We rarely have an opportunity to bid farewell to a WeedWise team member, but this week we say goodbye to long-time WeedWise Specialist Jeff Lesh as he embarks on a new adventure with our friends from the City of Gresham’s Natural Resources Program!
After joining the WeedWise program in March of 2011 as a part-time technician, Jeff focused on our early detection and rapid response program efforts. In those early days, Jeff split his time between the WeedWise program and North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District. In October of 2013, Jeff transitioned to a full-time position with the WeedWise program, and ever since we have been the better for it. Since joining our team, Jeff has helped to launch many of our program initiatives over his nearly 8 years of service.
Prior to joining the WeedWise Program, Jeff received a Bachelor’s of Arts from Lewis & Clark College in 2004 with majors in Computer Science/Mathematics and Religious Studies. He pursued a career in software engineering at a large software development company prior to transitioning to work in ecology. He has been working on invasive plant issues in Clackamas County and the region since 2008 in various capacities, including as an AmeriCorps volunteer, at the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, as a volunteer with the Tsunami Crew, with an ecological restoration contractor.
Jeff’s many contributions have not only helped to shape the direction of the WeedWise program but regional management efforts as well. In 2013, Jeff became the chair of the Mapping & Data Subcommittee at the 4-County Cooperative Weed Management Area. In his tenure as Mapping and Data chair, Jeff spearheaded many region-wide priority weed efforts including the development and adoption of mobile data collection platforms.
Jeff was raised in the wilds of Southeast Alaska as well as in Kansas City, Kansas. Southeast Alaska had a profound impact on Jeff where his family operated a full-service inn, restaurant, and small farm focused on vegetables and cut flowers supplying the inn and restaurant. He also harvested wild food frequently in waters, forests, and wetlands largely absent of invasive species, giving him a keen sense of the degree to which these plants have altered some ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. This interest in our native and invasive flora has been a huge asset to the WeedWise program and has lead to many meaningful native and invasive discoveries across our region.
The WeedWise program will be dramatically changed by Jeff’s departure, and we are thankful for his many contributions. We wish him all the best in his new adventures!
Learn more about Jeff and the passion he brought to our program on his Staff Spotlight.