Our Mission

The Straub Environmental Center connects our community with nature in the mid-Willamette Valley.

Our Vision

We envision a community connected with–and caring for–nature.

Core Values

  • A cycle of impact:  To create a knowledge of current science, leading to increased curiosity and growth in understanding, and respect for the environment.   Teaching action and leadership through service in our community.
  • Community Service:  Taking action together to create a sustainable enviroment
  • Real world environmental education:  Connecting schools and students to their community to serve the local environment.
  • The earth as the place where we live:  Exploring our interconnectedness with the environment.
  • Collaborative Vision:  Leading to more powerful action from all community members
  • Access for everyone:  Providing opportunities to our diverse community.  People of all ages.
  • Impact through sustainable resources:  Serving in a sustainable manner, environmentally, socially and economically
  • To teach sustainable practices in an innovate, fun way.  To learn from experience and to celebrate each success!

Our Educational Philosophy

SEC Connects People with Nature in the Mid-Willamette Valley

The Straub Environmental Center’s (SEC) mission is to inspire our community to connect with nature and care for the environment in the mid-Willamette Valley. To do this, SEC provides educational programs for children and adults that:

  • promote a sustainable approach to daily life,
  • increase science literacy,
  • create awareness and understanding of our natural world,
  • inspire ecological stewardship.

SEC’s Main Campus is the Outdoors

We put a premium on providing direct educational experiences outdoors. We help people leave the virtual world behind and enter into the real-world—one where Nature is just waiting to be explored. Studies show that learning in nature increases knowledge retention, provides health benefits, and motivates people to adopt environmentally-friendly practices in their own lives. SEC believes the first step to environmental stewardship is experiencing the wonders of the natural world first-hand.

For a more complete statement of our educational philosophy, click here.

Governor Bob and Pat Straub

BobandPatStraubportraitGovernor Bob and Pat Straub were the inspiration for the  Straub Environmental Center (SEC).  The Straubs were renowned for their love of Oregon and their efforts to preserve its natural beauty.  SEC seeks to promote that spirit by fostering public awareness of the beauty and cultural history of the Willamette Valley.

Governor Straub’s contributions to the people of Oregon during his terms as State Treasurer and Governor were considerable. His unyielding efforts to protect the public use and open access to Oregon’s beaches, and his tireless support for Oregon’s statewide land use program, helped place Oregon at the forefront of the environmental movement. He also initiated the Willamette Greenway program, one of the most important conservation and recreation initiatives in Oregon’s history.

Mrs. Pat Straub helped shape and support the Governors environmental views. She served on the Oregon Forestry Council and wrote a book dedicated to organic gardening, a true testament to her devotion to the health of Oregon’s lands. Their homestead featured organic gardens and native woodlands which they later donated to the City of Salem as a park.

Our Staff

Catherine Alexander, Executive Director

CatherineAlexander1(5MBRGB)(14OCT2015)Catherine grew up in Western Oregon where she spent her childhood exploring the forests surrounding her family’s farmstead and drawing the native plants and animals. After studying fine art and art history at the University of Oregon and Portland State University, she worked for an art dealer in New York for eleven years.  Following that, she Relocated to Sarasota, Florida, to direct an art gallery and pen art criticism for the Sarasota bureau of the New York Times Syndicate.

At the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, her childhood love of nature illustration was rekindled. Catherine studied and illustrated tropical and subtropical orchids under the tutelage of renowned botanical illustrator Olivia Marie Braida-Chuisano, after which she returned to Oregon to reconnect with the ecological beauty of the Northwest.

In addition to her professional roles, Catherine participates in several regional art exhibitions each year. Her work is currently on exhibit with other natural science illustrators at the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center as part of Tidal Waters: The Art of Scientific Illustration.

She teaches botanical illustration workshops for youth and adults, leads hikes, nature tours and other outings on behalf of the David Douglas Society, and is the parent of Drew, a recent Reed College graduate and budding computer programmer with a talent for magical thinking. Catherine resides in Scio, Oregon, where she can hear the waters of Thomas Creek from her studio window.

Board of Directors

Our Board is made up of an Executive Committee that is assisted by a Board of Directors. The board is supported by the work and input of several committees, including:

  • Education
  • Finance
  • Marketing & Outreach
  • Development
  • Green Awards

Meet our Board…