Alumni Spotlight: Betsy Mortensen '10 B.S. Wildlife Biology

Conservation Career takes Betsy Mortensen to Rockefeller Center
Betsy Mortensen grew up with nature. Her dad, an avid hunter and angler, always spent time outside with her and fostered her passion for wildlife. Her love for the outdoors brought her to Colorado State University and eventually landed her a job with one of the top conservation families in the United States - The Roosevelts.

Mortensen is a graduate of CSU’s wildlife biology program in the Warner College of Natural Resources. Today she works at Rockefeller Center in New York City as an executive and research assistant to Simon Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s great-great grandson. An avid outdoorsman and part of a family with an unparalleled conservation legacy, Roosevelt is an international investment executive and environmentalist who is interested in improving collaborative conservation partnerships between hunting and conservation organizations. It is an interest that closely matches Mortensen’s.

While hunting and fishing might not be obviously synonymous with conservation to some, the sports have historically been the leading drivers of support to conservation movements. New campaigns, like "Hug A Hunter" have been increasing public awareness of the important support for conservation efforts that is generated through the sale of hunting licenses, tags, and stamps. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly $200 million in hunters' federal excise taxes are distributed each year to State agencies to support wildlife management programs.


Alumni Spotlight: Howard Coopersmith '75 Geology

Howard Coopersmith’s Treasure Hunt for Diamonds
Not everyone can have a job title that sounds like it was pulled from an Indiana Jones movie. But, Fort Collins resident Howard Coopersmith has spent his career traveling the globe on a quest for the rarest and most amazing mineral in the world - diamonds.

Diamond mining expert Howard Coopersmith shows off two Colorado Diamond rings. Also pictured is kimberlite, an igneous rock that is best known for sometimes containing diamonds.
Renowned as one of the worlds most respected diamond mining experts, Coopersmith is a Registered Professional Geologist who consults to explorers, miners, global engineering consultancies and the financial industry on diamond deposits and the diamond market.
An alumnus of Colorado State University’s Geology program in the Warner College of Natural Resources, Coopersmith didn’t always know his passion or science would turn in to a career hunting for diamonds.
“I always read treasure hunting books as a child, and vividly remember Superman squeezing a piece of coal to make a diamond,” said Coopersmith. “It doesn’t really work that way in nature, but exploring for diamonds is like a treasure hunt.”
But treasure hunts are hard work. There are only a handful of advanced diamond projects worldwide, and only about 30 major diamond mines in all of history – making it a very challenging industry. 

Originally from California, Coopersmith says his career path was just about being in the right time and place.

"In 1971, by chance, I ended up working in a biochemistry lab at CSU, and fresh out of high school I started reading through the CSU Catalog. I decided to apply for admission - it was a great decision!" said Coopersmith. " I knew I would major in a science and always thought it would be physics. However, Geology caught my eye and I thought it would satisfy my cravings not only for science but also for the mountains and travel and field work."

The first local diamonds were discovered just north of Fort Collins by a fellow graduate student as Coopersmith was choosing his master’s thesis project in 1975.


Alumni Spotlight: The Hoefer Brothers

New Traditions: Three Brothers Share Unlikely Path to Forestry and CSU

Jon, David and Philip Hoefer seemed destined to become “preachers of the Gospel.”  Their father, grandfather, great grandfather and great great grandfather were all ministers, and 
their father encouraged them to follow in those footsteps. While active in the church, the three brothers started a new family tradition - each pursuing their shared passion for adventure and working in natural resources and all graduating from Colorado State University with degrees in forestry.

Originally from Rochester, N.Y. and then St. Louis, Mo., the Hoefer brothers were very active in the Boy Scouts growing up and loved taking family vacations out West. Their mother had attended a summer equestrian class at Colorado A & M and kept ties to Fort Collins – setting the stage for the oldest of the brothers, Jon, to forge his path to forestry at CSU. His two younger brothers were happy to follow in his footsteps, and each went on to have unique and successful forestry careers.
Today, Jon and David are both retired from the U.S. Forest Service and Philip is retired from the Colorado State Forest Service. All of the brother’s started forestry consulting firms after their agency retirement, are still active in the professional Society of American Foresters, and remain dedicated to the advancement of forest and land stewardship
Jon had always been interested in the outdoors, and discovered his calling in high school while researching career options. He came across a book on forestry careers, and decided then that was what he was going to do. A few years later he had the chance to meet a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park during a vacation to Colorado, and on the same trip met a friend of his mother’s who had a basement room for rent in Fort Collins and told Jon about the great forestry school at A & M.

“You couldn't ask for a better arrangement and so it was a done deal that I started as a freshman in 1951,” said Jon. “CSU was still Colorado A & M at that time, which I’m proud of, and the School of Forestry was great.”

Jon studied hard, enjoyed serving as president of the CSU Hiking Club and graduated with "High Distinction" in 1955. As a participant in ROTC, he served for two years in the U.S. Army immediately after graduation. Utilizing skills he learning in aerial photo interpretation from the forest management curriculum, he was assigned to a Pentagon Military Intelligence unit analyzing aerial photos from various sources including those from U-2 flights over Russia and other communist countries early in the Cold War.

