Meet the Team: Elena Amaya

Local author and Hoyt Arboretum neighbor Phyllis Reynolds interviews Hoyt Arboretum’s staff to introduce you to the people who make up Hoyt Arboretum’s team. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Elena Amaya, Development Director at Hoyt Arboretum, who started working at the Arboretum in the spring of 2022.

A newcomer to the arboretum staff with only a little more than a month tucked under her belt, Elena grew up in Los Angeles.  The middle of five children, she was the only one interested in the outdoors.  She attended Northern Arizona University, studying forestry, education, and conservation.  An early camping trip among the bristlecone pines in Southern California was the start of her love of trees and the outdoors—she knew she didn’t want to spend her life behind a desk or in front of a computer:  “I love being outside involved with nature.”  Early work history includes working on trails in the Grand Canyon for the Forest Service.

In 2014 she visited Portland and fell in love with it, and in 2020 she moved here. Her companion is a 15-year-old Pomeranian-terrier mix named Tito. She takes him hiking with her in her backpack.  Before coming to Hoyt she led Tree crew for the Youth Conservation Crew of PP&R.

Elena has many interests to entice her outdoors. In college she was a competitive swimmer (backstroke) and she likes biking and hiking.  She also likes to cook, which, of course, is mostly indoors.

If she had a magic wand what would she change in the arboretum?  More parking space and better accessibility for visitors, especially families of color—“So many of them don’t know the arboretum even exists.”  She strongly feels it important that everyone see trees from all over the world.  A recent visit to Hoyt by a Spanish couple gave Elena the opportunity to explain to them in Spanish what they were seeing.

About the Author

Phyllis is a Portland native who has written two books about Portland trees and a history of Hoyt Arboretum. She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

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