Marla Gillham is the initiator and original coordinator of the speakers/walks educational segments of the festival and festival liaison and ambassador to OSU Forest Science faculty and the greater world of mycologists.

Although Marla had been keying out fungi since her undergraduate days at the University of Arizona, her interest in fungi began in earnest when she met members of the Oregon State University (OSU) Mycology Team during her Master's work. The professional mycologists and resource biologists who have participated in the unique public education segments of this festival are mostly colleagues and friends of Gillham's from the 15 years in which she was part of the Long Term Ecological Research network at OSU.

As a member of the Forest Science Department at OSU, she earned a M.S. in Forest Ecology and co-taught courses on the Ecology of Old-Growth Forests and Forest Ecology. As a member of the Sustainable Forestry Partnership [funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation] she created the first professional shortcourse in Ecosystem Management offered by the College of Forestry at OSU. After completing all requirements for her doctorate on the biogeochemistry of climate change in old-growth Douglas-fir forest microcosms, she was advanced to Candidacy. Completion of her doctorate was interrupted by the onset of Parkinson's Disease.

Gillham has lived with Parkinson's Disease (PD) since 1993. In December 2003 she underwent surgical implantation of a brain pacemaker.

While she has not felt physically able to lead mushroom walks for the last few years, Marla's monumental dedication compelled her to continue her input as education program co-coordinator until 2009. We are deeply saddened by Marla's health challenges and her weakened state. The path Marla blazed makes this festival's continuing education program possible. We are very grateful.


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