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Alumni - Where are they now?

  • Laurie Ashley - 2005, MS
    Current Position: Program Coordinator and Instructor, Wilderness Institute, University of Montana
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    After completing her MS in Resource Conservation Laurie continued her work at the UM Wilderness Institute in program coordination and field and classroom instruction. Laurie’s teaching focuses on wildland conservation and the human-land relationship through exploring concepts of protected areas, natural history, agriculture and food systems, international conservation, and working landscapes. For the last three years Laurie has coordinated a citizen science project monitoring invasives and recreation impacts in Wilderness. This project has included over a 100 volunteers participating in data collection on 22 multi-day wilderness trips. She has also coordinated the Wilderness Institute’s field courses, wilderness risk management, Matthew Hansen Endowment, and wilderness lecture series. Laurie’s interests include international and domestic conservation and protected area management, participatory decision-making, natural history, and exploring the mountainous regions.

    Thesis title: Land Restitution and Protected Areas in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa: Challenges to Implementation

    Chair: Wayne Freimund

    Current Contact Information: laurie.ashley@gmail.com


  • Jennifer Cash - 2007, MS
    Current Position: Associate Consultant, Natural Resource Group, LLC
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    Photo of Jennifer Cash Following graduation, I traveled back to Southern Africa for follow-up work on my thesis. Then I accepted a job in Providence, RI as an associate consultant with Natural Resource Group, LLC. My work focuses on providing technical project support, mainly compliance/construction support and regulatory research, for energy-related initiatives across the country. Currently, I am working on several FERC-regulated pipelines and a few liquefied natural gas offshore ports. My weekly work also consists of preparing and reviewing various technical documents (resource reports, EAs, EISs, permit applications, etc.). I am currently a compliance specialist for the Guardian Pipeline Expansion in Wisconsin. My interests include project planning and public involvement, international protected area management, and traveling.

    Thesis title: HIV/AIDS and Conservation Agency Capacity in Southern Africa: Perceptions of Critical Impacts, Barriers, and Intervention Strategies

    Chair: Steve McCool

    Current Contact Information: jecash6@gmail.com


  • Brian Glaspell - 2002, PhD
    Current Position: Supervisory Ranger/Visitor Services Manager, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
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    After graduation I spent 6 months as a post-doc research social scientist for the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, working on projects in Alaska. At the end of 2002 I accepted a position with the US Fish & Wildlife Service as the Alaska regional social scientist for national wildlife refuges. In July 2007 I moved from research to management, and moved from Anchorage to Kodiak Island, to lead the visitor program at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

    Dissertation title: Minding the Meaning of Wilderness: Investigating the tensions and complexities inherent in wilderness visitors' experience narratives

    Chair: Norma Nickerson

    Current Contact Information: brian_glaspell@fws.gov


  • Jim Harding - 2002, PhD
    Current Position: Associate Professor of Natural Resources Management, Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
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    After leaving UM I was hired to develop an Outdoor Recreation Management degree program at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky. We were at Union College for 2 ½ years. During that time we added one more to our family. So the Harding Family now consists of Jim, Tracy and two kids: Acadia Grace Harding (born in Missoula) turned 8 years old in September 2007 and Henry Blodgett (yep, named after Blodgett Canyon near Hamilton, MT) turned 5 years old in November 2007. In August of 2003 we moved from the Bluegrass of Kentucky to the Green Mountains of Vermont where I took a job as an Assistant Professor at Green Mountain College. Since we arrived here we bought a mini-van (actually I love it), we bought our first house (log home on 10 acres), and I developed a Natural Resources Management degree, which I currently coordinate. Over the years my professional interests and foci have shifted. I’m still fairly current in Environmental Ethics (I teach the class at least twice per year), but I now teach very little in the outdoor recreation field. Most of my other classes are in natural resources and forestry. And, perhaps, the biggest surprise (for those of you who muddled through Jon Graham’s stats sequence with me) is that I’ve been teaching Introduction to Statistics for the past year. I suppose the moral of the story is teaching at a small school lets one wear a lot of different hats—so far all of them have been pretty comfy. My research program (so to speak) is at the intersection of production and amenity values of temperate and tropical forests. I’m fairly involved with the Society of American Foresters, particularly at the state and regional level, and am a member of the International Society of Tropical Foresters. I’m looking forward to attending a tropical forestry conference in Indonesia in October followed by bringing five students to Indonesia in 2009 to study tropical forestry issues. At the end of the day I still enjoy doing crossword puzzles and watching The Simpsons on television. All in all life is very good.

