Wild Rockies Field Institute

WRFI Staff

Keri McWilliams, Executive Director

SwansonKeri joined the WRFI team as Executive Director in 2014 and couldn’t be more excited to lead an organization that is committed to producing the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders. Keri is a native Montanan and an outdoor enthusiast. She holds a B.S. in Health Promotion from The University of Montana and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Oregon where she focused on nonprofit management. Prior to joining WRFI, Keri served as Executive Director of Missoula AIDS Council, Development Officer at Missoula Aging Services and has her own nonprofit consulting business, KMC Consulting. She is a graduate of Leadership Missoula, serves on the board of the Montana Association of Fundraising Professionals and is Vice President of the Western Montana Fundraisers Association. Keri is also an adjunct instructor in the University of Montana’s Health and Human Performance Department. When not in the office or the classroom, Keri can be found on an adventure of some sort involving hiking, biking or backpacking in Western Montana. Keri can be reached at keri@wrfi.net.

Bethany Applegate, Outreach Manager

SwansonBethany is WRFI's Outreach Manager. Charged with letting the world know about WRFI, Bethany can be found on college campuses across the country meeting with students, professors, and advisors. When not travelling for WRFI, she is in Missoula at WRFI Central, designing marketing plans, organizing fundraisers, and trying to figure out ways to get back into the field. After years of instructing for WRFI, she is excited to continue with the organization from a new standpoint. Bethany graduated from Colorado College in 2000 with a degree in environmental history, and completed her Master's degree from the University of Montana's environmental studies program in May 2005. She currently is an adjunct professor at the University of Montana in both the environmental studies department and the Davidson Honors College. She's thrilled to have instructed Alaskan Rainforest: Ecology and Policy of the Tongass, Colorado Plateau: Desert Canyons & Cultures, Restoration Ecology and Montana Afoot & Afloat. Bethany can be reached at bethany@wrfi.net.

Katie Nelson, Field Education Coordinator

GeyermanAt St. Lawrence University, Katie earned a bachelor degree in Global Studies--examining development and globalization through the lenses of culture, economics, and the environment. During three undergraduate study abroad experiences, she learned firsthand the value of experiential education. Having explored critical environmental issues during those studies abroad, Katie went on to investigate similar controversies brewing in the American West.  Working as a wilderness ranger, environmental educator, and on wildlife studies in California, Texas, Alberta, Oklahoma, and Montana, she endeavors to find common ground among disparate stakeholders. Through her Master’s in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, Katie worked with the National Park Service on climate change adaptation issues in designated wilderness. She directed the University of Montana’s Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology and volunteered as a UNICEF observer at the UN Climate Talks in Durban, South Africa. She continues to write about wilderness, climate change, and natural history in an effort to build relationships between people and between people and the land. 


WRFI Board of Directors

Travis Belote

Dave MorrisTravis is a senior ecologist in the research department of the Wilderness Society, serving in their Northern Rockies Regional Office in Bozeman, MT. He also serves as a faculty affiliate in the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. In 1997, Travis was a student on WRFI’s Montana Afoot and Afloat course, which inspired him to pursue a career in ecology and conservation. He holds an MS from the University of Tennessee and PhD from Virginia Tech where he studied hardwood forest responses to timber harvesting and invasive species. He moved to Montana to work for TWS after a post-doctoral research position with the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, AZ. Travis’ research focuses on human influences on species diversity, determinants of ecosystem composition and function, and restoration ecology.

Patrick Burke

patPat Burke joined the WRFI Board of Directors in 2009.  Pat began his education with a B.A. in Philosophy from UC-San Diego, and continued with a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Montana.  He then attained an M.S. in Forest Ecology at the University of Montana and is currently working towards an M.A. in Philosophy, also at UM.  He has worked as a restoration ecologist on projects around the west including superfund sites, mine reclamation sites, national park natural disaster sites, and highway revegetation projects.  He is also the author and co-author of numerous publications.  Pat teaches Restoration Ecology in Greater Yellowstone, Colorado Plateau: Desert Canyons and Cultures, and Montana Afoot and Afloat: Human/Land Relations. 

Darcy Chenoweth

Gail GutscheDarcy is a nurse, teacher and artist. Environmental, medical and risk management education has been her focus for over 15 yrs. As a teacher and risk management consultant she works with The Nature-Link Institute’s study abroad program in the Indian Himalaya. She also teaches for Aerie Backcountry Medicine and the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation. While she is not teaching she can be found at her home studio in the Mission Mountains of Montana doing ceramics and ironwork.


