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WI Staff Work To:

*Provide integrated, interdisciplinary, and experiential wilderness education.

*Disseminate information related to wilderness research, management, and education.

*Advance scholarship on wildland issues through research, workshops, and publications.

*Facilitate service learning and community engagement in wildland decision-making.

*Encourage dialogue regarding wilderness issues and stewardship.

College of Forestry and Conservation


Natalie Dawson

Natalie Dawson is the interim director of the Wilderness Institute. She also coordinates and teaches the Wilderness and Civilization program. Natalie has a Ph.D. in biology from the University of New Mexico, where she studied biogeography and evolutionary history of small carnivores on the islands of coastal British Columbia and southeast Alaska. She continues research in southeast Alaska and teaches field courses in ecology and environmental policy in the region. Natalie also teaches field courses for the Wild Rockies Field Institute. She is always in search of the perfect vista, and can be found searching for them along wild rocky coastlines, in the wild mountains of the west, across the red rock deserts, or along a river in a quiet hardwood forest. Contact


Lisa Eidson is the Wilderness Information Specialist and Webmaster for the Wilderness Information Network (, one of the Wilderness Institute's programs. Lisa graduated from The University of Montana in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. As the Institute's newest hire, she brings with her a variety of skills from experience in the private sector as a journalist, website developer and computer programmer. Lisa enjoys hiking, backpacking and fishing in Montana's remote areas. Additionally, she paints watercolor portraits of wildlife. Contact

Catherine Filardi

Catherine Filardi joined the Wildnerness Institute in the spring of 2010 as the Citizen Science Program Director.  Catherine has a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Washington, where she studied the evolution of avian diversity across the Solomon Islands.  She is excited to use her skills as a field naturalist and biologist to engage with local communities and citizens in the stewardship of public lands.  In her free time, Catherine enjoys exploring western Montana landscapes with her husband and two children. Contact


Kari Gunderson is the education coordinator and instructor for the Wilderness Management Education Program and is an associate professor in the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. Kari received her M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and has a Ph.D. in Recreation, Park, & Leisure Studies from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Through the Wilderness Institute, she teaches a 2-week "Winter Wilderness Field Studies" course during Winter Session. Kari makes her home in the Swan Valley of northwestern Montana, where she has worked as a wilderness ranger, educator, and field manager in the Mission Mountains Wilderness for 33 years.