our team



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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Martha Sellers

Executive Director

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 as Executive Director, I am looking forward to supporting this spectacular team as we continue to grow our program and our impact.

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Kodee Cloninger

Outreach and Admissions Director

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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Ryan Peters

Wilderness Program Manager

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!

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Anne Vollertsen

Development & Communications Manager

My first wilderness experiences were at my family’s subsistence fish camp back home in Alaska. Surrounded by such an abundance of natural resources, I grew up with an intimate understanding of the importance of wild places and strong ecosystems, as well as the threats they face.

While studying Political Science, Philosophy, Economics, and Sociology (PPES) at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, I conducted research on how language and concepts shape our understanding of climate, landscapes, resources, and our collective or individual relationships to them. Since then, I've worked in communications and fundraising, enjoying the ability to connect communities with environmental nonprofits and campaigns.

Whether I'm setting nets at home in Alaska, exploring Montana's backcountry, or gardening in my backyard, I feel most connected to wilderness in the quieter moments. Time expands and, with practice, you can find a deep sense of gratitude for all that we have access to. I'm so excited to support MWS's efforts to strengthen and broaden access to these life-changing experiences.

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Ethan Bowen

Outreach Coordinator

Growing up in a family that didn’t do well at sitting still, I had the pleasure of getting outside from a young age. Whether through a road trip across the West or just a good night in the woods, I have grown to love being outside and exploring our wild spaces. I moved to Montana 10 years ago and have come to love just about everything this beautiful state has to offer. Through backpacking, rafting, and climbing I have slowly tried to find my way into all of the beautiful nooks and crannies that the big sky has to offer.

My years as a raft guide, snowboard instructor, and recreationist have brought me so much joy in helping people explore the outdoors. I’ve come to learn just how wonderful and important sharing our recreation is because everyone deserves to get outside and have their own adventures. The opportunity to bring anyone and everyone into our natural world is second to none. Helping folks to find places they can connect to and continue to explore continues to get me stoked on outdoor education and empowering others outside.

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Sophie Hojnacki

Outreach Coordinator

Growing up near the shores of Lake Michigan, my childhood was a mix of family camping adventures, sleep-away camp, and international travels as a ballet dancer. Following an Outward Bound course in the Appalachian Mountains, I headed west to chase my passion for outdoor education. From Montana State, I earned a degree in Human Development & Family Science with a minor in Sustainability. During that time, I was deeply involved in the Outdoor Recreation program, leading backcountry trips and teaching wilderness skills. All these experiences strengthened my love for instructing beyond traditional classrooms, allowing me the privilege to teach in stunning landscapes—from the North Cascades to the Grand Tetons to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem right here in Bozeman. I wholeheartedly believe in the transformative potential of place-based education and am dedicated to connecting youth with Montana’s expansive public lands. Outside of work, I enjoy exploring the mountains and rivers in various forms, drinking lots of coffee, and playing backgammon with friends.

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2023 Program STAFF

Sarah Ebright

Operations Mananger +Paddle Program Supervisor

I grew up among the rolling hills of central Pennsylvania but was fortunate enough to explore the country in my family’s pop-up camper throughout my youth, quickly falling in love with our wild lands - especially the rugged mountains of Montana and Alaska! After playing collegiate field hockey, graduating with a couple of engineering degrees, and moving west (in no particular order), I headed north to Alaska, spending the next 10 years as a mountaineering, backpacking, and rafting guide in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. In the winters, I was based out of beautiful Bozeman, MT, enjoying the incredible ski terrain, ice climbing, pond hockey scene, and local outdoor community!

Now, I’m excited to call myself a year-round Bozeman resident, and have been enjoying exploring the mountains and rivers of Montana during the summer months (as well as the winters)! I’m excited to be working with MWS, where I can share my passion for the outdoors and love of adventure with our future generations! When I’m not at work or playing outside, I can be found riding my bike, playing ice hockey, perfecting my dutch oven recipes, or catching up on a good book!

Eliza Donahue

Expedition Wrangler

I was born and raised in Northern New Mexico, where I enjoyed playing in the southern Rockies and on the Rio Grande river. I started college in western Massachusetts, and later relocated to Montana to finish school at MSU. I got started with outdoor education through a high school job at my local climbing gym, and later through MSU’s Outdoor Recreation program, where I worked as a student instructor and climbing wall manager. Having had some incredible outdoor mentors myself, I’m passionate about making space for young people to grow outside.

In the winters I’m a ski patroller, and previously I’ve also worked as a community organizer, focusing on climate and environmental justice issues across Montana. I’m excited to return to MWS for a third summer in the field!

