Jennifer joined the RMFI team as Executive Director in 2014 where she leads a dedicated and passionate staff united around public land stewardship and sustainable outdoor recreation. As a young girl, Jennifer fell in love with the outdoors on numerous weekend backpacking and fishing excursions with her family along the Appalachian Trail. She carried that passion into her educational pursuits where she received both a B.S. and M.S. in Rangeland Ecology & Management from Texas A&M University and the University of Idaho, respectively, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Management with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Texas A&M University. Jennifer brings nearly 10 years of experience in environmental stewardship, watershed health, public engagement, and environmental education to RMFI. She also sits on the Board of the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance and was recognized by the Mayor of Colorado Springs with a Young Leader Award. Outside of the office, Jennifer enjoys any activity in the outdoors including hiking, backpacking, fly fishing, trail running, skiing, and mountain biking.
Carl comes to RMFI with a wide range of natural resource knowledge and experience. An enthusiastic environmental steward and public servant, Carl is excited to join the passionate and dedicated RMFI team. Carl served several seasons as a member of an AmeriCorps conservation corps, worked as a natural resources intern with the National Park Service in Denver, and served as a Wilderness Fellow with the US Forest Service in Lake Tahoe, California. Carl earned his master’s degree in Natural Resource Management and Policy from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in May of 2019. Carl grew up in Austin, Texas, where he enjoyed hiking around the rolling Texas Hill Country, swimming and fishing its numerous lakes, rivers, and springs. On the weekends you can find Carl playing a game of pick-up basketball, out for a bike ride, or on a stream bank struggling to untangle his fly line.
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 WFR certification from NOLS and is currently working on a startup business in the UAS industry.
Jamie grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado and rarely spent any time indoors. She received a B.S. from Gonzaga University in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. She is a lover of heights, especially above fourteen thousand feet, and always willing to explore the natural world. Jamie first got involved with RMFI in 2016, when she participated in Earth Corps. She became a Field Instructor soon after, advanced to Field Coordinator for a couple of seasons, and began her role as Program Manager in January of 2020. She is certified as a Wilderness First Responder.
Lindsay was born in Central Illinois but grew up here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, receiving a BS degree in Natural Resource Management with a Minor in Rangeland Ecology. After graduating Lindsay spent a season working at Castlewood Canyon State Park as an Interpretive Ranger leading school groups on hikes around the park. Lindsay has worked multiple seasons for RMFI during the summer and for the City of Colorado Springs during the winter. Lindsay is WFR certified and would like to further her training to become a Wilderness EMT.
Volunteer & Partnership Coordinator
Savannah was born in Florida but grew up in North Georgia. From throwing cast nets off the dock to hiking along the blue ridge mountains, she was never too far from the outdoors. After leaving fried food and 110 percent humidity behind to work on a bison ranch in South Dakota, she knew the West was for her. Since then, she's worked in various sectors of agriculture and while still living at a ranch just Southeast of Colorado Springs, decided to pursue a career in conservation through hands-on work with RMFI. Savannah spent one season as a field instructor before taking on her role as the Volunteer and Partnership Coordinator. She is grateful and excited to be a part of a team that is working for the betterment of the land and the community.
Bronwyn was born in Maryland but moved many times during her childhood including a stop in Dallas, Texas where she became a life long Dallas Cowboys fan. She landed in Colorado in 1981 and loved it so much that she has stayed put. She graduated from Colorado State University in 1988 with a degree in Accounting. She has been married for 30 years and has two children. Her daughter is a preschool teacher in Denver and her son attends Northern Arizona University where he is working towards a degree in Photography. She has been the bookkeeper at Coaltrain Wine & Liquor for the past 16 years and has been a RMFI volunteer for the last 7 years. She is an avid hiker and enjoys skiing during the winter. Her other passions are baking and Christmas.
Born and raised in northern Virginia, Joe's childhood adventures were full of Calvin-and-Hobbesian sojourns into the modest forests and foothills of his suburban hometown. While studying at the University of Virginia, Joe began volunteering with his local park agency and discovered the pleasure (and pain) of trail work. After graduating with a double major in Foreign Affairs and Spanish, Joe decided that he wanted to pursue neither foreign affairs nor Spanish, and instead wanted to build trails. Joe traveled out to California to serve as an AmeriCorps NCCC team leader, where he led a conservation crew that worked with the BLM on several projects throughout the state. He has since worked for the National Park Service as a trail builder and interpreter, and for the outdoor apparel company Parks Project, where he coordinated volunteer programs and events. Joe is excited to bring his skills and experience to RMFI to support trail projects in the thin, fresh air of Colorado's fourteeners.
