our team

MWS 2020 STAFF

GAR DUKE

Co-founder and Executive Director

I grew up in Washington State where I was fortunate to spend my youth camping with my family, catching salmon and water skiing on the Puget Sound, snow skiing in the Cascades, and being a well rounded pacific northwest kid. In college I fell in love with rock climbing and alpine mountaineering, a journey that led to my career in outdoor education. I have over 1000 program days field instructing and course directing for a variety of outdoor educational programs; the majority of my time in the wild places of the American west for Outward Bound, where I have worked in the mountains, rivers, canyons, and deserts instructing mountaineering, rock climbing, and canyoneering courses. I have college degrees in Psychology, Business Administration, and a Masters in Ecological Design, as well as a USCG Master's Captains License.

I live in Bozeman with my wife, Nicole, and our son, Crusoe, and high energy herding dog, Odin. Outside of my work and family life, my current outdoor interests are long distance trail running with my dog, bow hunting, backcountry skiing, and fly fishing on Montana's amazing rivers.

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JOSH OLSEN

Co-founder and Program Director

I was born and raised in Montana and grew up exploring wild spaces from the Bears Paw to the Beartooth Mountains. I was lucky enough to spend my youth skiing, hiking and climbing in many wild areas of Montana. I have worked as an educator in many capacities primarily in the backcountry; instructing kayaking and climbing and spent some time teaching English in Tanzania, Africa. I am a former wilderness instructor for "at- risk" youth programs and worked as a field instructor for multiple wilderness adventure programs in the mountain west. In addition to my work with youth, I also worked professionally as a sea kayak guide and as a climbing instructor. I have taught wilderness medicine courses for Aerie Backcountry Medicine for over 10 years teaching around the United States, India, China, Tibet and in Morocco. During the winters I have spent the last decade working as a professional ski patroller and avalanche rescue dog handler and currently work at Bridger Bowl. My love of education and desire to always keep learning lead me back to school, to receive a Masters Degree in Education with a focus on place-based learning from the University of Montana. I live in Bozeman with my wife and two dogs, trying to scratch out time to ski, hunt and climb between working and learning to garden.

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CLAIRE KLEESE

Communications Manager

I was fortunate to be born and raised in beautiful Western Montana. Living in the Bitterroot Valley provided me the opportunity to spend my childhood climbing, skiing, camping, hunting and canoeing all over Montana. After high school I completed an Outward Bound course before heading to college where I received a degree in Geography and GIS/Remote Sensing Imagery. I’ve spent time adventuring throughout the US, Central America, Canada, Iceland, India, Nepal, Pakistan, China and Tibet. I've worn a variety of different career hats in my life however my passion for Montana's wild spaces and helping others develop a relationship with their environment and community are just a few of the many reasons I am so happy to be a part of the Montana Wilderness School team as Communications Manager.

When not working with the MWS team or with Mystery Ranch Backpacks as a technical document developer, I am an illustration artist and avid gardener. I try to make as much time as possible for my dog Hawk and trail running, skiing, hunting and biking!


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ERIN MCCLEARY

Operations Manager

It all started with feeling like an outsider. I have moved and traveled extensively across the globe and the only constant was the outdoors. My answer to the question, “Where are you from?” became a long list of states and countries. It starts with Colorado, Alaska, Texas, Trinidad (West Indies), Minnesota, Azerbaijan, and California. Now, I say I am from Montana.

Formerly, I worked with Voyageur Outward Bound in Ely, Minnesota and began an extensive journey of self-understanding. I spent 120+ days in the field every year for five years working with youth and veterans seeking to find leadership skills and a unified purpose. Then I shifted to Big Sky Youth Empowerment in Bozeman and was able to align the wilderness learnings with teenagers and adults in my immediate community. Both programs enhanced lives from dealing directly with adversity.

The opportunity to explore and play in the outdoors became the connection between my community and myself and the greatest learning of all was that: nature is a place where we all fit in amongst the chaos of wildness.

I am honored to be a part of MWS and to be able to do just that.

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MATT ZIA

Mountain Program Manager

I grew up playing in the mountains of New Hampshire where my mother, a former Outward Bound instructor, took me on my first backpacking trip at age 10. I vividly remember hiking 10 million miles to our camp with a 150 pound pack (a three mile hike with a 20 pound pack…it’s all relative to a 10 year old), getting my mind blown by the idea of cooking mac and cheese without a proper kitchen, and nearly eating it face-first into a big pile of rocks on the way down.

