Heather grew up in Northwest Washington and Hong Kong, both of which gave her an appreciation for wilderness and solitude. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, and from there embarked on a 10-year adventure in public land and Wilderness stewardship with conservation corps across the West from Arizona to Alaska. She worked with the Washington Conservation Corps, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Steamboat Springs, Montana Conservation Corps, Youth Corps of Southern Arizona, Southwest Conservation Corps in Tucson, and Southwest Conservation Corps in Salida. Her last position in corps was as the founder and Executive Director of the Southwest Conservation Corps in Salida, Colorado. Heather left corps work to pursue her Masters of Natural Resources through the University of Idaho and work with the Colorado Mountain Club as the Lands Director. Through these positions, Heather worked with many Wilderness Areas, including: Buffalo Peaks, Collegiate Peaks, Sangre de Cristo, Great Sand Dunes, Spanish Peaks, South San Juan, Weminuche, La Garita, Admiralty Island, Glacier Bay, Wrangell Saint Elias, Misty Fjords, Kenai, Organ Pipe, Chiricahua, Gila, Saguaro, Rincon Mountain, North and South Maricopa Mountains, Superstition, Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains, Selway Bitterroot, Rattlesnake, Mission Mountains, Bob Marshall, Mount Zirkel, and High Uintas.
Heather is highly dedicated to the professional stewardship and management of Wilderness. She sees this as the key to allowing Wilderness to do what Wilderness does best - facilitate life-changing experiences and maintain important ecological systems, both of which provide essential support for, and strengthen, our communities.
Nick grew up in Michigan and fell in love with nature by spending time in big bodies of freshwater. He graduated from the mitten state's Oakland University in 2020, where his studies focused on urban pollinator conservation and environmental GIS. In the summers, he furthered his outdoor passion as a high ropes coordinator and a Rocky Mountain Conservancy corpsmember in Estes Park, CO. After graduating, Nick went on to enter the seasonal work circuit in a variety of different positions, including compiling GPS and GIS data in the American Southeast, taking pictures for viewpoint management on the Appalachian Trail, and working as an environmental educator on Catalina Island in California. He fell in love with California's diversity of ecosystems and experiences, which even outweighed the gas prices. The golden state became his homebase, where he now connects with nature by spending time in big bodies of saltwater.
Isabel is from Oxford, Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University in 2022 where she studied Environmental Geography and GIS. Her love for cartography led her to Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) where she utilized her GIS skills on a variety of public and environmental health projects. For her first season at SWS, she is monitoring wilderness character in the Shawnee National Forest of Illinois, and the Hiawatha, Ottawa, and Huron-Manistee National Forests of Michigan. Isabel is passionate about traveling to new places to explore their unique cultures and biomes. When she’s not working, you can find her on a cross-country road trip, kayaking one of the Great Lakes, or re-reading Lord of the Rings.
Geoffry was nurtured in his youth by the wise Appalachians. This endeared in him a natural bond with the outdoors. Yearning for wilder places, he found himself studying Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska. This led him to work as a naturalist in the Kantishna Hills of Denali National Park where he became endeared to an indigenous perspective of holistic living with nature. Wanderlust overcame him, thus he found himself working as an Environmental Specialist in the small rural farming town of Rivarólacue, Paraguay. For 2 years there, he taught environmental education, agroforestry, agroecology, and did wildlife monitoring using camera traps with community members. A desire to better connect these experiences to policy brought him to obtain a dual MA in ‘Natural Resources and Sustainable Development’ and ‘International Affairs’ from American University in Washington, D.C. His research interests focused on sustainable natural resource use and land management in Costa Rica and Peru. He learned from indigenous-led practices such as the Quechua term ‘Sumaq Kawsay’ meaning: Living in harmony with nature in order to achieve wellbeing for all. Geoffry is currently working on Wilderness Character Monitoring in the 5 wildernesses of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest of Northern California. When not strapped to his laptop, you’ll encounter him speaking with the mountains, rivers, and trees, and in hot pursuit of adventure wherever it may be found.