Kelly is a Colorado native that spent her childhood playing in the dirt and climbing trees. She has always had a love for the outdoors instilled in her by her parents. Kelly lived for spending the summer at her family’s property in Wyoming where she would spend her days out in the sunshine (with sunscreen of course) and nights singing around a campfire.
She graduated from University of Colorado, Colorado Springs with a degree in Geography and Environmental Science and a certificate in GIS. Kelly is excited to join the RMFI team and to get back to spending her days outdoors.
After two years at the most prestigious and elite community college in the furthest west tip of Texas, Marc decided to enroll in the school of life to follow his own path, free of the comfortable, picture-perfect lifestyle he saw everyone around him chasing. With only a crashpad, a beat up truck and $200 to his name, Marc set out on his newest and most important adventure to the Colorado Rockies where he not only found his passion working land conservation, but also a welcoming community that shared his passion, further fueling his drive. Along the way Marc found direction and a career path in a field that not only is personally satisfying but is directly impactful to something that’s bigger and more important than himself.
Born in Georgia but raised in Arizona, Otzma dreamed of a life of traveling and exploring. She was raised by Israeli immigrants who taught her independence and open mindedness. Instead of the typical college path, Otzma left home at 18 to travel the world with Thinking Beyond Borders where her passion for land management and environmentalism really took root. She later moved to California where she spent a year and a half as a corpsmember with American Conservation Experience falling in love with trail work and everything to do with conservation (oh and the beach). She then made her way to Monterey, CA where she worked as a Forestry Aide on the California State Parks Monterey District Trail Crew. Those 3 years were spent running conservation crews, building massive redwood bridges, getting stoked on griphoist and chainsaws, and working really really hard. Otzma hopes to keep moving forward in the trail work world and can't wait to serve and learn from RMFI in her new adventure here in Colorado. "To live will be an awfully big adventure." -Peter Pan
Leslie grew up in sunny Southern California playing beach volleyball and scuba diving. She spent an extensive portion of her teenage years on road trips, camping across the USA and Canada. However, her love for the outdoors and need to escape the concrete jungle drove her, quite literally, to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains in 2017.
Here, her passion for alpine environments grew and she found herself exploring Colorado through solo backpacking trips with her Australian Shepard, Blue. Leslie is an Earth Corps alum and worked on the Kit Carson project in 2019. Her time in the backcountry has cultivated a deep appreciation for wilderness areas and engrained in her the importance of protecting and conserving our public lands. Leslie is graduating from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs this May with a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies and a minor in Geology.
Elizabeth grew up in Colorado and has been exploring the mountains and forests since she was a child. Those early experiences instilled in Elizabeth a lifetime love of nature. As an adult, she began hiking Colorado 14ers, rock climbing, mountaineering and volunteering for trail projects. In 2020 Elizabeth graduated with a degree in Outdoor Leadership and Recreation Technology. Elizabeth also currently works as a local and back-country hiking guide for Hike For Life. Previously she worked as an Interpreter at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site and Program Coordinator for the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. Elizabeth has a passion for learning and teaching. When she isn’t hiking, Elizabeth enjoys time in her art studio at Cottonwood Center for the Arts where she teaches art classes that include pine needle basketry, needlework and recycled crafts. Combining her love of history and hiking, in 2018 Elizabeth hiked Pikes Peak in moccasins and an 1850s style “Bloomer dress” to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the first recorded woman to climb Pikes Peak. Elizabeth enjoys sharing her adventures with friends and family.
Nicole, a Colorado Springs native, has a special place in her heart for the Rocky Mountains. This is Nicole’s first season of trail work and she is stoked to be working outside. She is currently studying environmental studies at Pikes Peak Community College and is just going with the flow...wherever life takes her. She hasn’t traveled outside the southwest in her entire life and she is craving new places, new people, and new opportunities. She loves her pets, her plants, and her people.
Since childhood, Mia has expressed a passion of the outdoors spending most of her time in the backyard, in her small southeast Wisconsin town, searching for any type of critter to bring back to show her parents. Her passion for the outdoors skyrocketed in college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she received a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and a minor in Biology. It was Summer of 2019 that Mia chose to chase her dreams of being out west and became an AmeriCorps member at Teton Science Schools to exploit her passion of hands-on teaching and the outdoors as a Field Educator. There she was able to teach the Geology, Glacial and Fire Ecology, and Biology of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Fast forward 2 years and Mia is eager and excited to have made the move to beautiful Colorado to continue pursuing a career in the management and bettering of the environment for future generations to come.
