Suzanne Willow and Lanita Witt
Suzanne is a third generation Californian, and a chosen Oregonian. Born in Santa Cruz, she spent her younger years in Idaho’s Sawthooth Mountains and near Yosemite, later moving to Eureka/Arcata and the Pacific Ocean. Open vistas with mountains and forests call to her.
Lanita was born in the Texas High Plains with the vast horizon in all directions, a dark star- filled sky, and a vegetable garden. Her family roots were in German homestead farms in South Texas. Higher education included undergraduate at Texas Woman’s University, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, UCLA Hospitals and Clinics Residency in OB and Gyn, and a house building course in Bath, Maine.
Suzanne and Lanita met in 1979 and in 1984 searched out a place in a rural environment – not too deep in the woods, with a good school for their daughter Brooke. The 445 acres that is the land of Willow-Witt Ranch, and now the home of The Crest, met those needs and more. Suzanne and Lanita learned about forest health and resilience through the Master Forest Manager course at OSU Extension in their first years on the ranch. Since 1985, they have focused on restoring balanced working forests and wetlands, and improving wildlife habitat. They are committed to land conservation, restoration, and regenerative organic agriculture.
Daniel Collay grew up on his parents’ farm outside of Eugene. There he gained an early appreciation for farming and the environment. In high school he enrolled in the Rachel Carson Environmental Science Academy where he learned broad sustainability concepts, practical restoration skills, and became a certified master recycler. He followed his passion for the environment into college, graduating with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and a Minor in Outdoor Adventure Leadership from Southern Oregon University. During his studies, he learned about sustainable development, food systems, and environmental policy. For his Capstone, he designed, created, and implemented a botanical tour showcasing trees on campus. Daniel grew his farming knowledge while interning with the Berggren Demonstration Farm in Springfield Oregon. He also was Trip Leader for the SOU Outdoor Program in college.
After starting in January of 2018 he has found a lot to love here at the ranch. The land seems to offer endless opportunities to support the community, not only with the bounty of food but also with its wealth of knowledge, history, and beauty. He thinks the work here is an excellent way to grow his love of farming, environmental education, and leadership.
Jessica grew up in the heart of Massachusetts’ apple country. In May 2021, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and Sustainable Development from Gordon College in Wenham, MA. During her senior year of college, Jessica attended the Oregon Extension semester program in the old mill town of Lincoln, located on Ashland’s highway 66. Here she discovered a love for the landscape and ecology of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. After working as an organic vegetable farmer in Massachusetts, Jessica moved to Oregon in September to begin serving as an United Communities AmeriCorps member at The Crest. In her free time, Jessica loves to hike, take dips in cool water, cross country ski, bake, and craft. She is passionate about sustainability and becoming conscious of how humans live in, and interact with, the natural environment.
Originally from Wisconsin, Tim Nohr began working at a Century Farm at the age of 15, tending sweet corn, strawberries, raspberries, and soybeans. Upon graduation from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a BA in English in 2000, Tim moved to Ashland where, in 2006, he found and fell in love with Willow-Witt Ranch. From 2006 to 2012, he worked to assist with development of ranch enterprises by drawing upon OSU Small Farms program’s diverse class offerings through the OSU Extension Service. After some time away spent managing local businesses and raising two animal-loving daughters with his wife, Tim returned to work at the ranch in August 2020 and currently enjoys morning goat-milking, sharing this dynamic ranch with guests, and maintaining the equipment. He looks forward to gaining experience planting and growing a variety of organic produce.
Trevor was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota. When he was younger, Trevor enjoyed visits to his family farm in Minnesota where his love for nature sprouted. He thrived on exploring the woods and connecting with the environment.
Trevor went to college at the University of Montana where he attained his undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Climate Change Science. While in college, Trevor interned for two years at the PEAS Farm, an acronym for Practicum in Environmental and Agricultural Sustainability. At the PEAS Farm, Trevor had hands-on experience in organic farming as well as environmental education, leading field trips around the 10-acre farm.
After graduation, Trevor moved to Ashland in 2020 and is enjoying the diversity that southern Oregon has to offer. Trevor is particularly interested in the vegetable garden at the ranch and is excited to assist in managing the garden in the days to come. Trevor enjoys skiing and snowboarding, gardening, mountain biking, rafting – really anything that keeps him outside and on the move. Trevor is excited about working with the team and the projects we have working behind the scenes.
Bartolo Castellon Pena
Bartolo’s love for nature and animals is part of his family’s heritage. He was raised on his family ranch of 2000 acres close to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where they grow corn, fruit trees and vegetables and raise livestock.
Before Bartolo moved to the US, he earned a degree in Business Administration from the University of Guadalajara while helping to run his family business. At the age of of 24, he moved to the US where he learned to speak English and became interested in yoga and wholistic health. In 2010, he lived in an ashram in the Rocky Mountains where he became a yoga instructor and learned more about gardening, living from the land and our connection with the earth. He recently joined our team at the ranch where he enjoys the daily routines with the animals, gardens, guests and the various projects in nature. The peacefulness of the ranch reminds him of his upbringing.