Meet the UC-VEG Team
UC-VEG AmeriCorps Service Members
UC-VEG AmeriCorps service members support the organization and have left a deep impression and impact on the community. We are grateful to those that have served UC-VEG in the past, and excited about those to come!
Nancy Webb – Former Community Nutrition Educator February – July 2020
Nancy Webb has been a Douglas county resident for 20 yrs. Prior to working with UC-VEG, Nancy ran a successful dog boarding and breeding business for over 17 years. Having researched the dietary needs of dogs for many years, her focus took a turn when her husband was diagnosed with Cancer for a 4th time in 2013. After extensive research, and along with her husband, son and daughter, Nancy became plant based in August of that year. Discovering UC-VEG through the 13-week disease prevention and reversal series, the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course, Nancy’s transition toward greater health has made a great impact on her life focus, going from the health of dogs to the health of people. Her hobbies include cooking healthy plant-based meals, watching documentaries and walking. She loved being able to share her enthusiasm in her service as the UC-VEG AmeriCorps in 2019.
=Iryna Boehland – Former Community Nutrition Educator March – August 2020
Born and raised in Ukraine, Iryna’s mother never let her near the stove, saying “You’ll have your share of cooking when you grow up.” Since children like to do the opposite, she was eager to disobey and pestered her mother in the kitchen as her interest in cooking expanded.
Love of traveling, curiosity, and eagerness to see the world brought her to the U.S in Sept. 2001. She worked in Accounting at Mercy Hospital, went to college, then met her husband, and started a family. Her education includes a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering & Accounting, and Beautician training from Ukraine, and an Associate of Arts degree in Accounting from UCC.
In America, Iryna was exposed to a different lifestyle. As busy college and family life resulted an unhealthy lifestyle, Iryna searched for support.
UC-VEG was the right fit for her and offered a breath of fresh air. So much information, science, testimonials, humor, recipes, and gentle support; it felt like home!
When learning about the AmeriCorps role with UC-VEG, she thought, “I, too, would like to learn more, be in the heart of the organization, and help promote the knowledge and lifestyle to help people in our community.” Iryna is proud to be a part of the wonderful volunteers of UC-VEG!
Iryna also enjoys many forms of art, time with family, and trying, shopping for, preparing, and sharing new foods. She believes that life without learning something new is boring!
Cherish Wanter – Former Community Nutrition Educator
Cherish genuinely believes it is hard, if not impossible, to live a fulfilled life without sharing love with others, and that one of the greatest ways to show love is through service that focuses on empowering individuals’ or communities to combat their challenges. Due to this belief, Cherish has given her time to a variety of volunteering work ranging from serving as a field agent in Peace Corps Senegal to providing after-school service to first generation elementary students. In the upcoming months, she will be relocating to Roseburg to serve as a UC-VEG 2020 AmeriCorps member.
Her time as a Peace Corps volunteer further exposed her to the global challenge of food insecurity and nutrition. She worked extensively on capacity building of women to address food insecurity and malnutrition within their families. Some of her work included construction of a women’s garden, speaking on the use of local leafy greens and moringa to boost nutritional content of local meals, and co-trainings mothers on the creation and use of local grain cereal for complementary feeding of children 6 months-2 years.
In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, yoga, partaking in various outdoor activities, and spending time with friends and family. Cherish looks forward to building relationships and working with the people of Roseburg.
Zenya Ledermann- Former Community Garden Coordinator
Zenya is passionate about sustainable food systems and fighting inequalities found within our global systems. She is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and recently graduated from Eckerd College in Florida where she studied Environmental Studies and Anthropology, concentrating on sustainability. Zenya has traveled the world participating in a number of volunteer projects related to environmental and social justice, during which she cultivated a deeper sense of empathy and knowledge of the complexity of world issues, and the importance of different perspectives. Zenya is devoted to service and believes we must focus on bettering our communities for the benefit of all. She is looking forward to starting with UC-VEG and excited to embark on this new adventure. Some of Zenya’s other hobbies and activities include anything outdoors, especially hiking, biking and camping. She enjoys yoga, music, vegan cooking, dancing, gardening, and traveling. Zenya is looking forward to moving to Roseburg and making new relationships with the people and community.
United Communities AmeriCorps service member for UC-VEG: 2021-2023.
See below for bio.
VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
I first attended the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course in 2019. Over the years, I’ve taken the Course five times. When I think back to why I attended, I remember seeing a poster about improving health through food. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but, with arthritis, weight fluctuations, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I knew I needed a change.
I went in open-minded, but skeptical all at the same time. I began learning how to incorporate vegetables and fruits into my “Standard American Diet”. Little by little the nutrition information began making sense. The information presented in class was incredible. With steps leading up to it over the years, I’ve now been eating entirely whole food plant-based since 2022. I am no longer taking prescription meds, which I was prescribed for over 30 years. I’ve gained unstoppable energy and have my weight right where I want it. Just as importantly, I’ve found my purpose, self-worth, and total fulfillment.
As I was going through rounds of the Course, I was impressed with the volunteerism involved. The volunteers were never judgmental, never pushy, but always friendly, giving and genuinely caring about ALL of us. They truly believed why they were there: to help others attain health. I’ve been in many volunteering situations and loved them all. Nevertheless, there is something different about the UC-VEG group. I keep saying “they are the coolest people on the planet” and they are, in my book.
In that light, I began volunteering with UC-VEG. So far, I have volunteered with the Course, helping with registration, greeting, and making recipe samples for the group. I give cooking demonstrations at the UC-VEG Cooking Classes. I organize and teach garden workshops. And, I’ve started a Moai (social support group) walking group in Sutherlin.
The most joy I get is when I see a Course participant’s eyes light up with the same amazement I had, and when they feel their health transform. Life changing.
A huge thank you to my husband, 45 years and counting. He and my immediate family, friends and new UC-VEG friends have been so supportive. Through UC-VEG I have found my people, my purpose and most importantly my health. Forever grateful.
JULIETE PALENSHUS (Executive Director)
As the Executive Director of UC-VEG, Juliete is able to share her lifelong passion for community health, healthy lifestyle strategies, and nutrition. As a rural community builder, TEDx presenter, keynote speaker, and mission-driven community leader, Juliete is an accomplished and engaging presenter on the achievement of vibrant and thriving communities. Her educational and professional background is in international relations, government, social services, and the nonprofit sector. Juliete studied for several years with Dr. Charlie Ross, founder of what is known today as the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course, for which she regularly facilitates classes. She also serves as a champion for well-being in her roles as the Community Engagement Director for Thrive Umpqua, Vice Chair of the Community Advisory Council for the Umpqua Health Alliance, and Vice President of the Umpqua Valley Arts Association.
She has had the privilege of traveling extensively and holds the breadth of experience gained from her national and international travels to places like Cuba, Nicaragua, Taiwan, and Israel/Palestine, as invaluable. While her family’s ethnic background is Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk), Middle Eastern, and German, she was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys spending time on the Umpqua rivers, waterfall hikes, rock climbing, yoga in the park, as well as singing and dancing, journeying toward social justice, and laughing with her friends and family.
Juliete transitioned to a plant-based diet at eight years old and loves sharing quality information and tools that she truly believes bring more happiness and longevity to individuals, and the community. She is energized by the radical health improvements of UC-VEG participants and overjoyed to facilitate the growth of the organization.
JOHN DIMOF (Board President)
John has worked in the Umpqua Valley as a farmer, builder, teacher, and community organizer. Beyond the valley, he’s traveled to all four corners of the United States, teaching healthy lifestyle classes and building community programs. Combining his educational background in medicine, experience working in the nutrition field, and extensive training as an organization facilitator, he’s currently running non-profit organizations focused on health transformation and education. Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) Heart Healthy Nutrition Program, John regularly facilitates the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course. He enjoys sharing his passion to help others achieve success and find greater purpose in their lives. Beyond UC-VEG, John works as the Thrive Umpqua Strategic Partnership Director, responsible for transforming over 60 organizations to incorporate health and well-being strategies. John is one of the founders of UC-VEG and serves as an active Board President.
DR. JILL HANSON (Board Secretary)
Dr. Jill Hanson owned a veterinary clinic in Coos Bay for 40 years. She and her husband, a Douglas County firefighter, are now retired and live happily along the North Umpqua River. Due to her life-long love for animals, and the influence of her oldest son, who is a professor of chemistry/nutrition in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Jill Hanson adopted a plant-based lifestyle. She loves working as the UC-VEG Board Secretary, as the Roseburg Potluck Coordinator, and supporting participants in their journey toward better health.