Alex has felt an aversion to the indoors ever since he was a boy. A native Vermonter, he spent his early formative years rambling around the forest behind his house with his favorite companion, a chocolate lab named Tessie. As a teenager, he channeled his bountiful energy into various outdoor recreational pursuits including (but not limited to) skiing, paddling, mountain biking, hiking, and orienteering, as well as studying the art of wilderness survival. After high school he attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, leaving behind his beloved Green Mountains to investigate the Land of 10,000 Lakes. During his time on campus, he delved deeply into the connections between his two greatest passions, written language and the natural world, obtaining degrees in Environmental Studies and English. Graduating with honors but without direction, he found liberation in his uncertainty through pursuing eclectic employment avenues all related, in some way or other, to the outdoors. He has worked as a paddling instructor, landscaper, carpenter's assistant, mountain bike trail builder, environmental educator, backcountry guide, and, most recently, ski patroller, before making the trek out to Colorado Springs to join the vibrant team at RMFI. He's ready to get down and dirty looking after public lands alongside like-minded coworkers, and excited to explore a new part of the country.
Riley hails from the great Midwest. Born in Iowa, she developed a love of the quiet and simple places often found out-of-doors. She received BS degrees in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies from Iowa State University; and upon graduation decided she didn't want a "normal" job. Instead, she chose to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail SOBO in 2019. Last season Riley was a part of Southwest Conservation Corps' 14er Crew and is excited to continue her career in trails with RMFI.
Lauren was born and raised in Colorado Springs. She fell in love with running and hiking about 6 years ago, and quickly wanted to do more to take care of the trails that take care of her.
Aaron was born and raised in Colorado, inspiring his love for the outdoors. This is Aaron first season with RMFI and he couldn’t be more excited! Seasonal work stole his heart when he was given the opportunity to work in places including but not limited to Grand Canyon, Olympic, and Acadia National Parks. Disaster relief is another love of his. He's had the chance to lend aid in North Carolina and Florida after hurricanes have left their marks. Working in such incredible places strengthened his love of conservation, stewardship, and preservation. When the opportunity arose to learn and work with RMFI, Aaron couldn’t pass it up. Aaron definitely has the travel bug considering he has lived in 10 states in 5 years. Some of Aaron's goals include summiting all Colorado 14ers, visiting all of the United States' National Parks, and completing The Triple Crown of Hiking.
Born and raised in Colorado Springs, CO, Bri is a self proclaimed dirtgrub who finds endless joy in living, playing, and working in the great outdoors. If they aren’t falling off of their climbing proj or trying equally as hard not to fall off of a mountain bike, it is likely you’ll find Bri hiking some of the fine trails Colorado has to offer. Make no mistake though, Bri’s dirtgrub-ism IS backed by legitimate, technical experience and a college degree. They are a recent graduate from UCCS, achieving a BA in Geography and Environmental Studies in addition to a minor in sustainability. Throughout their years in college, Bri developed a deep connection to the natural world, finding themself particularly enamored with forest and alpine ecosystems. Bri participated in Earth Crops in 2021 as the capstone course for their degree program, where they solidified their identity as an environmentalist. For Bri, working for RMFI means being able to act as a steward of the earth, turning academic knowledge and technical skills into meaningful action. Rolling around in the dirt is just a bonus.
Isabella Leighton is a first-season Field Instructor with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute. Growing up in Colorado Springs, Bella could always be found outdoors. During her summer camping trips, she was always kayaking, rafting, and riding her ATV. A passion for the environment began at a young age and influenced her to go to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and receive a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies with a minor in Sustainability. Her coursework and involvement in school gave her the experience in volunteer leadership and hands-on work in the field that she would need for a successful career in land stewardship.
Having lived in Colorado his whole life, Sean grew up skiing and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. With three years’ experience working as a mountain bike guide, Sean enjoys taking groups on mountainous adventures and educating people about the Front Range. After spending a season working with Mile High Youth Corps building, maintaining and restoring trails along the southern Front Range, Sean discovered his passion for stewardship and conservation. He is thrilled to be a part of the RMFI team and looks forward to being a steward of our public lands!
Thom is a New England native, having been born in Rhode Island and raised in Massachusetts. He spent a lot of his free time growing up exploring the woods of New England and camping amongst the maples and elms. After graduating from UMass Boston with a B.S. in Environmental Science, Thom found himself with the opportunity to intern with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection working on Water Quality Certification throughout the state. Following a stint working as an environmental scientist for an environmental consulting firm, Thom realized that it was time to pursue his true passion - conservation. In 2020 he convinced his girlfriend to move across the country with him to Colorado so he could chase his dream of being a part of conservation efforts in the majestic Rockies. He is extremely excited to be a part of the important work that RMFI does and hopes to leave a positive impact on the incredible landscapes of Colorado.
