a man in a blue plaid in the forest

Ryan Finchum


Ryan Finchum is Co-director of the Center for Protected Area Management.  His B.S. in Environmental Science (from LSU) and an M.S. focused on Protected Area Management (from CSU).  Between 2008-2014 he led an initiative to design and launch a new master’s program in Conservation Leadership which uses a trans-disciplinary, problem-based curriculum.  Ryan’s areas of interest include public use & ecotourism, interpretation & environmental communication, protected area management, capacity development, and conservation leadership.  He has over a decade of experience as an ecotourism guide and business owner.  He has worked in over a dozen countries and has participated in the training of over 1000 conservation professionals from over 50 countries.

a portrait of a woman in front of mountains

Erin Hicks


Erin Hicks has a Bachelor’s Degree in Illustration from California State University of Fullerton and a MSc degree in Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University.  She conducted her thesis in Belize, looking at perceptions of ecotourism amongst Maya communities. She is passionate about art (illustration and photography), conservation, and working with Latin American communities. Her professional interests include community based conservation, sustainable community development, and social science.

Audrey Ramsey

Training Coordinator

Audrey Ramsey is the Training Coordinator of the Protected Management Center at Colorado State University.  Audrey has a degree in Recreation and Ecotourism with a minor in Environmental Science from Ferrum College and a master’s degree in Global Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University.  Her additional areas of interest are in environmental/cultural interpretation, ecotourism, the link between tourism and conservation, and marine protected areas.  She has focused her professional work on interpretation in the past few years conducting projects in Latin America, focused on interpretation in Latin American protected areas and creating site by site environmental interpretation plans in Santa Cruz, Galapagos with the Center and the Galapagos National Park.

a man in blue and red plaid in the forest

Jim Barborak

Senior Advisor

Jim Barborak is now the Senior Advisor and was previously the Co-director of the Colorado State University Center for Protected Area Management. Previously he worked for Conservation International for 4 years as Coordinator of the Protected Areas and Corridors Unit in Mexico and Central America, and previously for 15 years as a specialist in protected areas for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He has his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Natural Resources and studied at Ohio State University and Yale. His areas of interest include staff training, planning and management of protected areas, corridors and buffer zones, development of financial strategies, public use and institutional strengthening for parks and reserves, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and conservation and management of wildlife.

Jim Wurz

Jim Wurz

Founder, Associate & Instructor

Jim Wurz, M.Sc. in the management of protected areas, is a co- founder and affiliate of the Center for Protected Area Management at Colorado State University (CSU) and is an instructor of a variety of courses in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources in the same university. He has provided and continues to provide training and technical support to numerous protected area officials, government institutions, and NGOs in the U.S., Latin America, and other parts of the world. His main areas of expertise include planning in protected areas and surrounding lands, tourism management and public use, conservation at the community level, project evaluation, and field management skills.

a portrait of a woman in green with trees in the background

Rosa Maria Vidal

Senior Advisor

Rosa Maria Vidal is a Mexican conservationist, with more than 30 years of experience working in conservation. In 1993 she established Pronatura Sur, a conservation non-profit in Mexico, where she lead a team of 70 professionals  and was its Director until 2014.  From 2014-2016 she was the Executive Director of the Governors´Climate and Forests Fund, an initiative that led to the mobilization of funding for efforts to reduce deforestation in subnational entities in tropical countries. Her areas of expertise are institutional development, capacity building, REDD+ and climate change, protected areas management, community based conservation, forests governance, gender mainstreaming in conservation, networks and partnerships.

Romeo Dominguez Vidal

Video Specialist

Romeo Dominguez Vidal (he/him) has a Bachelor’s degree in Film Studies and Screen Media from University College Cork, Ireland. He is a documentary filmmaker and a writer who is interested in working on projects related to gender equity, social justice, environmental communication, and cultural identity. He has worked in Europe and Latin America developing documentaries on gender violence, and volunteered in several environmental conservation organizations in Mexico and the U.S. such as The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Pronatura Sur, The GCF Fund, and the Center for Protected Area Management. He is the founder of Cuxtitali Expresion A.C. and Free Vogel Limited. LLC.

Dr. Chris Mayer

Communications Lead

Chris Mayer is a specialist in educational and communications services for parks and protected areas. Chris has worked for the U.S. National Park Service as an interpretive specialist and has taught environmental interpretation at Colorado State University and the Universidad del Valle, in Guatemala. He served three-years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. Currently, Chris is an Associate Professor of Ecotourism at Ferrum College in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.