I moved West in 2010 to attend Colorado College where I majored in Environmental Science. Between classes, I played Ultimate Frisbee on the CC club team, learned how to rock climb, and discovered the joy of skiing powder. Since graduation, I’ve worked as a field instructor for the Colorado Outward Bound School, spent time as a ski instructor, and taught high school math and physics at the Telluride Mountain School. I am also an assistant rock guide through the American Mountain Guides Association, an LNT Master Educator, and EMT-B in the state of Montana. In addition to my work at MWS I teach high school math at a small independent school in Bozeman.

When I’m not working, you can likely find me searching out splitter crack climbs in the desert, chasing untracked snow on big mountains, improvising elaborate meals on a camp stove, or running around the hills with my camera.

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Kodee Cloninger

Outreach and Admissions Manager

Growing up in Montana I quickly developed an affinity for the outdoors and the thrill of exploration and play.

Curiosity about the human and natural world took me outside of my home state to many adventures throughout Latin America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and the eastern UnitedStates. I landed myself on the East Coast after I discovered my passion for education while teaching English in Guatemala and simultaneously realizing I could cultivate that passion outside the classroom walls. Since then, I have navigated my eagerness for education and the outdoors by finding roles as an experiential educator and program director with different environmental education schools on the East Coast, while supplementing my summers leading international experiential programs with high schoolers.

Through my experiencesI have found that there is nothing more valuable than connecting youth to the natural world and the adventures to be had in it. Montana has always called me back because of its wild spaces and to be able to share that with future generations has me thrilled to be a part of the MWS team as the Admissions andOutreach Manager.  

When I am not with the MWS team you can find me hiking, running, biking, and cross country skiing in the many outdoor spaces of Bozeman, practicing yoga, or baking bread!

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Hannah Marshall

Wilderness Program Manager

The first mountains I fell in love with were the Northern Presidentials, near where I grew up in New Hampshire. There I learned to ski, climb, and to appreciate long, rainy rambles with my family. After many stints as a hut keeper and trail crew worker in my home range I attended school at Colorado College, where I earned a degree in geology and ‘studied’ climbing.

After graduating I worked as an instructor for the Colorado Outward Bound School, which drew me into the mountain-desert landscape of the southwest.  There I chased ski descents and desert rock climbs, working intermittently on mine reclamation research projects and as a hut keeper in the San Juan Mountains. I moved to Bozeman last year to work for MWS, and am thrilled to be back for another season! In addition to working for MWS, I coordinate first year orientation trips for Montana State University’s Outdoor Recreation Program.

When I’m not working, you can find me scouring weather charts for favorable climbing and skiing conditions, painting the mountain landscape, and trail running around Bozeman.

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Martha Sellers

Development Manager

I was raised in Minnesota and spent my childhood outdoors, camping, swimming, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, skiing…you get the picture. And while much of it was on Lake Superior and in the Boundary Waters, we traveled extensively throughout the U.S. falling in love with every ecosystem we visited. I remember learning how to: start a fire without matches; make my way through the woods with a compass; keep my gear dry when winter camping; the importance of putting tomorrow’s socks in my sleeping bag so they were warm in the morning; and how extra delicious hot cocoa is when it’s -10°. I have had the great fortune to participate in many outdoor experiences as both student and instructor. In my new role with the Montana Wilderness School I will get to help make these experiences happen for the next generation, and I am grateful.

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2020 seasonal STAFF

Krissy Ferriter

Student Outreach Coordinator

Growing up in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, I inherited a deep appreciation for natural beauty, biodiversity, and outdoor recreation. After studying abroad in Switzerland, my love for wild places and skiing took me northward to the University of Vermont. Upon completing a thru-hike of Vermont’s 270-mile Long Trail and with my B.S. in Environmental Studies in hand, I spent several years working in various outdoor education, conservation, research, and program management capacities in British Columbia, Florida, Alaska, Montana, and Nevada. During this time, I also made multiple trips to Central and South America. In 2011, I completed a Master of Science degree in Forest Resources at the University of Washington and have lived in Montana ever since. Missoula has brought opportunities for me to work with the Montana Campus Compact, the city’s Urban Forestry Division, Adventure Life, and 5th House Consulting.

With two young children of my own, I am excited to connect students with wilderness expeditions! When not spreading the word about MWS in the Missoula area, you’ll likely find me exploring the Bitterroot or Rattlesnake with my family and Australian cattle dog, Clyde, or at our cabin near the Pintler Mountains. When not hiking, biking, kayaking, fly fishing, or skiing, I also enjoy practicing yoga, baking, and curling up with a good book.