Valerie graduated in 2016 from St. Cloud State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies paired with a Paralegal Certification. She developed a strong passion for environmental advocacy as well as citizen stewardship and the protection of our natural environment. She worked as an Environmental Legal Technician and successfully assisted her legal team in challenging and altering the Sandpiper Pipeline Project and the USACE Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Flood Risk Management Project. She went on to practice artisan goat cheese making and worked on a small goat dairy farm in Skagit Valley, Washington. She enjoyed learning about sustainable agriculture and its impacts on the local environment. She also worked with Washington State Parks in their Northwest Region and fell in love with the striking beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Since then she became a team member of The CROP (Cannabis Removal on Public Lands) Project and helped raise national awareness on the environmental crime taking place in some of our most pristine natural spaces. Wherever she goes, Valerie seeks out local environmental learning centers and volunteers her time. She loves environmental education and helping to provide communities with opportunities for local stewardship. Valerie is currently based in Knoxville, Tennessee, working on the Wilderness Character Monitoring on Angelina - Sabine, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston National Forests. In her free time, she likes to go camping and hiking with her family, cook new recipes, and create fun art.
Gillian is from Michigan and studied Forestry as well as Sustainable Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at Michigan State University. As a Wilderness Ranger Intern for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation in Northwestern Montana, she witnessed the dedication of the stewards around her to protect and promote precious wild spaces and was inspired to make Wilderness a big part of her life. After working as a Park Guide at Canyonlands National Park and as a Forestry Technician in Southwestern Montana, Gill is excited to get back to her wilderness roots in Oregon for the summer on the Mt. Hood National Forest developing and implementing Wilderness Stewardship Performance Plans for several East side Wilderness areas. In her free time she likes to run, bike, backpack, and listen to loud music.
Hannah grew up in Minnesota and graduated with a BS in Environmental Science with certificates in Sustainability and Global Health from the University of Wisconsin. She has held many roles in the climate and food justice fields and has also spent a lot of her time working with youth. She is passionate about making the outdoors accessible to everyone, no matter their background or location. Before her role with SWS, she worked at the US Fish and Wildlife Service managing a summer internship for a crew of 12 in the Twin Cities metro area. Hannah is currently working on Wilderness Character Monitoring in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona. When she's not on the job, she can be found cooking new recipes, traveling to new and exciting places, reading in her hammock, tending to her garden, hosting game nights, and hiking/camping whenever possible.
Julia graduated from Colorado College in 2018 with a degree in Organismal Biology and Ecology. Since graduating, she has conducted research in riverine and forest ecology with a focus on entomology. In 2019, she moved to Montana to conduct research with the University of Montana Flathead Biological Station where she worked in the floodplains of the Flathead River, Glacier National Park, and across western Montana and northern Idaho. In 2021, she led the first all-women trail crew for the Montana Conservation Corps, clearing and maintaining trails in the Selway Bitterroot and Frank Church Wildernesses. Through her work, she has developed a fierce love of wild spaces and hopes to dedicate her career to better understanding and protecting them. In her free time, she likes to hike, bake, knit, and cross-country ski with her dog Monty.
Ben graduated from Colorado College in 2021 with a degree in Environmental Studies. His passion for learning deeply about wild places and how people protect them has driven him to study Maori co-management of parks in Aotearoa New Zealand, sustainable recreation through cultural change with the Sherpa in Nepal, and stakeholder perspectives on collaborative conservation efforts in Colorado. He developed a habit of heading deep into the backcountry through Boy Scouts and an opportunity as a Wilderness Ranger Intern at the peak of Covid’s outdoor boom. Ben uses his enthusiasm for the outdoors to share the experiences that make public lands worth protecting. Previously, he has worked as a mountain bike guide leading multi-day trips across the American Southwest as well as day rides through the redwoods in Santa Cruz where he lives. After seeing how important it is to advocate for the preservation of places we enjoy, Ben is excited to be working on Wilderness Character Monitoring in Northern California. Off the job, Ben is frequently on long bike rides on two wheels (outside of Wilderness) or hiking on two feet.
Kevin is from Oakdale, California and has a BA in Geography with an emphasis in GIS from Cal Poly Humboldt. His research focused on analyzing extreme wildfire behaviors, namely the fire tornado that occurred during the 2017 Carr Fire. He is especially interested in studying ecology and forest health management using satellite data. Since then, Kevin has been progressing his career in the Tahoe Basin, working for Resource Conservation Districts and non profits. He looks forward to continuing his work in the conservation field and is happy to be doing something that is good for the environment. In his free time Kevin enjoys: running his tie dye business, adventuring outdoors, cooking, playing video games and making music.
