Meet Our Bee Team
Research Informed and
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.
Founder & President
Col. Pam Mindt (r)
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
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.
Grandmother of Beekeeping/Mover & Shaker
Mary Billings James
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
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.
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.
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!"
Former Board Director
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.
Farmer & Educator, Soil Expert, Microbiologist
Former Board Secretary
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!
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!
Current Board Director and
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.
Former Board Director and Treasurer