I currently wear two hats. Just under a year ago I started an organization called Trailcology where I am the Executive Director. I am also a Natural Resources Specialist with the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML) at Colorado State University.
Colorado State University, B.S. in Rangeland Ecology with a concentration in Rangeland and Forest Management, 2007
Colorado State University, M.S. in Rangeland Ecosystem Science focusing on Restoration Ecology, 2010
I haven’t left Fort Collins in 11 years now!
Why do you do the work that you do?
Ever since I was a child I have loved exploring the outdoors. I was fortunate that my family lived an outdoor lifestyle that included activities like fly fishing, hiking, rock climbing, ice climbing, windsurfing, etc. I didn’t always take part in those sports but because I was outside I was constantly exploring the natural world around me. Going into college I knew that I wanted to work in ecology because I was always curious about the interactions of living organisms. My experiences at CSU and in the Warner College of Natural Resources have allowed me to reach the point I am at today. I am passionate about the natural environment.
Describe the type of work you do on a day to day basis:
For Trailcology, common daily tasks are working towards creating better connections with trail user groups, reaching out to land managers and trying to foster our relationship, developing ideas for future projects, talking to local businesses for project support, updating and managing social media outlets, and watching for potential funding opportunities.
For CEMML, I help manage and operate ongoing research projects, manage and analyze data, write technical documents, collaborate with PI’s and Project Managers, and develop new project ideas.
How did your degree prepare you for your present position?
My degrees really prepared me for starting Trailcology. I have the background and knowledge to complete restoration projects, work in the field with a diverse group of individuals, accept and learn from criticism, and manage important data.
As for my position at CEMML, my degrees helped me prepare for the statistics that I use on a regular basis. I don’t do much ecology work at CEMML but I have been fortunate to work on a wide variety of projects. My degrees helped set me up to be flexible by understanding the basics of a discipline and knowing where, and how, to look for further information that allows me to complete tasks. In other words, I learned how to learn.
Who was an early inspiration for you?
My grandfather was my earliest inspiration. As an engineer he helped design a water treatment facility in a forested valley outside of our hometown. I would frequently visit him on-site and explore the area. I have fond memories of searching for blackberries and raspberries in the woods around the construction site. It was those fond memories of being in the woods that made me care about the forest as a whole.
My mom was also a big inspiration. She took a large risk in starting her own business so that she could stop working multiple jobs and do something that she loved. Without this inspiration I don’t know if I would have started Trailcology.
What faculty member had the greatest impact on you?
There are two that stand out. Rick Knight had a great impact on me because he is so incredibly passionate about the environment. If you’ve ever had Rick for a class, you know what I mean.
Mark Paschke had the greatest impact on me. I was fortunate to get a job in his lab as an undergrad and then even more fortunate to become a Graduate Research Assistant under him. The experiences and tutelage that I have received from him have absolutely shaped who I am today and what I’ve become.
What was your most memorable moment at CSU?
Too many. One of my most memorable moments at CSU was riding my longboard from the towers to organic chemistry class with my girlfriend (now wife) sitting Indian style on the front of my board. Those were the days.
What was your favorite class at Warner CNR?
Without a doubt it was NR-220, Pingree Park! If that wasn’t your favorite class then you’re probably in the wrong field.
What advice would you give to students?
Do your best in the pre-requisite classes that hold no interest to you, dedicate yourself to the subjects that speak to you, go out and get as much experience as possible, and follow your heart.
What was your proudest moment at CSU?
My proudest moment was when I finished my Master’s Thesis defense. I practiced for that presentation more than I had ever practiced for anything and it went off without a hitch. I may not have known all of the answers to the questions they asked me afterwards, but the presentation could not have gone any better.
What organizations were you involved in at CSU?
Rangeland Ecology Club, Student Association for Fire Ecology, and the Society for Ecological Restoration Student Guild.
What words do you live by?
If it ain’t fun, it ain’t worth doin’!