Atticus is from Reading, Massachusetts and lives and works half the year on the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont in partnership with the Forest Service. His work in the wilderness has included air quality monitoring, stocking fish ponds, map and sign installation, wilderness character monitoring, and working with Leave No Trace to revegetate heavily affected wilderness campsites. He is a strong believer in expanding access to and education about natural areas around New England, and outside of work, he is a voracious reader of history and loves any creative activity from painting, music, and writing to mixology and cooking as well.
Vick started working for SWS as a Fellow in 2020 when her local Forest entered a partnership to complete the Wilderness Character Baseline work for their 8 Wilderness areas. Prior to SWS, she worked as a Wilderness Ranger for the Forest Service for 8 years. In her time with the Forest Service, she helped manage protocol and project development for various elements of the Wilderness Stewardship Performance program for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. During grad school, she merged her two loves of Wilderness and maps in a Natural Resources program with coursework and research focused on Wilderness management and geospatial analysis of campsite impacts. When she's not thinking about or spending time in Wilderness, she's probably knitting sweaters, sewing, staring at topographic maps, shoveling snow, or sitting by the fire with her husband at their home in central Washington state.
Jason received a BS in Environmental Science and a BA in Political Science from Villanova University in 2015. He spent three years after school traveling to and working in wild places all over the world while beginning his career in wildlife sciences. He worked with species across the animal kingdom, from bats to cats to birds to frogs. Jason spent the most recent 5 years of his career working as a wildlife biologist for a California timber company, where he surveyed and managed for listed species that could be negatively affected by timber harvest. Throughout this time he never lost his passion for wilderness and adventure, and continues to have many professional interests surrounding land management decisions and their effects on natural resources. In his free time Jason enjoys skiing and mountain biking, while often making pit stops to identify a wildflower or an amphibian that happens to have crossed his path.
Ali is from Lolo, Montana and has a BA in Humanities from Villanova University and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research focuses on the ontology and values central to conservation biology. She is particularly interested in species concepts and the practical implications of the species problem on environmental laws and protections. She is also interested in wildlife reintroduction ethics, large carnivore management, and land use planning. Ali has worked in western Montana for the Forest Service and various conservation collaboratives on a number of applied forest ecology and resource management projects, including invasive plant control, monitoring logging impacts, and documenting the effects of repeat wildfires on ecosystem structure. In her free time she likes to cook and trail run, and is always trying to get better at plant ID.
Matthew graduated Paul Smith’s College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Natural Resource Conservation and Management in 2020 along with a minor in Environmental Studies. Before moving to Colorado, Matthew worked during the summer seasons as a boat steward in the Adirondack Park for a New York sponsored non-profit named the Adirondack Watershed Institute. This job is where he fell in love with environmental interpretation, education, and aquatic/land stewardship. He then went on to pursue a graduate degree at Western Colorado University in Gunnison Colorado. Over the past two summer seasons, Matthew has worked for a land stewardship corps titled the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Corps (STOR Corps). STOR Corps worked primarily in the Gunnison Valley conducting environmental land stewardship projects during the weekdays and environmental outreach/education on the weekends. Matthew finished his Master of Environmental Management degree in 2022 with his project centering around STOR Corps and the future of stewardship in Gunnison Valley. Matthew has a deep passion for environmental stewardship and believes that it is an often-over- looked cornerstone of environmental work. Although Matthew misses the best pizza and bagels of New York, the West and Pacific Northwest is where Matthew believes his belongs. When Matthew isn’t out educating people on how to properly poop in the woods, he can be found snowboarding on Crested Butte during the winter season or by his Charbroil grill during the summer.
Cody is from Weymouth Massachusetts and is a Masters of Public Administration student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Also at Lowell he received his BA in Political Science while earning multiple conference titles and all-conference honors on the UMass Lowell Track and Cross Country teams. With his NCAA days behind him he is currently working with SWS on wilderness character monitoring in the Tongass National Forest, specifically the Sitka and Wrangell ranger districts. As an avid explorer, and someone who always seeks out new connections, he is currently immersing himself in the epicness of southeast Alaska. You could still find him running (less than in college), playing solitaire, or out getting lost.
