our team

MWS 2019 - 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 & Development Assistant.

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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STEPHEN HALVORSON MD

Medical Advisor

Steve has had the good fortune of integrating interests in wilderness, medicine, travel and youth development beginning with the outdoor recreation program at UC Berkeley, where he earned a BS in resource economics and a minor in writing. From the University of Montana, he earned a BA in biology with an emphasis in riparian ecology. In between, he served various roles for urban and rural youth corps, taught climbing and guided river trips in the US and Central America. While a medical student at the University of New Mexico, he initiated research in acute mountain sickness and subsequently volunteered for the Himalayan Rescue Association in Pheriche and with the Everest ER. He currently is the co-medical director for the Hardrock 100 and serves as physician advisor for youth development groups and wilderness outfitters. He continues to teach wilderness medicine for WMA and other organizations in and outside the US. When not at work, he drafts his son through the varied terrain of the Northern Rockies.


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2019-2020 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

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

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.

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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