Master of Environmental Management–Class of 2019

Integrative & Public Land Management 

Lauren Atkinson

B.A. Environmental Studies
Bates College

Main Professional Background: Wilderness Permit Lead for Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in the White River National Forest. White River National Forest Citizen Science Liaison. Group Outreach Coordinator/Environmental Educator at the Appalachian Mountain Club in Pinkham Notch, N.H. Interpretive Park Guide at Arches National Park. Logistics Manager and Guide with Rim Tours Mtn. Bike Adventures.

Initial Project Goal: Create a socially and ecologically sustainable recreation permit system for the United States Forest Service.

Sean Bricker

B.A. in Recreation and Sports Management
University of Arkansas

Main Professional Background: Outdoor educator and Farm Specialist with the YMCA Camp Chingachgook. Resident Assistant and Lifeguard at the University of Arkansas. Volunteer with the Arkansas Park Service at Devils Den Park. 

Initial Project Goal: Work with creating sustainable and accessible trails in the nearby Gunnison National Forest, or help to expand educational sites in nearby parks.​

Mila Bock

B.S. in Wildlife Conservation Biology/Applied Vertebrate Ecology
Humboldt University

Main Professional Background: Assistant Preserve Manager to Phantom Canyon Preserve with The Nature Conservancy. Biological Science Technician with the Yosemite National Park. Environmental Science Educator with NatureBridge in Yosemite National Park. Biological Technician on the Aleutian Islands with the Island Conservation. 

Initial Project Goal: Having worked and interacted with a variety of stakeholders and impassioned public, I’ve come to realize that in order to effectively conserve a landscape, one must build a landscape of trust and collaboration amongst the people who care about that area. Based on this understanding, my academic interests lie in collaborative conservation and the desire to develop effective management strategies for public lands adjacent to small mountain communities.

Kendall Cox

B.A. in Environment and Sustainability
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Youth Conservation Corps Group Member on the Alpine Plateau in Colorado. U.S. Forest Service as a YCC crew member, Assistant Group Leader, and Backcountry Trail Crew Leader. 

Initial Project Goal: Study motivations and perceptions of Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) users on National Forest lands.

Zachery Dutra

B.A. in Business Administration
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Sweetwater Ranch in Philo, Calif., working with water system maintenance. Intern for Sustainable Design Strategies Group. Independent Landman for a potash mine in San Juan County, Utah.  

Initial Project Goal: To improve the lines of communication between government agencies, organizations, and the community concerning water policy, because water is a shared resource that needs to be at the forefront of discussion.

Amy Eaton

B.A. in Economics
St. Mary's College

Main Professional Background: Seasonally employed in Grand Teton National Park as well as Cooper Landing Alaska. World traveler. 

Initial Project Goal: Produce a land survey and analysis, and development of policy recommendation intended to maximize benefits derived from land or resource use.  

Hunter Edberg

B.S. in Psychology

Main Professional Background: Planning Technician and intern for the Headwaters Regional Development Commission where he worked on financing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Interned for the GreenStep Cities program in Minnesota, which helps communities reach their sustainability goals. Worked at the Sustainability office at Bemidji University, and helped with a divestment campaign as well as building a permanent ice fishing house that is off the grid. Helped with a local foods movement on the White Earth reservation and revision of their land-use plan. Has also worked on the installation of three different large scale solar arrays in Minnesota.

Initial Project Goal: Studying the energy system of the Gunnison Basin and figuring out how to get more renewables online, while working with utilities and power providers to increase energy efficiency. Also interested in the role that hunters and fishermen have in wildlife conservation and public land use. 

Elizabeth Hartson

B.S. in Biology
Trinity University

Main Professional Background: Introductory Biology Laboratory Teaching Assistant, along with being a Peer Tutor of Climate Change for the First Year Seminar. Faculty-Mentored Research on Permian Limestone, as well as was a Field Assistant in Glendale, Utah. 

Initial Project Goal: To work in local alpine ecosystems focusing on biodiversity loss and documenting the advance of invasive species of plants using transects, perhaps working with the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

Ryan Hite

B.A. in Recreation and Hospitality Management
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Ranger in Training at the National Parks Law Enforcement Academy. Outdoor School Instructor for R.E.I. Wildland Fire Fighter, Type IIA. 

Initial Project Goal: Increase education on sustainable recreation and reduce overuse by recreation.

Peter Horgan

B.S. in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism
Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Co-founded Gunnison Valley Climbers (GVC), which has worked with the BLM, Access Fund and the Gunnison Pioneer and Historical Society. Outdoor Guide for Irwin Guides, have current Wilderness First Responder certification. 

