ABOUT US

STAFF

Ser Anderson (they/them)

Ser Anderson (they/them)

Teaching Naturalist

Ser grew up exploring the natural areas in and around Missoula—from Bancroft Pond and Lewis & Clark Elementary School’s Outdoor Classroom to Mt. Sentinel, Pattee Canyon, and the Rattlesnake—and spending time at their family’s cabin on Flathead Lake. Always fond of native plants and birds, they honed their naturalist skills while earning a B.A. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana. They have continued to develop and share their naturalist skills in a variety of seasonal positions with MNHC, Montana Conservation Corps, Flathead Lake State Park, and Ecology Project International’s Yellowstone Program. They are passionate about citizen science and have participated in monitoring projects with Montana Audubon, Glacier National Park, and Wolverine Watchers. They enjoy bird watching, identifying plants, ultimate frisbee, writing, reading, hiking, cross-country skiing, photography, swimming and rowing at Flathead Lake, berry picking, and cooking.

Kellen Beck (she/her)

Kellen Beck (she/her)

Marketing & Events Coordinator

Kellen grew up in the Northwoods of Bemidji, Minnesota, where she cultivated her love of the outdoors, fishing, camping, and hiking among the beautiful paper birch trees and melodic love songs of the Common Loon. She moved to Missoula thirteen years ago and completed her B.A. in Print Journalism at the University of Montana. Over her years in Missoula, Kellen has worked in the service industry, wearing many hats, most recently working at Conflux Brewing Company as a manager and the event coordinator. Always passionate about conservation work, Kellen began as a field volunteer with the Owl Research Institute three years ago. Her volunteering involved catching and banding countless owls throughout western Montana. After years of persistence and dedication, she was hired on as ORI’s social media coordinator. In Kellen’s spare time she can be found hiking through the mountains with her two dogs, Sage and Theo, and her husband, Dean. She loves reading, writing, birding, and, above all, gardening.

Alyssa Cornell-Chavez (she/her)

Alyssa Cornell-Chavez (she/her)

Collections Manager

Alyssa grew up in Livingston, Montana, which afforded her the opportunity to explore local hiking trails and the Yellowstone River, as well as frequently boat, fish, and enjoy time with her friends and family at Hebgan Lake. When not outdoors, she could be found reading, enjoying athletics, or playing with her family’s dogs, Raider and Tyson. Thanks to her father, reading, and an internship at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, history became her passion. She received her B.A. in History at Arizona State University and M.A. in Public History from Arizona State University. Internships at the Arizona Historical Society Museum as well as the Scholar-Baller Initiative helped deepen her love for history, giving back to the community, the outdoors, and education. She is excited to be a part of an organization that connects people to nature through education and looks forward to learning as much as possible through the MNHC.

Allison De Jong (she/her)

Allison De Jong (she/her)

Communications Coordinator & Editor, Montana Naturalist and Field Notes

Allison spent her childhood in Iowa, where she climbed trees, splashed in streams and puddles, and explored the wildish green spaces scattered throughout her hometown. In between outdoor explorations, she spent most of her time reading and writing, which eventually led to a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Dordt College. Allison has always been passionate about volunteering and doing work that gives back, spending several summers in high school and college volunteering for service projects in both the U.S. and abroad. After college, she spent a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Chicago, then canvassed for environmental issues with North Carolina PIRG, which inspired her to pursue an M.S. in Environmental Writing at the University of Montana. Living in Missoula has given her an even deeper appreciation for the natural world, and she and her husband, Greg, and son, Rowan, get out into Montana’s beautiful wild places as often as they can. Allison has been with MNHC since 2009, thrilled to work at an organization whose mission is to connect people of all ages with their place, and to get to combine her love of nature with her love of writing.

Thurston Elfstrom (he/him)

Thurston Elfstrom (he/him)

Executive Director

Thurston spent 20 years developing digital experiences for the Montana Office of Tourism prior to joining the team at the Montana Natural History Center in 2015. Thurston grew up in western Montana and spent his early years exploring area streams, ponds, and trails, as well as collecting geological specimens. He earned a degree in Anthropology from Montana State University in 1993. After college, Thurston taught archaeological field school at First Peoples Buffalo Jump and worked in cultural resource management archaeology before coming to work at the State of Montana. Returning to Missoula in 2008 he coincidentally uncovered his passion for the community, philanthropy, and fundraising. In their free time, Thurston and his wife, Suzanne, like to take in live music and travel the state to experience its varied and rich cultural heritage and natural history.