Upon discharge in the summer of 1957, Jon moved to California to begin his career with the U.S. Forest Service.  He served in a variety of assignments including District Ranger for two units, and later as Planning and Environmental Staff Officer at Lake Tahoe where a special unit had been established to manage parts of three national forests surrounding the lake.


Alumni Spotlight: Noreen Walsh '90 M.S. Wildlife Biology

USFWS Regional Director and Warner Alumna Noreen Walsh Keynote Speaker at 2013 Spring Commencement
Earlier this year Warner College of Natural Resources alumna Noreen Walsh was appointed to Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. On May 18, 2013, she will speak to the class of 2013 at her alma mater’s spring commencement ceremony as the keynote speaker. Walsh earned her master’s degree in wildlife biology from CSU’s Warner College in 1990, and is excited to return to campus.

“I have such great memories of the time I was a student there, so I’m very excited to come back and to have the opportunity to speak with the next generation of natural resource leaders,” Walsh said.

As early as ten years old, Walsh knew she wanted to work in conservation biology and feels lucky to have had good experiences as a child that influenced her decision to pursue conservation. While finishing her bachelor’s degree, Walsh began searching for research assistantships and found one available at CSU.

“I was really excited about coming to CSU not only because it had a reputation for natural resource programs,  but also because I was really interested in coming west and living in a different part of the country,” Walsh said. “I found my experience at CSU to be immensely valuable to the rest of my career, and it is rewarding to now be back in the region working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

Walsh started her career with USFWS right after graduation as a research biologist in Fairbanks, Alaska. She primarily studied caribou ecology and population dynamics and the potential effects on the species from possible future oil development on the North Slope. After leaving Fairbanks, Walsh worked in the ecological services division in Oklahoma for three years.

She left Oklahoma to experience the administrative side of the USFWS and worked at the headquarters in Washington D.C. for two years. Although the job broadened her expertise in how the agency operates, Walsh knew she wanted to get back into conservation. She moved to the USFWS Southeast region’s headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. and worked on conservation issues including the Endangered Species Act for eight years. She evaluated species to determine if they needed to be listed as endangered and implemented actions to get species back to a level where they could be taken off the list.


Alumni Spotlight: Evan Haynes '49 B.S. Forest Recreation

A Life & Career in the "Golden Age" That Shaped The Nation
Evan Haynes has fond memories of exploring portions of the front range of the Rockies as an inquisitive youngster eager to learn from the park rangers he encountered.  His curiosity turned into an impressive career with the National Park Service through the "golden age" of that agency, and he is still asking questions and teaching others about nature today.
A native of Denver, Haynes' mother, Elsie Haynes, was a noted landscape artist.  The family had a cabin near Rocky Mountain National Park where he spent many summers mountain climbing and making wildflower and rock collections while participating in the Park's nature programs.  Haynes interest in nature caught the attention of the Park Naturalist who offered him a modest position for the next summer.  This was not to be for some years, however.
A World War II veteran, Haynes first came to Colorado State's campus in 1942 but was only able to attend the forestry program for one year before the war interrupted his studies. He later returned to continue his degree in forest recreation, graduating in 1949, and was one of many students who worked closely with Professor JVK Wagar in preparation for a National Park Service career.
While still at university, Haynes looked for a summer position in his primary field.  He reconnected with the same National Park Service (NPS) naturalist who had expressed interest in hiring him when he was a teenager. He was hired to work for National Capital Parks in and near Washington, D. C. learning the flora and fauna of the East Coast. One of his primary responsibilities was working with a series of summer camps located in one of the large parks and sharing his knowledge with and passion for nature with the children. The experience reminded him of his younger self, always asking "tell me what this is?" The position turned into a permanent assignment after graduation. As an NPS park naturalist he led field parties, gave school lectures and explained the natural features of the parks of the Nation's Capital.  Interestingly, for a time, his office was in the rear of Ford's Theater, the place where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

After four years as a naturalist, Haynes was promoted to serve in the Branch of State Cooperation, part of the NPS Director's Office.  This office maintained the remnants of the Civilian Conservation Corps program created during Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal to provide natural resource jobs during the Great Depression.  At this time he worked closely with the park directors of all the states collecting data on visitor attendance, fee structures and attendance as well as operations expenditures and management practices.
In 1956, Haynes’ boss, Conrad Wirth, initiated Mission 66, a national program to bring the NPS up to a higher standard by 1966.  It was an interesting time to be part of the Division of Recreation Planning, and Haynes found himself in the thick of an era that was shaping the Nation. It was a time of expansion in the park system with comprehensive surveys, land review leading to land acquisition and expansion of parks as well as infrastructure modernization and improvement.
Haynes went on to work for the NPS Midwest Region in Omaha, Nebraska.  He worked closely with park offices in the region's 10 states and led the planning team responsible for researching and developing statewide park plans as part of a nationwide plan.  He worked especially closely with the State of Minnesota investigating potential sites for an expanded state park system, and his work contributed to the future development of six additional parks in the state. He considers these activities to be those of which he is most proud.