Initial Project Goal: Work on a wilderness and backcountry management plan either from the public land agency side or the non-profit side. More specifically, as it pertains to fixed anchor management within the NPS’ Director’s Order #41: Wilderness Stewardship.  

Frances Jaffe

B.S. in Engineering
Cornell University

Main Professional Background: AmeriCorps Construction Crew Leader for Habitat for Humanity. Developed an Adventures in Sustainability course at Cornell Outdoor Education center. Volunteer with Longmont NRCS and Conservation District. Market staff at the Boulder County Farmers Market. 

Initial Project Goal: Work with the City of Longmont to implement their sustainability action plan. And specifically focus on social and economic issues surrounding the transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Tyler Lee

B.A. in Environment and Sustainability
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Wilderness Ranger with the United s Forest Service. Wilderness Ranger Intern with the Selway-Bitteroot Frank Church Foundation. Assistant Crew Leader and mentor with the Mile High Youth Corps. 

Initial Project Goal: Research and contribute to the Maroon Bells Snowmass Visitor Use Management Plan. Specifically, in regards to Limited Entry Permits in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. 

Aron Lewis

B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Northwest Missouri University

Main Professional Background: Works for the Navajo Park for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. President of Northwest Wildlife Club. Received Eagle Scout status in Boy Scouts. 

Initial Project Goal: Conservation efforts to help wildlife populations adapt to climate change. 

Heather Lucas

B.A. in Environment and Sustainability
​Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: I trained with Acquired Taste in 2003 but I've worked for River Runners out of Canon City for the last 14 seasons. I've also volunteered for Mitchel witch was an extention of their outdoor program that grew out of a District 11 program called Senior Seminar. It was an experimental education program.

Initial Project Goal: Support watershed health through restoration and education. 

Erik Ophaug

B.A. in Outdoor Leadership and Resort Management
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Department Coordinator of Outdoor Education with Three Rivers Park District. Program Manager, along with being an Outdoor Educator with Wilderness Inquiry. 

Initial Project Goal: Work with my employer, Three Rivers Park District, to develop a meaningful and impactful project of benefit to the Park District.

Randy Pistacchio

B.S. in Environmental Horticulture and Turfgrass Management
The University of Rhode Island

Main Professional Background: Holistic grazing management, small livestock handling, regenerative agriculture

Initial Project Goal: As incoming Student Director of the Coldharbour Regenerative Network, I'll be contributing to the definition of Coldharbour Ranch as an accredited Hub in the Savory Global network.  This includes becoming an Accredited Professional Educator in holistic management, creating and assisting with workshops, as well as contributing to the site design and planning of the Coldharbour Homestead.  Altogether, these projects will help create a strong place attachment to Coldharbour for the community, its projects, and the entire Savory network.

Ben Sharp

B.S. in Biology
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Volunteer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Migratory Bird Management. National Park Service Volunteer working on a Willow monitoring and restoration project. Seasonal Wildlife technician for the North Dakota Game and Fish department.

Initial Project Goal: To study the ecological interrelationships of habitat quality and alteration and their impacts on organisms, species richness, abundance, and food webs.

Estevan Vega

B.S. Natural Resource Management
Texas Tech University

Main Professional Background: Biological Science Technician (AIM) with the Bureau of Land Management.  Environment and Agriculture Volunteer with the Peace Corps in The Gambia. Community Organizer for the Texas Campaign for the Environment. Also several volunteer projects for professors at Texas Tech. 

Initial Project Goal: A project with an emphasis on habitat restoration for species native to the Gunnison valley.  The project design would include sound methods of reintroducing native species, conducting assessments of the ecological functions, inventory of existing species, putting forth recommendations to restore these lands and functions, mitigation of the risks associated with restoration, and planned long-term monitoring.  

Merrill Warren

B.A. in Anthropology
University of Colorado Boulder

Main Professional Background: Operations and Development Manager for Adventure Scientists, as well as the Assistant to the Executive Director. Director for River Restoration Adventures for Tomorrow (RAFT), along with The Kensington Conservancy. Some international travel.

Initial Project Goal: To create an ambassador program to link Adventure Scientists with their vast network of volunteers. To expand and diversity membership to include more developing countries and indigenous communities. 

Christopher Were

B.S. in Marine Science
Eckerd College

Main Professional Background: Asbestos Laboratory Analyst at Reservoirs Environmental Inc. Trail Crew Leader/Member with the Department for the Environment in Iceland. Backcountry Staff at the Philmont Scout Ranch.