    Dissertation title: Narratives on Nature, Beauty, and Public Land: A Search for an Elusive Environmental Ethics

    Chair: Bill Borrie

    Current Contact Information: hardingj@greenmtn.edu


  • Paul Lachapelle - 2006, PhD
    Current Position: Assistant Professor, Montana State University
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    Photo of Paul Lachapelle Paul was hired in December 2006 by Montana State University as an Assistant Professor / Extension Community Development Specialist in the Department of Political Science. His general responsibilities involve providing research, technical assistance and trainings and workshops on various community development topics to address social, economic and environmental conditions in communities across the state. He works toward providing resources and programs in many areas including community strategic visioning, local governance, leadership development training, community tourism assessment and development, community profiling, conflict management and resolution, economic impact assessments, planning facilitation, and community surveys.

    Specifically, Paul has developed an educational program on good governance with the publication of a citizen handbook for serving on public boards. He is also helping to coordinate a poverty reduction program sponsored by the Northwest Area Foundation in 21 small rural communities in Montana. Most recently, Paul was awarded a $29,000 grant for research on the Crow Reservation to address men's health and wellness. This Pilot Project is part of the National Institutes of Health $6.5 million grant awarded to fund the Center for Native Health Partnerships at MSU to develop partnerships that will address health disparities in Montana's Indian communities.

    Dissertation title: The role of trust and ownership in community wildfire protection planning in west central Montana

    Chair: Steve McCool

    Current Contact Information: Paul.Lachapelle@montana.edu


  • Adam Liljeblad - 2005, MS
    Current Position: Director of Conservation Awards, National Forest Foundation
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    Photo of Adam Liljeblad Following graduation, I worked with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute and Rocky Mountain Research Station conducting research on people's relationships with public lands and public land management agencies. In 2006, I accepted a position with the National Forest Foundation, working in the conservation award programs, providing grants to nonprofit organizations to implement conservation projects benefiting the National Forest System. In 2008 I took leadership of the programs and currently oversee the organization's suite of on-the-ground and collaborative conservation projects throughout the US, providing $6 million in matching grants per year.

    Thesis title: Towards a more comprehensive understanding of trust: Exploring the public’s trust in natural resource management.

    Chair: Bill Borrie

    Current Contact Information: aliljeblad@natlforests.org


  • Megan McBride - 2005, MS
    Current Position: Senior Research Associate for the National Park Service Social Science Program
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    After graduating from UM, I moved to Colorado and began the challenging search for a job. Well, I suppose that isn't technically correct... I actually spent the summer mountain biking, hiking, tubing, and essentially shirking all responsibility and then, in the Fall, began the challenging search for a job. With the help of Norma Nickerson (my advisor), I came across my current position posting and thought, "What the heck? Washington D.C. could be an urban emersion experience." I started working as a National Park Service partner in March of 2006. My position was moved to Denver, CO in December of 2006, which is where I currently reside (with frequent trips back to D.C.).

    Thesis title: Recreation on the Upper Yellowstone River: A Study of Use and Place

    Chair: Norma Nickerson

    Current Contact Information: Megan_McBride@contractor.nps.gov


  • Jessica M. Montag - 2004, PhD
    Current Position: Social Scientist, US Geological Survey, Policy Analysis and Science Assistance Branch
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    Photo of Jessica M. Montag During my final year and a half of my PhD I took a SCEP position with the US Forest Service as a social scientist in the Region 1 Regional Office located in Missoula Mt. This position afforded me the ability to work in a land management agency and delve into how human dimensions can be incorporated into land management decision-making, in particular into forest and project level planning. This applied knowledge was valuable when I moved into a USFS detached Washington Office position under the Ecosystem Management Coordination branch which focused more on policy and the development of protocols for integrating the social and economic information into the decision-making process. The breadth of understanding the human dimensions component of land management planning from an on the ground perspective as well as from a policy orientation provided me the foundation for my research position within the US Geological Survey, Policy Analysis and Science Assistance Branch (PASA). PASA's mission is to integrate the human dimensions analyses with the biophysical analyses on topics of conservation policies and land management practices in order to help land and resource managers make more effective and informed decisions and reduce natural resource conflicts. My focus research area is on the socioeconomic considerations for landscape-scale changes occurring from global climate change, energy development, and hazards. Additionally, I assist in the social analysis of comprehensive conservation planning for several US Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Refuges and in the development of social and economic tools designed to assist land and resource managers better integrate the socioeconomics into the decision-making process. Specific project information can be found at: http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Research/research_tasks.asp?TaskID=2259

