TEL 406.327.0405


  Explore Nature with Us Discover Our Resources Support the Center Check Out the Montana Birding Trail Web Site


The mission of the Montana Natural History Center is to promote and cultivate the appreciation, understanding and stewardship of nature through education. MNHC is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 by a group of educators who had the vision to create a natural history center as a resource for schools and the public. Originally housed on the University of Montana campus, MNHC continued to grow and outgrow its rented space at Fort Missoula. In 2004, MNHC purchased its first home at 120 Hickory Street, at the edge of McCormick Park in the heart of Missoula.


Arnold Olsen, Executive Director
Arnie has a PhD in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and has extensive experience in natural and cultural resource management and administration.  Past positions have included; 
director of the Montana Historical Society, and various leadership positions for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in wildlife management, parks and recreation,  and land
and facility management.  He has also taught at the university level and has worked for the
private sector in environmental consulting and permanent habitat protection.

Youth Programs Coordinator
Lisa Bickell, Youth Programs Coordinator
Lisa started with the Montana Natural History Center in 1999 as a college intern. She has taught natural history and outdoor education to school groups at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Minnesota and the North Cascades Institute in Washington. Lisa has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and an MEd in Science Education from Western Washington University as well as an enduring passion for teaching and learning about the natural history of western Montana. Lisa is the 2006 recipient of the Montana Environmental Education Association's Educator of the Year award.
Jenny Gray, Administrative Assistant
Jenny is new to MNHC but not new to the area. She has lived in Missoula for the past 23 years and she looks forward to helping MNHC in the future with its mission to promote and cultivate the appreciation, understanding and stewardship of nature through education.

Jessie Sherburne, Community Programs Coordinator
Jessie has a B.A. in Biology with an emphasis in Zoology, and a degree in French language from the University of Montana. She participated in a tropical ecology class in Peru in 2005 and has since become a entranced with the world of natural history. In 2006, she returned to Missoula after living in Vermont where she worked doing environmental education and raptor care at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.


Caroline Kurtz, Field Notes Coordinator & Montana Naturalist Editor
Caroline has worked in science communication for the past 15 years - as a writer, editor, program developer and teacher. She received a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College and a M.S. in Science Communication from Boston University.  Currently, she also works as a freelance science writer for the University of Montana.

Brian Williams, Naturalist
Brian started teaching 15 years ago at Boy Scout camp and has been enjoying it ever since.  He earned an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana during which time he created the Naturalist class for the MNHC that continues today.  He recently spent two years in South Texas leading bird-watching and wildlife tours on King Ranch, but he’s glad to be back in the land of snow and mountains teaching kids natural history once again.


Photo coming soon

Kathryn Socie, Volunteer Coordinator and Database Manager
Kathryn has a B.S. in biology with an emphasis in ecology and natural history and a B.A. in philosophy.  Her career began in communications and outreach for various non-profits before she began working in the field and laboratory conducting biological research while editing and writing in the sciences.  She brings her non-profit management and fundraising experience, technical skills  and passion for natural history to MNHC.  


Hank Fischer, Board President, is a conservationist, author, journalist, and guide, has been extensively involved in endangered species restoration in the northern Rockies. Hank studied at wildlife biology and journalism and has an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. From 1977-2002, Hank was the Defenders of Wildlife Northern Rockies and his 1995 book Wolf Wars, chronicles the effort to restore wolves to Yellowstone. Hank created the Defenders of Wildlife Compensation Funds for reimbursing farmers for wolf and grizzly bear livestock losses. Hank has been honored with many awards including Don Aldrich Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Award, the Edward Lowe Enviro-Capitalist Award and a Special Achievement Award from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

Ellen Knight, Vice President,
has been an active volunteer and supporter of MNHC since the beginning, providing educational expertise and enthusiasm in every aspect of MNHC's programming. - bio coming soon.

April Christofferson is an author and former Seattle attorney. Several of her novels are set in the West and focus upon environmental issues. She is a passionate advocate for wilderness and wildlife, especially the preservation of Yellowstone National Park. She writes for the Yellowstone Association's Discovery and teaches screenwriting.

