Mike Wolfe grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and has been passionate about outdoor adventures since his youth. He grew up exploring Montana with his family, and after high school went on to share his passion for the outdoors by working in outdoor education with youth and adults for a decade at Camp Manito-wish and The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).
Mike is also an attorney and went to law school at the University of Montana. After law school Mike clerked for the Montana Supreme Court, with former Justice Brian Morris before working as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted federal crimes in Montana. He then moved to Missoula and went into private practice.
Mike recently took a break from the full-time practice of law to focus on his true passion; mountain sports. He has since dedicated his life to mountain pursuits and adventures, and the training it takes to perform at the highest level in the mountains. Mike is a professional mountain runner, and has been competing at ultra-distance mountain races around the world for over a decade. He currently lives in Bozeman with his wife, son, and daughter, where he owns and operates The Mountain Project.
Jon is a serial entrepreneur involved in youth mentoring and land use in the Gallatin Valley. He advocates for proactive urban planning and the creative use of conservation easements. Recently he has served as an adult leader of BSA Venture Crew One in Bozeman, providing guidance to teens in backcountry settings. Earlier, he spent several years as a Director of the Tri-Valley Conservancy in Livermore, California, working to preserve agricultural lands in the face of development pressure.
Jon spent his early years near Denver, Colorado, where he grew up skiing and backpacking with his dad employed in the outdoor industry. His positive experience on an outdoor education course in 1980 convinced him of the value of wilderness as a classroom for youth. Today he lives near Bozeman with his wonderful wife, Elizabeth, their two children, and an excellent brown poodle.
Bill is the Founder of NorthFork Financial and cofounder of Project HomeStake and has worked at the intersection of money and meaning since 2006. Before that, he taught U.S. History, and U.S. and Comparative Government, along with several other courses, at Bozeman High School.
Bill grew up outside of Buffalo, New York and moved West after completing a bicycle journey through the U.S. in 1989. He lives in Bozeman with his wife, Heidi, and their two boys, where they aim to adventure outdoors as much as possible.
Gar is the Cofounder and Executive Director of MWS as well as serving on the Board. He has field instructed and course directed for a variety of outdoor educational programs including Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, Colorado Outward Bound School, Costa Rica Outward Bound School, Eagle Rock School and the alternative schools of the Denver public school system; and has extensive experience instructing mountaineering, rock climbing, canyoneering, whitewater rafting and canoeing expeditions. Gar holds undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Business Administration, and a Masters Degree in Ecological Design. He is also an avid sailor and holds a Near Coastal USCG Master's License with towing and sailing endorsements, and has sailed his own boat around the world with his wife, Nicole.
Ashton grew up in more than one part of south central Montana and is proud to call both the Boulder River and the Yellowstone watershed 'home'. Her first career was in outdoor education teaching forest ecology and marine biology and leading multi-day expedition trips for teenagers. She then began working in wilderness therapy and has since worked with youth struggling with emotional difficulties. She is glad to be back in the mountains of Montana. Her passion is to help connect clients to a sense of place to help create a deeper sense of self. She has her Master's in Social Work, and undergraduate in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. When she is not in her outpatient therapy office working with youth and families at Youth Dynamics she is in the mountains with her dog Colter finding a patch of snow or a mountain lake.
Sheri is a strong believer in the power of the wilderness. Her work with Three Rivers Montana Wilderness Program as a parent educator and after care therapist provided her with hundreds of examples of how transformative an outdoor experience can be. She has worked in the schools for 17 years and also has a private practice in Bozeman. She is devoted to encouraging teens to "unplug" and get in touch with their inner world via time outdoors. When the work day ends, you will find Sheri on the trails or traveling to new adventures. She is excited to be a part of MWS and wholeheartedly believes in their mission to bring teens into the wilds!
Raised on the doorstep of Glacier National Park, Whitney developed a passion for the outdoors early in life. She spent nearly a decade as a fly fishing guide and whitewater rafting guide on the Flathead River system, working her way through a degree in Sociology from the University of Montana. For the past decade, Whitney has worked exclusively with non-profit organizations utilizing outdoor therapies to promote physical and emotional healing. She has been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Psychosocial Oncology on the topic of outdoor therapy for young adults with cancer. Whitney currently serves as the Executive Director at Casting for Recovery, a nonprofit dedicated to providing empowering fly fishing experiences for women with breast cancer. She lives in the Bridger mountains with one beautiful brown dog, three wild children and a patient husband. Together, they enjoy fishing, skiing and exploring wild places.
Steve Smith is a risk management consultant (specializing in wilderness/experiential programs) at Experiential Consulting, LLC, based in Seattle, WA.
Steve has served as the Chair of the Wilderness Risk Management Conference for three years (2014 - 2016) and has been a standing member of the WRMC Education Committee since 2011. His career has included administrative leadership roles with national organizations including Outward Bound and The Student Conservation Association. He is currently a board member for the Northwest Outward Bound School, where he also serves on the school's Safety Committee and Executive Committee. He has a master's degree in teaching English, along with eight years of university-level teaching experience, and earned a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification from the Society for Human Resources Management, all of which help him view outdoor education through a variety of educational and administrative lenses.
