2020 Mushroom Festival Presenters

Note: This is an initial list of persons who have committed to presenting at the 2020 Mount Pisgah Arboretum Virtual Mushroom Festival. This list is subject to change. We will also post presentation titles when finalized.

Mycology Talks

Peter McCoy speaks on behalf of the fungi, the most overlooked and misrepresented organisms in the web of life. As an interdisciplinary, systems-oriented mycology educator with 17 years of experience, Peter is considered one of the most prominent voices in the modern mycology movement. His work is widely regarded as pioneering in the topics of accessible mushroom cultivation and mycoremediation, while his in-depth mycological knowledge has also elevated his voice to one of the foremost in the less-explored fields of fungal evolution, fungal communication, and the history of fungi in human cultures. Peter is the co-founder of  Radical Mycology, the author of Radical Mycology: A Treatise on Seeing & Working With Fungi , and the founder of MYCOLOGOS.


Else Vellinga is a mycologist who is interested in naming and classifying mushroom species in California and beyond, with a focus on parasol mushrooms and their relatives. These systematic studies lay the basis for further research, and especially for conservation purposes. She has described 22 species as new for California. She received her PhD at Leiden University, Netherlands and also received training at the National Herbarium of the Netherlands.Else is a prolific publisher, with more than 110 technical papers she has authored or co-authored. You may access many of her papers on her UC Berkeley page. You may also enjoy several of the 36 articles Else has written for the Mycena News (newsletter of the Mycological Society of San Francisco ), which are available on Mykoweb. Else is also addicted to knitting, and you’ll find her often with needles in hand, using mushroom dyed yarn for her creations.


Andy MacKinnon is a forest ecologist who lives in Metchosin, British Columbia (BC).  His recent research interests include ecology of BC’s ectomycorrhizal fungal species. He was lead BC scientist for Environment Canada’s 2017 ranking of our province’s threatened and endangered fungal species. Andy has taught rainforest ecology field courses in Bamfield and Tofino (for the University of Victoria) and Haida Gwaii (for UBC). He has also taught mushroom identification courses in Tofino (for the Rainforest Education Society) and in Victoria. He is co-author of six best-selling books about plants of western North America, and co-author of the Royal BC Museum Handbook “Mushrooms of British Columbia” (anticipated date of publication: June 2021). He is past-president of the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society (SVIMS), and an enthusiastic participant, speaker and field trip leader for various mushroom festivals in southwestern BC each autumn.


Noah Siegel has spent over two decades seeking, photographing, identifying, and furthering his knowledge about all aspects of macrofungi. He has hunted for mushrooms throughout the United States and Canada, as well as on multiple expeditions to New Zealand and Australia. His book, Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast is highly regarded as one of the best for the Northern California Coast (and also Oregon, from the Coast to the valley). His photographs have appeared on the covers and have been featured in articles of multiple issues of FUNGI Magazine, Mushroom; the Journal of Wild Mushrooming, numerous mushroom books, as well as many club publications. His technique and attention to detail are unrivaled, arising from a philosophy of maximizing utility for identification purposes while maintaining a high degree of aesthetic appeal. Noah lives in Michigan, but travels and lectures extensively across America, following the mushrooms from coast to coast, and everywhere in between. Noah has been a guest expert identifier for the mushroom display at the annual Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom festival every year since 2016. CMS affectionately calls Noah the “Mushroom ID Machine.”


Dr. Charles Lefevre is recognized internationally as a pioneer of the North American truffle industry, and is unquestionably the most successful producer of inoculated trees on the continent. He received his PhD in Forest Mycology at OSU, where he earned a reputation for his insatiable curiosity and his uncompromising integrity. He designed and developed one of the largest gatherings of truffle farmers, scientists and entrepreneurs in the world for the annual Truffle Growers’ Forum to share their expertise and experience in what is otherwise a very secretive and fiercely competitive industry.

Naturally, Dr. Lefevre’s work with truffles began as an “underground” project done quietly on the side. While still in his doctoral program, he was asked by a local farmer to inoculate hazelnut seedlings with Tuber melanosporum. He made his public debut in the Los Angeles Times, which led to the creation of his company, New World Truffieres, Inc. two years before completing his degree. New World Truffieres has since produced inoculated trees for numerous truffle orchards throughout the U.S. and southern Canada and has received media attention in the New Yorker, Forbes, Audubon, the New York Times, Smithsonian, CNBC, the Discovery Channel, and many others.

In 2006, Dr. Lefevre and his wife, Leslie Scott, founded the Oregon Truffle Festival, which was the first festival of its kind outside of Europe. Its purpose is to celebrate both the native Oregon truffles, and the burgeoning truffle cultivation industry in North America through a variety of culinary and educational programs. Since its inception, this dynamic and participatory truffle festival model has attracted scientists, authors, farmers, dog trainers, and gourmands from around the world, and continues to innovate as it stays ahead of the industry growing around it.


Molly Widmer is a Botanist for the Bureau of Land Management. Chris Melotti is a Wildlife & Ecology Consultant and a former Bureau of Land Management Wildlife Biologist. Chris and Molly met while attending the Lane Community College Biology of Mushroom class taught by the infamous Freeman Rowe and later married. Their lives together pretty much revolve around mushrooms and the natural world. They are CMS founding members and are an integral part of the mushroom displays for the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival, the Yachats Mushroom Festival, and the Sun River mushroom festival in Bend. Chris has served on the CMS Board continuously since it’s inception and often leads CMS forays. They frequently gives talks and walks together on the ecology and biology of mushrooms at local community events.

