The Next Chapter...

The Next Chapter...

August 18, 2022 by Jennifer Peterson

After 8 years as Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, it is very bittersweet to announce that I have accepted a position with the U.S. Forest Service and will be leaving my position at RMFI effective September 30. Carl Woody, RMFI Program Director, will step into the interim Executive Director role upon my departure and until a new person is found to take my place. 

I want to first begin by thanking all of the many partners, supporters, funders, volunteers, and others for getting RMFI to where it is today. At 41 years old, RMFI is one of the longest standing environmental stewardship organizations in the state. That feat isn't accomplished without a vast network of people cheering us on along the way and helping pick us back up when we might have stumbled. So, I extend an immense amount of gratitude and thanks to each of you for your support.

I also want to thank the RMFI team of staff and board members who work diligently day in and day out to ensure RMFI is the best and most effective organization possible. Our people are our greatest asset and we’ve been fortunate to employ some of the best and most talented people around who share a deep passion for environmental stewardship and a desire to leave our public lands better than they were before. Because of our strong cohesive team, I am confident that RMFI will navigate this transition well, embracing it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. 

When I began my employment at RMFI on September 8, 2014, I never could have imagined all of the amazing projects and initiatives I’d get to be a part of, and how many wonderful people I’d get to meet and work with along the way. It was truly a dream when I was selected and hired on by RMFI as the organization’s 4th Executive Director, and I find that I still pinch myself in awe and humility at the treasured and iconic landscapes RMFI is entrusted to maintain, steward, and protect.

As I think back on my tenure, I am reminded of some important accomplishments and highlights that many of you reading helped make possible:

  • Restoring landscapes damaged by the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and the Black Forest Fire in 2013, and helping lead planning efforts and trail reconstruction projects to re-open damaged areas to the public. 
  • Completing the Dixon Trail to the top of Cheyenne Mountain and the new summit trail to the top of Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak; embarking on a multi-year effort to reconstruct the summit trail to the top of Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain! 
  • Growing full-time staff from 5 to 7, seasonal staff from 4 to 26, and the operating budget from $400,000 to nearly $2 million. 
  • Securing the organization’s first endowment to help secure our future financial viability.
  • Entering into long-term and multi-year stewardship agreements with land management agencies at the local, regional, state, and federal levels.
  • Growing critical partnerships with businesses, organizations, foundations, government agencies, individual donors, and supporters.
  • Continuing and enhancing important educational trainings and initiatives including the annual Pikes Peak Regional Crew Leader Training and RMFI’s Earth Corps field studies program.
  • Participating in some iconic and impactful community events including the Waldo Waldo 5k, Give! Campaign, Banff Mountain Film Festival, Earth Month Fashion Show & Greenie Awards, RMFI’s annual Fall ShinDIG, and so many others. 
  • Celebrating RMFI’s 40th anniversary in 2021.

The list of memories and highlights is truly endless. It’s been an absolute honor to have served in this capacity and I know I am leaving the organization stronger and in a much better position than when I started. Like nature, RMFI is resilient. Change is good and change is inevitable. 

I hope you will all continue to support RMFI in the years to come as they continue to accomplish important projects and ensure that our region’s public lands are protected and stewarded now and for future generations. 

Thank you all for everything. 

Jennifer Peterson