Alaina Geibig, Community Outreach Americorps VISTA
Start Date: 2020
Alaina joined Western Slope Conservation Center in 2020 as the new Community Outreach VISTA. Alaina grew up in Colorado Springs but has spent the last four years in Tacoma, WA for college. Alaina graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a B.A. in Psychology and Environmental Policy. During her education, Alaina participated in conservation initiatives that focused on salmon and watershed health in the Puget Sound. She also conducted independent psychological research that studied how and why people engage with environmental behaviors. Eventually though, she had enough of the rain and is excited to move back and bask in the Colorado sunshine. In her free time, you can find her on the trails running or biking, skiing, napping, or munching on a donut.
Emma Gregory, Conservation Fellow
Start Date: 2020
Emma joined the Western Slope Conservation Center in 2020 as the Conservation Fellow. A few weeks before moving to Paonia for the position, she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in environmental science from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. During her time in college she held internships with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, The Nature Conservancy, George Mason University's Office of Sustainability, and the Friends of the National Zoo. Although originally from Maryland, her interest in protecting public lands was awoken during an internship with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency at Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. Emma is passionate about working toward environmental justice and using outreach as a tool for protecting local ecosystems and the communities which depend on them. We are lucky to be keeping Emma on board until the end of this year!
Outside of the office, Emma loves hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, hammocking, eating strawberry ice cream, and reading mysteries.
Ben Katz, Public Lands Program Director
Start Date: 2019
Ben joined the Western Slope Conservation Center in 2019. He grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Vermont in 2012 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. His interest in public lands began after college, when he worked as a Wilderness Ranger in the Weminuche Wilderness in San Juan National Forest. Travelling throughout southwest Colorado that summer, the natural landscapes and breathtaking scenery ingrained a desire to defend wild areas for future generations. After a second summer working as a Wilderness Ranger in the John Muir Wilderness, he moved into a role as a Wilderness Fellow with USFWS, writing baseline Wilderness character monitoring reports for Wilderness areas within wildlife refuges in Alaska and Nebraska. After working for a few years in water quality, Ben is excited to focus his efforts on protecting and preserving the public lands on the Western Slope. In his free time, he enjoys long distance backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, and relaxing with a good book.
Scott Braden, Interim Director
Start Date: 2020
Scott has been a board member of WSCC for the past year before stepping into the interim executive director role. Originally from Georgia, after graduating from the University of Georgia, Scott found his way west to the Colorado Plateau to work several seasons for the Colorado Outward Bound School, falling in love with desert rivers and wilderness in Dinosaur National Monument and Desolation Canyon. After witnessing growing impacts to public lands while at Outward Bound, Scott transitioned from outdoor education to advocacy. He worked with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) for five years to protect the incomparable red rock country, then transitioned to Colorado becoming the Conservation Director for the Colorado Mountain Club. For the last six years Scott was the Wilderness and Public Lands Advocate at Conservation Colorado before becoming a full-time parent and part-time consultant.
Scott enjoys spending as much time as possible on public lands in Colorado and Utah, particularly hiking, rafting and mountain biking. He lives in Grand Junction with his family, at the lower end of the Gunnison River basin.
Jake Hartter, Watershed Coordinator
Start Date: 2017
Jake joined the Conservation Center team in March 2017 and is honored to serve as WSCC's watershed coordinator. Jake graduated from Greenville College in 2002 with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. His early work history focused around developing stormwater wetland basins and riparian corridors for improving domestic water quality. He has worked with municipalities, agencies, universities, and private landowners to implement watershed scale habitat management practices. In addition to his work in habitat restoration, Jake has spent nearly 10 years in the geothermal drilling industry, operating heavy equipment and managing small work crews to install energy efficient heating and cooling systems in the midwest. Jake lives in Paonia with the 3 most amazing girls on the planet where they enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, biking and floating, through the incredible vistas of the North Fork Valley.
Karley O'Connor, Operations Coordinator
Start Date: 2020
Karley joined the Conservation Center team in June 2019 as the Community Outreach VISTA and is happy to be sticking around. Karley grew up in Saugerties, NY and graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse with a degree in Environmental Studies: Communication & Society. During college, she interned with the Gunnison Ranger District through the Student Conservation Association as an Interpretive Field Ranger. After romping around the National Forest for work, she decided that one summer on the Western Slope just wasn't enough. Karley loves to think about social solutions and systemic approaches to environmental problems.
These days you can find her dipping her toes in at the Hotchkiss boat ramp, tending to her plants, fostering kittens, or staring longingly at your dog.
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