Jessy is from Woodstock, Georgia and earned a BS in Zoology, Conservation and Biodiversity from Auburn University and an M.P.P. in Environmental Policy from Georgia State University. Jessy has several years of experience in the non-profit realm, particularly with program development and educational outreach initiatives for underserved communities throughout Atlanta. She is driven by her passion to conserve habitats and ecosystems through policy work while promoting outdoor accessibility and equity for all. Jessy can be found outside hiking or running with her dog and inside reading or cooking Southern comfort food.
Adrian is from a bordertown city located in west Texas called El Paso. He is a double major who graduated with a degree in Public Relations and Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2016. Adrian's passion and love for nature is deeply rooted from his childhood. As a child till today, he has always spent a lot of time camping, fishing, and hiking. He has added a few more hobbies now which include climbing/bouldering, backpacking, and whitewater rafting. His dog Bambi is more than happy to tag along on the adventures. Adrian likes to dedicate some of his free time volunteering to lead small group day hikes and backpacking trips in the wilderness. He is also a volunteer member of the search and rescue group in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Currently, Adrian will be doing wilderness character monitoring in the Gila National Forest located just right outside of Silver City, New Mexico.
Originally from New York, Ben has cut his teeth in Colorado and the West for the last several years. A BA in Philosophy & English, followed by years of passionate recreation in the mountains, eventually lead to graduate work at Colorado State University in land and wildlife management. He spent the last 3 years doing wilderness and trail work with the US Forest Service along with private ranch work after time in the hospitality industry. He is currently diving into Wilderness Character Monitoring within the White River National Forest and hopes to jive on the ground knowledge of the area with research on wilderness conditions. Ben enjoys time outside with his daughter shredding pow, hoofing up trails, roasting marshmallows at camp and seeking the perfect King Bolete.
Joey Putnam is a community conservationist who works to establish meaningful coordination between federal and state land management agencies, non-profits, and local communities. He focuses on democratic, participatory decision-making in conservation planning and natural resource management. As a graduate student studying sustainability in the outdoor industry at CU Boulder’s Masters of the Environment program, he helped develop a corridor management plan for the Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway. The plan provides local land managers with a framework for protecting the road’s rural character and the region’s unique recreational, scenic, and ecological qualities. In 2019, Joey spent a season with the Montana Conservation Corps, monitoring mountain goat and pika behavior and engaging stakeholders on issues of recreation and tourism near Glacier National Park. Prior to entering conservation, Joey received a B.A. in English literature and American Studies from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He uses this background in the humanities to bring a unique perspective to environmentalism, drawing on people’s relationships to place and culture as a way to form alliances across diverse sets of stakeholders. Joey recently moved to Bend, Oregon, and he is excited to explore the Klamath Basin as he works on Wilderness Character Monitoring for several wilderness areas in northern California.
Lia grew up on the central coast of California and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is excited to work with SWS on Wilderness Baseline Monitoring in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Lia completed her B.S. in Integrated Studies with minors in Biology and Environmental Studies at Utah Valley University. In addition, she is a Wilderness First Responder and a certified CA Naturalist. Her studies focused on conservation, ecology, philosophy, and integrating these topics with a senior thesis project. Lia was able to develop a relationship between UVU and the local Audubon Society to research and implement protocol for long term light pollution monitoring at the Gillmor Sanctuary, and she continues to volunteer with the Audubon to collect data. Her professional experience includes leading backpacking trips for at-risk teens, guiding trips in the national parks, vocational training for neurodiverse adults, and restaurant management. In her spare time, she enjoys eco-conscious gardening, biking, canyoneering, and putting fruit in salads.
Special Project Intern
Brett is from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and holds a BS in Recreation Administration and an MS in Natural Resources Science and Management, both from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Brett’s continually-growing passion for outdoor recreation and stewardship began in 2017 when he was a Recreation Management Intern with the Bureau of Land Management in Glennallen, Alaska. Brett believes that everyone should have the opportunity to access and enjoy our country’s unique and beautiful outdoor spaces – now and far into the future; with that, Brett is excited to facilitate sustainable, beneficial outdoor wilderness experiences through his work with SWS. He is currently assisting the White River National Forest with developing and implementing plans for sustainable overnight use of the Forest’s iconic Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. In his free time, Brett can be found outside cross-country skiing, camping, or backpacking. If the Minnesota temperatures drop too low, he can be found in his kitchen trying new recipes.