Alyssa Giffin (she/her)

Alyssa Giffin (she/her)

Camps Coordinator

Alyssa grew up in Stevensville, Montana, where she enjoyed camping, hiking, and rafting with her family, and found a love for nature. She began her academic career in the Environmental Studies program at the University of Montana. Throughout college she continued to explore Montana, as well as the West Coast and various countries abroad, where she constantly sought out wild and untouched spaces. Alyssa is very excited to be back at MNHC where she has enjoyed teaching our youth about nature and rediscovering her love for nature because of them.

Drew Lefebvre (she/her)

Drew Lefebvre (she/her)

Museum Programs Coordinator

Drew grew up in the hemlock forests of southern Maine and attended college in Boston, where she studied Linguistics and Philosophy. In 2009 she moved to Montana for a season of trailwork and has been here ever since, building her skills as an educator and naturalist. She holds an M.S. in Environmental Education from the University of Montana and has led a variety of adult education programs, including citizen science, trailwork crews, and natural history courses. She enjoys guiding students toward a deeper understanding of the outdoor areas and ecosystems that are right on our doorstep. In her free time, you can find her exploring the natural world through hiking, backpacking, gardening, reading, and birding.

Pat Little (he/him)

Pat Little (he/him)

Development & Operations Coordinator

Pat grew up in England and came to the U.S.A. in 1980 pursuing a career in aeronautical engineering. One day he got tired of working for large companies, quit his job, and started volunteering at The Nature Conservancy. Eighteen months later they hired him as their first IT Manager, and he worked for them, in Seattle, for eleven years. In 1994 he took a hawk ID class, which opened his eyes to the world of birds and changed his life. Pat has spent many falls since then sitting in cold drafty blinds on mountain ridges trying to trap and band hawks. Pat and his wife moved to Missoula in 2009. They took the Montana Natural History Center’s Master Naturalist class together a few years ago. Pat has learned a lot from attending various nature classes over the years, and he is thrilled to be able to work for an organization that provides nature education. Pat also serves on the board of the Five Valleys Audubon Society, and he is hoping to get some flickers to use the nest box in his back yard if he can keep the squirrels out.

Jenah Mead (she/her)

Jenah Mead (she/her)

Teaching Naturalist

Jenah is an educator with over a decade of teaching experience. After finding her calling while guiding tours at a wildlife sanctuary, Jenah moved to Missoula to study at the University of Montana. Jenah has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies with a focus on Environmental Education. Jenah has been involved with MNHC since 2014 when she joined us as a volunteer and later as an intern. When she’s not teaching, Jenah is often found making art or chasing her son, Sam, through creeks and trails with her husband, Billy. She is also passionate about volunteering, birding, and losing herself in a great book. 

Christine Morris (she/her)

Christine Morris (she/her)

Community Programs Coordinator

Christine has a B.A. from Stanford University in Anthropology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, where she focused on Environmental Education. Her previous experience includes work as an Interpretive Park Ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park, middle school science curriculum writer for Rice University’s digital textbook, STEMscopes, and as the Environmental Education Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Seattle and King County, Washington. Christine spends as much time as possible recreating and wandering outside with her husband and son.

Stephanie Murphy (she/her)

Stephanie Murphy (she/her)

Teaching Naturalist

Stephanie’s fascination for the natural world brought her to Missoula in 2013 to pursue a degree in biology. During this time, she assisted with research on nesting bird behavior and butterfly morphology. She became enthralled with museum collections as a curatorial assistant at the Philip L. Wright  Zoological Museum. She first started with MNHC in 2016, spending her summers exploring with campers. Stephanie then completed her M.S. in Biology from California State University, Chico, while exploring creeks and woodlands of the Sierra Nevada foothills. In addition to researching insect and plant interactions, she was a biology lecturer at the university and served as curator and STEM educator for Gateway Science Museum. She is thrilled to be back with MNHC and in Missoula with her husband, Colter, and their cat, Josh. In her free time, you can find Stephanie reading, hunting for wildflowers, and attempting to perfect the chocolate chip cookie.
Andrea Panagakis (she/her)

Andrea Panagakis (she/her)

