Meet Your Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute Instructors

They’ll guide you through field and stream, introduce you to the wildlife, and ensure the very best views. But most of all, our Field Institute instructors will share a contagious passion for Rocky Mountain National Park. We’d love for you to meet them.


Dr. Tom Adams – Tom has prowled RMNP since 1959, exploring backcountry lakes and streams in all seasons of the year. Formerly an elementary school teacher, he now spends his days astream and skiing. Tom guides fly-fishers for Scot’s Sporting Goods in Estes Park (20 years), writes an outdoors column for The Greeley Tribune, and recently retired after 25 years of training teachers through the BUENO Center at Colorado University-Boulder.


Rachel Balduzzi – Rachel is the Field Institute education director for the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. She holds a master’s degree in education and worked as an RMNP interpretation ranger as well as the lead education technician for the park’s environmental education division. Rachel also has taught elementary school in Estes Park.


Leanne Benton- Leanne is a former ranger-naturalist in Rocky Mountain National Park who has led wildflower and tundra ecology walks in the park for 25 years and has studied and photographed the park’s wildflowers for more than 30 years.


Jeff Connor – Jeff is a retired natural resources specialist who worked for 35 years in the federal government. Jeff retired after 25 years as a natural resources specialist in Rocky Mountain National Park where he was involved with bighorn sheep management. In 2012, Jeff and other park staff started a Citizen Science program that has an ecological relationship with the Estes Park and St. Vrain school systems, as well as a school in Monteverde, Costa Rica, which is part of the Agua y Paz Biosphere Reserve.


Perry Conway- Perry has been a full-time professional nature photographer for more than 30 years. His work, including many images of elk and aspen trees, has been published in every major wildlife and nature magazine produced in North America. He is a former biology teacher with an M.S. degree in curriculum development in outdoor education.


Kevin J. Cook- Since 1974, Kevin has explored Colorado to experience its wild life firsthand.  He studies all major life groups – bacteria, protists, plants, fungi, and animals – with a special enthusiasm devoted to their intricate and myriad connectedness.  He takes his passion from the textbooks and journals into the field to find the creatures for real.  He writes natural history columns for newspapers and magazines, edits technical articles for scientific publications, leads wildlife observation tours, teaches various wild life classes, and presents monthly lectures at several Colorado venues.


Bob Dean – While working in the fast-paced high-tech world, Bob found relaxation in nature and wildlife photography. Since his retirement from the corporate world, he has “focused” on nature, wildlife and travel photography. Bob teaches and lectures at many Colorado venues including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and has written three eBooks: Macro Photography – Bringing the Small World to Life, Travel Photography for Fun and Profit(?), and Digital Nature Photography – Nature and Wildlife for the Experienced Photographer. He has also published images and articles and was an assistant editor and featured writer/photographer for First Light Monthly Newsletter for Nature Photographers.


Geoff Elliot- Geoff manages the Conservation Corps program for the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. He graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in philosophy focused in environmental ethics and philosophy.


Margaret (Peggy) Ellis– Peggy spent 25 years with the U.S. Geological Survey.  During past years, she assisted with  and taught map-and-compass and GPS classes. She now teaches classes at the Bass Pro Shop in Denver and in several parks around Denver.


Tena and Fred Engelman – Tena and Fred are volunteer field researchers and recently concluded RMNP’s first survey of hummingbird species and habitat, giving new insight into hummingbird survivorship, behavior, courtship and nesting area fidelity, migration routes and timing, and populations. Their work provides useful reference for ornithologists, resource managers and park interpretive personnel.


Dr. Scott Franklin-  Scott studies disturbance and vegetation dynamics, having received his PhD in 1996 from Southern Illinois University. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts, several book chapters, and co-authored one book on forest dendrology. He serves as Chair of ESA’s Vegetation Classification Panel and as an Associate Editor of Vegetation Ecology for The American Midland Naturalist journal. His research currently examines long-term changes in Front Range forests, classification of the Pawnee National Grassland vegetation communities, response of aspen to disturbance, and plant competitive interactions.


Jennifer Frazer – Jennifer is an award-winning science writer, blogger for Scientific American, and is a trained mycologist. She is a member of the Colorado Mycological Society, has been a guest on Radiolab, and has participated as a group leader in two scientific surveys of the fungi of Rocky Mountain National Park. She is passionate about biology and natural history and making them fun and entertaining for others.


