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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ellen 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 wild spaces. Understanding how essential it is to protect our natural land, she focused her studies on finding a sustainable balance between the economic, social, and environmental aspects of tourism, maximizing the positive impact of the industry. She spent the last two seasons working on the Chugach Natural Forest where she fell even deeper in love with Alaska's boundless open spaces and wild landscape. For her fourth season with SWS, she will be working on Wilderness Character Monitoring on the Los Padres National Forest in California. In her free time, Ellen finds endless enjoyment in playing music and hiking as high and as far as possible. She is thrilled to be back on board with SWS.
Jessie graduated in 2021 from Colorado College with a BA in Integrated Environmental Science, paired with a Studio Art minor. This interdisciplinary degree allowed her to pursue a wide variety of research opportunities, from exploring the impacts of climate change on Māori fisheries in New Zealand to analyzing diurnal treeline temperature patterns in Colorado. Jessie’s enthusiasm for rugged and remote places is fueled by the time she spends in them. She has spent several summers up in Alaska working as an artist in residence in the Wrangell Mountains and deckhanding on fishing boats, exploring Alaska's wild landscapes (and waterscapes!). Jessie is currently based in Bishop, California, working her second season of Wilderness Character Monitoring with SWS on Sequoia and Inyo National Forests. When she’s not on the job, Jessie can be found heading for the hills with watercolors in tow or ice skating on frozen lakes in the eastern Sierra.
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!
Jacob is a 2016 Colby College graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy and Geology. His environmental policy honors thesis researched deforestation in Ethiopia analyzing spatial, ecological, and socio-cultural factors. After graduating from college, Jacob worked in Yosemite National Park as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern. There he participated in vegetation restoration projects as well as developed habitat models for rare plant species in order to understand how climate change will impact future habitats. In 2017, Jacob worked as a Wilderness Fellow with SWS in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho where he gained an appreciation for solitude in one of the nation’s largest wilderness areas. Jacob continued his work with SWS as a Wilderness Character Monitoring Core Team Leader, in which he provided technical assistance to Forests and Fellows working on Wilderness Character Monitoring. Aside from exploring different Wilderness areas, Jacob enjoys skiing, reading and cooking.