Gillian Glaes

Sarah RicheyGillian Glaes has spent a lifetime not only in the outdoors but also in the outdoor industry, mostly through family connections. Originally from Missoula, her father was the Director of Campus Recreation at the University of Montana and her sister has been a professional kayaker and guide. Gillian spent countless hours in the outdoors as a kid, hiking, skiing, camping, fishing, and generally romping through Montana's backcountry. When it came time to select a career, she followed both her parents' lead and pursued higher education, earning a PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked as the modern European historian at Carroll College in Helena, MT for eight years, where she helped to establish CAMP, Carroll's outdoor program for students. Now a Visiting Professor in the history department at UM and the wife of an REI store manager, Gillian is excited to bring her passion for the outdoors, her understanding of the outdoor industry, and her enthusiasm for higher education together in her service to the WRFI board.

Kevin Hood

Sarah RicheyKevin was born and raised in Missoula and comes from family with long ties with Montana.  As an advocate for merging academia with real life work and field experiences, he works at the University of Montana (UM) coordinating academic internships.  The field of International Education is his area of focus.  He also serves is an affiliate faculty member of the Davidson Honors College at UM, and in the past he has worked as a wilderness ranger and for a packer in the Bob Marshall wilderness.  Kevin travels internationally for work and pleasure, and enjoys activities in the outdoors, including sailing, hiking, skiing, birding, and biking.

Alison Perkins

Sarah RicheyAlison is interested in evolution and ecology education, how people learn about science, and sources of environmental knowledge.  She holds an MS in Wildlife Biology, an MA in Radio-Television Production, and a PhD in Forestry and Conservation from The University of Montana.  Before coming to Missoula, Alison worked as a waterfowl biologist for a conservation organization in California, where she learned about the important role outdoor experiences play in our understanding of the world. Since then, she has developed curricula for K-12 students and teachers and for informal science education opportunities that incorporate the outdoor classroom to enhance ecology education. Recently, she collaborated with Carl Zimmer and Doug Emlen to develop the pedagogy for Evolution: Making Sense of Life (a textbook and ebook application for biology majors), and she is now working to develop a study guide for Zimmer’s Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution.  She runs a National Science Foundation grant designed to develop a model for producing local environmental science news for local audiences and teaches a graduate course in environmental science journalism at The University of Montana. Alison also is an independent television producer, where she is actively pursuing productions that enhance understanding of ecology and the environment.

Sarah Richey

Sarah RicheySarah was a student on Montana Afoot and Afloat in 1998 and the experience sealed her appreciation for experiential education and the WRFI mission. That appreciation has only grown since then, and Sarah has stayed connected to WRFI over the years as an occasional instructor and now as a board member. Sarah’s professional background combines environmental science, field education and natural resource conservation work.  She earned an undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology and a graduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. After spending several years dividing her time between leading Outward Bound courses and working as a field biology technician on fish and amphibian research projects, she spent 4 years in Yellowstone National Park managing field seminars and backpacking courses for the Yellowstone Institute.  In 2008, she returned to Missoula where she lives with her husband Dave and son Charlie. Sarah is a Conservation Project Manager for Five Valleys Land Trust, where she works with landowners who wish to protect their land with conservation easements.  When not working, Sarah can generally be found enjoying western Montana's mountains and rivers with family and friends.

Sara Smith

Sarah RicheySara Smith is the Chief Financial Officer for ALPS Corporation headquartered in Missoula, Montana.  Sara studied at the University of Montana graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Management and Marketing and the University of Colorado with a MBA.  Sara also holds her CPA license with the State of Montana.  Sara grew up in the Absaroka Beartooths of Montana and worked as a camp counselor on the Boulder River leading trips into the wild.  In addition to being outside, Sara is an avid skier, holding her Level III certification through the Professional Ski Instructors of America.  She also has complete 5 marathons, with the biggest accomplishment running Boston in 2010.  If not running, skiing, or biking, Sara can be found gardening in her back yard or plotting a new adventure.

Bryan von Lossberg

danCurrently serving on the Missoula City Council, Bryan brings over twenty years of business and non-profit management experience to the WRFI Board, having served on the Boards and as the Executive Director of the Tahoe-Baikal Institute (TBI), the Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO), and as a program and engineering manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials. At TBI Bryan helped develop emerging environmental leaders in an immersive, place-based watershed education program and international cultural exchange between Lake Tahoe and Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia. At JPL he worked on several projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope and Mars Pathfinder programs.  Upon returning to Missoula in 2009, he founded an energy conservation business, which uses real time energy use information and feedback to help homeowners conserve energy. Bryan has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, where he was a recipient of a Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship.

