Wilderness Fellows Program

The Wilderness Fellows Program employs highly educated and trained young professionals and places them with land mangement agencies across the country.  The Program was designed to do three things:

1.  Increase capacity where necessary for wilderness managers to accomplish complex, professional, wilderness tasks.

2.  Address the backlog of wilderness stewardship work across the National Wilderness Preservation System.

3.  Groom the next generation of wilderness professionals and connect them to people and places of work.

Fellows work on all manner of wilderness stewardship and manager issues, from wilderness character to outfitter and guide permitting to minimum requirements analysis, and everything in between.  Fellows are hired to match agency needs, and are trained extensively in the subject matter they will be working with.  

During the 2017 field season, Fellows will be placed with the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Custer Gallatin, Bitterroot, Nez Perce Clearwater, Payette, Salmon-Challis, Arapaho Roosevelt, Grand Mesa Uncompahgre & Gunnison, Stanislaus, Eldorado, Tahoe, Plumas, Apache Sitgreaves, Prescott, Coconino, George Washington & Jefferson, Monogahela, Chequamegon-Nicolet, Hiawatha, and Superior National Forests.  

To HOST a Fellow, contact Heather MacSlarrow.

Meet the 2018 Fellows:

Clair Bidez has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies with a minor in Applied Mathematics from Westminster College and is graduating with a Master of Science in Geography from the University of Utah in 2018. She aims to bring a geographic perspective to the study of ecological problems to plan for wilderness preservation in the face of climate change. Clair grew up in a small mountain town in Colorado and later traveled to international mountain towns as a professional snowboarder. This exposure to and dependence on alpine terrain instilled a strong connection to wilderness, leading her to ask questions about the environment and drove her to work for its preservation. She is a massive book nerd (particularly science fiction and fantasy) and loves adventuring and exploring wild places on her snowboard, bike, and feet

 
 
Clair is a Fellow in USFS Region 2
 
Diana Boudreau earned her Master’s degree in biological sciences from Marshall University (2017) and her Bachelor’s degree in geology with a biology minor from Augustana College (2014). From her earliest memories, she was fascinated by dinosaurs and the natural world. Her primary focus in school was vertebrate paleontology, which led to an internship studying fossil bone microstructures at the Field Museum of Natural History and collecting field paleontology data for the National Park Service in the Northern Rockies and Arizona. While working at fossil sites on BLM managed lands in Utah and Montana, she became passionate about protecting public lands, so that scientists could study them and future generations could be inspired by them. Diana views wilderness as areas where people can experience nature, preserve valuable resources, and enable threatened ecosystems to remain as wild as possible. In her free time, you can find Diana hiking a trail, with her nose in a book, or coming up with a clever pun.
 
 
Diana is a Fellow in USFS Region 4 
 
In 2016, Pat Brewer received an Environmental Studies degree with a minor in GIS from the University of Arizona. So far, this multi-disciplinary education has given him the opportunity to work with USGS ecologists in New Mexico and municipal energy and policy managers in California to improve their understanding of, and response to, changing paradigms in land and energy management. As an ever-growing slice of the American populace turns to wilderness areas for recreation, he is curious to gauge the effectiveness of existing legislation under increasingly stressful conditions. Pat hopes to take away key indicators of successful environmental protection in order to better defend the places that he loves. 
 
 
 
 
Pat is a Fellow in USFS Region 5
 
Aevind Burgess has a B.S. in Parks Tourism and Recreation Management and a B.S. in Resource Conservation with a Minor in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Montana and an Associates degree in Wilderness Education from Lake Tahoe CC. Aevind’s goal is to accumulate a nexus of knowledge and experiences that provide him with the tools to catalyze support and stewardship for public lands. He wants to be an advocate for both Wilderness and urban parks alike, and especially for the adequate funding of public protected lands so as to increase accessibility to low-income citizens by reducing barriers like entrance fees and insufficient proximity. The Wilderness Act was the first step in what Aevind believes is the phenomenon of “developed” civilizations re-realizing their vital interconnectivity with the Earth that provides them a place of refuge in the void of space. The recognition of the need to practice restraint is a powerful message of the Wilderness idea and one that he believes is becoming increasingly imperative. The opportunity for solitude and reflective forms of recreation that exist in Wilderness areas are unequaled. Aevind also believes that wilderness experiences can fill the significant void in American youth culture of a coming-of-age event/trial/ceremony/tradition, while simultaneously instilling awareness of their connection with the natural world. Aevind is super into plants and plant physiology/microbiology, especially Lichens! You can usually find him kneeling uncomfortably in a forest somewhere staring at rocks and twigs and dirt, quite intently.
 
