Jennifer Peterson, Ph.D., Executive Director

Jennifer  Peterson, Ph.D.

Jennifer joined the RMFI team in September 2014 after spending the last several years working for the Extension Service at Texas A&M University where she coordinated two statewide educational programs designed to educate citizens about the importance of conserving and protecting natural resources. She received her BS from Texas A&M University in Rangeland Ecology and Management, an MS from the University of Idaho in Rangeland Ecology and Management, and graduated in August 2014 with a PhD from Texas A&M University where she investigated factors influencing landowner decisions to adopt conservation practices. Jennifer also obtained a professional graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. She brings extensive experience in education, stewardship, research, stakeholder engagement, and watershed restoration. In 2015, Jennifer was awarded the Mayor's Young Leader Award in the Future Industries category.
Email: [email protected], Telephone: 719.471.7736, ext 1#

Joe Lavorini, Program Director

Joe Lavorini

Hailing from Western Pennsylvania, Joe moved to Colorado in 2005 to pursue his interest of the natural world. Joe graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a degree in Geography and Environmental Studies with a focus on Sustainable Development. Prior to working for RMFI, Joe served as Director of the Colorado Springs Conservation Corps working on energy efficiency projects in the Pikes Peak Region. When he's not daydreaming about his next international trip, Joe can often be found pursuing any of his favorite recreational activities including fly fishing, teaching yoga, and making turns. Joe is a NOLS-Alaska alum, Leadership Pikes Peak graduate, and certified Wilderness EMT. Joe has recently earned recognition as a Rising Star by the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Joe has been involved with RMFI since 2008.
Email: [email protected], Telephone: 719.471.7736, ext. 3#

Molly Mazel, Volunteer Coordinator

Molly Mazel

Molly, a Colorado Springs native, received her BA in International Affairs from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Upon graduating, she began working as a Trip Leader and Program Director of international youth service trips with Global Works Travel. Over three summers, she and her young crews worked on a variety of ecological and community-focused projects in both Costa Rica and Argentina, mixed in with some requisite adventure travel. Additionally, prior to joining the RMFI staff, Molly served as Denver Local Manager for the Chill Foundation, a non-profit youth development organization which takes at-risk youth out of the city and into the mountains for life-changing outdoor recreational experiences. A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Molly enjoys trail running, hiking, climbing, biking, skiing, and snowboarding. She joined the RMFI team in 2014.
Email: [email protected], Telephone: 719.471.7736, ext. 4#

Liz Nichol, Office Manager

Liz Nichol

Liz received her BA at McGill University, and put in two years at York University in a Master in Environmental Studies program. She was an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School and Peak Performance, guided for Adventure Specialists, was the bookkeeper for Collins & McConnel law firm and owned and managed Ceres’ Harvest Natural Foods. She founded the Everest Environmental Project to clean up climbers’ camps on Mount Everest, after being a member of the 1987 American Everest North Face Expedition; created the Hummingbird Garden at Starsmore Discovery Center, and was treasurer of the board of the Friends of Cheyenne Canon. Liz joined RMFI’s staff in 2003.
Email: [email protected], Telephone: 719.471.7736, ext. *#

Andy Riter, Program Coordinator

Andy  Riter

Over an earlier career as an Army Officer stationed around the world, Andy often wondered who the dedicated people were who built and sustained the trails and protected the natural areas that he enjoyed at altitude and beneath the waves. Here at RMFI and amongst its volunteers, he's found some of the most energetic of them. Andy grew up in the northeast, has Bachelors and advanced degrees in the aerospace field and looks forward to the energy that volunteers bring to project sites. He can often be found hiking, backpacking or fishing in the Colorado backcountry and has been involved with RMFI since 2012. He is a volunteer wildland firefighter, a certified wilderness first responder, and is certified in S212 wildland chainsaws. Email: [email protected], Telephone: 719.471.7736, ext. 2#


Kelly Kaufmann, Senior Field Coordinator

Kelly Kaufmann

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Kelly was ready to leave the rolling hills behind and set out for the mountains. After receiving her BA in Sociology at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, she packed up and headed to live in Nevada for a year working for the Nevada Conservation Corps. Through NCC Kelly gained extensive trail building and restoration skills and techniques. She continued her work in conservation and brought her skills to AmeriCorps St. Louis’s Emergency Response Team. As a part of ERT, Kelly learned chainsaw and wildland firefighting and was deployed on disaster response where she got her first glimpse at volunteer coordination. She is excited to continue her work in conservation with RMFI and pursue her passion for the outdoors.

Mark Tatro, Field Instructor

Mark Tatro

Growing up in Monument, Colorado, Mark gained an appreciation for the outdoors while traipsing all throughout the Rampart Range. He discovered his passion for working with volunteers while helping rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Upon returning home he immediately signed up for a yearlong Americorps program tutoring and mentoring underprivileged students in the Philadelphia Public School District and loved it so much he stayed on for a second year. Recently Mark obtained two associates degrees from Pikes Peak Community College, one in Natural Resources and the other in Outdoor Leadership, and is continuing his education at CSU-Pueblo in pursuit of a Bachelors in Recreation Management. He is excited to be back and looks forward to continue stewarding the land with RMFI.

