With diverse formal training and lived experiences, Metro’s education and outreach staff provide engaging presentation styles, clear communication and excellent customer service in both English and Spanish.
Darwin Eustaquio, Classroom and community educator
Darwin is driven to serve others through his belief in the power of education and social justice. At the age of five, Darwin and his family emigrated from Nicaragua, fleeing the Contra War and leaving behind relatives, professions, and belongings. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, he was greatly influenced by his parents’ determination to start a new life and build new relationships by going back to college to learn a new language and regain academic credentials. From high school to graduate school, Darwin engaged youth and adults through tutoring, mentorship, and classroom teaching in various roles. After earning a degree in psychology, Darwin served as a senior community program specialist for the County of San Mateo for nearly a decade, leading library-based youth development, literacy, and community programs in a largely disenfranchised community in the heart of Silicon Valley. Darwin furthered his commitment to equitable education by serving on the boards of two Bay Area nonprofit organizations that strive to close the educational opportunity gap and increase civic participation for Latinos and other people of color. Since joining Metro in 2015 as a lead educator and project manager, Darwin is actively engaged in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work. In Oregon, Darwin has also served on the boards of the Oregon Green Schools Association and The Sauvie Island Center. He is committed to serving our region equitably and striving to amplify the voice of community, knowing that people are experts in their own lived experiences.
“I am inspired by the words of Dr. Cornel West: ‘Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.’” – Darwin
Farrah Fatemi, Healthy homes educator
Farrah is inspired by the ingenuity of the natural world and the people around her. A transplant from the Midwestern prairie, she was drawn to the ecologically diverse and beautiful landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Trained as a scientist, she’s a big picture thinker who sees how interconnected our environmental and social problems are. Her science background informs all of the work that she does and how she experiences the world. Farrah has worked in different regions across the United States on issues such as air pollution, water quality, and agricultural practices. Before coming to Metro, she taught classes and managed a research program on environmental sustainability at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. She has also coordinated and managed large programs, including the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program in Alberta, Canada.
“I love helping break down complex issues in a way that people can really absorb and wrap their mind around.” – Farrah
Yaquelin Garcia-Delgado, Internship coordinator
Yaquelin is highly inspired and determined to grow as a leader in her community at work, home and while she finishes school. She was born in Portland and is a first-generation college student whose parents were born in Mexico. Yaquelin was part of the Oregon Zoo’s Zoo Animal Presenters program from 2013-2016, which helped her grow many professional skills to now be able to work with youth. After being exposed to non-traditional education with the ZAP program (ages 15-19), she then transitioned into working as a teacher aide for the Mount Hood Community College Head Start program. While attending college part time, she first studied education to become a classroom teacher. A new door of opportunity opened for Yaquelin in the education team at Metro and she opened it. Now she is striving to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology while working half-time leading the internship cohort program with Metro’s Resource Conservation and Recycling Division.
“Human personal connection is so important; at the end of the day, it doesn't matter where you come from in life, if you are a good person, good will come to you.” – Yaquelin
Nicole Hernandez-Marrs, Classroom educator
Nicole is driven by a strong sense of community service and equity. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of a city council field deputy, she grew up being dragged to all of her father’s union and community events. His commitment to public service and volunteerism greatly influenced her as an adult. After attending UC Davis and earning a BS in Animal Science, Nicole began a career in wildlife conservation, working as a zookeeper and animal trainer. It was serving as Lead Educator for the LA ZooMobile’s outreach program that she fell in love with community outreach and education. In order to combine her passion for working in the community with her desire to connect more deeply to her Latino roots, Nicole joined a children’s museum as the Community Outreach Coordinator. There she created, coordinated and delivered numerous educational programs in partnership with the neighboring Latino community while managing the museum’s volunteer program. In 2012, Nicole and her family moved to Portland to begin a new chapter of their lives. As an Educator and Project Manager for Metro, she continues her work as a public servant, teaching families and students about our impact on the environment, locally and globally, while sharing ideas on how to have a more positive footprint. Nicole’s commitment to reach diverse audiences has led her to join Metro’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team and coordinate all agency wide trainings on advancing DEI for Metro employees. Nicole is also very active in her own community; volunteering in her daughter’s classroom, serving on the school’s equity team and organizing numerous community events in her neighborhood.
“Something changed in me. Working in underserved communities, I began to recognize that many of the kids generally didn’t see people who looked like them or shared their culture when exposed to science or conservation. Whether it was hearing my last name or stories about my abuela, something changed for them. There was a connection between us and you could see it in their faces. It made me realize I had a responsibility to work in the community and try my best to empower kids. I could do more.” – Nicole
Peggy LaPoint, Recycling information specialist
Peggy is motivated by her desire to help others realize that all of their seemingly small actions towards a cleaner environment add up. Originally from Wisconsin, Peggy figures she’s got dual citizenship there and in Oregon, since she’s been in Portland more than half of her life. She has a background in communications and works in radio, but the Master Recycler Program got her thinking of ways to pursue her other passion, sustainability. Her passion for sustainability and waste reduction and the desire to learn more about climate challenges and what actions can move us towards a cleaner environment are what brought Peggy to Metro. How to share that with others in ways that motivates them is what keeps her coming back.