RAMONA SCHULZE (Board Treasurer)
Ramona has worked as a commercial chef for over 3 decades. When starting the transition toward a plant-based diet, Ramona not only experienced her own health transformation, but discovered a new world of culinary opportunity. Ramona serves as Board Treasurer and provides wholesome and delicious food demonstrations and sampling throughout UC-VEG programs.
ALIM KARIM, MD (Board Member)
Dr. Alim Karim earned his Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology and health science from York University, Toronto, Canada, and went on to complete his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine, St. George’s, Grenada, in 2015. After completing his family medicine residency at Florida State University College of Medicine in 2018, Alim practiced at the Sanctuary Outpatient Center at Lee Health, Fort Myers, Florida. He is dually Board certified in both lifestyle and family medicine and works as adjunct faculty for the Roseburg Family Medicine Residency.
Outside of medicine, Alim enjoys playing soccer and basketball, cycling, hiking, nutrition, traveling, technology, music, spending time with his wife and new baby boy, and eating a plant-based diet! Ask Alim about when he played soccer professionally before attending medical school and his own well-being transformation through a plant-based diet. With his powerful personal experience and medical training, Alim brings a wealth of knowledge about health, nutrition and wellness to the UC-VEG Board.
Michael Sidrian (Board Member)
Michael Sidrian is proud of his Lakota Sioux and Latino heritage and to be a member of the recovery community from drugs and alcohol. He recently celebrated 11 years of sobriety. Working on his own recovery, he found a passion for helping others, leading him to a career at ADAPT as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor CADC I. Early in his recovery journey, he turned to sugary and salty processed foods like cereal and fast food. When diagnosed with type II diabetes, in October of 2022, he was placed on medication. Coming from a long line of diabetics on both sides of his family, he thought this was “his time”, but still didn’t want to give up. Feeling determined, he and his wife started making adjustments to their diet, taking their fur babies for walks, and signed up for the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course. When learning that the Course could lead to disease reversal, they stuck it out and are so glad they did! In a short 5 months, he started seeing results to his health. Not only losing weight and having more energy, Michael reversed his diabetes, bringing his A1C from 11 to 5.3 and has been taken off all medications. Michael feels so thankful for UC-VEG and the Thrive Umpqua movement, for providing the education classes and events that encourages others just like him and to now contribute his wisdom and enthusiasm as a UC-VEG Board Member.
Kaila Luttrell (Board Member)
Kaila grew up in Douglas County, where her journey around health and nutrition began more than 20 years ago. After graduation, she lived in different parts of the country while transitioning to a fully plant-based lifestyle. During that time, she earned a degree in Finance and honed her professional skills in marketing, technology and management. She’s gained experience in diverse industries, including private education, fitness and the arts. A lifelong volunteer, Kaila has devoted herself to many causes ranging from teaching kids to cook to animal shelters to Quaker organizations. Kaila is currently the owner of a marketing company. She has served on the boards of the Phoenix Friends School, Arizona Community Land Trust, Tres Rios Cooperative, and the Arizona Cooperative Initiative and is grateful for the opportunity to serve on the UC-VEG board.
DR. HEIDI BEERY (Chief Medical Officer)
Dr. Beery is a family medicine doctor currently practicing at Family Tree Medical Clinic. She received her medical degree from Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) in 2007, and shortly after, began practicing in Roseburg, her hometown. She has worked as a core faculty member of the Roseburg Family Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine Residency Program at Aviva Health. Her first contact with UC-VEG happened through UC-VEG’s medical meet and greets years ago, and she later took the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course. Dr. Beery quickly became enthusiastic about the program. She has done extensive nutrition focused continuing education and training through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Dr. Beery is a Lifestyle & Nutrition Course facilitator and medical consultant for UC-VEG.
DR. APRIL GILLIOM
Served UC-VEG through United Communities AmeriCorps program, full time from 2021-2023. April came with a lifetime of experience in plant-based nutrition, through delving into books, healthy living conferences, and kitchens near and far. She is a graduate of Bastyr University and is a Naturopathic Physician. She has completed intensive training in hydrotherapy in Germany, whole food plant-based nutrition at TrueNorth Health Center, and homeopathic medicine. When it comes to nutrition she values a mindful approach and sharing the foods we love with good friends and family. With a passion for a lifetime of learning, she enjoys engaging with people and listening to their stories and experiences.
