Samara Group




Leslie Bliss-Ketchum and Jalene Littlejohn met at Portland State University in 2010 while studying environmental science. Together, they founded Samara in 2015 to enhance environmental projects using collaboration and communication. Since then Samara Group has grown sustainably, but remains a small and nimble firm supported by a network of businesses for subcontracting to provide exceptional work products. Samara's mission is to help propel scientific projects that serve our diverse community.

Certified Women-Owned & Emerging Small Business (WBE / ESB #10398)

Select Client List

  • Burns Paiute Tribe

  • Friends of Terwilliger

  • International Urban Wildlife Conference

  • Missouri Botanical Garden

  • Oregon Department of Agriculture

  • Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

  • Oregon Invasive Species Council

  • Oregon State University

  • Society for Ecological Restoration NW

  • United States Department of Agriculture

  • West Willamette Restoration Partnership

  • Wild Rivers Coast Alliance & Gorse Action Group


Our Work

Samara Group


Jalene Littlejohn.jpg

Jalene Littlejohn

Jalene Littlejohn leads the firm’s community partnerships and communication projects. Jalene specializes in strategic planning, group facilitation and science communications. She has extensive experience working within complex project environments and enjoys the challenge of connecting interagency and community-based teams.

Currently, Jalene is the Lead Coordinator for the Oregon Invasive Species Council and supports a number of other invasive species and conservation initiatives in the region. She has served on the Board of the Society for Ecological Restoration NW Chapter and served as Chair of Green Lents, a community building non-profit she founded in 2009.

In her free time you can find Jalene chasing after two active little ones, getting her hands dirty in the garden, enjoying dance classes or learning new music.


M.E.M. Environmental Management, 2012

B.S., Environmental Science and Resources, 2007


Leslie Bliss-Ketchum

Leslie Bliss-Ketchum leads the firm’s environmental science and wildlife projects.  She is a wildlife ecologist who has been actively monitoring and researching the impacts of the built environment on habitat connectivity, assessing mitigation efforts and developing connectivity assessments. She recognizes that environmental issues are complex and require effective communication. Leslie is currently completing her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Portland State University where her research has focused primarily on issues of urban wildlife and roads as barriers to wildlife movement.  

Currently, Leslie is coordinating Western pond turtle surveys and monitoring throughout its range in Oregon as supports habitat connectivity efforts both in the Portland metro region and statewide.  She leads various wildlife monitoring projects. Leslie is the Past-President of the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society, current board member of the Urban Wildlife Working Group and former Conservation Affairs Representative for the Northwest Section of The Wildlife Society. She is also an adjunct faculty at Portland State University teaching courses in field methods in wildlife science and urban ecology.  


Ph.D., School of the Environment, expected completion 2018-2019

B.S., Environmental Science, 2007





Adriana Escobedo-Land

Project Associate—Adriana is an Oregon-raised Project Associate on the Samara Group team. She is a skilled project manager with experience in grassroots nonprofit development, horticultural research, and outdoor education. As a detail-oriented organizer who is passionate about science communication, she employs data visualization, mapping, and a collaborative approach to create well-rounded and informative products. She has a wonderful disposition that makes her easy to approach and a joy to be around, and her unshakeable work ethic makes her a powerful asset in any project. Through her work with Samara Group and in numerous volunteer engagements, Adriana is working towards everyone having access to safe and healthy environments. Catch Adriana off-the-clock enjoying Portland’s food scene, spending time with her 8 half-siblings, or going on a hike.


B.A. Environmental Studies–Biology, 2015

GIS Technical Certificate, expected completion 2019


Olivia Guethling

Art Direction - Olivia leads Art Direction specializing in Communications,  Marketing, and Storytelling. Her expertise adds authenticity, visionary concepts and empathy to the projects she works with. Throughout her career, her roles have included creative director, event producer, art performer, and designed and authored several books.  She focuses on complex problem solving, engaging stakeholder groups and interdisciplinary collaboration to help organizations align their branding with their mission. Olivia held a leading role in several award-winning and internationally recognized productions in Germany, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Israel, and was the lead graphic artist for award winning real estate developments.