“A great day at work is when I can have one of those `aha` conversations with a caller that drives them towards thinking about how they can make positive changes to reduce waste or find ways to eliminate toxic chemicals in their lives.” – Peggy
Jonathan Mayer, Education programs manager
Jonathan Mayer’s personal and professional life has been dedicated to serving families and communities in the ongoing pursuit of a just and equitable society that ensures people and the natural world are able to thrive. Jonathan grew up on a small family farm and has spent nearly two decades in leadership roles with organizations such as the Oregon Department of Forestry, 4-H, Oregon State University and the University of Florida. Working together with folks from rural and urban communities, his efforts have focused on youth development, adult education, community engagement and sustainable development.
“The passion I have for my work and life in general comes from experiencing the creativity, strength, dedication and caring of people and the amazing things that can happen when we work together.” – Jonathan
Patrick Morgan, Recycling information specialist
From an early age, Patrick has been motivated by a deep love of natural beauty. Raised near forests and farmland in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest, he developed a fascination with the intersection of human activity and the natural world. Before joining the Metro in 2005, he worked in a variety of educational and nonprofit settings where he took the lead in greening workplace operations.
“I like to always keep in mind how our activities impact our environment. I feel that being mindful of this relationship gives me a deeper appreciation of nature I encounter, whether in town or out in the wilderness.” – Patrick
Ken Pitts, Classroom educator
Ken brings great energy to every presentation to inspire students to resonate with his two-fold passion for both people and wildlife. As a child, he spent every possible moment outdoors on his family’s Texas Panhandle farm getting to know the tendencies of the wildlife that called it home. As a high school science instructor, Ken made it a goal to connect his Texas, Kansas, Pennsylvania, California and Oregon biology and environmental science students to the natural world around them. Four days a week Ken is a wildlife and nature photographer and volunteer trail steward at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. He works three days as a Metro Outreach Specialist. His 33 years of teaching experience in diverse public school classrooms allows him to feel at home while skillfully delivering sustainability-related presentations to grades 6-12.
“I believe caring about what happens to wildlife begins with awareness of the species that enrich our surroundings. Moving beyond knowing all those species as ‘little brown jobbers’ toward recognizing their differences, sounds, specific habitats, and behavioral tendencies increases our own buy in for conserving nature and its wonders.” – Ken
Jamie Repasky, Classroom educator
Jamie is motivated to empower youth to see the wonder in all areas of science and sustainability. Originally from the Midwest, she attended the University of Miami to study marine biology, travelled abroad for a year in Australia studying kangaroo immunology, and then returned to the United States and completed a Ph.D. in human immunology at Yale University. After co-leading a team of graduate school educators Jamie was offered a job at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City as a Science Content Specialist in the Professional Development department. In this role she was challenged each week to design curriculum and lead workshops on a range of topics for kindergarten through high school educators. Prior to working at Metro, Jamie worked at two elementary schools in Portland as a Science Enrichment Educator, STEAM Coordinator, and student Green Team facilitator. In 2015, she was nominated and awarded the Sigma Xi Columbia Willamette Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year thanks to testimonials to “Dr. Jamie” from former students. At Metro, Jamie loves thinking about how sustainability curriculum can be adjusted to make it more inclusive to all students in our region. She encourages youth to speak up about environmental problems that they see in their community and challenges them to work together to come up with solutions.
“It’s not enough to just have science. Science needs to be translated into useable pieces so that it is accessible to everyone. It’s these bite-size nuggets that help people connect science to their lived experiences.” – Jamie
Paul Sanford, Natural gardening educator
Paul is passionate about environmental justice issues and protecting the health of people and wildlife from pesticide exposure. He has lived his entire life in Portland and came to Metro in 2004 through the AmeriCorps program. He was drawn to teaching people about gardening naturally, through his environmental science and horticulture background, and his love of gardening. Paul also educated middle school students as an outdoor science instructor for a local nonprofit organization, Wolftree Inc., and worked for the City of Portland in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, training community volunteers in how to protect local waterways from sewage contamination by disconnecting the downspouts of Portland homes from the city’s combined sewer system.
“I believe small actions can have large impacts, especially when many people are performing similar acts.”