If April is not on the job with UC-VEG event planning and volunteer coordinating, then she’s cooking up market or garden inspired veggies in the kitchen, getting lost (and found) in nature, practicing Naturopathic Medicine, and being with her two daughters. She enjoys practicing mindfulness in meditation and in conversations.
Dr. Lundy has been an Internal Medicine physician for over 30 years and now works at South River Community Health Center. She’s been involved in many kinds of volunteer organizations for years, serving for over two years with the Peace Corps in Botswana (2012-2014), working as a teacher advising on HIV prevention and wellness. Dr. Lundy also volunteered, acted and served on the board for Umpqua Actors Community Theatre (UACT) for over twelve years. She also help with the Art Center and recently was asked to serve on the board for the ADAPT. In her medical practice, she always spent time sharing with patients about healthy lifestyles as the path to long-term wellness. Dr. Lundy is an active volunteer, supporting participant evaluations of the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course and executing the Roseburg potlucks.
PATRICK HARRIS, RN, BSN
As an emergency room nurse, nursing student instructor at UCC, and long-time Douglas County resident, Patrick saw the leading causes of death on a daily basis. After treating patient after patient in the ER, he began to wonder how the chronic illness he was seeing could be prevented. Now having the tools to treat, prevent, and even reverse many forms of chronic disease, Patrick shares information about how to prevent and even reverse many chronic illnesses through lifestyle medicine and a plant-based diet. As a former UC-VEG Board Member, Lifestyle & Nutrition Course facilitator, and nursing student instructor, Patrick has a legacy of community well-bring improvement in the Umpqua Valley.
Jeanie Owen and Jan Turley
Jan Turley (right) first engaged with UC-VEG through the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course in 2017. She’s taken several rounds of the Course. Her nutrition would improve during the Course and then she’d revert to her old ways of eating when the class ended. Inspired by Jan’s experiences during the Course, Jeanie Owen (left) and Jan took the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course together in 2022. She started eating whole food plant-based to control diabetes and feel better.
Jan and Jeanie have a friendship that supports each other in sustaining the health-promoting lifestyle. They are both avid gardeners and they share recipes and information and connect with UC-VEG by volunteering with the Course, welcoming new participants and preparing recipe samples, especially the Quick Melt Cheeze. They also give volunteer support to other events, such as cooking classes and gardening workshops, and enjoy attending socially supportive events, such as the Sutherlin walking group, Dine-Ups, and Shopping Tours. Having a great friendship through the journey has really helped to keep them on track with the lifestyle, adding to their health and knowledge.
I became a volunteer for UC-VEG in 2018. My inspiration comes from knowing our community is becoming healthier and, in turn, happier. I love talking with people and helping them understand the benefits of our programs. I am excited to be a part of this amazing organization, and am a lead volunteer at tabling events throughout the community. I also co-lead and support nutrition classes at the Phoenix School, farmers’ markets, the Boys and Girls Club and even Woofstock. I thoroughly enjoy helping at the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course too!
In 2016 I saw the documentary Plant Pure Nation and was so inspired by the message. I sought to learn more. I moved to Roseburg that same year and discovered the most wonderful group, something I had longed for with like-minded people: UC-VEG! I couldn’t wait to get started with them and the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course. I was hooked the first day. I wanted to volunteer with whatever they needed. I started with helping set up things before class, greeting participants, and breaking down afterwards. I started attending tabling events, going to the first Dine-Ups, and helping with potlucks. More recently I made plant-based pumpkin truffles for the Skate Party and BZP Celebration. I also help get the word out for events through social media support.
The last two years have been a little rough, and I have not been able to help as much as I would like. Family tragedies and personal tragedies have kept me away. I am learning to walk again with a prosthetic and hope to get up and running this year, or at least walking so that I can volunteer more! I attended the Master Gardener training in 2017, and I hope to continue with that this year. I am also in training to become an Ombudsman for long term care patients in Oregon.
Volunteering has always been an important part of my life, and research suggests we live longer for it. UC-VEG has always inspired me and also inspired me to go back to school in 2020; I received my Bachelor of Arts in Complementary and Alternative Health. I am now retired from 27 years of working for a major health insurance company. Now I can focus more on volunteering. I have met so many wonderful people in UC-VEG. I consider them part of my family. Not only has it helped me to choose better options when it comes to nutrition, it has also helped me to live a better life all around.
