A Greeting from the New Executive Director

I am extremely honored to have been selected as the next Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. While I am certain I will get to know each of you better in the near future, I wanted to take some time to tell you a little bit about my background and experiences that have prepared me for this new and exciting role.

My story begins in Austin, Texas where I was born to my wonderful parents, Bill and Dorothy. I had company that day, however, as my twin brother, Justin, was born only 11 minutes before I was. I also have three older sisters that round out my loud and boisterous family. Soon after being born, my family moved overseas and I spent the next 10 years or so living in Belgium and Germany. We traveled the world while living abroad and made memories as a family I will never forget.

In middle school, we moved again and settled in a small town in western Connecticut. My love and deep appreciation for the outdoors began in earnest here. We lived very close to the Appalachian Trail and I spent countless summer days exploring the trail, fishing along the Housatonic and Ten Mile Rivers, and learning how to camp and backpack in the wilderness. I came to know sections of that trail and river so intimately that I felt they were truly a part of me. These childhood experiences shaped the person I am today and motivated me to focus my future learning and career endeavors on the stewardship of natural resources.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University in Rangeland Ecology and Management. After graduation, I was awarded a fellowship to attend the University of Idaho where I obtained a Master of Science degree in Rangeland Ecology and Management. I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a semester working and taking classes at the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS), a nonprofit residential learning center nestled in the mountains of central Idaho. I also became involved with another nonprofit organization, the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI), where I helped restore local degraded ecosystems. My time with MOSS and PCEI provided valuable insight into nonprofits and planted a seed for an eventual career in the nonprofit sector.

I spent a short time in Utah where I worked on a large multidisciplinary project investigating alternative restoration and fuel reduction treatments in the Great Basin ecosystem. Following my time in Utah, I spent the next eight years working for the Extension Service at Texas A&M University coordinating two statewide educational programs designed to educate citizens about the stewardship of the state’s watersheds and the importance of community involvement in the management of water and natural resources.
In August, I graduated with my Ph.D. from Texas A&M University where I investigated factors influencing landowner decisions to adopt conservation practices. I also obtained a professional graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service where I learned from top nonprofit leaders about governance, evaluation, marketing, fundraising, and other pertinent topics.

Outside of work, I greatly enjoy any outdoor activity including gardening, cycling, hiking, and fly fishing. I am also a fan of live music, craft beer, local food, cats, and college sports. I have spent a lot of my free time exploring the wonders that Colorado has to offer. I have come to love the state as much as Colorado natives and am passionate about protecting its natural beauty and resources to ensure their health and sustainability for future generations.

I am very excited to be joining RMFI and look forward to meeting you all soon!

Jennifer L.Peterson, Ph.D.

Published Date: 
Wednesday, September 10, 2014