Initial Project Goal: Examine and evaluate the impact of public perception on effectiveness of land policy and law.

Clarinda Wilson

B.S. in Natural Science
University of Wisconsin

Main Professional Background: Excellent and diverse ecological field technician positions. These include: Prairie Grouse Technician, surveyed historic lek sites and analyzed DNA. Amphibian Technician on various frogs in Oregon.  Soil Technician as well as worked on Sea Turtle Patrol. 

Initial Project Goal: Be part of a cooperative group spanning many agencies interested in grouse management and continue current work being done on habitat management of grouse.  Examine the relationship between beaver activity and high altitude frog populations. She would like to see the research process from data collection to publication. 

Starr Woods

B.A. in Anthropology
University of Georgia

Main Professional Background: ACE Intern and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with the BLM at the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Research Assistant and Lab Technician at the University of Georgia Laboratory of Archeology. 

Initial Project Goal: To study to the degrading effects of over-visitation or overuse on trails, resources, and ecosystems on public lands. 

Sustainable & Resilient Communities Students

Kimberly Barton

B.S. in Anthropology
Michigan Technological University

Main Professional Background: Kimberly currently works with the Nature Conservancy Kentucky Chapter doing sustainable agriculture work. In the past she has worked with the Cass County Conservation District in Michigan doing invasive species education and with the Girl Scouts as a grant writer. She also completed an Americorps VISTA placement in Weatherly, PA at Eckley Miners' Village.

Initial Project Goal: Kimberly is working on a sustainable agriculture project focusing on building community, improving soil health, and working with agribusinesses on supply chain management. 


Brandon Hoffner

B.S. in Wildlife Biology
Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Executive Director with the Henry's Fork Foundation. Colorado and New Mexico Lands Program Manager with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Wyoming Lands Conservation Initiative Coordinator with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department.

Initial Project Goal: Understand water leasing frameworks from other western s while simultaneously pioneering a system that functions within the physical and administrative water rights accounting system of southern Idaho.

Amanda Laban

B.A. in Classics/History/Politics
Colorado College

Main Professional Background: Market Price Reporter for Colorado University.  Regional Sales & Administrative Coordinator for Abbondanza Farm. Leadership Coordinator for the Continental Divide Trail Alliance. Certified Interpretive Guide. 

Initial Project Goal: Research, expand and develop new ideas for creating affordable farmland in communities. 

Stephanie Lein

B.S. Environmental Geosciences–Atmospheric Science
Northland College

Main Professional Background: Environmental Agricultural Extension Specialist with Peace Corps in Ethiopia, Africa.  Undergraduate Stewardship Liaison at the Bad River Indian Reservation. Internship in Air Quality in northern Wisconsin. 

Initial Project Goal: Working with Coldharbour Institute, and Eco2libruim to establish air quality monitoring sites. 

​Ben Lokie

B.A. in Exercise and Sport Science
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Business owner operator of a sustainable building company- 4everlife Projects LLC,  involved in community building projects in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, Energy Auditor in Gunnison, Colo., EMT at Gunnison Valley Health, Sushi Chef at Lils Resturant, and Family Teacher/educator at Boys Town in Omaha, Neb. 

Initial Project Goal: To incorporate building science in alternative building methods and experiential education to diverse populations both on a local and global scale.

Brittany Massey

B.A. in Sociology 

Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Helped developed Mountain Roots Community Garden Project. Also helped witness and collaborate during the planning process for the Van Tuyl Ranch. Has been helping Masters Gardeners at a juvenile delinquent holding facility.

Intial Project Goal: Qualitative study of community, school based, and privately-funded programs that lead to measurable results of community involvement in substantiality ecological activities promoting personal relationships with nature and the environment.


Jonathan McDonald

B.S. in Environmental Science
University of N.Y. College

Main Professional Background: Intern with the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia. Professional Trail Crew Worker with the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Initial Project Goal: To work with Mountain Roots Food Project and learn more about sustainable agriculture and permaculture in the Gunnison Valley.


Cameron Poole

Main Professional Background: Administrative Assistant and Financial Hub, Sodexo Campus Services, Steamboat Springs, Colo. Government Service Account Coordinator VOIPLink inc, Carlsbad, Calif.

Initial Project Goal: Help a local nonprofit food bank in their development and expansion of their current programs. This would include the purchase and design of another space. The idea is to design a new facility not only to be able to expand their current food bank, but also to incorporate additional and new programs that would promote resiliency and fight against food insecurity and all of the issues that arise in a community because of it. Ideas for the space include a community garden and a commercial kitchen. This would allow the organization to store more donated food, offer healthy cooking classes, or host community meals. 