School Programs Manager

Andrea’s life has always revolved around science and nature. Raised in upstate New York on beautiful Oneida Lake, she received her B.S. in biology from Cornell University. Upon returning from a year abroad in France, she fell in love with teaching and completed a master’s degree in secondary science education at Teachers College, Columbia University. During her twenty-year tenure as a high school biology teacher in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, she chaperoned trips to Honduras and Mexico to conduct biodiversity surveys and study reef ecology. In addition to her tropical travels, she volunteered for Glacier National Park’s High Country Citizen Science Program, where she became captivated by the alpine environment and its species. This prompted her to embark upon graduate coursework at the University of Montana and a master’s degree in biology at Université Laval in Québec. Andrea’s research on the life history of mountain goats in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta deepened her understanding of scientific processes as well as her appreciation for the challenge and fulfillment of learning. It also happily led her back to the Treasure State, where she integrated western and traditional ecological ways of knowing the natural world as an instructor at the Salish Kootenai College STEM Academy. In her new role at MNHC, she is excited to share her commitment to connecting people with nature by cultivating new generations of environmental stewards through experiential, place-based education. When she’s not in the office/classroom, she’s a four-season explorer with a passion for all things outdoors: trail running, wildlife viewing, surfing, swimming, cross-country skiing, cycling, and hiking.

Anka Rashed (she/her)

Anka Rashed (she/her)

Museum Associate Educator

Having grown up in the dense urban landscape of Hong Kong, Anka spent the first few years of her life satisfying her yearning towards nature and wildlife mostly through books and David Attenborough documentaries. After moving to Illinois for university in 2015, she was finally able to get outdoors and explore, leading her to discover how much she feels at home there. Despite studying robotics, after graduating she decided to pursue her love for the natural world instead, which brought her to Montana. In her free time Anka enjoys numerous activities – mainly working on her musical project, The Dawn Patrol, as well as climbing and just about any other activities outdoors. She also likes to spend time furthering her knowledge, both regarding the natural world and in various other areas.

Jennifer Robinson (she/her)

Jennifer Robinson (she/her)

Director of Education

Jennifer grew up in the Sacramento Valley of California and spent her summers hiking, camping, and exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her love for the outdoors led her to work with youth in outdoor settings, and Jennifer spent many years volunteering and working as a naturalist at outdoor science schools, summer camps, and as an Interpretive Ranger at national parks in Alaska and California. She earned a B.S. in Environmental Education and Interpretation from Humboldt State University and continued on to earn multiple teaching licenses to blend her passion for education in and out of the classroom. After college Jennifer spent six years working as an educator and Program Director for science education and the non-profit world. Jennifer is now taking her passion of blending formal and informal education into nonprofit leadership and recently earned her Masters of Education in Educational Leadership at the University of Montana in Missoula. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys cooking meals with friends, going on hikes or walks with her dog Indy, and getting to know the community. 

Mark Schleicher (he/him)

Mark Schleicher (he/him)

Development Director

Mark grew up in Minnesota where he discovered and explored his love for nature during frequent family trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness along with annual cross-country camping trips. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison he started his development career at the University of Wisconsin Foundation, which now includes stops at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and the University of Montana Foundation. Mark and his wife, Holly, moved to Montana in 2004 and now have two sons, Cedar and Leo, who are great exploration partners in the the mountains, rivers, and lakes of Montana.

Ashley Sinclair (she/her)

Ashley Sinclair (she/her)

Museum Associate & Volunteer Coordinator

Ashley was born in Billings, but was raised for most of her life in Bozeman, Montana. She has gained a lot of her knowledge and experiences not only growing up in Montana’s beautiful habitats, but also through volunteering and work with organizations and businesses such as Big Boys Toys Outdoor Equipment Rental, the National Parks Conservation Association, Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, and more! Her passions for the outdoors, science, and education led her to pursue a BS in Wildlife Biology and certificate in Global Leadership at the University of Montana, which she received in the spring of 2021. While living in Missoula, she has been involved with Missoula’s youth and the community, educating them about wildlife conservation and natural history through MNHC, as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Missoula County. Her favorite ways to past the time include snowshoeing, backpacking, river floating, hiking, gardening, crafting, watching tv/movies, and cooking. She is so excited to help the Missoula community through MNHC and continue learning how to be a natural steward.