In my free time, you can find me skiing, rock climbing, running around on trails, floating down rivers looking for fish and raptors, and sharing meals with friends.

Colin Burdsall

Expedition Wrangler

My 24 years existing on planet earth has helped me realize that connectedness to the outdoors is imperative to the health and happiness of humanity. It’s hard to say whether I grasped that understanding when I first learned how to start a fire with flint and steel, or witnessed towering Redwood trees while visiting my first National Park. Heck, it might’ve been while I was eating dirt and watching lizards in my childhood backyard. Either way, it’s been those outdoor experiences that cultivated a desire to seek out more…outdoor experiences. Throughout time, I’ve tried various recreational activities and sought to challenge myself physically in the outdoors to pursue a deeper connection to wild places, but I noticed the connection always appeared in much quieter, less obvious moments. As a field instructor, I feel it is my duty to provide an opportunity for students to find their own ways to connect to the wild. Whether it's through pushing themselves physically or giving them space to embrace the environment around them, I hope they’ll get a taste of how powerful that connection can be.

Eliza Maleski

Lead Instructor

When I was 15, I spent a month out of my summer break on a Montana Conservation Corps crew. I remember rolling back home into Bozeman, throwing my dirty, haggard backpack in my parents' car, and declaring that I would be sleeping in the yard for the rest of the summer. The experience left me with a growing sense of independence and aching from laughter.

Last year I graduated from the University of Montana with a BS in Geography, focusing mostly on the complexity of water resources in the West. While in school, I also worked at the U of M's Outdoor Program where I gained experience leading backcountry trips and teaching outdoor skills classes to fellow students.

Thanks to the support of my parents and countless mentors, I have continued to prioritize playing and working outside. I feel very lucky to get to teach and learn alongside instructors and students in the amazing classrooms Montana has to offer.

When I’m not in the field with Montana Wilderness School I am likely somewhere around Bozeman or Missoula, skiing, kayaking, or riding my bike!

Katie Colson

Lead Instructor

I spent my childhood in the Pacific Northwest among stunning Cascade volcanoes. It was only a matter of time before I found myself hiking in the Columbia River Gorge just about every weekend. I eventually set my sights on the summits of the cascades, and climbed Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and South Sister by the time I was graduating high school. My growing passion for the outdoors took me to Colorado for my undergraduate degree. It was there where I was introduced to the world of climbing and never looked back. After growing my technical skills, I decided to make my hobbies a career and started working for Colorado State University’s outdoor program. I found so much joy in introducing my peers to new places and skills. From backcountry skiing, to traditional rock climbing to mountaineering, I loved the challenge of teaching new skills to others. My drive for experiencing true wilderness pushed me to find a job as an ice climbing and glacier guide in Wrangell St. Elias National Park in Alaska for two summers. As I continued my education and work, I discovered my love for teaching and outdoor education. I dedicated a year of my undergraduate degree to environmental education, where I found myself creating lesson plans to teach fourth grade students how to identify “scat”. I’ll let you imagine how well that went.

After graduating from Colorado State University, I am so excited to bring my passions to Montana and spend the summer in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. When not working for MWS, you can probably find me rock climbing, somewhere high in the alpine or on a road trip in my stylish Honda Element, or as I like to call it, my “hotelement”.

Brian Curnutte

Lead Instructor

My passion for the outdoors began in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where I was born and raised. Growing up there provided me with amazing opportunities to spend my time outside skiing, biking, and rafting. By high school, I knew I wanted to work outside so I started looking for a degree that could make that happen. Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO, offered an Adventure Education degree, but first I took a semester off and lived in a truck with my best friend for three months. We traveled around the Southwestern U.S. teaching ourselves how to rock climb along the way. 

Studying Adventure Education solidified my desire to pursue a career in the outdoors and also introduced me to the outdoor education industry. In college I was given many opportunities to experience the outdoor education industry. I worked with local elementary schools and nature conservatories to teach local youth about the environment. I also worked for Keystone Science School for a summer where we would spread environmental awareness and go on adventures. 

Facilitating new and meaningful experiences in the outdoors is one of my favorite aspects of outdoor education and something I am looking forward to this summer. My outdoor experiences and relationships have shaped me into the person I am today, and I am so excited to help the youth experience the same things I did.

When I am not working, you can find me rock climbing, skiing, or paddling on the river, I love to spend my free time outside!

Lexi Kyro

Lead Instructor

I grew up in Seattle and had the privilege of chasing my family through the North Cascades from the time I was a young kiddo and have loved it ever since. I moved to Montana to study environmental health and play in the mountains surrounding Bozeman. When not in school, I love to climb, run, surf or ski and these experiences I have had playing outside have been some of the most joyous moments in my life. As this has been something so important to me, I want others to have the opportunity to experience the beauty and power of nature as well. This desire for others to have these experiences led me to Montana Wilderness School last summer and has me coming back again to empower others to have these experiences as well.