I'm the co-founder and Director of Aerie Backcountry Medicine. Since 1983 with the Student Conservation Association I have worked outdoors in various capacities, including trail crew member/boss, fire tower lookout and as a fisheries biologist while earning my masters in biology at the University of Montana. I combine my love for being outdoors with a passion for medicine, working also as a critical care paramedic in Missoula since 1990. In that capacity, I serve as the Training Officer for Missoula's ambulance service and assist teaching their paramedic courses.
Darcy Chenoweth lives in western Montana where her wilderness experience ranges from the personal to professional. She has worked as an Emergency Department Nurse and spent more than a decade teaching wilderness medicine and avalanche safety courses. As a strong advocate for education and wild places she has been on the board of directors for other field based education groups and assisted in university courses in the Indian Himalaya. She is excited to be part of the exceptional work that the Montana Wilderness School does in helping the next generation of citizens form a deep connection to both the human and natural community. Her personal time is spent in the mountains as an alpinist, climber and skier. With the recent arrival of her baby son, Wolfgang, she now shares her love of wild places with him in the hills.
Rob retired recently from Montana State University where he taught history since 2002. He specialized in environmental history, Native American history and the history of the American West. Rob received his Ph.D. from Yale University and before that studied history at the University of Colorado and English Literature at Middlebury College. His academic interests and writing have never strayed far from his broader "outdoor" experiences. Early on, growing up climbing, skiing, and boating in the Pacific Northwest, Rob learned the value of experiential education. These experiences led to others, studying oceanography sailing the North Atlantic, mapping lion populations in Kenya's Maasai Mara, practicing emergency medicine as a ski patrolman, solo sea-kayaking along the Arctic coast. Rob spent over a decade instructing for the National Outdoor Leadership School, including long stints in Kenya and Alaska. He remains committed to educating young people in our remaining wild spaces. Rob lives in Bozeman with his partner, Jen, and children, Alice and William.
As a product of a wilderness program himself as a young adolescent, Damien has been a long time believer in the power of outdoor education. After graduating with a B.S. in Geology, he spent several years working seasonally in wilderness therapy and wilderness medicine. After feeling the need for a break from seasonal work, Damien began working as an Emergency Department EMT as well as in organ donation recovery - all while continuing to teach for Aerie Backcountry Medicine. He later returned to the University of Washington School of Medicine Physician Assistant program, and has since worked in Family Practice, Urgent Care, Trauma, and is currently in the field of Neurosurgery. When not working, you can generally find him trail running, climbing, skiing, taking photos, and spending time with his wife Megan and young son Brooks.
Andy received his MD from Oregon Health and Science University and is currently completing his training in Emergency Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN. Before his career in medicine, he worked extensively in the field of outdoor education including as a kayak instructor and as a river guide for a therapeutic wilderness program.
Andy remains an avid wilderness traveler boat, boot and ski. He is a lifelong believer in the transformative power of wilderness experience in the lives of young people.
I am very honored and excited to be joining Montana Wilderness School's advisor team. I am a therapist and a huge supporter and advocate for youth, communities, personal development, adventure anchored in a sense of place and a call to conserve and protect remote landscapes and wild places. I am originally from Colorado and currently find my home in Nederland, CO. I am forever grateful to my midwestern parents who moved to Colorado in their 20s and fostered a childhood of adventure while also instilling a deep connection to nature. As a child, I would spend entire days in the Black Forest of Southern Colorado, exploring the hills and bayous with my dog, falconry with my father, and both terrifying and exhilarating outings to climb in The Flatirons, Lumpy Ridge and Vedauwoo. The latter experiences were great teachers that not gave me confidence in myself, but also opened the doors to a very rewarding life path. In 1995, I did a three month NOLS course in Patagonia and then returned to do an instructor's course with Colorado Outward Bound, where I first had the privilege of meeting Gar Duke, cofounder and executive director of MWS.
In 1999, after graduating with a BA from Naropa University in Environmental Studies and Contemplative Psychology, I went to The Tetons to help a friend with the American Alpine Club Climber's Ranch. It was there that I met the late, Hans Saari, who is from Bozeman, and he encouraged me to join Exum Mountain Guides. After guiding for four summers, I then traveled to Pakistan to climb and search for the rare and woolly flying squirrel before I returned to graduate school to earn a master's in Counseling Psychology. Today, I continue to have a strong relationship with the outdoors and adventure while also practicing full time as a therapist in primary care. I serve all age ranges, however my favorite population is youth. I believe that helping youth feel empowered in themselves also inspires them to become positive leaders who conserve the world around them.
Mike is the Associate Director of the Northern Rockies Office of American Rivers, melding his love for snow with his love for spring runoff. An avid split boarder, boater, and wilderness traveller, he has worked and travelled in remote places from the Arctic, to central Africa, to the tip of South America as a guide, outdoor instructor, conservationist, and for personal adventure. Mike has an M.S. in Natural Resources Policy and Conflict Resolution, a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Philosophy. Watching students grow while in the backcountry has been one of the great privileges that he has had.