I started volunteering with UC-VEG in the early days for multiple reasons. I observed that a large portion of the population was struggling with many health issues which could be largely attributed to the Standard American Diet and other lifestyle choices. I was appalled by current conditions and inspired by the potential for improvement as I read “The China Study” and watched “Forks Over Knives.” As I learned more about the Whole Foods Plant Based Diet I realized that it had many other benefits for individuals and society as a whole.
On a personal level I have a lifelong interest in health and wellness not only for humans but for the ecosystems around us and the earth as a whole. Developing a symbiotic relationship with our living environment and working toward a regenerative and resilient food system are issues of immense importance to me. Volunteering with UC-VEG has provided me with opportunities to meet like minded people. I feel that a plant based diet allows people to open their hearts further because they no longer need to justify the commodification of animals. Could this be a stepping stone toward world peace? Will Tuttle made compelling arguments for it in his book The World Peace Diet.
Volunteering with UC-VEG has been very rewarding whether it was helping setup for events, photographing the action, participating in community garden projects or providing technical support for other volunteers. I am currently a student and work full time so I haven’t been able to participate as much as I’d like to. I look forward to serving with the inspiring group of volunteers and community partners in the future as we build a healthier community.
Jude is a retired health care provider, having worked as a family nurse practitioner and midwife for over 30 years. Upon retiring, she took the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course. While struck by the merit of the information shared in the course, Jude was also impressed with the simplicity and power of lifestyle medicine. Jude enjoys observing the health improvements of participants while conducting evaluations and tracking outcomes for the program, serving as the UC-VEG receptionist, and managing the contact database.
Chriset first became excited about the joy of growing food in her ’20s when an organization called GRuB came to build her some raised beds, gave her seeds and provided information for new gardeners. From that moment she began expanding out from those 3 raised beds to other parts of her yard, her roof and then to vacant unused patches in the neighborhood. She is learning about culturally-specific First Foods that her ancestors grew, the growing methods and how they came to the people. Their duty is to sustain us and our duty is to cultivate and care for those relatives so they can continue to provide for us. She is participating in the Seed Seva apprenticeship with Rowen White and did the Wisdom of the Elders Agricultural internship where she studied Ethnobotany. Despite so much despair, there is always good news in the garden. Chriset started the Kitchen Garden Project (KGP) and has built gardens in the back yards of families across Douglas County, for elementary schools, and for non-profit organizations. As the KGP Coordinator ,Chriset shares her passion for growing food and food security with people of all ages and backgrounds.
My husband, Dale, and I moved to Douglas County in May 2020. With his recent retirement came a freedom and space to put energy towards our successful transition to a plant-based lifestyle. With the great advice of a friend of mine, we searched out UC-VEG and started participating in the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course. We’ve now completed the Course twice, and are on to a third round as we are learning, in stages, to incorporate more whole foods. Shortly after we moved to Roseburg, the Gateway Community Garden opened adjacent to the Roseburg Senior Center. Dale and I immediately signed on for two raised beds. We have 3 now.
When a need came up for a new contact and UC-VEG Garden Coordinator for the Gateway Garden, I was asked to consider the position. I did what any inexperienced volunteer would do: I ran the other way. It’s true. However, the need came to mind repeatedly over the months. Finally, with Dale’s support, I was emboldened to step up. Now I’m doing my best to unite the gardeners, set up sustainable systems for the best growing conditions, and create an easily managed coordinator position for any successor I may have.
I also volunteer with presentations, the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course, and other projects where my skills can be of help.
“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” –Winston Churchill.
Tasha King has been a vegetarian for over 40 years for humanitarian reasons. After a bout with cancer 6 years ago, she wanted to become entirely plant-based. Tasha began attending UC-VEG’s Lifestyle & Nutrition Course in September of 2017 to achieve that goal. Soon after, Tasha started volunteering for UC-VEG. As a Master Gardener, she often brings the fruits of her labor to the classes, sharing her bounty. Tasha has served as the Lifestyle and Nutrition Course facilities trainer and coordinator by opening the venue, setting up, greeting participants at the registration table and breaking down after class.
DR. CHARLES ROSS
Dr. Ross has been a practicing physician in Oregon for over 40 years. He practiced Emergency Medicine and became interested in Lifestyle Medicine about 6 years ago, at which point, he began focusing his efforts on teaching medical students at COMP-NW and promoting healthy lifestyle choices with UC-VEG. Dr. Ross became a local CHIP facilitator in 2014, and gradually transformed the course, founding the original THIP! He now lives with his wife, Christine, in Oakridge/Westfir, OR and is teaching classes there. He continues to come to Roseburg to share his story and new adventures as a potluck presenter.