Megan graduated from Oregon State University in 2022 with a B.S. in Environmental Economics and Policy. She is very excited to work as a Wilderness Fellow in the Mt. Hood National Forest and have the opportunity to help out with Wilderness Stewardship Performance. In her free time, she loves exploring new trails, looking for wildflowers, and climbing rocks.
Michelle lives in Bellingham, Washington and has worked for SWS since 2020, writing baseline reports for wilderness areas across the Pacific Northwest. Previously, she worked for the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as a Forestry Technician seasonally. She graduated from Western Washington University with a self-designed major in “Environmental Science in Society,” along with minors in Biology and Spanish. In alignment with her passion for wilderness, Michelle is an avid backcountry skier and North Cascades enthusiast. She enjoys long walks in the mountains and nerding out on plants, scat, tracks and mushrooms!
Kendyl Van Dÿck
Kendyl calls the lush Olympic Peninsula home, where she earned a BA/BS in environmental studies from The Evergreen State College, with an emphasis in agroecology. Her keystone project focused on regenerative agricultural practices that mitigate the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil. Since 2016 she has been living out this thesis, farming on family-owned, small-scale, organic vegetable farms, teaching environmental education in the classroom, and conducting research with the non-profit As You Sow writing a national report on pesticide use in conventional agriculture. In recent years, Kendyl's passion for stewardship has broadened to include the wilderness she loves to play in. Her trail work and visitor education in the Olympic National Forest spurred larger conversations about the current conditions of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which led to the introduction to the Alpine Lakes Collaborative that she is now honored to manage. You will find her faithful four-legged companion, Gaia, always by her side, as they get lost far out of doors, garden, forage, fish, dance and wax poetic on the page.
Logan grew up hiking, climbing, and nurturing his love for wild things in eastern Tennessee. He earned a BS in Biology from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016 and an MS in Natural Resource Sciences from Washington State University in 2021. Logan’s recent work primarily revolved around the ecology of taxa such as Canada lynx, hoary marmots, and anadromous salmonids in the North Cascades Ecosystem. Logan’s background also includes a diverse set of roles such as zookeeping intern at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, trail crewmember in the Smokies, interpretive ranger with the Tennessee State Parks, facilities supervisor at a Wild Ungulate Facility, and data analyst for various research projects. Though Logan is still an avid fan of science and research, he’s found there’s at least one simple conclusion for wildlife conservation: protect pristine landscapes. Logan is excited to play a part in responsibly managing our most protected lands as he takes on his new role as a Wilderness Dayen in Washington and Oregon with SWS.
Abby graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2021 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. Her introduction to wilderness stewardship began in college with a series of experiential learning classes at VCU that focused on the ties between wilderness policy, outdoor recreation, and natural history. During this class, she packrafted the lower fork of the Salmon River in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, built outdoor leadership skills, and studied how we protect and preserve our wilderness areas. In pursuit of the passion that this experience ignited, she began working with her school’s outdoor adventure program, and conducted research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory on potential impacts of climate change on algal communities in high alpine rivers and streams of southwestern Colorado. She will be working with SWS in conjunction with the Salmon-Challis National Forest on Wilderness Character Monitoring in the Frank Church- River of No Return Wilderness. She is excited to be returning to the area to integrate her love for outdoor recreation with her professional goals in protected area management. In her free time, you can find her skiing, summiting mountain peaks, or laying in the sunshine!
Alec, an Oregon native, is establishing Wilderness Character Baselines for the Willamette/Deschutes National Forests. A 2020 graduate of Oregon State University (OSU) with a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife, his capstone research assessed the efficacy of the Oregon Marine Reserves. He then held seasonal positions with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), operating the Siletz Falls fish trap and conducting a Chinook radio telemetry study. Interested in the intersection of humanity and nature, he also spent a season as a Sustainable Tourism Intern through OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative. Recently, he worked in aquatic habitat restoration, designing projects and conducting field surveys on the southern Oregon coast. Alec, a life-long student of the natural world, loves getting outdoors and exploring. He is especially interested in land-use change and its often-overlooked contribution to our changing climate. He is overjoyed to be able to contribute to wilderness stewardship with the SWS.