Meet the Team

Dr. Monica Paulson Priebe, Natural Resources Faculty

Monica grew up working and playing outside in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She studied Ecology and received her BA degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology. Monica served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala leading work in Ecotourism, trail network development, community ecology training and reforestation. She taught regular courses at the local forestry school and started Becas Especiales - a grassroots sustainable scholarship program for rural impoverished Guatemalan youth. In Guatemala, Monica realized there was a lack of coordination and communication between natural resource scientists and practitioners and decided to go back to school so she could work on bridging this gap. She taught graduate ecology classes while receiving an MS in Environmental Science and MS in Environmental Policy from Indiana University. She studied how different interpretations of forest policies in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras were manifested on the forest ecosystem while obtaining her PhD in Environmental Science with a focus in Forestry. Previously, Monica has taught at Portland State University in the Environmental Science and Management Department, at Mount Hood Community College, and at Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Monica is excited to be working with the Natural Resource Program at Green River College where she gets to fulfill her passion for teaching. She thinks she has the best job out there and loves her work! Monica is the current Department Head of Natural Resources and she is always being innovative and ensuring students are put first!

Sam Thompson, Natural Resources Faculty

Sam is a faculty member in the Natural Resources Department at Green River College in Auburn, WA. Sam’s role in the department is all things technology. Her primary focus is teaching the geographic information systems (G.I.S.) and computer courses in the department. She has a M.S from the Department of Geography at the University of Washington – Seattle in Geographic Information Systems. She has a B.S. in Wildlife and Wildland Conservation from the Plant and Wildlife Science Department at Brigham Young University – Provo. She currently acts as the Club Advisor for both the Forestry Club and the Society of American Foresters Green River College Chapter. Sam’s background has included work involving human-bear conflicts, habitat restoration in the intermountain west, and flora and fauna indices surveys. The result of her work with human- bear conflicts were published in Human-Wildlife Interactions as “Portable Electric Fencing for Bear-Deterrence and Conservation.” Her recent projects explored the use of GIS applications to create tools to identify barriers along the waterways of the Spokane Sub-basin for Columbia River redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss subsp. gairdneri). This collaboration with the Spokane Tribal Fisheries resulted in a “Prioritization Tool” for habitat restoration along waterways. Sam is passionate about teaching her students new ways to see the world in order to problem-solve critical issues. She recognizes how important equitable and responsible stewardship is for our natural resources. One of her biggest aspirations for students is to help them rise to the challenge of critically examining information to make data-driven decisions.

Eric Oien, Natural Resources Faculty

Eric's path to the Natural Resources world is best described as a circuitous one. Eric grew up in South Seattle with his only exposure to the Great Outdoors being the occasional Boy Scout outing. Upon being laid off from his construction career during the Great Recession, Eric decided to pursue a career where he could be excited to go to work every day. This led him to Green River College where he obtained A.A.S. Degrees in Forestry and Water Quality in 2011. Upon graduation, Eric hired on with R.E. Zenkner and Associates where he set up timber harvests for a number of industrial timber companies in Southwest Washington. He finally emerged from the dense coastal huckleberry in 2012 to take a job with Washington Department of Natural Resources as a State Lands Forester in their Snoqualmie office. “It was with DNR that I went from thinking of myself as a layout technician to thinking of myself as a true forester. To go from planting trees, to silvicultural surveys, to timber sale layout and compliance was incredibly rewarding and has given me an appreciation for the complexity of Natural Resources Management in the 21st century.”

In 2016, Eric jumped from State Lands Management to DNR Forest Practices where he reviewed, conditioned, and complied timber harvest applications. This work often required collaboration with local tribes, sister agencies such as Fish and Wildlife, as well as timber companies to ensure that resource protection remained a priority in our natural landscape. In addition to Forestry work, Eric has served as a Wildland Fire Fighter with the DNR for the last 10 years, primarily working in operational roles on hand crews, engines, and working with heavy equipment. “In the decade plus that I’ve spent working in the woods of our state, I’ve developed not only a love of the mountains and forests here, but also a sense of pride in the responsible stewardship of our Natural Resources. I am looking forward to bringing that passion, and the boots on the ground skills that I’ve acquired to the students at Green River College to enable the next generation of Foresters to springboard into fulfilling, successful careers in our industry.”

Josh Misenar, Natural Resources Faculty

Josh comes to the program with two decades of professional work experience in forestry. Josh graduated from the University of Washington in 2007 with a BS in Forest Sciences and a Master of Forest Resources in Forest Management. At graduation, he had two years of grant proposal writing experience for the non- profit Friends of the Cedar River Watershed, and three seasons of professional timber cruising experience in Washington and California in hand. From there, Josh spent two years with Hancock Forest Management as a silviculture forester, working on timberlands in Vernonia, Oregon and in Washington timberlands near Cathlamet, Grays River, Snoqualmie, White River, and Kapowsin. In 2009, Josh took a silviculture forester position at Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) for the 85,000-acre Ryderwood Tree Farm in Southwest Washington where he oversaw planting operations of over 6.5 million seedlings and pre-commercial thinning

operations of over 20,000 acres. At Ryderwood, Josh recruited and supervised two seasonal timber cruiser positions each summer. He also developed silviculture prescriptions to support the West Fork Timber All Species Habitat Conservation Plan near Mt. Rainier and served three years as an industry representative for the Stand Management Coop, three years as the Chair of the Northwest Tree Improvement Coop, and four years as the Chair of the Animal Damage Control Cooperative. In 2018, Josh moved to the North Cascades to work as a forest operations forester for SPI, overseeing timber harvest, forest road design, and commercial thinning operations in Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. During this period, Josh was a regular participant in the Reitter Foothills Public Forum and began his current service as the District 3 representative for the Snohomish County Noxious Weed Control Board.