Suzy Krause first learned about UC-VEG from an online advertisement in 2015, after moving here from Susanville, CA. She was curious but really had no intention of becoming plant based. After her first session attending the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course (then known as THIP), she was hooked. Suzy talked her husband into going with her the next week, and they both decided they were all in. Through the course, Suzy began to develop an understanding of the devastation that is occurring on the planet due to a mis-use of resources, and the over-farming and horrific abuse of animals to feed the masses. Suzy was also tired of the years of yo-yo dieting, and wanted to learn how to eat, and be healthy.
With their new knowledge and awareness developing, she and her husband began eliminating animal products and processed foods from their household. Shortly after that, Suzy became a volunteer, wanting to do something, and be part of the solution. Over the past 5 years, Suzy has volunteered with the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course, cooking classes, potlucks, movie nights, Farmer’s Markets, and special events. She posts flyers and approaches businesses around the community, announcing upcoming events and programs. Suzy works with restaurant owners each month in order to coordinate the DineUp Program, where a location is selected to gather for a nutritious, plant-based meal. Suzy also goes around to physician’s offices, providing them with information and handouts about UC-VEG programs, which they then pass on to their patients. She updates, and keeps current, the Douglas County Medical Provider’s Contact list for all those who are promoting and supporting UC-VEG programs. With the pandemic, much of this has been put on hold, but people still want to be healthy, now even more than ever. As a result, UC-VEG has made virtual the extensive course in order to continue supporting our community.
Suzy is also a volunteer Docent with Winston Wildlife Safari, working in the towers, events, and the Village assisting guests. She volunteers with Blue Zones Project Umpqua, helping out with various outreach programs. She loves gardening in her spare time. She can’t say enough about how exciting it is to volunteer, and be part of UC-VEG at this special time of change. People are wanting to live healthy, happy lifestyles, be compassionate, take care of the animals and one another, and treat our planet with the honor and respect she deserves. If we don’t start taking care of our home here on Earth, we won’t have a home. Suzy looks forward to seeing what the future has in store as we work together, even in the face of adversity. She feels blessed to be part of this organization!
LEVI CHASE MELENDEZ
Levi was first introduced to this organization in 2016, attending a UC-VEG cooking class at Aviva’s Sutherlin Clinic, leading him to the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course (then known as the Total Health Improvement Program, THIP). As a diabetic, the course had such a profound improvement on his health that he continued to be involved with UC-VEG. Levi wanted to help spread the word and promote the lifestyle to the community. He currently hosts UC-VEG’s monthly Movie Night, showing life-changing movies such as Forks Over Knives and The Game Changers. Levi’s experience with a plant-based lifestyle as a diabetic has been a wonderful reference for diabetics transitioning and wanting to transition to a more plant-based lifestyle.
A part of what brought me to UC-VEG was its message of kindness: kindness to animals, kindness to others and, ultimately, kindness to one’s self. That kindness has made me want to step out of my comfort zone and give back. I enjoy volunteering at potlucks and playing the “Veggie Toss” composting and veggie trivia game with kids at tabling events. I can only hope that my efforts help others see a gentler, healthier path for themselves and the planet. Thank you to all who work for this wonderful group; it wouldn’t be possible without everyone’s hard work bringing it all together.
I began my plant-based journey about 7 years ago (2015) when working at Evergreen Family Medicine as a Medical Assistant. A colleague and I took a previous iteration of the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course, facilitated by Dr. Charlie Ross, to learn more about nutrition and to help our patients avoid some of the chronic illnesses brought on by diet and lifestyle choices. I guess you could say there was no turning back after all that I had learned.
I began a natural progression toward helping others learn about nutrition, and so I began looking for more ways to get involved in sharing the knowledge. I started volunteering with UC-VEG, helping with the Sherm’s Shopping Tours and talking with the community at events with a UC-VEG information table. I serve as a Veggie Rx lead at Evergreen Family Medicine, helping recruit participants to the program and putting together Veggie Rx meal kits.
I enjoy going to and supporting UC-VEG events. There are so many opportunities to get involved, and it is inspirational being around those who care for others and want to help them live their best lives.
