Core Staff Bios

Justin Michelson, Executive Director   206-356-0354

Justin has lived and worked at Lost Valley since April 2010.   Throughout his stay, he has balanced his time between land/garden stewardship and  administrative oversight.  Since, Fall of 2012 he has been in the role of Executive Director, overseeing the operations of the organization in the realms of Justin Michelsonfinance, education, human resources, organizational development, legal issues, networking and fundraising, and communication with the Board of directors. In addition, Justin acts as the residing Land Steward, participating in education and activity around food production, animal husbandry, native restoration, landscape design, and more.

Justin grew up in the outskirts of Seattle, WA where he spent ample time in Nature, deepening his connection to the ecologies of the Northwest.   He attended Colorado College, a private liberal arts college in Colorado Springs, CO, and Naropa University, receiving an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies.   During this time, it became clear to him that the root of our current global environmental crisis was actually hidden within each of us.  Symptoms of the crisis, such as the lack of recycling, use of fossil fuels, deforestation, the industrial/military complex, etc., were actually just products of a deeper confusion ~ the deep-seated belief of separation from Nature and each other.

In the years after, Justin explored his inner world and meditation practice to understand the nature of this internal separation ~ and most importantly ~ how to bring the inner understanding of life’s interconnections into his Environmental work in the world.  First, farming and community-living became an avenue of this expression, followed by the development of skills in organizational leadership, non-profit administration, teaching and facilitation, curriculum development, and more.  He has become an important piece of the current success of Lost Valley Education and Event Center.

Justin also teaches mindfulness meditation, is an educator for EarthQuest Learning Adventures, and loves ecstatic dance, song circles, writing, and more.

Colin DoyleColin Doyle,  Education Director, Events Director   (541) 937-3351 ext. 202

Colin grew up in Massachusetts, but has experienced very much beyond that. He has degrees in    anthropology and religion, has worked and studied in Sub-Saharan Africa for a total of 15 months, lived in a tiny indigenous village in South America for nearly a year, and has traveled or worked in various other places.  Most recently he taught environmental education to 5th- and 6th-graders in the mountains of New Hampshire and Southern California, and led backpacking, canoeing, and other trips with teenagers for three summers.

Colin came to Lost Valley in the fall of 2010, and for four years has been the director of education.  This now means the Internship Program, Permaculture Design courses, and EarthQuest youth program.  He also handles outside groups renting the facilities for their own programming — the conference center (Events) business.  Colin is a crucial part of the core team of staff members that makes Lost Valley possible.

In his spare time, Colin likes stimulating conversation, learning about and experiencing different places, athletic activity, and hiking up big mountains to see amazing views.

Fern Harter,  Site Manager   (541) 937-3351 ext. 206Fern Harter

Fern grew up in a variety of places across the US, including North Dakota, Montana, California, Idaho and Georgia. Following in her father’s footsteps, she joined the US Air Force in 1997 and served for 8 years in Delaware, the UK and North Dakota while she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. In 2005, she separated and relocated to Portland, Oregon and spent 8 years working at Keller Graduate School of Management as an Office Manager and Graduate Admissions Advisor. While there, she earned a Master of Project Management degree. Fern left Portland seeking a more meaningful livelihood, deeper connection with the natural world and integration with community. Following a couple years homesteading in rural Washington, Fern moved to Lost Valley in the spring of 2013. While here, she has served in a variety of roles, including Administrative Assistant, Kitchen Coordinator and now, Site Manager – administering housing rentals, residency applications and community programs. She enjoys simple living from swaying in the hammock with her kitty Dante to foraging for a variety of berries on offer at Lost Valley.