Culinary Talks and Demonstrations

Chad Hyatt, author of the Mushroom Hunter’s Kitchen, has made a name for himself in Northern California and beyond by sharing his delicious spin on wild mushroom cookery at public and private events. Both an expert forager and classically trained chef, he has cooked in a variety of restaurants and private clubs around the San Francisco Bay area, where he can often be found putting on wild mushroom themed dinners and teaching mushroom related classes.

Chad’s cooking career began more than a decade ago, after leaving an enginerring career for culinary school. He has cooked in a wide range of kitchens, from Michelin-starred fine dining to opening a BBQ restaurant, and from country club to gastropub. He is passionate about approachable comfort food, based on local, seasonal ingredients, and of course, wild mushrooms.

Chad dove into mushroom hunting shortly after beginning his cooking career, and quickly gained a local reputation for eating the “weird mushrooms” that nobody else collected. As his mushroom hunting knowledge improved his kitchen skills began to open up doors to cooking and teaching at various mushroom events in California and beyond. He still has a reputation for eating all of the weird mushrooms, though these days people often pay to share the experience.


Self proclaimed “modern foragers” Trent and Kristen Blizzard reside in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. They have been trekking the forests of Colorado, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest for years mostly with wild, edible mushrooms in mind. At first a hobby, the hunt for mushrooms quickly became nothing short of an obsession for these two mycophiles, both of whom are certified Wild Mushroom Identification Experts in their home state of Colorado. You will find them blogging about their adventures at modernforager.com.

They are the authors of the recently released, Wild Mushrooms: A Cookbook and Foraging Guide. Whether you are a seasoned forager or new to the wild and wonderful word of edible forest fungi, this book has something for you! You will find a wealth of tips and tricks for harvesting each mushroom, along with general cooking techniques and preservation methods. They endeavor to explore not only a selection of delicious cuisine and new methods of cooking these wild edibles, but the question of how to preserve and enjoy your harvests all year long. The book is also a celebration of people they have met over the years. You will find stories, tips and well-loved recipes from some of your own well known CMS members!


Lee Yamada has been foraging for and cooking wild edible mushrooms since he was 7 years old, a mere 75 years.  He has traveled to Europe, South America, and Asia with his wife Phyllis in search of mushrooms.  And, has catered mushroom featured dinners at numerous wineries in his native California. It was a mushroom identification class taught by David Arora (author of Mushrooms Demystified and All that the Rain Promises) in the early 80s that started Lee on his quest to learn more about fungi.  

Lee would eventually become an assistant foray leader for David and was also known for his mushroom cuisine at the Annual David Arora Thanksgiving Weekend Wild Mushroom Workshops.  Lee was an early member of the Santa Cruz Fungus Federation formed in 1984 by David and his students.  When David was ready to hand over the reigns as Director of the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair; Lee stepped up and organized the fair from 1993 until 2003. On a national level, Lee is a lifetime member of the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) and served as their foray chairperson from 2001 to 2003, while Phyllis served as President of NAMA. CMS was very happy to welcome Lee to their Board of Directors, shortly after Lee & Phyllis relocated from California to Eugene in 2016.

Mushroom Art Demonstrations


Dr. Roo Vandegrift is a queer scientist and illustrator. He received his doctorate in mycology (the study of mushrooms and fungi) from the University of Oregon’s Institute of Ecology and Evolution, doing much of his dissertation work on the ecology of fungi at Los Cedros, in Ecuador. He has published peer-reviewed research in internationally acclaimed journals such as MicrobiomeBiotropica, and the Journal of Tropical Conservation Science. Most recently, he was awarded a National Geographic Explorer grant to coordinate a multi-disciplinary, international expedition to expand knowledge of the biodiversity at the Los Cedros Biological Reserve. He is currently the Producer for the forthcoming documentary film Marrow of the Mountain, about mining and conservation issues in Ecuador. 


Cheshire Mayrsohn – The Lichen Display at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom festival launched Cheshire’s interested in dyeing fibers using mushrooms and lichens. Cheshire provides for and helps staff the Lichen display on behalf of Northwest Lichenologists.   She was often asked the question – Can you dye with lichens? This question led Cheshire to explore how to use lichens, mushrooms and plants for dye. Over ten years later she has become a local expert on dyeing with mushrooms and lichens; offering classes through the Eugene Textile Center and giving talks at Mushroom Festivals and Forays throughout the Pacific Northwest. After dyeing yarns, she then knits them into hats and scarves. Cheshire is a retired botanist for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a founding member of the Cascade Mycological Society (CMS), and its current President.

Mushroom Hunts

Peg Boulay is Co-Director of the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) at the University of Oregon. She is a wildlife ecologist with a broad, applied background in research, conservation, management, planning, policy, and communications. As ELP Co-Director, she creates undergraduate courses and service-learning projects focused on conservation science (habitat restoration, conservation planning, and environmental monitoring) and community engagement (communication campaigns, interpretive materials, social media, and creative expression).

Bruce Newhouse has 35 years of experience in field ecology and natural resource planning in Oregon, including 10 years as a city and county planner and 25 years in private consulting. He is active in both professional and volunteer activities in natural resources and related disciplines. Bruce’s education and experience focus on botany, and ecological relationships between plants, wildlife, fungi and other organisms– including butterflies and other pollinators.


Sandy and Ron Patton knew nothing about wild mushrooms when they retired to Eugene in 2007 after their tech careers in Orlando, Florida. After attending the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival in 2008 they enthusiastically dove in and started learning about and hunting wild mushrooms. Since joining CMS in 2011, they have steadily increased their involvement. They are CMS foray leaders, the current editors of the monthly CMS Enews, and also teach the “Introduction to Wild Mushrooming” class CMS offers through the Amazon Community Center. Sandy is also the current CMS webmaster.