Aevind is a Fellow in USFS Region 10
 
Delaney Troi Callahan is a 2018 graduate of California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Geography, a minor in Environmental Science and Policy, and a certification in Geographic Information Science. Her undergraduate studies focused on patterns of disturbance and recovery in native vegetation communities, landscape restoration, conservation action, GIS, and remote sensing. Through her work with the Bureau of Land Management, she has gained field experience in public land stewardship, natural resource management, and wilderness conservation. Her time working in California’s deserts have fostered a passion for serving historically undervalued wilderness areas. In the near future, Delaney plans to pursue a graduate degree which she will use to explore the various research specialties in her field, including continued work with unmanned aerial systems and remote sensing. During her free time, Delaney can be hard to find, but every now and then, you might reach her by satellite phone
 
Delaney is a Fellow in USFS Region 5
 
Kimisha Cassidy has just completed a Master’s in Geography at the George Washington University after receiving a BA in Sociology/Anthropology from Swarthmore College. She loves that Geography is interdisciplinary and brings disparate fields together to solve problems and improve our understanding of the world. From learning about butterfly conservation in the Costa Rican cloud forest to exploring South Africa’s Garden Route to interviewing people about the parks of Washington, DC, she is fascinated by how people interact with their environment. To her, wilderness is an essential part of life on earth, from thriving biodiversity to the inspiration of the human spirit. Understanding, experiencing, and preserving wild places benefits us all, and she is eager to work towards a sustainable, equitable future. In her free time, you can often find her in a sunny patch of grass with a book, a board game, or a camera.
 
Kimisha is a Fellow in USFS Region 1
 
Erinn Drage holds an honors Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences from Queen’s University. Originally from the east coast of Canada, Erinn has been an active contributor to parks and protected areas policy and public education for years, working with both Parks Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. She has a keen interest in wilderness policy and governance structures and is eager to continue learning about different approaches to effectively protecting nature. Erinn believes that intact wilderness landscapes and healthy ecosystems are not only vital for environmental, economic, and social success, but are also important for us all to admire and enjoy the natural world. Her passion for outdoor recreation has inspired much of her work and has led to big adventures all over the world, including guiding in the Arctic and Antarctic.
           
 
 
 
 
Erinn is a Fellow in USFS Region 5                       
   
Amy Eaton has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Environmental Management with an emphasis on Public Lands Management at Western State Colorado University. Her educational background has provided Amy with an interdisciplinary foundation from which to approach landscapes as complex constructs shaped by ecology, culture, policy, and economy. Past personal experiences exploring the Western U.S. have ignited within her a passion for our nation’s wild places. To Amy, spending time in the wilderness provides a humbling experience and an unparalleled opportunity for self-reflection, rejuvenation, and recreation. The inherent qualities of wilderness that allow for such empowering personal experiences are truly inimitable. As our nation is under a constant state of change - be it environmental, economic, or cultural - the integrity of our wild places is at risk. She is excited to contribute to the complex task of analyzing and characterizing our wilderness to contribute to management goals that aim to maintain and enhance these special places in perpetuity. She hope s to pursue a career related to wilderness stewardship and sustainable recreation. In her free time, Amy enjoys playing outside and strumming her guitar.
    
Amy is a Fellow in USFS Region 2

Holly Kistner is currently a Masters candidate at Bard College, studying Environmental Science and Policy. Before starting graduate school, she worked in the mountains of Costa Rica and Colorado as a Naturalist and earned a B.S. in Environmental Geosciences from the University at Buffalo. She is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to conservation, that protect the environment and enhance quality of life for humans. She believes the wilderness is an opportunity to do both, a humbling necessity for the human spirit and a powerful means to protect the landscape and ecosystems. In her spare time, she loves running, cooking, reading, and being outside as much as possible.

 

 

Holly is a Fellow in USFS Region 10

Ellen Ray graduated from California Polytechnic State University in 2017 with a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration. Throughout her undergrad, she worked as a backpacking guide and discovered a deep love for untouched wilderness. Understanding how essential it is to protect our natural land, she chose to focus on sustainable tourism and recently completed an internship with Center for Responsible Travel, a D.C. based nonprofit. She has focused her studies on finding a sustainable balance between the economic, social, and environmental aspects of tourism, maximizing the positive impact of the industry. Ellen supplemented her undergrad studies by traveling independently throughout Southeast Asia and South America for a cumulative year. The most blissful moments from Ellen's travels are rooted in the exploration of the Andes and the therapeutic solitude that comes with fresh air and an open trail.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ellen is a Fellow in USFS Region 10
 

Ellen Sulser is a 2018 Smith college graduate with a major in Environmental Science and Policy. Throughout her time at Smith, Ellen worked at the college’s Field Research Station, where she developed a passion for land management, environmental communication, and composting toilets. She is looking forward to moving back home to the Midwest and working at the intersection between community engagement and scientific research. Wilderness is an ecological archive —a record of the environmental past by which we can chart our progress towards a sustainable future. Ostensibly uncurated, the wilderness is nevertheless profoundly shaped by human action, and Ellen is excited to advocate for responsible stewardship. In her free time, Ellen can be found making maps, videos, or a general mess in the kitchen.