Nancy Wolf is the UC-VEG editor and social media volunteer. She handles the UC-VEG Facebook site, is a moderator for the UC-VEG Support Group Facebook site, and does general editing – newsletters, fliers, cookbooks, recipes, and other things as needed. Nancy has lived in Douglas County for 27 years and calls it home. She took the weekly lifestyle and nutrition series, THIP, a year ago and was in awe of what UC-VEG offers to our community and found it to be a treasure. She’s retired from education, had the time, and wanted to help. Over the last 40 years, Nancy and her husband have switched back and forth between vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism. She’s always eaten lots of fruits and vegetables, limited fast food, and cooked most of their meals at home. But she’s struggled with weight all her life, trying one diet after another – losing and gaining it back. She even worked in the dieting industry for three years as a researcher. Dieting made her cravings and binging worse. After taking the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course and reading Dr. Greger’s book How Not to Diet, she knew she had to jump off the dieting merry-go-round. She has been working toward eating healthy, plant-based foods AND losing weight. Most importantly, she’s healing her body and mind from the dieting routine. In her free time, she likes to bird, draw, knit, create Pysanky eggs, quilt, paint, travel, bicycle, camp, and photograph wildlife.
In the fall of 2019, Halie Cousineau moved to Roseburg Oregon to serve as an AmeriCorps with Oregon State University extension and Blue Zones Project as Douglas County’s school garden coordinator. During that time, Halie became a Master Gardener and also started volunteering at UC-VEG events.
Halie has now moved to Eugene to continue her work in garden education for OSU extension as the State-Wide Garden Education Coordinator for the Food Hero program. However, she still makes time for UC-VEG by volunteering as a Master Gardener presenter for the Garden Workshops. Halie has been busy at work with the Grow This! Program, which gives out seeds to participants in spring and provides educational videos to help anyone grow their own seeds throughout the year with the materials found around the house. When Halie isn’t gardening or teaching gardening you can find her outside climbing, skiing, biking, swimming, or hiking.
Cynthia grew up in meat & potatoes land (Southern Illinois), but then escaped to Seattle in 1985 for college and learned about amazing things like brown rice and hummus and that vegetables don’t have to come out of a can. After 35 years of living on the Oregon Coast, she and her family moved to Roseburg the day after The Big Snowstorm in 2019. From her new little homestead, in between taking care of kids, cats, garden, orchard, bees, chickens, wild turkeys and her deer named James, she’s been helping both UC-VEG and the Blue Zones Project in all kinds of ways.
For UC-VEG, Cynthia has been editing the slide decks for the fall 2020 Lifestyle & Nutrition Course, creating new headers and banners for the newsletters, copy editing everything thrown at her, reformatting the cookbook, “Cooking with UC-VEG,” for its second printing, has recently begun learning about grant writing in order to help UC-VEG obtain more funds to operate, helped redecorate the office for the two new AmeriCorps members, is designing posters for Movie Night, and has most recently stepped into the role of class coordinator for the Lifestyle & Nutrition Course, beginning in 2021. Karin has served in various capacities over the years, from tabling, greeting, and cooking assistance, to fundraising exploration. Her warmth and positive attitude are an invaluable addition to the UC-VEG team!
Shannon Agee had been thinking about changing to a healthier lifestyle for many years. A little over two years ago, she “accidentally” went to a Lifestyle & Nutrition Course when a friend invited her to a “healthy recipe class” and decided the time had come to give it a try. During the course of that series, she lost 20 pounds and 40 points off of her cholesterol level besides feeling so much better and healthier. Since then, Shannon has been very glad to volunteer with UC VEG and spread the great news far and wide, as a cooking class demonstrator, and shopping tour guide.
Erika loves to cook and make her comfort foods into healthy versions. After participating in UC-VEG and changing her lifestyle, she experiences more energy and better gut health. Eating healthier and volunteering as a cooking demonstrator means a healthier and longer life to Erika. One of her favorite quotes is: “TOGETHER we can change the WORLD”
Livi has been cooking plant-based for her family and clients for over 20 years. In her years of experience, she’s developed her own crowd-pleasing recipes, tweaking them to include more ingredients supporting disease-prevention and reversal. Livi provides wholesome and delicious food demonstrations and sampling at UC-VEG programs
John Schulz has helped cultivate UC-VEG’s lasting partnership with the Seventh Day Adventist Church’s Better Living Center. After witnessing countless health transformations throughout his life, he feels passionately about the power of food to prevent and reverse chronic illness and is thrilled to have this resource available to the local community.