Staff and Board Member Bio’s

Taylor Starr (Executive Director) – Taylor is a founder and the Executive Director of White Oak Farm & Education Center. He has been involved in all aspects of the Farm’s agricultural and educational programs since it’s founding in 2002.  Before moving to Oregon, Taylor worked as a farmer, landscaper, and teacher in Northern California and Washington State.  He has taught children organic gardening, natural history, and life sciences, and taught ecosystemology at UC Berkeley.  He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Holistic Ecology in 2000.  Taylor grew up near the shores of Puget Sound, where he developed a love of the natural world through annual family backpacking trips in the Cascades and Olympics.  He currently directs things at White Oak, grows native trees and shrubs, explores the wildlands of the Klamath-Siskiyous and plays as much soccer, basketball and ping pong as he can with his 11 year-old daughter.

Sarah Shea Starr (Children’s Education Coordinator) – Sarah has worked for the last sixteen years as a member of the White Oak Farm Children’s Education Staff.  She served as Education Coordinator from 2008-2010 and again starting in 2020. She has led groups of children from age three to eighteen in school visits, local school gardens, adventure school and farm camps.  Before working at White Oak, Sarah had extensive experience with children’s education ranging from preschool instruction to environmental education outreach.  She specializes in gourmet cooking with organic home-grown ingredients, taking care of the farm’s chickens and goats, and teaching hand-crafts and nature-based arts, including work with wool, willow baskets, and textiles.  Sarah graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1998 with a degree in Environmental Studies.

Darien Aubinoe (Garden Educator) – Darien leads White Oak’s in-school garden programs around the community. She has been working in Nature Education since 2017. After graduating from Evergreen State College she has worked in schools across Oregon, California and Maryland. In her free time she enjoys crafting, foraging, dancing and making music. She is excited to bring her passion for plants and nature connection into the gardens of the children of the Applegate Valley.

Nicole Kraft (Nursery Crew Leader) – Nicole has been a part of the White Oak family for nearly 10 years. With a background in organic agriculture, horticulture, and homesteading, curiosity of and passion for the plant world takes a front seat in her life and in the work (and play) that she does.  She can be found growing and preserving food, making herbal medicines, weaving baskets, creating habitat, and exploring native ecosystems.  She is grateful to call Southern Oregon home and to be in service of local riparian habitat through the work she does in the native plant nursery. 

James Haim (Board President) – James has been an educator, wilderness guide, and builder his whole life.  His passion for sustainability and wilderness travels led him to help create the Wilderness Charter School for juniors and seniors in Ashland, Oregon. Serving on the board of WOF for the last 18 years has been an honor and a privilege as he has witnessed much of what he taught to students continuously taking place on the farm.  He is also a proud father of 2 incredible daughters and when not working he can be found kayaking in the wilds, hiking, or gardening on the land.

Melina Barker (Board Secretary) – Melina is the Director of the Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Network. Melina has been active in the farm to school and school garden movement for many years. She helped to found Rogue Valley Farm to School in southern Oregon where she served as Program Director for 12 years. Melina holds a MS in Environmental Education and lives on a small homestead in southern Oregon with her husband and two children. She enjoys hiking, gardening, pottery and cooking with her family.

Jenny Kuehnle (Board Member) – Jenny grew up in Flint, Michigan, then lived in the Colorado Rockies for 13 years before moving to the Rogue Valley in 2005. Jenny has been a member of the WOF Board since 2011. Her background includes a BA from the University of Colorado in Environmental Sciences with a minor in Women’s Studies. She has completed an Ayurvedic educator program, several yoga teacher trainings, massage school, 2 permaculture design courses, the master gardener program, and RCC’s landscape technician program. She worked for many years as a licensed massage therapist and yoga instructor. In 2016 she earned her Oregon landscape contractor’s license, and started a full service environmentally friendly landscaping business in Ashland, OR. At Ahimsa Gardens LLC, Jenny employs 10 people, and oversees a multitude of landscaping projects, including some riparian and native plant restoration projects. When not at work, Jenny likes to dance, mountain bike, trail run, backpack, snowboard, hike, play music, garden, and spend time with her family, friends and pets.

Mike Merg (Board Member) – A passion for adventuring in wild places led Mike to spend 25+ years guiding people up mountains and down rivers both in the US and abroad. Teaching and managing experiential outdoor education courses was an inspiring and fulfilling part of that lifestyle. His business experience comes from starting an international ecotourism company from scratch, operating and building it for 17 years and ultimately selling it. Lately Mike has been focused on creating a permaculture homestead and building an energy efficient home here in Williams. He is an avid backcountry skier and mountain biker who loves to spend time in nature with his family.

Andy Fisher (Board Member) – Bio to come.