Ross Lesslie

Field Instructor and Student Outreach Coordinator

I was lucky to have spent my childhood moving around and experiencing different parts of the world. My family moved from England to Switzerland to California, where I spent most of my teenage years before adventuring off to Asia and Australia. When I returned to the US, I found myself drawn to the beautiful mountainous states of Washington and Montana.  During so many moves, one thing was consistent; free time was spent outdoors. Growing up my interests included sailing, mountain biking and skiing, and as I got older, that list only grew to include rock climbing, backpacking and mountaineering.  

I developed my passion for rock climbing during college and dare say I may have put more energy into my climbs than my education.  After graduating from San Francisco State University in CA, I took a 2 year trip to Asia where I stumbled upon a job as a rock climbing and sea kayaking guide in Vietnam.  Upon my return to the states, I found my calling leading trips with Outward Bound in the North Cascades in WA in the Summer and teaching young rippers to shred cold smoke at Bridger Bowl in the Winter.

When not working for MWS, I am typically exploring alpine lakes, challenging my relationship with gravity or plotting my next adventure abroad with my partner Theresa.

Megan McInerney

Student Outreach Coordinator

I was born in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains; as a young child I hit the trails in a pack on my mom’s back. Some of my earliest memories are of mountain ridges and rattlesnake skins. My family moved to the East Coast when I was six, but I found myself drawn back to the West as an adult, attending college in Oregon and eventually settling in Missoula, Montana.

I’ve spent time living and working in a variety of outdoor and educational settings: teaching English and exploring the mountains at the Killington Mountain School in Vermont; teaching Literature of the Sea and leading sea-kayak expeditions at The Island School in the Bahamas; and instructing rock-climbing at the Sussex School in Missoula. I also earned an M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana.

My wilderness and outdoor adventures have taken me cycling across the U.S., hiking across Glacier National Park; backpacking and rock climbing in the U.S. and Australia; and hunting and salmon fishing in Alaska.

I’m excited to promote MWS programs in the Missoula region and connect Montana youth with life-changing opportunities in the backcountry! When I’m not working, you’ll likely find me out hiking, skiing, or rock climbing—usually with a pair of binoculars—because in addition to playing in the outdoors, I love observing and learning about our wild neighbors who call these beautiful landscapes home.

 

HANNAH KARN

Field Instructor and Student Outreach Coordinator

Growing up in Colorado I was extremely fortunate to have the Rockies and surrounding ecosystems as my playground. Spending my weekends camping, skiing, and hiking with family and friends inspired a passion for the outdoors and exploration in our wild places. I attended Colorado State University where I became immersed in and passionate about outdoor and environmental education. I became an instructor for the Outdoor Program where I had the opportunity to lead and instruct peers on various trips from backcountry skiing, to rock climbing and backpacking. During this time, I also became very involved with environmental education and I spent my time leading and teaching 4th and 5th grade students in the many ecosystems of Northern Colorado hoping to inspire future generations of environmental advocates and outdoor enthusiasts. Following graduation, I ran north to Southeast Alaska where I worked as a research and teaching assistant for a small field school. I spent my summer sea kayaking, living in a tent, researching local issues in public lands management and conservation, supporting the school’s students, and falling in love with place based, experiential education. I have since been living in and falling in love with Montana, its communities, and it’s wild places. During the winter I get to share my passion for skiing as a ski instructor at Big Sky, and I am incredibly excited to be returning for another summer with MWS! When I’m not working, you can probably find me out skiing, running any of Bozeman’s amazing trails, climbing with friends, or in my kitchen cooking up something yummy.

Christie Conway

Field Instructor

My East Coast friends and family have been encouraging me to explore the West for years, and I finally made the move in December to be a ski instructor at Big Sky Resort.  I landed in Montana originally from North Carolina, via 4 years in New Hampshire and Maine.  Although I didn't grow up having many outdoor experiences, living in western NC fostered a deep love and appreciation for mountains within me.  I went on my first backpacking trip as an incoming freshman before I started at Appalachian State University, and I loved it and will be forever grateful for that experience.  

It wasn't until I moved to New Hampshire in 2015 for an Interpretive Ranger position with the Student Conservation Association that I really started to immerse myself in an outdoor lifestyle.  From there, I worked two winters with Maine Huts and Trails, and then thrived in the White Mountains of NH for two years while working for the Appalachian Mountain Club at the base of Mt. Washington.  The AMC offered me amazing experiences while I taught environmental education and guided backcountry teen adventure trips for 2 years.  I capped off my time in New England by becoming a Registered Maine Guide for the AMC in the remote 100-Mile Wilderness area, where I guided xc-ski trips, fly-fishing trips, hikes up Mt. Katahdin, and other Maine adventures that were based out of beautiful lodges tucked away deep in the Maine woods.  

