Ashland Park & Recreation Commission Board of Commissioners voted at their July 5, 2023, meeting to appoint Commissioner Leslie Eldridge as Interim Park and Recreation Director for a period of one year, starting full-time on August 21, 2023. She will fill the position of Michael Black, who resigned effective July 14, 2023.
Eldridge has begun her intake paperwork and background checks as required by the City and will resign from her elected office when those are complete. According to Commissioner Rick Landt, between now and then, “Deputy Director Rachel Dials will continue to handle the day-to-day operations as she has been ably doing.”
Eldridge stated “I would like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to SOU for being willing to put me ‘on loan’ to Parks for the next academic year. SOU President Rick Bailey has emphasized the need for faculty to serve our community, and this exemplifies the type of collaboration that can exist between the City government and the University. I look forward to enhancing the relationship between SOU and Parks through projects and student involvement, which will advance our mutual goals of economic, social and environmental sustainability.”
Eldridge is an Environmental Science and Policy Professor at SOU (Southern Oregon University). She teaches about the history and philosophy behind our National Parks, as well as critical regional issues, such as land-use, forestry, agriculture and the impacts of climate change in the Rogue Valley. Her previous professional experience spans over a decade of work on environmental policy, natural resource management, protected areas and planning.
Her professional master’s degree from University of California, Santa Barbara is in Environmental Science and Management, with a focus in Conservation Planning and Natural Resource Management.She has worked for the US Senate Commerce Committee as a Congressional Aide and Environmental Fellow in Washington, DC, as well as spent almost a decade working for the National Marine Sanctuary program to protect and manage California coastal parks and marine protected areas.
Before going back to school for her graduate degree, Eldridge worked as a professional mariner, serving as captain and mate aboard oceanographic research vessels and large traditional sailing ships in Alaska and both coasts of the Americas.