Welcome NNRG’s New Staff!

A new year means new faces at NNRG! Learn more about our two new staff members below.


Program Manager

Reach Laura at laura@nnrg.org

Laura grew up along the McKenzie River in Oregon and has shared her love of the natural world throughout her career. In her last semester of college, she followed her big cat dreams to Namibia to lead education programs for the Cheetah Conservation Fund. This work led her to Virginia, where she ran education, outreach, and volunteer coordination for Friends of the National Zoo. After seven years away, she returned to the Pacific Northwest to coordinate AmeriCorps programs for the Mt. Adams Institute. Laura holds a B.S. in Zoology from Oregon State University and a Master of Arts in Biology from Miami University. Laura’s favorite way of spending time in the forest is bird watching. 

Matthew Schmidt

Planning Forester

Reach Matthew at matthew@nnrg.org

Matthew grew up among the forests and forest industry of SW Washington and is an active member of a multi-generational family-owned forest. After careers in Natural Resource Economics and Geospatial Informatics he had enough of the desk life and decided to get back to his roots in forestry. He received a Master of Science degree in Forestry from the University of Washington and is looking forward to applying his passion for ecological forestry by helping landowners to develop optimal management strategies on their property. Matthew’s favorite way to spend time in the woods is still-hunting through tall timber and scrambling up the tallest peaks in the state.

We asked Laura and Matthew a few questions to help us get to know them a bit better. Below we share their answers in their own words. 

What drew you to ecological forestry, and what drew you to NNRG?


Growing up along the McKenzie River in Oregon, I developed an appreciation for forests and wildlife. This inspired my work in the environment field, where I enjoy helping others connect to the natural world. I appreciate NNRG’s mission to support landowners who want to manage their forests sustainably and look forward to supporting the work. 


Though I grew up among the forests and forest industry of rural Washington, it took me many years and several career changes before I found myself back in the Pacific Northwest. While reconnecting with my roots and getting involved on my family’s working forest I became interested in forest management and returned to school to train in forestry with an emphasis on ecological forest management. After graduating from the University of Washington I knew that NNRG was a leader in the field and an ideal location to explore my passion for ecological forestry.

What’s the best part of the work you do (either with NNRG or in the field in general)?


I enjoy finding creative ways to support others and look forward to learning more about NNRG programs and the landowners they work with. 


I enjoy using various ecological clues to piece together the missing management or natural disturbance history of a site. A sort of Forest Forensics or CSI Forest if you will. I think there is so much you can read from the species composition, stand structure, and forest health and I’m always learning how to read more. As someone who grew up surrounded by the region’s forests but never really saw beyond the wall of green I’ve really enjoyed getting to see them in a new light. Though my family is sick of my tree talk I’m excited to continue reading the forest and sharing these insights with interested landowners at NNRG.

What are your top three favorite PNW trees or shrubs?


My choices are influenced by nostalgia growing up in PNW forests. The noble fir is special because my dad always brought one home for Christmas. The Western sword fern was a staple of my childhood adventures, as was the trillium flower. All our best forts had them. As an adult, I discovered my love of oak forest ecosystems and find some of my favorite wildflowers there. 


I have always enjoyed the whimsically drooping top of western hemlock. Now as a forester, I have a new-found appreciation for the well-rounded Douglas-fir which sometimes seems like a tree that must have been designed in some forgotten laboratory to grow fast, live long, and produce high-quality timber. There are so many trees that could make this list – and I want to give an honorable mention to the nearly perfect geometric branching pattern of noble fir – but I’d say nothing beats hiking up to timberline in late-fall to witness a massive gnarled alpine larch in all its golden splendor.

Anything else you’d like our members and readers to know?


Birds bring me joy, and you will notice me constantly scanning. I moved closer to Seattle for this role, and it was painful to leave the hummingbirds behind. Good news, I have already heard them at the new place and have feeders ready! 


I’m looking forward to meeting more members out in the forest to see what we can do for their land. Feel free to reach out with any questions!

One Comment

  • Welcome to NNRG! Highest quality, professional group of people in the forest industry. They are the BEST. Always there to help me manage my beloved forests. Look forward to meeting you two.


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