Josh’s love for exploring, learning, and participating in the management of the great mountains in our region has only grown with each step forward in life. Taking time to understand the details of everything from how watersheds function at a broad scale, to how timber cruisers can best optimize their unique skill sets, is what makes forestry so personally rewarding for him.

Continuing to learn and grow in the world of forestry as an instructor at Green River College is the next great challenge for Josh, and he is thrilled to be here.

Jessyka Williams, Program Manager

Jessyka has a long history with Green River College, as a proud graduate of the Natural Resources Program in 2006. Jessyka feels it was because of this program and the incredible instructors and students within it, that she learned who she is and how she relates to the world around her. For this, she is forever grateful! Jessyka’s natural resources experience ranges from state, federal, and private industry, but her primary experience was climate change and invasive species research at the United States Forest Service, PNW Research Station, in Olympia, WA. There, she expanded her knowledge and was mentored as a science writer, which catapulted her into science writing and eventually, the education industry. She realized good science better serves the public when it is relatable and written for everyone. Eventually, Jessyka graduated from The Evergreen State College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education. Her experience brings 12 years of experience in higher education, helping bridge the literacy and academic gap of underserved and diverse students, as well as tutoring graduate and professional students on their writing. This may seem like a “left turn;” however, her passion for forestry and education is what prepared her for her current position, as the BAS Program Manager, back home at GRC, with her new natural resources’ family! Jessyka writes, “I love this job because it mixes my love of natural resources and education, without ever having to give a grade!”

Alejandra Gonzalez, CTE & Natural Resource Tribal Pathways Manager

Alejandra is a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. Growing up on her ancestral homelands has impacted the direction of her life. Her academic journey includes a Bachelor’s of Arts in Indigenous and American Indian Studies with an emphasis Environmental Justice at Haskell Indian Nations University. After earning her BA, Alejandra worked at her tribal school as the Human Resources for a year. After seeing a greater need within tribal communities, Alejandra earned her Masters of Social Work with a concentration in American Indian and Alaskan Native populations from Washington University Brown School of Social Work. As the Tribal Pathways Manager here at Green River College gives Alejandra the opportunity to combine both of her passions, Environmental Justice and Social Work. Alejandra currently resides in Federal Way with her 8-year-old pit-bull/terrier mix, Princetopher. They both enjoy going on trails and walks in the woods. She's also a beginner crafter, tea enthusiast and aspiring baker.

Gene McCaul, Natural Resources Adjunct Faculty

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management degree from Washington State University in 1978, Gene was hired by the L.T. Murray family to work for Murray Pacific Corporation, also known as West Fork Timber Company (WFTC), where he worked for 37 years helping to manage their 55,000 acre tree farm in the shadow of Mt. Rainier until it was sold in 2015. Over the course of those years, he worked in nearly every aspect of tree farm management, but specialized in inventory, planning, GIS, and silviculture. He was actively involved in developing the first Spotted Owl Habitat Conservation Plan in Washington State, which was later amended as the first All Species Habitat Conservation Plan in the US in 1995.

Gene was also active in the Stand Management Cooperative (SMC) hosted at the University of Washington, serving a term as chairman of the policy committee. Gene has served as chairman on the City of Sumner’s Parks and Forestry Commission. Gene is an active member of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) since 1978 and in 2014 received the SAF Field Forester of the Year award for Region 1.

Since 1978, Gene has known or been associated with nearly every instructor in the Green River Natural Resources program and worked with nearly 20 interns during that time. He is excited to bring his decades of professional industrial forestry experience into the classroom to help train the next generation of natural resource professionals.

Jason Walter, Natural Resources Adjunct Faculty

Jason was born in Santa Monica, CA, and moved to Trout Lake, WA for high school in 1985. After graduating, Jason moved to Ellensburg, WA, and attended Central Washington University where he earned his B.S. in Fish and Wildlife Ecology in 1994.  In 1995, Jason was hired as a technician with Weyerhaeuser Company, based out of Federal Way, WA, where he has worked ever since. Today, Jason's role with Weyerhaeuser is as an Aquatic Scientist where he manages the company's Aquatic Op-Support Program in the West, provides regulatory support on aquatic issues, and serves as the principal investigator on a number of research projects focused on the interaction between fish and forestry. During his time at Weyerhaeuser, Jason had the opportunity to earn a Master's Degree from the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington in 2012. In 2018, Jason embarked on this (second) career of teaching at Green River College and is excited about the opportunity to work with students. Jason lives in Tacoma with his wife and has 3 sons.