I'm stoked to be paddling on Montana's rivers with students this summer, and on my off time I hope to practice leading trad climbs, hike big mountains, and explore just how beautiful my first summer out West will be!


SHANNON REGAN

Field Instructor

I was raised running around in the orchards and forests of northern California. I've been based in Montana for almost a decade and consider myself lucky to run around in the forests, mountains and plains in the greater yellowstone ecosystem.

As a young adult I threw myself into learning about snow and avalanches working as a ski patroller and on SAR groups. I am still learning about snow and avalanches as an educator during the winter months. I side-lined my formal education and have returned as a student to MSU's Earth science/GIS program. In the summers I coach mountain biking and love teaching diverse outdoor skills to youth. You can usually find me working outside or in my community in southwest Montana.

In my free time I am still working towards the perfect pie, picking berries and convincing my friends to go on long walks/bikes in the mountains. This summer I am excited to go new places and return to familiar ones across Montana with MWS!




ANDREW HARVISON

Field Instructor and Expedition Wrangler

Andrew grew up in Boulder, Colorado, adventuring in the mountains and developing a deep love for the beauty and power of wild places.  He went to the University of Colorado to study physics and education, teaching in math and science classrooms in the Denver area. Despite all this training to be a classroom educator, it quickly became clear that Andrew was meant for the outdoors! Through his journey as an outdoor educator, Andrew has led trips all around the West, camping, backpacking, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, and even fossil hunting!When not on course, you are likely to find Andrew on the ski slopes, climbing mountains, playing his guitar, or eating pizza.

Ryan Milling

Field Instructor

I moved to Montana in 2012 to chase snow and finish my undergraduate degree. Since coming to Montana I became enthralled with the vast public lands and opportunities for solitude and beauty. My passions lie in outdoor education, teaching, and emergency medicine. Summers find me living out of my truck teaching extended wilderness trips for MWS, NOLS, as well as guiding commercially on the Salmon River in Idaho's Frank Church Wilderness. Winter and Spring I teach emergency medicine, and avalanche education for Aerie Backcountry Medicine. Spending time in the outdoors allows me to think clearly, find solace, and provide opportunities for self discovery and learning. I am excited to be joining MWS this season to serve the communities of Montana. When not teaching or guiding, I enjoy whitewater kayaking, climbing, ski touring, and swing dancing. This fall I start a whole new journey towards becoming a Nurse.

Ryan Peters

Field Instructor

My relationship with wild spaces began in Minnesota’s million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness; time spent here in my teenage and college years was formative, nurturing a passion & need for a life lived outside and giving rise to a desire to share it with others. I return to Minnesota annually to canoe, but Bozeman became my home in 2014 the week after graduating from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN (BA Biology, Psychology). Southwest Montana has offered so many ways to get outside. Though I moved here to ski and to climb, Fly Fishing has become my primary passion; I have worked as a guide here in Montana, and enjoy chasing trout up wild rivers both here and abroad. I love sharing the sport with others. Formerly, I worked for REI here in Bozeman helping folks get outside. I continue to instruct at the local climbing gym – Spire – and get up in the alpine whenever I can. In addition to fishing, climbing, and skiing, I enjoy mountain biking, trail running & hunting all over Montana. I love working with high school age youth, and couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the amazing expeditionary experiences MWS offers its students.

Eliza Donahue

Field Instructor

I was born and raised in the northern Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico. I was lucky enough to have a ski instructor/raft guide for a dad, and spent days off from school skiing at Taos Ski Valley, running through the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos, or occasionally bouncing around in a raft.

After graduating high school in Santa Fe, I took a year off to work and solo travel. I started college in western Massachusetts, and eventually moved to Montana to attend Montana State University in Bozeman. While at MSU I worked for the Outdoor Recreation Program, where I solidified my love of outdoor education through teaching climbing and leading first year orientation trips. I graduated with an interdisciplinary degree focusing on environmental justice, land, and place in the American West. I am fascinated by environmental narratives and the way they shape how we think about outdoor spaces and climate change.

Here in Montana I love skiing, rock climbing, running around on trails, floating down rivers looking for fish and raptors, and sharing meals with friends. I am a desert person at heart and return to the Southwest often to get outside with my brother, a Special Olympics athlete, and his service dog, Bonnie. Lately I’ve been getting into fishing and perfecting my homemade cinnamon rolls.