Kyle Shepherd,  Kitchen Coordinator


Elizabeth Erkel,  Visitor Coordinator & Hospitality Lead: Dormitories

Liz is a cool girl just chillin’ (kinda) from day to day livin’ in community with a shared vision for regeneration and coordinatin’ visitors along the way. She was born in Frostbite Falls Minnesota a smidgen over 30 years ago — or so her mother and father claim. She was always the “not-athletic” one growing up and for the first time ever is having a blast discovering all the cool things her body can do even though, according to aging dogma, it’s supposed to be on the decline. Elizabeth Erkel

She studied photography in her early 20’s at Columbia College, Chicago & creates her own income by coming up with creative solutions for businesses and individuals via her service business called Aazzmannga Creative Productions”. It’s full of wonderfully random gigs including building and running the visitor program here at lost valley.

She went to a high school called “The Zoo School”, which explains a lot. She has been to a handful of countries across the globe and doesn’t plan to stop there but isn’t worried about time either so doesn’t care when the globetrotting will once more commence. She loves her own company and so her favorite activity is the creative thought process that only alone-time can harbor or spending time in gratitude with her dogs — both of which are integral in her relationship to life, socially, personally, and ecologically.

Dima Tsatskin,  HIVE Coordinator

Dima, was born in Odessa, Ukraine in June of 1983. Dima moved to Moldova when he was 6, then moved to Sarasota, FL when he was 11 years of age. After 20 years of enjoying Gulf Coast beaches, Dima started to crave mountains and forests, which brought him, along with his partner, Liz, and their two dogs, Zushi and Gandhi, to Oregon,Dima Tsatskin where they were blessed with an opportunity to live in an intentional community which is situated within the Lost Valley Educational Center, where they are honored to be residents.

Dima had no idea what was waiting for him here, and after settling in for a few weeks, he was presented with an opportunity to serve the community by playing a role of a HIVE Coordinator, someone who is the head of community HIVE Program (Habitat Improvement Volunteer Education Program). Dima finds the HIVE program to be a progressive and evolutionary model for maintaining community cleanliness and well being. In this model, inhabitants pay a monthly maintenance fee, and instead of using the funds to hire someone from outside to perform certain tasks that would fulfill community needs (cleaning bathrooms, hosting game nights, facilitating work parties, trail maintenance, egg washing, community council, etc.) the inhabitants volunteer to perform these tasks themselves, for which they earn HIVE credit in the form of dollar points that potentially nullifies their monthly maintenance fee. Pretty genius! Dima enjoys spending most of his time in solitude or taking his canine pals on nature walks, though really values and appreciates the social aspect of the communal living. Dima strongly believes that intentional community is the model for future type of lifestyles that the rest of humanity will sooner or later find themselves in.

Randy Tullous at Langtang

Randy Tullous, Head of Infrastructure
(Maintenance Lead)

Randy is originally from Nebraska. After graduating from college he set out to pursue one of his lifelong dreams to explore the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. He explored the Rockies for 8 years as a seasonal wildlife research technician tracking ungulates. For unknown reasons, he decided to transition over to a fisheries biologist on Alaskan commercial fishing boats in the Bering Sea. Realizing, in Alaska, he more than likely made the most harebrained decision in his life he ended up enjoying every single moment for 6 years and learned a lot about life, love, people and himself.

Randy comes to Lost Valley after much exploration and contemplation of the senses, the environment that surrounds us and what’s really important to him. He’s a jack-of-all-trades with specific interests in natural building and carpentry. He loves to travel, especially to Nepal. Randy’s personal interests are hiking, Tibetan yoga, meditation, growing mushrooms and kittens.


Sam Bascom


Sam Bascom,  Maintenance Assistant


Abby Swartz




Abby Swartz, Hospitality Lead: Site





Bill Xiarhos, Finance Manager, Ext. 207


Visiting and Tours,
Hosting outside events/retreats,
Youth Camp Program,

Mailing Address:

Lost Valley Education & Events Center
81868 Lost Valley Lane
Dexter, OR 97431

Telephone: (541) 937-3351

Fax: (541) 937-2243

* Please note that there are currently more office phones than there are people able to answer them. Many staff are called out of the office or into meetings to keep the place flowing smoothly, and personal numbers are often provided.  Cell phone reception is spotty here.

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