, and fell in love with Corvallis and Benton County while visiting Oregon a number of years ago. At Benton SWCD she works with local landowners and a variety of conservation partners and technical experts to assess, prioritize, and coordinate stewardship activities along the mainstem Willamette River. She also coordinates Benton SWCD’s invasive species program and assists with other Benton SWCD programs such as the native plant sale.

Teresa M as babyTeresa MattesonTeresa Matteson

Soil Health Coordinator
With a passion for decomposition, Teresa has practiced composting at home and shared methods with her community for about a quarter century. Collaboration with local and state-wide partners provides many opportunities for Teresa to explore soil health. Teresa’s Soil Quality Project encourages farmers to make management decisions that improve soil function, reduce production inputs and protect the environment. She participates at many community events from Forest Camp to OSU’s Non-profit Career Fair.

Heath camping in Upstate New York

Heath Keirstead

Communications and Community Engagement Manager
With a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont and an M.S. in Soil Science from Oregon State University, Heath is able to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for the natural world with interested Benton County residents. Heath has worked for Benton SWCD since 2006, and received the Employee of the Year Award from Oregon Conservation Education & Assistance Network (OCEAN) in 2014. Heath loves being a part of the team at Benton SWCD. Some of her favorite projects include Salmon Watch, Bee Buddies, and creating informative publications. Check out our Rural Living Handbook, the Water Weed Guide, our 2014-15 Annual Report focused on the Willamette River, 2015-16 Annual Report focused on pollinators, and the Benton SWCD Strategic Plan brochure.

Janette at 4 years old.

Janette holding a piece of a giant pelvic bone (likely mammoth) found under Reser Stadium.

Janette Byrd

Administrative Specialist
Janette joined the BSWCD team in November 2017; she supports the administrative and organizational functions of the District. Janette completed her MA at Oregon State University in applied cultural anthropology with a minor in food in culture and social justice. Her graduate research focused on using ethnography to increase the visibility of school food service workers in the labor economy. As a student Janette participated in internships with the OSU Student Sustainability Initiative, and Oregon Smart Labs/ Intel Inc. At Intel Janette conducted ethnographic research with small farmers in Oregon to gather information on potential technological solutions to issues of agricultural water use in times of scarcity. Janette has also served as a program coordinator for the University of Arkansas, School of Social Work’s food justice initiatives, as well as a workforce development program coordinator for Northwest Arkansas Community College.

Tom Snyder Up_a_treeTom Snyder reading on the Willamette RiverTom Snyder

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Benton/Linn District Conservationist
Tom has been the District Conservationist in Benton County since 2005 and added Linn County to his service area in 2016. Tom began his career in Nebraska after receiving a BS in Environmental Studies at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. As the NRCS District Conservationist, Tom is responsible for working with partners to determine how Federal Farm Bill Dollars are utilized in Benton County. NRCS assistance in Benton County historically was focused on addressing water quality concerns. Recently NRCS has provided funding for improving habitat for the Fender’s Blue Butterfly as well as restoring Oak Woodland Habitat.