 

 

 

Ellen is a Fellow in USFS Region 9

Paige Wagar grew up swimming in the waters of the Pacific Ocean and hiking in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, which led her to develop a deep appreciation for nature at a young age. It was this passion for the environment that led her to Cornell University, where she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental & Sustainability Sciences and Development Sociology with focuses in sustainable development, land-use policy, and community engagement. Paige’s interest in the ways communities engage with the natural environment has led her to collaborate with sugarcane farmers in Honduras, work with indigenous peoples in rural India, and research perceptions of medicinal plants in the Dominican Republic. Through these experiences, Paige further realized the dependency of human well-being on environmental health. Last summer, Paige drove across the country taking time to explore some beautiful public lands throughout her drive; she was stunned by the magnificence of Bryce Canyon and the quiet solitude offered by the forests of Colorado. Moving forward, Paige is excited to deepen her understanding of federal management of wild spaces and learn more about the role of wilderness in the context of the American southeast.

Paige is a Fellow in USFS Region 8

Jessi Warmbrodt packed her car with her dogs and her now-husband and drove 4,000+ miles from Missouri to Alaska in search of adventure in 2015, after graduating from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.  Having spent her first summer in Alaska working at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Jessi soon found herself searching for a pathway to a career dedicated to environmental conservation.  During her search, she has found herself in many different situations.  Standing in the engine room of a cruise ship, donned in a lab coat and goggles, getting sprayed in the face by wastewater as she drew a sample from the ship’s discharge port, she knew she wanted to do more in the name of environmental conservation than testing the pollution levels of the tourism industry.  She wanted to use science to directly inform public policy and wilderness management practices.  When she found herself bushwhacking ten miles through the Alaskan wilderness alongside a Forest Service biologist in pursuit of collecting enough lichen samples to monitor the air quality of the wilderness area, she knew she was on the right track. This time, she was serving as a Resource Assistants Program Intern with the USDA Forest Service, and gaining an enormous respect for the work public land management agencies do. Her many hikes, camping trips, and kayaking adventures have inspired a love for pristine wilderness. She equates escaping into the woods on a hike to venturing into a different world where wildlife rules and humans are a minority. In the future, Jessi sees herself working for a public land management agency to preserve wilderness and better communicate its importance to the public and land management officials.

Jessi is a Fellow in USFS Region 10

Jessica Zehr earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Syracuse University and is now a graduate student in Green Mountain College's Master of Science in Environmental Studies (MSES) program. Jessica has also worked as an ecological and social science research intern and a Directorate Resource Assistant (DFP) Plant Ecology Fellow for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners. Through the MSES program and her work experiences, she has developed a deep appreciation for the complexity of environmental issues, including those related to public land management. This complexity and the importance of these issues are precisely what attracts her to this work. Wilderness areas and concepts, in particular, are engaging from the perspectives of conservation, environmental history and philosophy, and even the arts. Thus, Jessica's interests in wilderness are manifold. On a personal level, she values wilderness areas for having fostered in her a lasting orientation to the environment that she can carry with her and share with others no matter where she is. It's no surprise that her hobbies include gardening with native plants and backyard birding.

Jessica is a Fellow in USFS Region 5

Matt Quinn has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a Master’s in Environmental Management from Western State Colorado University. In the future Matt is interested in pursuing landscape-scale management. Landscapes are dynamic, especially in this day and age of rapid environmental changes, and he is interested in defining the purpose and value of our treasured landscapes -- including parks and wilderness --so that we can better guide inevitable change toward desirable conditions and away from undesirable conditions. He believes we need to match dynamic landscapes with dynamic management that uses a toolbox of strategies and adapts to improve effectiveness and reduces uncertainty over time. To Matt, some of his most inviolable values -- humility, freedom, self-reliance -- are rooted in his wilderness experiences and he lives life closely aligned to these values, and to wild places. His attraction to wilderness is as simple as recognizing his home, his community, and his values that all depend on wilderness protection and stewardship. Aside from rambling through the wilderness, Matt enjoys climbing, skiing, and live music.

Matt is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 10
 
Kat Lyons is a 2016 Smith College graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science & Policy and a minor in Government. Experiencing the outdoors from a young age fostered her passion to protect public lands. Kat’s studies focus on the relationship between field work and policy on the local, regional and national level and how each of these perspectives contribute to the successful sustainability of our precious natural resources. Kat has a variety of experience in both filed work and policy by working at the local and regional level with the Forest Service, at the regional level with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and at the national policy level as an intern with the Land & Water team for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Enthusiastic and passionate about natural resources and being able to experience the outdoors, she strives to understand how natural resource policy is developed and implemented and how science should contribute to ensuring that policy is based on a sound foundation.
 
Kat is the National Program Coordinator 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

                                                             

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The Society for Wilderness Stewardship is a non-profit, charitable organization under the 501 (c)(3) section of the Internal Revenue Code.