Emma Swartz (she/her)

Emma Swartz (she/her)

Teaching Naturalist

Emma grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, where she learned to love being outside. She earned a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Ecology and Environmental Science at Marian University in Indianapolis while competing as a professional cyclist. After graduating, Emma headed to Mount Rainier National Park, where she led citizen science research on toads and developed a passion for science communication. Mountain biking and skiing then brought Emma to Montana and she’s so glad she’s here! She has enjoyed connecting and learning about Montana through non-profit work at Ecology Project International, Wild Montana, Families First Learning Lab, and most recently Home ReSource, where she taught zero-waste initiatives to 5th graders. Emma is excited to reconnect with her naturalist skills and explore the natural world with students in her new role as a Visiting Naturalist in the Schools Teaching Naturalist. In her free time, Emma can be found coaching the local junior mountain bike and nordic ski teams in Missoula, reading, and learning Spanish.

VNS FIELD INSTRUCTORS

Miriam Bayer (she/her)

Miriam Bayer (she/her)

VNS Field Instructor

A nature lover and general science enthusiast, Miriam completed her M.S. in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana and was first author on three publications before switching her focus to education. Miriam has over nine years of teaching experience through Sylvan, the Clark Fork Watershed Education Network, Washington and Lee University, and the University of Montana. Previously, she worked for the Montana Natural History Center as a summer camp instructor and participated in their Visiting Naturalist in the Schools program. In 2021, she helped design and run the Waldorf-inspired summer camp Connecting Hearts to the Arts. Miriam is also the sole proprietor of her tutoring company which educates learners at the middle school level and up in math, science, and English year-round.

Owen Curry (he/him)

Owen Curry (he/him)

VNS Field Instructor

Owen grew up in Virginia and moved to Missoula in 2019 after graduating college and receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and policy. Since then, he has been working in outdoor recreation with kids, as well as spending over a year teaching in the Missoula Public Schools. Owen’s passions include biking, skiing, and backcountry camping, all of which he enjoys doing in the Missoula area. He loved leading camps at MNHC this summer, and is excited for the adventures to come in the VNS fall field trips!

Malinda Gaudry (she/her)

Malinda Gaudry (she/her)

VNS Field Instructor

Malinda spent her Wisconsin childhood exploring the prairies, woods, and lakes. Her appreciation for the outdoors led her to Lake Forest College, where she earned a B.A. in Sociology & Anthropology. Later she received an Historic Preservation Certificate from the Timberline Campus of Colorado Mountain College. Malinda has worked in a multitude of positions out west with the US Forest Service, including an interpreter at the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark in Wyoming, a wilderness kayak ranger on the Tracy Arm Ford’s Terror Wilderness Area in Alaska, and as an archaeologist on the GMUG and San Isabel National Forests in Colorado. She will return for her fifth season working with the National Museum of Forest Service History in Missoula, Montana. Family time with her husband, Jimmy, and two children, Magnolia and Bridger, are spent walking their dog, Ranger, reading books, and exploring the great outdoors. Malinda is grateful for the opportunity to teach and learn from students about the natural wonders throughout our community.

Trever O'Brien (she/they)

Trever O'Brien (she/they)

VNS Field Instructor

Trevor grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has had a passion for wildlife and paleontology for as long as they can remember. They attended college at the University of Montana, majoring in Wildlife Biology and Geosciences. Early on in their college career they discovered their true passion was in wildlife and paleontology education, and set off to gain as much of that experience as possible. They worked and volunteered with a variety of educational groups and programs during and after their college education, including Animal Wonders Montana, the UM Paleontology Collection, the Montana FWP Be Bear Aware Program, the International Wildlife Film Festival Artists and Scientists in the Classroom, and the New Mexico Natural History Museum. They also recently started an educational YouTube channel dedicated to wildlife and paleontology. They are an avid fan of a variety of outdoor activities including camping, hiking, birding, herping, spelunking, fossil hunting, canoeing, kayaking, and scuba diving. Outside of the natural world, they enjoy reading, making and editing videos, playing board and tabletop games, sword fighting, and listening to and playing music.