Suzie Garner – Suzie teaches graphic design and drawing at Colorado Mesa University where she is the head of the art department. She also is a designer, oil painter and avid sketchbook artist. She has conducted workshops in many national parks and monuments in the West and has exhibited nationally and internationally.


Keith Graham – With B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in geology, Keith has taught geology and other earth sciences for more than 35 years. He volunteers on the west side of the park, leads a weekly RMNP tundra geology hike during the summer months, conducts geology field trips and has coauthored several papers pertaining to park geology.


Jared Gricoskie – Jared owns Yellow Wood Guiding in Estes Park, specializing in nature tours and photo safaris in RMNP. With a degree in environmental interpretation, he has worked as a naturalist from Colorado to New York and Michigan to Texas. Since 2008, Jared has explored and researched the flora and fauna of the Rocky Mountains.


Stan Honda – Stan has 34 years of photojournalism experience in New York City and southern California. He has been a National Park Service artist-in-residence in five national parks, including Rocky Mountain, and has presented talks and workshops at Rocky’s Night Sky Festival. Stan’s night sky landscapes have appeared on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, CBS Morning News, Sky and Telescope magazine and Yahoo News.


Dr. Don Hunter – Don helped to establish and run the Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy (RMCC), a nonprofit, nongovernment organization dedicated to wild cat conservation, research and community stewardship. Currently, he is the science director for RMCC. He also directed a study of RMNP mountain lion ecology that complemented his research on snow leopards in central Asia.


Russell Hunter – Russell has been teaching avalanche education since 1996.  His experiences have included leading two-week winter expeditions for NOLS and guiding hikers on Denali. He recently became the owner of the Colorado Mountain School, the country’s largest provider of the AIARE avalanche education curriculum.


Kurtis Kelly – A well-known performer, actor and storyteller in Estes Park, Kurtis  portrays Abner Sprague and gives living history reenactments of local figures like F.O. Stanley and Lord Dunraven. He has led ghost story tours of the Stanley Hotel and has appeared on National Public Radio and performed in many theatrical productions.


Lee Kline – A native Coloradan, outdoorsman and amateur naturalist, Lee is an accomplished photographer and writer.  His articles and images have appeared in magazines, books, calendars, interpretive displays, advertising and other media. His award-winning photography is recognized internationally and he is author of Colorado Wildlife Portfolio and the DVD Through My Lens – A North American Wildlife Picture Show


Timothy Korpita – After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Tufts University, Tim spent four years as a high school science teacher in Brooklyn, New York, teaching classes like AP Biology and Urban Ecology. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder. His research on probiotic bacteria in Rocky Mountain National Parks wetlands was supported by the Rocky Mountain Conservancy’s Bailey Research Fellowship in 2017.


Caroline Krumm – Caroline helped establish and operate the Rocky Mountain Cat Conservancy (RMCC), a nonprofit, nongovernment organization dedicated to wild cat conservation, research and community stewardship. She currently is the director of RMCC and recently completed a master’s degree studying the issue of mountain lion “prey preference” for chronic wasting disease-infected mule deer.


Dr. David Lindsey – With a Ph.D. degree in geology from Johns Hopkins University, David served as research geologist/administrator at the U.S. Geological Survey for more than 30 years. He is scientist emeritus at the U.S.G.S. in Lakewood, Colorado, and has written three geology pamphlets published by the U.S. Geological Survey


Donna Lyons – Donna is a practicing watercolor painter with degrees in painting and art education. A retired elementary art and kindergarten teacher, she now teaches painting workshops throughout the West. Donna is the author of the book My Kawuneeche – An Artist’s Journal in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Jan Manning – With a degree in wildlife biology, Jan’s passion for American history led him to begin researching and providing living history presentations at venues across the western United States, including the Denver Art Museum, Museum of Western Art, National Wildlife Federation and Los Angeles Museum of Natural History.


Charlotte Mason – Charlotte is the Educational Outreach and Programs Director at the Estes Park Environmental Center. She has spent many seasons teaching environmental education and leading naturalist tours in various environments, including in Utah, Hawaii and the Front Range. She has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and has studied invasive plant species in Indiana and Germany. Charlotte has also studied Environmental Impact Assessment in Kenya.


Jeff Maugans – Jeff worked as a naturalist for the National Park Service for 32 years with a special interest in birds. With his degree in outdoor education and natural science, Jeff has worked at Mammoth Cave National Park, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Edison National Historic Site, Gateway National Park, Redwood National Park and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. He came to RMNP in 1990.


