Meet Our Bee Team

Research Informed and

Passion Driven

Founder, Sharon Schmidt is fond of saying that "Honey was my Gateway Drug into Beekeeping".  It triggered all the memories of her childhood fascination with bees.  She came by that fascination honestly as she is the granddaughter of midwestern farmer/ dairy producers who were also beekeepers.  She earned her Masters Degree in Nursing at the University of Illinois Medical Center.  Her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology was earned at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and she taught in University settings.  She served on the Headstart Board in Eastern Oregon, served as the President of the Eastern Illinois National Nurses' Society on Addictions and worked with patients suffering addictions and emotional illness for decades.  She taught and published various journal articles on addictions, recovery and mental health, worked with hundreds of students and later, thousands of Veterans.  Her Beekeeping practice and research interests lie in the areas of soil health, ethical beekeeping, honey sensory analysis, mindfulness, education of underserved populations, honeybee nutrition, recognizing and minimizing the effects of pesticides, regenerative agriculture, regenerative beekeeping and opportunities for women in beekeeping.  She is certified at the Master Beekeeper level through the University of Montana.

Sharon Schmidt
Cascade Girl
Founder & President

Service with Distinction

Col. Pamela Mindt (r) is a Beekeeper residing in Oregon.  She has served her country with distinction and has been awarded the Bronze Star for her work as a commander in Iraq. She was awarded a Meritorious Service medal for her work at Guantanamo.  Col. Mindt obtained her Masters Degree in social work from the University of Nebraska in 1983.  In addition to working with Pollinators, she keeps goats, horses and is also involved in dog and cat rescue.  She and her wife reside with their many four legged friends in Redmond.

Col. Pamela Mindt (r)
Expert on Veterans in Beekeeping
Former Director


Educator and Activist

Dolly Warden is lovingly called the "Grandmother of Beekeeping" in the Rogue Valley.  Coming from a beekeeping family, she often helped her father with the beehives when she was a youngster.  She received her Masters Degree in Library Science at Kent State and later earned her Master of Divinity Degree and a Certification in Permaculture.  

Dolly has also worked in human services, founding the Initiative for Trafficking Survivors in Dallas.  She has founded and worked in programs for immigrants and survivors of torture. 

Dolly is bilingual, speaks Spanish and is a Reiki practitioner.

She is deeply involved in environmental and pollinator health issues and under the Direction of College of the Melissae, began the Bee City USA "movement" in the Rogue Valley, initiating Talent, Oregon as the second Bee City in the United States.  Dolly is also a member of the Oregon State Beekeepers Association, Southern Oregon Beekeepers Association and an advising member for the College of the Melissae.

Dolly Warden
Grandmother of Beekeeping/Mover & Shaker
Board Member

Farmer and

Rogue Valley Agriculturalist

Mary Billings James, a founding member is the resident owner of one of the oldest family farms in the valley and can trace her family history in the Rogue valley over 150 years.  She studied Food Science and Technology at Oregon State University then spent 15 years as a Federal Meat Inspector in California.  She switched gears to start a family with husband Larry and eventually became active in the schools and church.  In 2005, the timing was right to return to Ashland to take care of her aging father on the family farm.  She now operates the historic Billings Farm. The farm has been home to many bee swarms for decades.  Mary raises Angus Beef, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, llamas and even peacocks.  Her hobbies are singing and enjoying extended family.

Mary Billings James
Former Director/Treasurer
Board Advisor

Honey Bee Rescue

Secretary, Chris Sohl is a Beekeeper and Youth Minister in Ashland.  His love of bees and compassion for people distinguish his work in the community.  He is passionate about Honey Bee Rescue and is an ardent climber who has been known to scale trees of 40 feet or more to rehome honeybee swarms.  Chris is an artist and an activist, advocating for the environment and it's creatures. 

Chris Sohl
Youth Minister/Naturalist 
Bee Rescuer
Former Board Secretary

Educator and Master Gardener

Past Treasurer Kelly Leatherwood (on the right) pictured with Volunteer Taylor Tolen earned her Bachelors of Science in Biology. 