Deandre spent half of his childhood in Illinois before his family moved to Iowa for a slower pace of life. While in Iowa he discovered a love for the outdoors and environmental science. During his time in Iowa, Deandre had a multitude of opportunities to work with environmental organizations in his community. These opportunities range from working with soil and water conservation groups as a Water Quality Analyst, to working at the Iowa Waste Reduction Center as the Environmental Science Research Assistant. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a B.S in Environmental Science he moved to Colorado so that he could enjoy the beautiful scenery and snowboard the mountains in the winter.
Ashley was born a 'Navy Brat' in Southern California. Growing up she lived in several states including Alaska, Texas, and Montana. She spent most of her life in Montana, though, where she fell in love with the mountains. Camping and fishing trips were a common thing growing up, but when she moved to Missoula, MT for college she discovered hiking and wilderness camping. After graduating with a B.A. in German Language and Culture (Minor Linguistics with a Focus in ESL Teaching), she decided to pursue her passion for the outdoors. She first did a season with Montana Conservation Corps, on a Crosscut crew in the Selway-Bitterroot National Forest. After that, she went to Texas Conservation Corps and worked on a Chainsaw Crew. Now she comes to RMFI ready to challenge herself in the high altitude and unpredictable weather of Colorado!
Dayl is a skilled outdoor professional and certified Wilderness First Responder. Her experience includes ecological monitoring, organic farming, green construction, native landscaping, and backcountry trail maintenance. She has a passion for learning plants and a love for designing and creating aesthetic projects. Dayl is originally from the suburbs of Chicago. She was a completely conventional kid who loved the indoors and reality television—until going to a tiny environmentally focused college in northern Wisconsin, where she obtained a bachelor's degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Building. From there, she hitchhiked around the west coast while volunteering on organic farms, got her Permaculture Design Certificate, and ultimately had her introduction to trail work with Southwest Conservation Corps in 2015. She then did a bunch of other cool stuff, including getting married and traveling abroad for two years in Oceania. After returning to the US and spending a season in the field in northern New Mexico, she realized she’s truly a beast of the forest, so it’s back to the trails with her! She dreams of one day running a small-scale heirloom veggie farm and rescuing dogs.
Rand is originally from Reno. He received a dual-major Bachelor's degree in both Sociology and Psychology from the University of Nevada. He worked three AmeriCorps terms: two were with the Great Basin Institute of the Nevada Conservation Corps, where he built and maintained hiking trails. The other term was spent with the Casa Verde Builders of Austin, Texas constructing tiny houses for the homeless population and renovating homes for low-income residents in the city.
Rand and his best friend, Dayl, are experienced international house sitters, having spent recent years house and pet sitting in New Zealand and Australia. They looked after a wide variety of animals, including one job where they cared for 34 different animals! In the future, Rand would like to become a wildland firefighter and a postal carrier. He is a NOLS certified WIlderness First Responder.
Kari is an Iowa native, born and raised in the great city of Des Moines. She grew up spending lots of time playing outside in the creek in her backyard and her grandparents’ land. Her family took many vacations in Colorado to hike, ski, raft, and bike, and she has loved the mountains ever since. After being outdoors so much, she quickly realized she didn’t want to be stuck in an office all day as an adult. In May, she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a B.S. in Environmental Science and a minor in Air Quality. Last summer she worked for Green Iowa AmeriCorps at the Tallgrass Prairie Center where she found her love for botany, ecology, and field work. She is so excited to join RMFI this season and to learn more about Colorado flora!
Heather grew up in the San Gabriel Mountain town of Wrightwood, CA. Almost every summer, Heather and her family would pack up the car and drive to a different National or State park. With the woods as her playground and a childhood of adventure, she grew up with a love and reverence for the Earth. Heather moved to Colorado Springs in 2014, and immediately fell in love with the community and the trails and open spaces of the area.
After spending the 2019 summer season with the Southwest Conservation Corp, Heather went back to school to pursue an Associates Degree in Outdoor Leadership. She is also working toward her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Certification. Having volunteered with RMFI in the past and seen the outstanding work they do, Heather is honored and elated to join the RMFI team as a Field Instructor. She hopes to continue her gratifying work as a steward for the land and the community.