Amelia Remington

B.A. in Environmental Science
University of Oregon

Main Professional Background: Field Instructor at Camp Tamarack. Teaching Intern at Aim High. Part of the Environmental Leadership program Canopy Connections Team.

Initial Project Goal: Develop outdoor and environmental curriculum as well as gain more outreach and event-planning experience.


Ellen Ross

B.A. in Anthropology
The University of Oklahoma

Main Professional Background: Schools Programs Instructor with the Keystone Science School. Summer Intern with the Milwaukee Urban Center. Agro-Forestry Volunteer with the The Peace Corps in Guinea. 

Initial Project Goal: Explore cultural motivations in environmental agency and resource consumption. By integrating a comprehensive base in environmental sustainability principles and management strategies such as through this graduate program, I can apply the best possible solutions for addressing sustainability needs in a non-profit community center.

Diego Sanchez

B.S. in Ecospheric Studies and Community Resilience
​Kansas Wesleyan University

Main Professional Background: Intern with the Land Institute doing fieldwork and helping to build a natural systems agriculture. Interned with the Whispering Cottonwood Institute. 

Initial Project Goal: Has many ideas for projects, developing a local food system in Salina, KS, eliminate product waste on campus, reduce campus-wide water consumption, as well as how to implement alternative transportation for students to use. 

Michael Schuster

B.A. in Environmental Studies
University of Colorado

Main Professional Background: Watershed Assistant, Program Assistance with the Roaring Fork Conservancy. Manager with the Aspen Skiing Co. Eagle Scout Award, Boy Scout Troop 242. 

Initial Project Goal: Work with water management plans to create actionable items and move projects and implementation forward. 

Michael Thurber

B.A. in General Geology
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Helped perform research into the metabolic rates of large mammals with Dr. Nelson at Western. Volunteered at the Gunnison Recycling center.

Initial Project Goal: To study, refine, and create a sustainability label or standard that can be applied to the legalized cannabis industry in states where it is legal for medical and recreational purposes.

Kelsey Uligian

B.S. in Public Affairs
Indiana Unviersity

Main Professional Background: Aquatic Invasive Species Technician with the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish. Summer Nature Leader at the Creasy Mahan Nature Preserve. Overseas study with Roots, Fruits and Jamaican Resiliency.

Initial Project Goal: To work with communities and landowners to establish healthier floodplains to protect from flooding. Helping communities become more resilient to the effects of climate change, like flooding, could reduce the consequences loss of life, buildings and crops and reduce economic damages to society.

Megan Walker

B.A. in Sustainability Studies
Colorado Mountain College

Main Professional Background: Five years of Trail Guiding and Outfitting in Rocky Mountain National Park, Roosevelt National Forest and Zirkel Wilderness Areas. Naturalist for Yampatika in the Yampu Valley, and Naturalist on duty at Fish Creek Falls in Routt National Forest. 

Initial Project Goal: Pursue grant opportunities to address community food security issues as they relate to both community resiliency and poverty.

Ethan White

B.A. in Public Relations
Greenville College

Main Professional Background: Current Peace Corps volunteer in Fiji, part of the Community Youth Empowerment Program, along with establishing a municipal level green waste management facility on a farm. Volunteered with The Simple Room, creating a community garden. AmeriCorps VISTA for the Bous & Girls Club in Lawrence, Kan.

Initial Project Goal: To learn how to make farming easier, more productive, and healthier for all of nature, through the use of composting. Would like to continue work at Navuso, supporting our composting operation and bringing together the resources mentioned  into an easy to read booklet written in the local languages, giving farmers the option to gain skills and regain the ability to choose.

Michelle Wilk

B.A. in Government
University of the Incarnate Word

Main Professional Background: President of the UIW Student Government Association. Garden Manager at the Carroll Early Childhood Education Center.  Drafted proposals and legislation for the Edwards Aquifer Alliance. 

Initial Project Goal: Research restoration ecology on fracking sites. 

Global Sustainability Students

Keriann Conroy

B.A. in Politics & Government and Environment & Sustainability 
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: None Provided 

Initial Project Goal: Develop curriculum with Coldharbour that gives youth the opportunity to explore their strengths and challenge themselves in the natural world. 

Rachel Weakland

B.S. in Biology
Western Colorado University

Main Professional Background: Teaches sixth through eighth grade technology at the Highland Middle School. Worked at The Windsor Garden. Worked with Monteverde in Costa Rica studying and giving tours.

Initial Project Goal: Develop a climate change curriculum for middle school to research and compare current climate conditions to historical conditions.