Dr. Paul Opler and Evi Buckner-Opler – Paul and Evi have been teaching butterfly natural history classes since 1992, for the RM Conservancy, Teton Science School and San Francisco State University. Paul is a professor at Colorado State University and has written the eastern and western Peterson Butterfly Field Guides. He is an internationally recognized expert on butterfly conservation, butterfly ecology and classification. Evi is a retired school teacher, nature photographer and artist.


Dr. James Pickering – Jim is historian laureate of the Town of Estes Park and retiree as professor of English at the University of Houston where he also served as dean, provost and president. He has written or edited 30 books on the RMNP-Estes Park region, Colorado and the West, including Joe Mills of Estes Park: A Colorado Life (2013) and his most recent book Rocky Mountain National Park Reader (2015). Jim was recently elected president of the Rocky Mountain Conservancy board of directors


Deborah Price – Deborah is an environmental educator serving as education liaison for Boulder County Parks and Open Space. For more than a decade, she has taught people of all ages about basic astronomy and helped them gain a better understanding of our solar system and the universe. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University, with a major in natural resource recreation and tourism.


Paul Price – Paul is an avid amateur astronomer who loves to help people discover the universe with the aid of telescopes. By day, he is a database administrator for the United States Department of Agriculture; by night, he looks up to the skies. He is also an award-winning woodcarver and teaches woodcarving classes.


Peter Price – Peter has 45 years of experience in the resource industries and education and has used GPS since the launch of the system. He has taught GPS as part of a GIS curriculum for many years and is currently GIS faculty at Front Range Community College-Boulder County campus. He continues to consult as a geologist and certified GIS professional.


Karen Ramsay – A graduate of Colorado Institute of Art in Denver, Karen has studied under talented artists including Charles Reid, Burton Silverman, Frank Webb and Eric Weingardt. She was recognized in Big Sky Journal as an Artist of the West in 2001.


Chris Ray – Chris is a research associate with the University of Colorado’s

Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research and has been the outreach coordinator for the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research program. She has studied the American pika throughout the western U.S. and has coauthored many publications about this species. Her background is in theoretical/mathematical ecology.


Abby Schreiber – Abby holds a master’s degree and has been an environmental educator, a national park ranger, a Native Plant Master Trainer for Colorado State University and a Clinical Herbalist. She attended the Southwest School for Botanical Medicine and then opened a holistic healthcare private practice. Ethnobotany and ecopsychology are her current passions. She is affiliate faculty at Metro State University in Denver.


Jeremy Siemers– Jeremy has worked with bats for nearly 20 years and is the lead zoologist for the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, a research program at Colorado State University. He has conducted surveys and bat monitoring throughout Colorado in habitats ranging from caves and mines to stock ponds and cattle troughs.  He also is involved in the North American Bat Monitoring Program, a continent-wide effort to monitor bats.


Eli Vega – Eli is an award-winning published photo artist with more than 20 years of experience. He is a presenter and art competition judge for many Front Range camera clubs. In addition to freelancing, he is the author of Right Brain Photography (Be an artist first). He also teaches photography for the City of Longmont, the Louisville Art Association, and Arapahoe Community College.


Dawn Wilson – Dawn is an award-winning nature photographer specializing in photographing the wildlife of high latitudes and high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains and Alaska. Her work has been published in numerous regional and national publications, and she published her first book in 2011 — Colorado: Flora, Fauna and Landscapes From the Perspective of Women — and recently published an ebook titled Preparing for the Next Shoot: Ten Tips to Get You to the Right Place at the Right Time.


Dr. Ellen Wohl – Ellen is a professor of geology at Colorado State University, holding a Ph.D. degree from the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on river form and function, particularly in mountain streams. She has conducted field research on every continent except Antarctica and published nearly 200 scientific papers, two textbooks, and eight nontechnical books about rivers. She has been conducting research in Rocky Mountain National Park for more than ten years.


Mary Taylor Young – A degree in zoology and a life devoted to nature, wildlife and the environment led Mary to become an award-winning nature writer. She is the author of 13 books, including Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years, The Guide to Colorado Reptiles and Amphibians and The Guide to Colorado Mammals. She has published hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Her “Words on Birds” column ran in the Rocky Mountain News for 16 years.