Engaging Journeys, Engaged Journalism

Board of Directors

Laura Joplin

Semi-retired from managing the legacy of her late sister, rock and roll singer Janis Joplin, Laura authored the 1992 biography, “Love, Janis.” This book inspired an Off-Broadway show that toured the U.S. for ten years. Laura also helped develop “A Night with Janis Joplin,” a 2013 Broadway show that will begin touring in November of 2014. Laura has worked closely with Sony Music to develop many re-releases of Janis’s music.

Laura holds a PhD in Education and a Master’s in Psychology, which began her work as an educational consultant. She focused on designing experiential education projects, is the author of “Experiential Education: Focus-Action-Debrief,” and “The Learning Log, a student evaluation system.” Her learning model was recently the focus of a 2014 talk by Dr. Leonard Waks at the Association of Educational Research Association.

Since 2012 Laura has also organized TEDxChico and TEDxChico Salons.  With the TEDxChico committee she is currently preparing for the November 8, 2014 event with the theme “Disrupt.”

William (Bill) Knudsen (outgoing)

Bill Knudsen has been hands-on in organic and natural juice making since 1961, when his father Russel founded the R. W. Knudsen Family juice business. In 1977 Knudsen stepped in as president and expanded manufacturing to establish the company as the leading producer of natural and organic fruit products. Knudsen helped create the Organic Food Alliance (OFA) to promote the growth and development of the organic foods industry by establishing national organic standards. In 1999 Knudsen founded Natural Vitality, Inc. with his wife Nancy, former president of Eden Foods, another leading organic foods manufacturer.

Roger Lederer (outgoing)

Professor emeritus of biological sciences and retired Dean of the School of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico, Roger Lederer served as the university’s first Endowed Professor of Environmental Literacy as well as first director of both its 4,000-acre ecological reserve and the Bidwell Environmental Institute. Key interests are ecology, science education, and ornithology. His new Birds of Bidwell Park joins Amazing Birds, two field guides to birds, and the textbook Ecology and Field Biology. Roger earned a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. When not fishing in Wyoming or traveling with his wife Carol Burr, Lederer serves as president of the local science fair board and maintains his popular website, Ornithology.com.

Taran March (outgoing)

A 25-year veteran of publishing, Taran March has edited and written for newspapers, magazines, book publishers, and universities. Currently she is contributing editor for Quality Digest Daily, an online newspaper for manufacturing, global standards, and business management, and also a contributor to Chico Statements. Previously she served as arts and leisure editor and columnist for the Chico News and Review. A member of the California Native Plant Society, she propagates drought-tolerant plants for landscapes.

John Merz (bio still to come)

Mark Plenke

Mark Plenke is the news professional-in-residence in the Journalism and Public Relations Department at Chico State, where he teaches public affairs reporting, editing and media law, and advises the national-award-winning student newspaper, The Orion. Mark worked more than 16 years as a newspaper, television and Web journalist in the Midwest and 16 years as a college journalism teacher before he joined the Chico State faculty in 2012. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Southwest Minnesota State University and a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Beth Spencer (outgoing)

Beth Spencer obtained her Master’s in English from CSU, Chico, and is the editor and publisher of Bear Star Press, which publishes poetry and, occasionally, short fiction from writers west of the central time zone. Bear Star was honored with a 2010 American Book Award for a collection of short stories, Live from Fresno y Los, by Stephen D. Gutierrez. Spencer is also a writer and instructor, and occasionally teaches in the editing and publishing program at CSU, Chico. She lives in Cohasset with her husband Antoine Baptiste.

Kim Weir

A lifelong Butte County resident, Kim Weir is a writer whose specialty is California. She wrote seven California guides for Moon Handbooks, including the bestselling Northern California Handbook, which the San Francisco Chronicle called “that rarest of travel books, both a practical guide to the region and a map of its soul.” She has written for many newspapers and magazines and also contributed to the international Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. Weir has a BA in Environmental Studies and Analysis and an MFA in Creative Writing.

David Scofield Wilson

After growing up in Minnesota, David joined the American Studies faculty at the University of California at Davis in 1968 and was director of the program for eight years. At UCD he focused on religion in American lives, nature and culture in America, American nature writing, American religious responses to war, and American folklore. He has published a book and articles on colonial nature writers including the “Colonial Audubon” Mark Catesby. He also has illustrated a book of poems on Yosemite. His interests in American culture have been far ranging, including articles on such subjects as flying spiders, the rattlesnake, Old Sacramento, foodways traditions on a California farm, tomatoes, hot peppers, and the Sutter Buttes.

Susan Wooldridge

Author of the bestselling Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, now in its seventeenth paperback printing, Susan Wooldridge recently published Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process. Both books, published by Random House, were national Quality Paperback Book Club selections. Wooldridge also leads creativity and writing workshops throughout the United States. She lives with some 30 families in Valley Oaks Village, a co-housing community she helped establish near Bidwell Park in Chico.

Bill Yoskowitz (bio still to come)