Anka Rashed (she/her)

Anka Rashed (she/her)

VNS Field Instructor & Museum Associate Educator

Having grown up in the dense urban landscape of Hong Kong, Anka spent the first few years of her life satisfying her yearning towards nature and wildlife mostly through books and David Attenborough documentaries. After moving to Illinois for university in 2015, she was finally able to get out and start exploring the outdoors, leading her to discover how much she feels at home there. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in robotics, she decided to pursue her love for the natural world instead, which brought her to Montana. Outside of naturey things, Anka enjoys climbing, travelling, tinkering with robots, and working on her musical project, The Dawn Patrol.

Elena Ulev (she/her)

Elena Ulev (she/her)

VNS Field Instructor

Elena grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and has been interested in nature from a very young age despite having few outdoor recreational opportunities. In high school she received a scholarship to attend the American Wilderness Leadership School in Jackson, Wyoming, where she saw mountains for the first time and realized she wanted to be a wildlife biologist. She obtained a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and moved to Missoula in 1999. Elena worked as a wildlife technician, botany technician, and hydrology technician for the U.S. Forest Service as well as a technical science writer for the Fire Effects Information System. In 2020 she obtained her Master Naturalist certification and discovered a new passion—teaching people about nature, specifically ornithology and botany. In her free time she enjoys camping, backpacking, and paddleboarding with her two daughters, Ella and Lucy, and husband, Seth, as well as playing African drums, making jewelry, and gardening.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Cheryl Carrington (she/her)

Cheryl Carrington (she/her)

Cheryl discovered Montana’s natural beauty in 2020 while visiting family and was captivated by the splendor and peace. She decided to make Missoula her home and is dedicated to becoming part of and contributing to the local community. Growing up in a Chicago urban environment, Cheryl has had a lifelong passion for exploring the outdoors and holds an insatiable curiosity for nature in various environmental settings. She loves to explore Montana with her two adult children, who also relocated to Missoula. Cheryl brings manifold expertise to help navigate and support organizations that share her passion for the natural world. Over the last 25 years, Cheryl personally deployed over $80 million in healthcare products and services throughout five countries. As a strategic executive consultant for various businesses and start-ups, she has specialized in investment acquisition, consultation, and business development for the last seven years. Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Science from Northern Illinois University and 23 hours towards a Masters of Science in Education from the University of Nevada Reno. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Montana, graduating in the spring of 2023.

Peggy Christian (she/her)

Peggy Christian (she/her)

Vice President

Peggy is a naturalist, writer and photographer. Nurturing a life-long sense of wonder, she seeks, through her art and writing, to deepen our relationship with the natural world and explore how that relationship guides the way we live our lives and the choices we make every day. She is the author of several children’s books, including If You Find a Rock, and has taught writing and book arts for more than twenty years. She is a Master Naturalist and has volunteered for a number of environmental and literacy non-profits. Hiking, growing and preserving food, and skiing, both cross country and downhill, are her passions. She lives in Missoula, and shares her wanderings and wonderings on the blog BackwoodsandBeyond.com (An Exploration of the Wild Inside and Out).

JoAnn (JoJo) Ducharme (she/her)

JoAnn (JoJo) Ducharme (she/her)

Jo Ann was born in St. Ignatius, MT, and is a proud member of the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Nations. She attended the University of Montana until her senior year, when she transferred to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her original dream was to obtain her teaching credentials and return to the reservation to teach, but then “life happened” and she spent the next 40 years in Alaska. During those 40 years she lived in rural Alaska, working with Alaska Native people and traveling extensively. She was an administrator and faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Anchorage. Jo Ann returned to her reservation in 2013, serving in various capacities with the Salish Kootenai Tribal College, where she is currently a faculty member in the Tribal Governance Department. Her son Benjamin was born and raised in in Alaska and moved to Missoula in 2019. Life has come full circle for Jo Ann. Her home in Ronan has a beautiful view of the Mission Mountains and she is reminded on a regular basis of the beauty of Montana.