She moved to Oregon 7 years ago, acquired a small ranch and  completed the Apprentice level of the OSU Master Beekeeper program. 

She also earned her certificate as a  Master Gardener through OSU. 

Kelly is an insightful educator who works as a substitute teacher.

An avid gardener, she creates beautiful outdoor areas. 

She says she has learned the Science of Beekeeping and now strives to perfect its art.

Kelly Leatherwood 
Master Gardener
Former Director/Treasurer

Earth Steward

Past Board Member Sydney Hamlett graduated from Texas A&M with a

BS in Bio-environmental Sciences and a Masters in Vineyard Sustainability from RMIT, Melbourne, Australia. Back in Texas, she worked with wineries to improve vineyard practices.  She moved to Seattle and then Oregon with her husband and together they run a farm in the Applegate.  They help other farmers understand the relationship between their plants and the soil.   Her companies include Infinite Tree Nursery and LSH Earth Conservation.  Sydney maintains that, "Pollinators are such a visible part of a thriving ecosystem and a great way to introduce young earthlings to stewardship!"

Sydney Hamlett
Earth Steward
 Former Board Director
 Board Advisor

Farmer & Educator

Former Secretary, Natalie Wilson, is a founding member of Cascade Girl.  She is a Farmer and Educator.  Natalie received her Master's Degree in Education from Southern Oregon University in 2017.  She taught Biology for Southern Oregon University and was a substitute teacher for Southern Oregon Education Service District. She currently teaches sixth graders. She is also a Yoga Teacher at Rasa Yoga and Wellness.  She is passionately interested in soil health.

Natalie Wilson
Farmer & Educator, Soil Expert, Microbiologist
Former Board Secretary

Mead Maker

Board Member, Lilly Weichberger sources flavorful honeys and as co-owner of Oran Mor Meadery in Roseburg, Oregon, she invents magical Meads.  She has developed her abilities in Sensory Analysis to a fine skill.  As an instructor at the University of California, Davis she is simply,,, inspiring!

Lilly Weichberger
Current Board Director

Beewhisperer & Educator

Board Member, Mike Miller has kept bees for most of his life.  He has always had a love of teaching and is an expert woodworker.  He supplies bees, beehives and education in locations all around the Pacific Northwest.  He even has a beehive in his house!

Mike Miller
Current Board Director and
Vice President 

Swarmcatcher and Bee Breeder

Raphael Aragon has a skillset which includes finding, selecting and repurposing wood, woodworking, hive-making, and swarm catching.  He enjoys teaching and readily connects with kids in schools.

Raphael Aragon

Former Board Director and Treasurer

Current Volunteer

Kristin Mathes
Visionary Beekeeper

Kristin moved to Oregon from Colorado in 2008. She fell in love with the idea of beekeeping many years earlier and decided it would be the first activity she would look into when she moved. She loves bees of all kinds. In 2015 she completed an Apprenticeship at OSU but started a Masters Degree program shortly after that, which diverted all her attention for a few years. She started keeping/hosting bees again in the spring, is involved in education, advocacy and celebration efforts. Kristin works for a non-profit which facilitates eye tissue and organ donation for the PNW and finds the restoration of peoples' sight to be incredibly rewarding!


Board Secretary


Paul Davitt
Leader in Beekeeping

US Veteran

Board Treasurer, Paul Davitt pictured here with wife, author and Master Beekeeper, Katharina and some of his pack is the immediate past President of the Klamath Basin Beekeepers, a regional club affiliated with the Oregon State Beekeepers Association.   He held that position which he held for a decade, leading hundreds of people to adopt good beekeeping practices.  As a US Veteran, he will contribute to our Bee Heroes America Program teaching other US Veterans about Beekeeping and helping them to reconnect in meaningful ways!

Paul Davitt
Board Treasurer

Patti Carothers
Educator and Beekeeper

Board Director, Patti Carothers is passionate about education and beekeeping. Teaching is not just what she does, it is who she is. As Founder and Director of the Alameda County Science and Engineering Fair she helped thousands of kids participate in science and engineering efforts and obtain regional and national recognition.  She is a compassionate and skilled leader who will contribute to the Bee Heroes America program.

Patti Carothers
Board Director