Molly White

danMolly White was born and raised in Missoula, Montana by an art teacher and a carpenter.  She is currently the educational program associate and registrar at the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute.  Previously she has worked as a project developer for ClearSky Climate Solutions and a contract paralegal for the Department of Justice.   Her college education began in Alaska, finished in Montana, included a study abroad in England, and a two-month circumnavigation of the United States.  In 2005, she completed her Masters in Forest Ecology and Management at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  She has also led river trips and taught kayaking at various interludes in her life.  Molly enjoys introducing her son to the river, the forest, the snow, and the garden.


WRFI Advisory Board

Tom Bansak

Tom BansakUpon completion of his Master's degree in river ecology from the University of Montana's Flathead Lake Biological Station, Tom Bansak came to WRFI as an instructor. He ended up staying on as a full-time WRFI instructor for five years, during which time he became involved in most aspects of WRFI. He worked in our office, revised and created course curricula, helped with gear purchasing and repairs, and contributed to fundraising efforts. Tom was on our Board from 2001-2010 and served as board president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and the head of the safety committee. He has been on our Advisory Board ever since.  He lives in Bigfork, MT and works at the Flathead Lake Biological Station as a research scientist and development coordinator. This position keeps him busy, but facilitates his love of exploring, understanding and protecting the wild and remote areas of the world. For WRFI, Tom has taught Colorado Plateau: Desert Canyons & Cultures, The Alaskan Rainforest: Ecology and Policy of the Tongass, and Montana Afoot & Afloat: Human/Land Relations.

Tim Bechtold

Tim Bechtold is a Missoula lawyer who specializes in environmental law, toxic torts, and products liability. See www.bechtoldlaw.net. Along with Matt Thomas and Dave Havlick, he is a co-founder of WRFI and has taught WRFI courses in Alaska, Montana, and Baja California. He holds an AB in biology from Harvard University, an MS from Montana's Environmental Studies Program, and a JD with high honors from the University of Montana School of Law. He has climbed many peaks across the Americas, Asia, and Europe, paddled the seven seas, ripped and slogged thousands of backcountry turns, and shivered through countless nights in a sleeping bag. He lives in Missoula with Karen Knudsen and their two kids, Stellan and Bente.

Katie Deuel

Dave HavlickBefore taking time off to become a full-time mother, Katie Deuel worked for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, a joint Canadian - U.S. network of organizations working to secure a life-sustaining web of protected wildlife cores and connecting wildlife movement corridors. Katie has worked on public land issues for several other regional conservation groups, including the Alliance for the Wild Rockies as the ecosystem defense director. She has extensive experience leading outdoor expeditions for the National Outdoor Leadership School. Katie completed her Master of Science in environmental studies at the University of Montana and has recently returned to UM to enter the Master of Social Work program. Katie is a former president of the WRFI board.

Dave Havlick

Dave HavlickDave is the founding president of Wild Rockies Field Institute. In addition to more than a decade as a field instructor, Dave has worked for Predator Conservation Alliance, Wildlands CPR, and the Forest History Society. His publications include No Place Distant: Roads and Motorized Recreation on America's Public Lands (Island Press, 2002) and articles in High Country News, Walking, Adventure Cyclist, Conservation in Practice, and other periodicals. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in English, earned an M.S. in environmental studies from the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of North Carolina. He currently is a professor of geography at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Dave and his spouse, Marion Hourdequin, a professor of philosophy at the Colorado College, have two adventuresome kids.

Nicky Phear

nickyNicky Phear coordinates and teaches for the Wilderness and Civilization Program, which is a two-semester field and campus program for undergraduates at the University of Montana. Nicky has long been dedicated to WRFI. She was the organization's first director and has taught a range of field courses for WRFI as well as Prescott College and the Colorado Outward Bound School. She is currently active in climate change education. In the fall of 2007 she cycled 1000 miles with the Ride for Climate giving public presentations about global warming and the need for action. She serves on the city of Missoula’s Mayor’s Climate Change Advisory Board and is helping the University of Montana develop an innovative minor in climate change. She received her Master of Science in environmental studies at the University of Montana.  Nicky has filled many roles on our board, and is one of the founding instructors of the Cycle the Rockies course. She can be reached at nicky.phear@umontana.edu.

Anna Tuttle

nickyAnna has been a part of the WRFI family since 2004.  She has taught on Canyonlands of the Colorado Plateau and Montana Afoot and Afloat, spent three and a half years in the WRFI office as the Program Director, and now joins the Advisory Board.  She has her M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and has instructed and guided for various organizations in the American West and Alaska.  She currently lives in Bozeman, MT.