Hank Fischer (he/him)

Hank Fischer (he/him)

Treasurer

Hank is a conservationist, author, journalist, and guide, and has been extensively involved in endangered species restoration in the northern Rockies. Hank studied 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’ representative 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 the Don Aldrich Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Award, the Edward Lowe Enviro-Capitalist Award and a Special Achievement Award from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

Erim Gómez, Ph.D. (he/him)

Erim Gómez, Ph.D. (he/him)

Erim is a professor in the Wildlife Biology Program housed in the Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Science at the University of Montana. He is a naturalist at heart and thus has eclectic research interests, including the conservation of endangered species, the ecology and sustainability of freshwater ecosystems, and amphibians and freshwater fish. Erim is a first-generation college graduate and proud of his parents’ farm working and immigrant roots. He is devoted to encouraging students from under-represented groups to pursue higher education, particularly in the sciences. He hopes to create applied ecological research while helping diversify the conservation and environmental field. In Erim’s spare time, he loves to hike in beautiful western Montana, take photos of wildlife, float rivers, and Latin dance.

Katie Guffin (she/her)

Katie Guffin (she/her)

President

Katie is a Missoula native who studied Biology at Colorado College and earned her JD and MS at the University of Montana. She taught outdoor environmental education at Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School and San Joaquin Outdoor School in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, and then taught science at Campbell Hall School in Los Angeles. She also enjoyed working as a summer field instructor at the Montana Outdoor Science School and the Gore Range Natural Science School, and spending a legislative season with Montana Trout Unlimited. She works as a civil defense attorney at Bohyer, Erickson, Beaudette & Tranel, P.C. and loves Montana’s wild, open, and accessible places.

Caroline Kurtz (she/her)

Caroline Kurtz (she/her)

Caroline was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio, and has degrees from Vassar College (B.A., English) and Boston University (M.S., Science Communication).  She and her husband, Willis, have lived in Missoula since 1997, and have a daughter, Ella. MNHC became a wonderful home for Caroline soon after arriving in Missoula; she began coordinating MNHC’s Field Notes program around 1998, and created Field Notes Quarterly in 1999, which transitioned into Montana Naturalist magazine in 2004. She managed Field Notes and Montana Naturalist through 2011, and has continued to support MNHC in various ways since then. Natural history centers and museums had been a staple of Caroline’s upbringing in Ohio and the east. She was lucky to find a way to connect with MNHC and its people during the formative years, and loved feeling part of the beginning of what is now such a powerful force and resource for naturalist education and nature appreciation in Missoula and beyond.

Stephanie Lambert (she/her)

Stephanie Lambert (she/her)

Stephanie grew up on a farm in western North Dakota and graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in Communications and Graphic Design. She and her husband, Anthony, moved to Missoula in 2006 and opened Lambert Family Chiropractic. Stephanie recently started Vintage 44, which specializes in antique and unique event rentals. Stephanie and Anthony have three children, Lillie, Ella, and Lakin. They love exploring the rivers, mountains, and forests of Montana. She is excited to be a part of the MNHC board and support its mission.

Eva-Maria Maggi (she/her)

Eva-Maria Maggi (she/her)

Eva is a professor, writer, and mule packer. She runs the Wilderness Policy and packing program at the University of Montana and teaches international security remotely at the University of Arizona. Her research on Europe and the Middle East was published in several academic journals and as the book The Will of Change in 2015, and her new book on outfitter and conservationist Smoke Elser’s adventures in the Montana wilderness is coming out soon. An avid mule packer, Master Naturalist, and Certified Interpretive Guide, Eva enjoys traveling and interpreting the backcountry for guests and her family.

Ed Monnig (he/him)

Ed Monnig (he/him)

Edward Monnig has worked as an ecologist for the US Forest Service and held a variety of positions in the agency including District Ranger on the Kootenai National Forest and Forest Supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. He enjoys a variety of backcountry activities activities including skiing, backpacking and hiking, whitewater boating, hunting, and just aimless wandering in our wildlands. After retiring from the Forest Service, Ed and his wife Jackie returned to Montana where they had raised their two sons who promise more frequent visits now that Ed and Jackie are back in Missoula. 

Rick Oncken (he/him)

Rick Oncken (he/him)

Rick 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 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Rick’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.

Ashley Parks

Ashley Parks

Ashley works for Willow Creek Capital Management following a 20-year career in education. She holds an MA from Stanford University and a MEd from the University of Montana. Her BA is in French and Anthropology from Skidmore College in upstate New York. Ashley and her husband have two daughters, and they can often be found at events in downtown Missoula. As a family, they enjoy skiing, spending time in the outdoors of Montana, and cooking. Ashley also plays ice hockey in the Missoula adult league, coaches her daughter’s soccer team, and loves to read. Their household includes three cats, six chickens, and a leopard gecko.