Megan Compton

Lead Instructor

I was raised in a small suburb in New Jersey that overlooked NYC. With civilization in every direction, the 5 square miles of forest in my county was my wilderness. I was able to recognize the way I felt in those birch trees and creeks, as authentic, honest, and alive.

I knew I had to pursue the realness of nature, and studied Outdoor Adventure Leadership at Ithaca College in upstate NY. This program brought me on a series of adventures starting with a 90-day Outward Bound course along the West Coast. The understanding that living outside is more than navigating unknown landscapes, became ensnaring. Communication, empowerment, decision making, risk management, and group cohesion can make or break an experience. Shortly after, I led crews through the National Forests of Idaho with the Idaho Conservation Corps on 5-week hitches. The healing benefits of being outside for extended periods of time were obvious for my students. It inspired me to combine the backcountry with therapy and move to Utah to work in Wilderness Therapy, backpacking with at-risk teens. Since then, I moved to Montana to work at MWS! This is my third season with the team, and I feel lucky to work with such an amazing crew of folks, especially the rad students that make this all worth it.

Logan Daughetee

Assistant Instructor

I grew up in Iowa, and was lucky to be a part of a family who valued the outdoors. Trips to the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming instilled in me a love of wild places and a passion to explore. As soon as I could manage, I decided to follow that passion and started out on my own path out west. The experiences I've had in the outdoors have benefited and taught me so much. I decided that I not only wanted to spend my time experiencing these places, but that I wanted to share them with others. I eventually made my way to Bozeman, where I have loved exploring the amazing landscapes Montana has to offer. When not working you can find me exploring the mountain ranges of Montana and beyond. I am excited to share in these adventures with you all!

Kayla Wales

Assistant Instructor

I was born in Bozeman and raised by two outdoor enthusiasts who strapped me into their packs and introduced me to wild spaces from day one. I never fully understood why people thought Bozeman was such an incredible outdoor recreation hotspot and was fixed on leaving until college. As I explored other states and landscapes more, I started to understand why Montana was considered so special. My exposure to wild spaces in high school through MWS as a student had set a high standard that was hard to beat. The more avenues of backcountry travel I ventured into the more I realized how much surface was left to scratch.

I am now an Environmental Studies major with a History minor at Montana State University. I found my community through working for the Outdoor Recreation Program; outdoor education has since become a deep interest of mine. I am beyond excited to return to MWS this summer and get to once again learn about Montana and recreation and the joys that come from combining the two.

Anna Dye

Assistant Instructor

I was born and raised in Red Lodge, MT, spending as much time as possible outside with my parents, two brothers, and our family dogs, and helping out at my family’s outdoor store, Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop. And I quickly discovered my love for wild spaces backpacking in the Beartooth Mountains.

I left Montana to attend Sterling College, in Craftsbury, VT, where I just wrapped up my BA in Outdoor Education. Courses like Intro to Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing, Gear Design and Repair, Expedition Planning and Management, Experiential Curriculum Design, Education, and Learning Theory focused on technical as well as interpersonal skills. As a Teaching Assistant, I taught two separate introductory backpacking trips, a Nordic skiing class, the Expedition Planning and Management class, and a few others. 

Some of my other passions include; gear repair, sewing, making my own outdoor gear (mostly stuff sacks and zip bags, not anything too fancy yet), mountain biking, rock climbing, cross country skiing, hiking, backpacking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, knitting, alpine botany, nature writing, and spending time outside with my partner and my family. 

I am very excited to be working for MWS as an Assistant Wilderness Instructor this year. I remember my first backpacking trip away from my family and how much of an impact that made on my life. I also think spending time outdoors reminds us that life can be simple, fulfilling, and challenging all at the same time.

Alex Fluegel

Assistant Instructor

Spending time in wild places has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado where I spent much of my childhood skiing, camping, hiking, and more with my family. In high school, I was fortunate to participate in two extended wilderness backpacking courses in Wyoming’s Absaroka Range, and Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains. These experiences solidified my connection to the outdoors, and I discovered my passion for outdoor education. Being outside drew deeper meaning and allowed me to not only connect with the places I was traveling in, but connect with myself as well. I knew that I wanted to provide individuals an opportunity to connect with themselves through a different lens, a goal I have dedicated much of my life and studies to.