Kayla Scheafer, Recycling information specialist
Kayla was born and raised in Oregon and has spent most of her life exploring the forests and rivers of the Pacific Northwest. Kayla is committed to serving, building and sustaining communities now and into the future. She addresses and solves diversity, equity and inclusion challenges related to access around sustainability, food and recycling programs, reducing disparities across communities. She has experience in building and managing volunteer teams, delivering presentations and workshops in the community, and working to develop new attitudes and changes in behavior, especially those focused on waste reduction. Kayla enjoys volunteering in her community as a Family Food Educator and works to reduce food waste and create lifelong skills in food preservation and safety. Kayla previously served as an AmeriCorps member with Clackamas County’s Sustainability and Solid Waste team as a waste reduction specialist, working to provide access to recycling and garbage services within low-income and multi-family communities.
"I really enjoy connecting people to their community whether it be through food, recycling or just gaining a deeper appreciation of our natural environment." – Kayla
Jaylen Schmitt, Recycling information specialist
Jaylen is motivated by her desire to help others and to provide information that other people find useful and that may lead to positive change. Jaylen moved from Montana to Portland sight unseen to attend college and never left (it was obviously love at first sight). Her personal values dovetailed nicely with Oregon’s commitment to recycling and the environment and she realized she was right at home in the Pacific Northwest. Although her college degree and early employment were not initially focused on sustainability, she always found ways to be involved in trying to make the world a better place. Working with a variety of nonprofit organizations has given her multiple opportunities to practice her community outreach skills and continue learning about issues of sustainability. Prior to joining Metro’s Recycling Information Center, Jaylen became a Master Recycler through the City of Portland and volunteered hundreds of hours as a Green Team coordinator and sustainability advocate in Portland Public Schools and the Eco-School Network. She also worked with the Oregon DEQ and the City of Gresham to manage a waste reduction project in Gresham middle and high schools. She is a Fundraising Chair and member of the Oregon Green Schools Board of Directors and a member of the Association of Oregon Recyclers.
“It’s said people are more likely to protect that which they feel connected to. Educating others about recycling and the greater impacts our consumption choices have on the environment and those we care about feels like a worthwhile way to spend my time.” – Jaylen
Lake Thelen, Classroom educator
Lake is motivated by a sense of justice and the interdependence of life, and the need to have honest and critical conversations about the changing world being passed on to young people. Born and raised in Portland, Lake has worked and lived in many places across the Americas and has always pursued opportunities to learn more about humans and the natural world. She studied tropical biology in Costa Rica, led nature camps in Colorado, taught high school chemistry in the Dominican Republic, and worked as a restoration technician in Chilean ecosystems. These experiences have fed the value she places on people, on complex and unique natural systems, and on understanding the world from multiple perspectives. These values are reflected in her work at Metro, which allows her to engage with youth and community around important topics like climate change, resource consumption, racial equity, and how to work together to improve systems. Before joining Metro in 2017, Lake worked in a medley of formal and informal educational settings, including with the City of Portland’s Nature Day Camp and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership’s canoe and natural areas program for local youth.
“When I visit classrooms, I want youth to know that their voices and opinions matter. Young people deserve respect, a listening ear, and support for envisioning the world they want to live in.” – Lake
Jorge Turcios, Recycling information specialist
Discovery of and engagement with the wide variety of cultures accessible through work at Metro motivates Jorge to grow and share his own experiences. He looks for opportunities to develop everywhere and has found Metro to be a safe place for such exploration. Jorge was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and came to the United States in the late 1990s. This was both a shock of cultures as well as an opportunity for inquiry and personal expansion. His new surroundings gave him a greater perspective, especially in regard to the privileges enjoyed by so many in this country. Jorge’s professional background has been deeply rooted in the customer service sector, and the exposure to life's diversity has illuminated much in regards to the economic challenges inherent in life in the 21st Century. Disparity can be rampant and people of color continue to struggle to meet their most basic needs. More than a decade of work in the payday loan industry offered daily examples of the effort to emerge from poverty and strive forward with dignity.
“I believe in the quote by John Lennon, ‘Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.’” – Jorge
Susan Unrein, Recycling information supervisor
Susan is inspired everyday by the steadfast commitment of her peers to educate the residents of the region on thoughtful consumption of our limited and precious resources. She is passionate and gets the most reward when helping others thrive and flourish. Susan has worked at Metro since 2003 in many capacities. She is currently the program supervisor for Metro’s Recycling Information Center. Susan loves spending time with family, kayaking, camping, and exploring the Pacific Northwest. She feels extremely fortunate and grateful to have lived most of her life in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley. Prior to Metro, Susan’s work history was focused on business administration and personnel management for both government and private sectors. She worked as the administrative services manager for the offices of the Josephine County Board of Commissioners and County Sheriff and prior to that she had a para-professional legal career.
“I strongly believe that gratitude is the key to happiness and genuine happiness is inspiring to see. It’s infectious. It’s awesome. It’s encouragement for the soul.” – Susan