Chris Ullom, Field Instructor

Chris Ullom

Growing up in Northern Colorado, Chris has always had a passion for the outdoors. In college he ran track and cross country. After graduating from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs with a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Environmental Studies, he joined Mile High Youth Corps for two seasons. Here he earned his equivalence S-212 and that summer his passion for the environment only intensified. During the winter months to follow Chris ventured to Northern Colorado to work in the Oil and Gas industry. Over this period of time he realized how profound his passion for conservation stewardship was. He made the decision to get back into the work he loves. He now has his Wilderness First Responder, and after a long off season Chris is excited to get his hands dirty again.

Kate Bauder, Field Instructor

Kate Bauder

Drawn to the Pikes Peak Region because of its geographic beauty, Kate migrated to Colorado Springs over two decades ago. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  Kate then earned an M.S. in Education, focusing on subjects she felt passionate about. After teaching science for eight years, Kate yearned to teach the Earth Sciences outside of the traditional classroom. After leaving the classroom, Kate pursued a GIS certification and completed an internship with US Fish and Wildlife. She also volunteered with Big City Mountaineers, an organization which seeks to change the lives of at-risk youth through wilderness mentoring. In 2014, Kate joined REI, allowing her to fine-tune her outdoor knowledge through attending various clinics and participating in recreating opportunities like, cross country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and back country basics. When not working, she enjoys hiking with her dog, backpacking with friends, mountain biking, and skiing in the winter. Kate’s love for the outdoors and desire for conservation is a guiding force, motivating her to complete her Wilderness First Aid certification and join the dedicated staff at RMFI.

Donnie Ferns, Field Instructor

Donnie Ferns

Donnie was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio and grew up across the street from Mill Creek Park where his appreciation of nature began at a young age. After obtaining his Bachelors degree in Geography from Youngstown State University he then headed out west. Although he's from a state that is not exactly known for it's outdoor beauty and accessibility, he has totally embraced and adapted to the ruggedness of the Rocky Mountains. Donnie recently obtained his Wilderness First Responder certification and looks forward to working with RMFI and learning more about trail reclamation and restoring natural habitats.

Alex Hladkyj, Field Instructor

Alex Hladkyj

As an avid outdoor enthusiast and Colorado Springs native, Alex has developed a deep appreciation for the beauty emanating from the Southern Rockies. When the opportunity arose to work for RMFI, he knew it was time to turn that appreciation into action. Alex earned his BA in Communication with an emphasis in Leadership Studies at the University of Colorado Springs – Colorado.  He was the top graduate of those in the leadership track and received highest distinction in UCCS’ Communication Honors program. Through his sustainable development minor and an internship with CoPIRG Energy Service Corps., he cultivated a strong interest in conservation, stewardship, and helping others connect with the natural world. Post-graduation he foraged his skills as a salesman at Time Warner Cable, but after a year decided to seek a balance between a career in sales and environmental work.  Around this time Alex took a position with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. There he advanced BMP implementation for Denver Water’s Source Water Protection Plan. Recently, Alex obtained his WFA certification from NOLS and is currently working on a startup business in the UAS industry. You can usually find him exploring the vertical world with his climbing buddies, camping, shredding the slopes, or hiking with the family dog.

James Osaer, Field Instructor

James Osaer

After a recent retirement from the US Army, James made the decision to pursue his true passion - the outdoors. But he wanted to do more than simply recreate; James desired to help conserve and restore the natural areas he loved so greatly. After serving as a Colorado State Park Ranger for a season, he realized there were more focused ways to pursue that passion and found his way to RMFI. James holds an Associate of Arts degree in the Arabic Language, and is currently enrolled in the Geography and Environmental Studies program at UCCS where he is set to graduate in December 2016. James spent 9 years of his career with the Army in Europe and travelled much of the continent alongside his family. He looks forward to a rewarding season working side-by-side with the RMFI team as well as some of Colorado’s most remarkable volunteers.

Maggie Gaddis, Field Instructor

Maggie Gaddis

Maggie received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Mount Holyoke College and an M.S. in Biology from the University of Denver. She is currently working towards her PhD in Education with an emphasis on curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Her dissertation preparations originally brought Maggie to RMFI, but since then she has enjoyed monitoring in the Waldo Burn Scar, and getting back to her roots working with volunteers in ecological restoration. Maggie is an adjunct biology professor and a published scientist in the field of restoration ecology. Her primary biological research involved biogeochemical analysis of soils and biota in post-restoration riparian sites. While working with the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), Maggie co-founded the Youth Ecological Literacy Program (YELP), an academic, experiential, and service-oriented science program that serves students in the Salida School District. In 2013, GARNA was recognized by the U.S. Forest Service with the National Partner in Excellence award. Maggie served as the Vice-Chair of the GARNA Board, and was named Volunteer of the Year in 2013.