leadership

MWS 2018 board

Mike Wolfe

Board Member

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 CHRISTENSEN

Board Member

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 STODDART

Board Member

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 Duke

Board Member

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.

Advisor Team

Steve Smith

Risk Management Advisor

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.

Damien Powledge

Advisor Team

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.

Darcy Chenoweth

Advisor Team

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.

Robert Campbell

Advisor Team

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.

Kestrel Neathawk

Advisor Team

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.

Andy Lichtenheld

Advisor Team

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.

Mike Fiebig

Advisor Team

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.

Mark Parlett

Advisor Team

With over 20 years of experience in education, Mark has dedicated much of his life to helping children and families. He began his career as a field instructor in a therapeutic wilderness program for at-risk Montana youth and worked his way up to the Program Director position. His passion then led him to launch two accredited non-profit programs for youth. Mark has seen nearly every aspect of the business having supervised clinical departments, directed operations, led business development and developed risk-management plans for programs. He has logged thousands of days in the backcountry of Montana’s Wilderness Areas, National Forests and National Parks. Mark is a combat veteran who served in the Marine Corps and attributes much of his desire to lead from this experience. Currently, Mark is an Educational Consultant, where he helps parents find therapeutic programs, boarding schools and treatment centers for at-risk teens and young adults.

Contact
Montana Wilderness School
P.O. Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771
406-522-1525
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