Melynda (Mindy) Goldberg is a native of upstate New York. After graduating from college in Ohio, she worked in hospitals from New York to California as an obstetrical nurse. In 1995 she moved to Ennis, Montana. In addition to hospital work, she has been employed with the US Forest Service and worked part-time as a commercial fishing guide. She's been forturnete to work and volunteer for hospitals and non-profits in Havre, Lewistown, Bozeman and now Missoula!

Marcia Hogan, Secretary is a private consultant with expertise in facilitation.  Marcia worked on natural resource issues on the Lolo National Forest for over 25 years.  She served on the Five Valleys Land Trust board for nearly a decade and as the treasurer for the successful 2006 Missoula City-County Open Space Bond.  She now serves on the Good Food Store board.  Marcia co-produced the Pines of Primm Meadow video about a special place in the Blackfoot.  View or check out the video at MNHC.  She graduated from the University of Montana with two degrees in liberal arts and forestry after attending Lewis and Clark College and studying a half year in Afghanistan. 

Marilyn Marler is a plant ecologist in Missoula where she works as the University of Montana's invasive plant specialist, taking care of UM's natural areas.  She has a degree in Biology from UC Davis and a master's degree in Ecology from UM.  She joined the MNHC board in 2007, after working with MNHC staff on various community outreach projects during the past 8 years.  Marilyn and her husband David enjoy fishing, hunting, backpacking and gardening, and are also active with the Montana Native Plant Society.

Ian Marquand is the Special Projects Coordinator for KPAX-TV and the Montana Television Network. He has won more than a dozen awards from the Montana Broadcasters Association for his on-air work and in 2004 received the Wells Key, the Society of Professional Journalists’ highest honor. Along with his service on the MNHC board, he also is the president of the Montana Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, president of the Montana Freedom of Information Hotline, president of the Japan Friendship Club of Montana and a board member of the Missoula Cultural Council.

Megan Parker is currently finishing her PhD at the University of Montana in Wildlife biology where she has worked for the past 8 years on African wild dogs in Botswana's Okavango Delta. She was born and raised in Missoula and found inspiration in the natural world of this area. She has worked on field biology projects from tropical falcons to songbirds. She She is also co-founder of Working Dogs for Conservation Foundation, dedicated to training detection dogs for conservation and research projects in Montana and around the world.

Alan Okagaki, Board Treasurer, is a private consultant with expertise in community development and non-profit management.  He has also been active in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, and most recently worked for ShoreBank Corporation, a $2 billion community development bank.  He enjoys hiking, camping and bike riding.

Elizabeth Oleson is a CPA and the Fiscal Affairs Director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. Betty earned her BA at the University of Chicago and an MBA from the University of Montana. She and is an avid hiker, skier and bike rider. Betty also serves on the Board of Blue Mountain Clinic and String Orchestra of the Rockies.

Rick Oncken lives west of Missoula with his wife Penney. They have 3 grown children. Oncken works at Lambros Real Estate, specializing in ranch and recreational land. He is a member of most of the hunter-conservation groups working in Montana and is currently on the board of directors of the RMEF. Oncken's interest in nature goes back to his youth, growing up in Iowa. Pets such as crawdads and turtles (mom said no to snakes), fishing with a cane pole and helping relatives on their farms helped foster a lifelong interest in the world around us.

Susan Roy is an attorney at Garlington, Lohn, and Robinson. She is also active with Adventure Cycleing and the Montana Wilderness Association.

Nancy Stoverud- bio coming soon.

Glenna Tawney- bio coming soon.

Steve Woodruff is deputy regional director of Western Progress, an independent public policy institute for the Rocky Mountain West. He was opinion page editor of the Missoulian newspaper for nearly 20 years. Previously, he was the Missoulian's natural resources and environment writer. He also coauthored "Montana Wilderness: Discovering the Heritage." Woodruff is a graduate of Washington State University, where he studied communications with an emphasis on wildlife and forestry.

back to top | back to home

© Copyright 2005 Montana Natural History Center. All Rights Reserved.