I initially attended Montana State University where I was able to form a connection to the surrounding wilderness. I then transferred to the University of Utah and graduated with a degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism with an emphasis in Outdoor Recreation Studies and Adventure and Outdoor Programming. While in college, I fell in love with backcountry skiing and the world of avalanche education, safety, and rescue, canyoneering in Southern Utah, climbing, backpacking, and just about any other outdoor sport.

I am thrilled to be joining the MWS instructor team this season to teach and assist students in gaining similar connections and skills to those that I have made.

Kailey Toia


I grew up in Upstate New York, with the Adirondacks as my home mountains. I went to school at Skidmore College where I was able to lead for our Outing Club as I pursued my degree in Environmental Science. Since graduating I’ve done a mix of environmental education and outdoor education. I find having a place that mixes those two is where I’m best suited to teach and learn. Snowboard instructing is what brought me to the Bozeman area, but it is far from the only thing keeping me here. The natural beauty of this land and all the other sports I’ve been able to try while being here has been truly magical. I am looking forward to the summer ahead to learn and be outside with some likeminded folks. It is every moment outside that makes it special, big and small. Keeping the connection alive is all I strive to do, for myself and others.

Jacob Northcutt

Lead Instructor

I was born and raised in New England where I was fortunate to be introduced to backpacking and hiking at an early age. In college, I helped run my school’s outdoor club and became interested in rock climbing and other vertical pursuits. After graduation, I worked seasonally at various conservation organizations in the Northeast and focused on becoming a more proficient as a climber and mountaineer. After a few seasons of seasonal work, I accepted a position as an intern teacher at The Putney School (VT), where I taught courses and was one of the faculty advisors of the Putney Outing Program. After a year at Putney, I accepted a faculty position at The White Mountain School (NH) where I taught courses in the English and History Departments and coached a rock-climbing team in the school’s AMGA accredited climbing program. In summer 2018, I left The White Mountain School to pursue graduate studies. I have an MA in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah, and I am now pursuing doctoral studies in the History Department at Montana State University. My dissertation research focuses on mountaineering history and U.S. state development in North America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Throughout my career as an educator I have always been interested in outdoor, experiential education. As an instructor, I am always looking for ways for my students to be involved in hands-on learning experiences in the field, where they can connect with human and more-than-human communities. I am excited to join the MWS instructor community this summer and bring my passion for outdoor, place-based education to MWS. Wilderness expeditions are an incredible way to learn about yourself and your place in the world, and I look forwarding to traveling through the wild lands of Montana this summer with my students and fellow instructors at MWS. When I’m not reading books or researching for my dissertation, you will most likely find me rock climbing in Gallatin Canyon, ice climbing in Hyalite, skiing at Bridger Bowl, skating laps in Sourdough Canyon, or on a trail somewhere in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – it just depends on the season. 

Jordan Allen

Lead Instructor

I was born and raised in southeast Idaho, a place surrounded by mountains and wide open spaces. I spent my childhood splashing in the mountain streams and climbing the basalt cliffs that surrounded my home. As I grew older I knew that wild places were a part of me and I could never live far from remoteness; it was this feeling that led me to pursuing my education in Bozeman. While at Montana State I studied glacial geology because it allowed me to learn about the natural world while getting into wild places. I loved my time in academia, but I realized that the ivory tower of research science was somewhere I wanted to visit, not to live in. Since completing my degrees I have moved into seasonal vocations. In the winter I work as a ski patroller, which affords me the gall to be a healthcare provider and explosives handler at the same time. During the summer months I am fortunate to work for an organization that shares my beliefs that wild places are valuable not only for their physical resources, but for the connections that they bring. When I am not on the job you can find me on the trails with my dog or looking for soft snow with friends.

Adam Bavier

Lead Instructor

I spent the first 20+ years of my life in New Jersey, but was privileged to have access to adventure experiences through a family and community who valued time outdoors. As a child, I was interested in science exploration and high adventure. I grew up admiring David Douglas, Aragorn, and Lynn Hill. 

My professional journey has taken me from leading backpacking and climbing trips in Joshua Tree, to environmental education on Mount Rainier, to expeditionary field science experiences in Yellowstone. Missoula was home for many years and the Bitterroots remain my favorite mountain range. I did my graduate studies at Montana State here in Bozeman.

I am drawn to this work in search of those moments when my students say “I am certain I cannot do that, but I am willing to try.” While my career has been varied, I have been lucky to have had many, many opportunities to help others confront challenge and feel less afraid. 

In my spare time you can typically find me working. When I can get it, I enjoy reading and writing, climbing rock and ice, ski touring, and working my way through my AMGA progression. Any time spent working in Montana is good time, but it is a special treat to be avoiding the 100+ degree days back home in Fruita, Colorado where I am a faculty member at Colorado Mesa University.

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!

Montana Wilderness School
PO Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771

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