Megan Compton

Field Instructor

I was raised in a small town in New Jersey that overlooked NYC. There was civilization in every direction. The Reservation was an area with 5 square miles of forest, connecting my town with the few around us. I was able to recognize the way I felt in the Reservation as authentic, honest, and alive; a feeling I hadn’t experienced anywhere else. I knew I had to pursue the realness of nature, and studied Outdoor Adventure Leadership at Ithaca College in upstate NY. Through this program, I participated in a 90-day Outward Bound course where 7 others and I were immersed in the backcountry of different wilderness areas throughout California and Oregon. It was an adventure; backpacking, rock climbing, and white water rafting. Combined with leadership development; risk management, communication skills, and feedback. I truly understood that not all classrooms have 4 walls.

After this, I was a Crew Leader with the Idaho Conservation corps. I co-led groups of high school students on different trail-building, invasive species management, and conservation projects in the Payette, Salmon-Challis, and Sawtooth national forests. I was able to witness students’ mental and physical growth first hand through rewarding challenges, as well as be the mentor that fostered their appreciation for nature. This inspired me to move to Utah, where I worked Wilderness Therapy. The work was nothing short of rewarding, helping at-risk students through their traumas, and hearing people that have never felt heard.

Most recently, I relocated to Bozeman to be a part of the MWS team! I couldn’t be more stoked. When not working, you can find me backpacking with my friends, skiing as fast as possible, climbing, and taking pictures along the way

Colin Burdsall

Intern

My earliest memories were rooted in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, spending my adolescent years tromping around the dry, green forests and isolated volcanoes in and around Bend, Oregon. My parents pushed me into a deep appreciation for the outdoors through Scouting and long camping trips to national parks across the country. I worked hard to identify and name birds and wildlife that presented itself along the way. These early experiences helped me understand the important role I have as human life on Planet Earth. After a few years I realized that my happiness was directly tied to wilderness and outdoor spaces. I decided to actively pursue learning and practicing wilderness survival skills, natural resource identification, and doing rad recreational activities with people I loved.

After a short stint in Pullman, WA, I moved to Salt Lake City, UT to continue my undergraduate education at the University of Utah. Upon arrival, my enthusiasm and drive for outdoor experiences grew as I rafted, backpacked and climbed my way through the legendary red rock deserts and steep mountainous peaks of Utah. Between weekend trips, I studied Parks, Recreation, & Tourism with an emphasis on Outdoor Recreation Studies. In addition to my studies, I worked at the U of U outdoor program and developed professional skills through the mentorship of leaders in the collegiate outdoor field. Pairing my personal and professional experiences with institutional knowledge about public lands and the way we use them helped me solidify my desire to work in the outdoor industry.

When I'm not outdoors I spend my time jamming out to Khruangbin, engaging in random conversations (mostly about birds), and eating plenty of cheese.

I am thrilled to be a part of the MWS community and help contribute to the personal growth of students seeking to challenge themselves through wilderness experiences. Stay Wild!

Janine Welton

Field Instructor

Raised in Alberta and Washington’s Okanogan Valley, I was introduced to the wonders of physical exploration at a young age. I was lucky to have parents who took me skiing, biking, swimming, and paddling through the landscapes of my youth and my love of self-propelled activity, wild places and pika has only grown since. As a dual citizen, I’ve moved between Canada and the United States my entire life. I began attending the University of British Columbia in Vancouver after high school and spent a year on the north coast of BC where I learned to love rain and gigantic trees. Homesick for the Rocky Mountains, I moved to Missoula in 2013 to complete my B.Sc. in natural resource conservation. I’ve worked for land management agencies as a fire fighter, wilderness ranger, and guide. Instructing for the Montana Wilderness School has allowed me to combine my greatest passions: education and mountaineering. I’m looking forward to working with the supportive team of staff again this season and being challenged and inspired by my students!

Janine Welton

Field Instructor

Raised in Alberta and Washington’s Okanogan Valley, I was introduced to the wonders of physical exploration at a young age. I was lucky to have parents who took me skiing, biking, swimming, and paddling through the landscapes of my youth and my love of self-propelled activity, wild places and pika has only grown since. As a dual citizen, I’ve moved between Canada and the United States my entire life. I began attending the University of British Columbia in Vancouver after high school and spent a year on the north coast of BC where I learned to love rain and gigantic trees. Homesick for the Rocky Mountains, I moved to Missoula in 2013 to complete my B.Sc. in natural resource conservation. I’ve worked for land management agencies as a fire fighter, wilderness ranger, and guide. Instructing for the Montana Wilderness School has allowed me to combine my greatest passions: education and mountaineering. I’m looking forward to working with the supportive team of staff again this season and being challenged and inspired by my students!

Contact
Montana Wilderness School
P.O. Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771
406.388.4610
info@montanawildernessschool.org
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