Outside of work Olivia is fascinated by hand lettering and book design and is an enthusiastic adventurer, traveler, yogi, and boxer.


M.F.A Collaborative Design

B.A. Visual Communication Design 


Marie Hepner

Project Associate—Marie brings a wide skillset to the Samara team, including research and technical writing, stakeholder tracking, accounting, and grant tracking. Highly focused and inquisitive, Marie is skilled at asking useful questions and tackles complexity with ease. Some of the projects that Marie has worked on include the Urban Biodiversity Inventory Framework, Oregon Invasive Species Council, West Willamette Restoration Partnership, and Oregon's Readiness and Response Plan for Emerald Ash Borer.

In her free time, Marie enjoys gardening, rockhounding, and camping.


B.S. Environmental Sciences, 2016


Katelyn Hale

Project Assistant—Katelyn brings to Samara Group over 8 years experience as an educator, facilitator, and illustrator. She holds a Master of Science from Portland State University in Leadership for Sustainability Education, where she developed unique educational trainings and materials to weave together ecological literacy and social justice practice.  Adaptable and driven, Katelyn’s wide variety of experience includes 2 years managing a 2.5 acre organic farm, 3 years coordinating a teen-driven community development program, and 10 years facilitating countless meetings and workshops building the movement for sustainable and just food systems.

In her free time, Katelyn loves backpacking in wilderness areas, barbecuing for her friends, and building shadow puppets.


M.S., Educational Leadership & Policy, Leadership for Sustainability Education, 2015

Lewis & Clark College
B.A., Anthropology/Sociology & Hispanic Studies, 2009


Robyn Draheim

Invasive Species Biologist - Robyn brings more than 15 years of experience with aquatic invasive species to Samara Group. With a background in invasive species ecology as well as natural resource management and policy, Robyn's work experience spans surveys for and identification of aquatic invaders, the development of outreach and awareness tools for the general public, and collaboration on state and national species management plan development and implementation. Although classically trained in marine biology, Robyn has long since expanded her love of all things wet and muddy to include freshwater and terrestrial habitats.


University of Washington
M.M.A. Marine Resource Management, 1999

Virginia Institute of Marine Science
M.S. Marine Biology, Estuarine Ecology

University of California at Los Angeles
B.S. Biology, Marine Biology, 1994


James Holley

Jim has performed wildlife field surveys in Northwest Oregon since 2009. He has led native turtle surveys in basins for 7 years, while teaching hundreds of volunteers how to identify and gather valuable data on turtle habitats and population. His strong leadership, commitment to high quality data, and actionable recommendations make him an irreplaceable member to any team.


Portland State University
Postbacculaureate Coursework in Biology, 2017

Portland Community College
Postbacculaureate Coursework in Biology, Botany and Chemistry, 2010

Rutgers University
B.A. Anthropology, 1999


Sandra Jacobson

Wildlife Biologist & Transportation Ecologist - Sandra brings her expertise from a 36-year career as a Wildlife Biologist for the USDA Forest Service. Most recently, she worked for the Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis, California, and has worked on several National Forests at different levels. For the last two decades, she has served as the US Forest Service’s national and international subject matter expert for transportation ecology, assisting public land managers in identifying and mitigating impacts to wildlife from highways on over two dozen public land units. Through the research branch of the Forest Service, she facilitated research on highway projects and has authored several publications on transportation ecology topics. Through her experience assisting federal, state and local entities in planning and implementing wildlife-friendly highway projects, she has developed effective in-person and online training for natural resource and transportation professionals in the US and abroad. In her spare time, Sandra has other interests besides reducing roadkill. They include Argentine tango dancing, learning Spanish, and birding. She’s also certified as a personal trainer and nutrition coach, and a licensed private pilot.


Humboldt State University
M.S. Natural Resources / Wildlife

Humboldt State University
B.A. Zoology





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