    Dissertation title: Mountain lions, Wolves, and Bears: Detangling the Issues Surrounding Predator Conservation in the West

    Chair: Mike Patterson

    Current Contact Information: montagj@ugs.gov


  • Garrett K. Olson - 2007, MS
    Current Position: Smokejumper – Missoula, MT
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    Photo of Garrett K. Olson After graduation I resumed working for the US Forest Service as a smokejumper in Missoula, MT. Due to a recent work related injury I was unable to continue my interests abroad. However, I’m currently pursuing employment/volunteer positions in tropical agriculture and forestry in Southern Africa and hope to further develop my skills in community development efforts.

    Thesis title: Forests and Farming; An Analysis of Rural Livelihood Programs for Poverty Reduction in Eastern Zambia

    Chair: Mike Patterson

    Current Contact Information: gkolson@hotmail.com


  • Sarah Pohl - 1998, MS
    Current Position: High School English Teacher
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    Photo of Sarah Pohl After completing my MS in Recreation Management, I put on a backpack and worked as a backcountry instructor on and off for six years. I worked for various organizations including Wilderness Inquiry in Minnesota, Alternative Youth Adventures in Utah and Montana, Outward Bound in Montana, and the Wild Rockies Field Institute in Montana (where I also worked as the Director from 2001-2003). In 2003 I decided I wanted to teach full-time and concurrently earned a MA/T in Philosophy (Teaching Ethics option) and a teaching degree in secondary English at the University of Montana. I currently teach high school English at Sentinel High School in Missoula. When I'm not delving into the ethics in Shakespeare, I enjoy running, hockey, hiking, gardening and being a new mama.

    Thesis title: Women, Wilderness, and Everyday Life: An Examination of the Connection Between Wilderness Recreation and Women's Liberation

    Chair: Bill Borrie

    Current Contact Information: pohlwoman@blackfoot.net


  • Robert Potts - 2000, PhD
    Current Position: Forest Planner, Santa Fe National Forest
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    After completing graduate work at UM, I accepted a position as a Research Ecologist with the USDA Forest Service, North Central Research Station (2000-2004). I served as lead scientist of the Landscape Change Program. Our team identified “drivers” of landscape change, and developed spatially explicit models depicting the distribution and intensity of future changes to ecological and social landscapes under various management scenarios. We published extensively, and won all sorts of nice awards, but I longed to get my hands dirty. And, we were eager to move back to the West.

    So, I made the move from FS R&D to the National Forest System, as an Ecosystem Planner on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (2004-2005). Although I was only on the H-T for a year, I was able to complete a Landscape Assessment in support of several major planning initiatives, including Forest Plan Revision.

    As the Forest Planner on the Santa Fe National Forest (2005-present), I am directly responsible for Travel Management Planning and Forest Plan Revision. I also manage the NEPA, FOIA, and Appeals and Litigation programs, and serve as a mentor to a Presidential Management Fellow.

    Dissertation title: The Nature of Social Assessments in an Era of Collaborative Management

    Chair: Mike Patterson

    Current Contact Information: robertpotts@fs.fed.us


  • Laura Van Riper - 2003, PhD / 1998, MS
    Current Position: Social Scientist, National Riparian Service Team (NRST), Bureau of Land Management
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    Photo of Laura Van Riper During my time as a PhD student, I was also in the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) with the BLM. After graduation, I converted into a full time position with the agency. I currently serve as the social scientist on the NRST, which is an interagency and interdisciplinary team that works across the western United States with communities in conflict over the management of riparian-wetland areas. I have been in this position for the past 5 years. For more information about the NRST go to http://www.blm.gov/or/programs/nrst

