our team

MWS 2020-2021 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, young son, 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. I received a degree in Geography and GIS/Remote Sensing Imagery and 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 youth 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! I had the incredible opportunity to be raised outside playing in the mountains and rivers - I want to ensure that others have those opportunities as well. After several years working in Enrollment with MWS, I have transitioned to Communications Manager and am so grateful to be part of an organization that makes such a significant impact in the lives of our future leaders and decision makers, creating the connection with a sense of place and Montana's wild spaces.

When not working with the MWS team, I work at Mystery Ranch Backpacks as a Technical Designer and am an illustrative artist with Altitude Gallery. I try to spend as much time on our amazing public lands as possible running and skiing with my dog Hawk and exploring new bow hunting spots, climbing and trying to garden!


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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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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 my home state to many adventures throughout Lating America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, as well as the Northeastern United States. 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. Meanwhile, I supplemented my summers leading international cultural immersion and volunteer experiences for high schoolers. 

Through my experiences I have found there is nothing more valuable than connecting youth to the natural world and wild spaces. Montana has always called be back because of its public lands and the opportunity for play and growth in the wild. To be able to share that with future generations has me thrilled to be a part of MWS as the team Admissions and Outreach Manager. 

When I am not with the MWS team you can find me and my dog Arco finding any way to play many outdoor spaces of Bozeman, reconnecting with friends littered around the globe, or staying home practicing yoga and baking bread.

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Hannah Marshall

Wilderness Program Manager

I grew up in New Hampshire, spending my free time in the shadow of the White Mountains. There I learned to ski, climb, and to appreciate long, rainy rambles through colorful hardwood-conifer forests.  After many stints as a hut keeper and ski patroller I attended school at Colorado College, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in geology.

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.

My passion for education, environmental justice, and public land led me to the Montana Wilderness School in 2018. I fell in love with the wild spaces I encountered as an expedition wrangler and field instructor my first summer. Since then, I have chosen to call Bozeman home.

Today I balance my time at MWS with guiding, freelance writing, and working as an avalanche educator. When I’m not working, I spend as much time as I can in the mountains skiing, running, biking, and climbing.

You may also find me attempting to re-create the baked goods of my New England childhood (read: cider donuts, pies, and giant cookies), painting the mountain landscape, or trying to determine exactly how many pairs of skis I can fit into the corner of my one room cabin.

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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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2020-2021 Outreach and Program STAFF

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.

HANNAH KARN

Field Instructor and Student Outreach Coordinator

I first fell in love with the outdoors and the natural environment while growing in and exploring the Colorado Rockies. 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, as well as policy and management of our public lands. After a few years of working with students in Northern Colorado, 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, 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. In addition to my time spent with MWS, I get to share my passion for the outdoors through ski instructing at Big Sky. 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.

Ryan Peters

Wrangler, Field Instructor and Program Assistant

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 guiding my career path. I return here annually, but Bozeman has been my home since early 2014. Though I moved here for the skiing & climbing opportunities, fly fishing and hunting have become my primary passions - I love to share them! I have worked as a guide here in Montana, and spend spring, summer & winter chasing trout up wild rivers both here and abroad. In the fall you can find me in pursuit of archery season elk, waterfowl & upland game birds.

Formerly, I worked for the local climbing gym – Spire – coordinating the Community Instruction program, & I continue to teach here whenever I can. In addition to fishing, hunting, climbing & skiing, I enjoy mountain biking and snowmobiling. My partner Kelley & I have two crazy pups - Kiche & Moki - who adventure with us wherever we go. As an educator, I am most passionate about working with high school age youth; being a part of their personal conservation & identity journeys is the most rewarding experience I know. I’m thrilled to be a part of the amazing expeditionary experiences MWS offers its students & to contribute to the development of the program!

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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