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At DIRT, we believe that positive change sprouts from individual action. Our mission is empowering people to play an active role in understanding and protecting the natural environment in which they live and making a difference through personal development and community involvement.

About Us


Our Story

Our story began with a group of passionate individuals who sought to better connect their community with the planet. The work began by organizing small community events focused on direct involvement through recreation teaching. The focus of these events was environmental education, impact, and sustainability through hands-on activities, like native plant propagation. As the events grew in popularity, they realized the potential to create something bigger and in 2014, DIRT, a 501(c)(3) organization was born.


Today, we have a growing community of changemakers who are committed to creating a more sustainable future. Through our programs, we provide education and resources to help individuals take action in their daily lives. We also offer personal development opportunities to help people become the best versions of themselves.


Our community involvement initiatives bring people together to work towards the common goal of taking better care of our planet. We believe that when people come together, great things can happen. From riparian cleanups to tree planting events, our community is making a tangible, lasting impact on the world around us.

Our Team

Rocky Rawstern

Board President | Son of Judith and Bernard Rawstern.  Fortunate husband of Janel Fredericks Rawstern. 6th-gen southern Oregonian & great-great-great grandson of Joseph and Elizabeth Stewart, the folks that brought pears (and watermelon!) to the Rogue Valley in the late 1800’s.  Board member DIRT, Air Force Veteran, Jackson County Master Recycler, gardener, Crater High grad, winner of the 2005 Foresight Prize in Communication, photographer and artist as well as the Digital Media Manager, Southern Oregon Subaru and Airport Chevy Buick GMC Cadillac.

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Allen Smith

Board Vice President | Allen Smith, born in Guam while his father was serving in the Air Force, found himself living a full life here in Southern Oregon. He spends his time year-round in the outdoors- from hiking and kayaking, to snowmobiling and hunting. Well traveled from Hawaii to Alaska, flying a rented plane to the coast or to Bend, Allen finds his home and work right here, acting as the Operations Manager at Rogue Compost.

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Jennifer Horton

Board Treasurer | Jennifer Horton lives in Eagle Point with her husband and three dogs.  She grew up on a ranch in northern Wyoming and spent her youth exploring and playing outside, doing just the things DIRT embraces and teaches!  These days she works for the Department of Environmental Quality and still enjoys spending time in nature.  Jennifer is excited to be a part of DIRT’s continued growth and the opportunities it provides children to connect with the natural world.  She hopes DIRT will inspire more children to pursue a career in STEM.

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Russ Schwikert

Board Member | Russ loves spending time at home in Ashland, Oregon working on home improvement, watching sports, and running, with his wife Kristina of 33 years and their adult children Ellen who is a professional copywriter and Evan is a YouTuber. Russ has been the Chief Development Officer at Ashland Insurance since retiring from an extensive U.S. Navy Career.

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Taneea Browning

Founder and Executive Director | Taneea has been able to harness her love for community and place making while including others in the creative process since 2014.
With the support of her family and community she has been involved in creating responsive and adaptive community engagement through recreational activities with natural resources and makerspaces alike.  

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Connie Magonigol

Valerie Terrones

Creekside Cultural Program Leaders  |  Connie and Valerie help to inform and guide work at Creekside and the inclusion of indigenous foods and community.  

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