    Dissertation title: Can Agency-Led Initiatives Conform to Collaborative Principles? Evaluating and Reshaping an Interagency Program through Participatory Research

    Chairs: Jack Ward Thomas/Mike Patterson

    Thesis title: Game Farming in Montana: A Historical and Comparative Policy Analysis

    Chair: Steve Siebert

    Current Contact Information: Laura_Van_Riper@or.blm.gov


  • Ann Schwaller - 2001, MS
    Current Position: Natural Resources Wilderness Specialist, Superior National Forest, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)
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    Photo of Ann Schwaller During my time as a graduate student in Missoula, I also worked on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest conducting research for my thesis and as a SCEP to acquire a professional series position with the agency. After graduation, I accepted a job as the Wilderness and Recreation Planner for the Clearwater National Forest, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. In 2005, I left Idaho for my current position with the BWCAW in Minnesota working on anything and everything related to the Wilderness such as fire management, BAER (Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation), campsite/portage restoration, volunteer program, litigation, reservation and permit system functions, local policy and planning, law enforcement, 10YWSC (10 Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge), training, research organization, interdisciplinary collaboration (fisheries, wildlife, soils, hydrology, air quality, etc.), advocacy group and other agency communications/collaborations, education/interpretation, budget, forest plan standards, outfitters/guides/cooperators, NNIS (Non-native Invasive Species) management, etc.

    Natural resource positions from 1992 to 1999 (before graduate school):

    • Lead Wilderness Ranger, San Juan-Rio Grande National Forests, CO, Weminuche and La Garita Wilderness areas
    • Wilderness Ranger and Firefighter, Colville National Forest, WA, Salmo-Priest Wilderness
    • Back-country Ranger, Kaniksu National Forest, ID, Priest River and Selkirk Mountains
    • Primitive Trails and Back-country Ranger, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
    • Photographer, Everglades National Park, FL

    Thesis title: Social Dimensions of Exotic Weed Management in National Forests and Adjacent Communities

    Chair: Steve McCool

    Current Contact Information: annschwaller@fs.fed.us


  • Randy Tanner - 2007, PhD
    Current Position: Law Student, The University of Montana School of Law
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    Photo of Randy Tanner After completing my Ph.D., I decided to continue on to law school. While law school takes up a considerable amount of time, I’m finding some time to write about my research. After law school, I’ll be looking for a position that will allow me to combine what I learned in grad school and law school to better understand how society confronts challenging natural resources issues.

    Dissertation title: Legitimacy and the Use of Natural Resources in Kruger National Park, South Africa

    Chair: Wayne Freimund

    Current Contact Information: randy.j.tanner@gmail.com


  • Josh Whitmore - 2005, MS
    Current Position: Director of Outdoor Programs, Western Carolina University
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    Photo of Josh Whitmore Immediately after graduating, I took my current job at Western Carolina University as the Director of Outdoor Programs. As a part of student affairs, we provide a variety of outdoor trips for students, both nearby in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, as well as trips farther a field in other regions of the US or other countries. We also have an extensive gear rental program for students who are planning their own adventures and a comprehensive group development and teambuilding program for campus and community groups wishing to accomplish group goals through initiatives and outdoor education techniques.

    This job is great for me as I get to use my former guiding experience to spend time sharing outdoor recreation activities with students while teaching them about leadership and the natural world around them. I also get to use skills I learned during my graduate program at UM to be active in the university community, manage our relations/permits with public land managers, and serve the industry at large through experiences like being on the Access Committee of the Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education, where we represent educational program access on public lands with land management agencies.

    Personally, I’ve been pursuing my bicycle racing passion more since graduation. In 2006, I represented the USA National Team and finished 9th in the World Championships of Mountain Biking. Since then, I’ve been focusing on road racing, acting as a guest rider for a couple professional teams based in the Southeast. The cycling in NC is superb, offering ample opportunity to train for events. I definitely miss the mountains and people of Montana, but have been able to carry that spirit with me into my new career.

    Thesis title: Investigating and Reconceptualizing Recreation Specialization: Flow as a Developmental Influence

    Chair: Bill Borrie

    Current Contact Information: jwhitmore@wcu.edu