Originally from a farm in southwest Minnesota, Aaron worked as a hydrologic technician for the Kootenai National Forest in the mid-1990s before going on to serve three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives from a rural district. He brings 25 years of experience in policy and project leadership to YVFC as a former legislator, nonprofit manager, and wind and solar energy project developer. Aaron also worked as congressional staff in Washington, D.C. on agriculture, trade, mining, forestry, rural development, and environmental issues. Aaron’s latest experience brings him to Montana from Washington state where he worked on salmon habitat restoration policy and programs. Aaron holds a BS in geology and watershed science from Colorado State University and an MPA in environmental policy from the University of Washington. When not working, Aaron can be found Nordic skiing, fly fishing, camping, and hiking in Montana and throughout the western states.
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Born in a log cabin by the Kootenai River and raised on a homestead in the Yaak, Willow's lifelong fascination with wild animals and places is manifest in her career as an Evolutionary Ecologist. Her deep love for biology is paired with an equal respect and commitment to the greater Yaak ecoregion and the community of people who live there. Like many of her cohorts from Troy, Montana, Willow worked seasonally for the US Forest Service through college, first on timber crew and then trail crew, building an intimate knowledge of the forests and ridgelines of the Yaak. After completing a Bachelor’s in Wildlife Biology at University of Montana, Willow studied hormones and behavior in Australian fairy-wrens, earning a PhD from Washington State University in 2010. Willow then spearheaded field research out of the University of Mississippi on neurological regulation of courtship dance in birds of the South American jungles. Willow is currently at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, working on a series of studies which illustrate the profound consequences of habitat fragmentation and local climate variability on the health of wild reptiles. This work motivates Willow's desire to contribute towards outreach education, research, and species conservation with a goal towards preservation of biodiversity in the Yaak and worldwide. She provides scientific input on all land management activities in which the YVFC engages.
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Anthony has called NW Montana home since 2006. Being outdoors hiking, fly-fishing and pursuing wildlife/landscape photography sparked the connection to the wild places that Anthony now adamantly works to restore and protect. He has worked with the Yaak Valley Forest Council since 2013, implementing restoration projects on local waterways and data collection throughout the area. To his work as Field Crew Leader, Anthony brings experience in backcountry trail work, wilderness first-aid, knowledge of the area and a passion to rehabilitate and preserve the unique bio-diversity of the one and only Yaak valley.Contact Anthony at email@example.com
Ashley grew up in the Troy area and spent much of her time in the outdoors growing up. Calling the Yaak Valley home, she works with the Headwaters field crew and wears many hats for the organization including Office Manager, Social Media Coordinator, Field Crew Technician, and Coordinator for our Pacific NW Trail campaign. Ashley started volunteering with the Yaak Valley Forest Council when she was 15 years old, and has been a part of our conservation work ever since. Ashley enjoys spending her time exploring and adventuring with her family, and restoring the wild Yaak landscape with the field crew team.
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Claire Walpole is a native of the Northwest and lived in the Bonners Ferry-Sandpoint area of North Idaho for 18 years before moving to the Yaak in 2013. Claire had a 35-year clerical career in the legal field and retired after almost 12 years of service in the Bonner County Public Defender’s Office in Sandpoint, Idaho. Claire’s clerical, administrative and legal experience is a great asset to our grant manager position. For all of her adult life Claire has been interested in medicinal herbs and is particularly interested in the native medicinal plants found wherever she has made her home. Claire also has a long-time interest in any aspect of American Indian culture, history and world view and is a partner at Willow Bend Trading Post located near the 37 mile marker on the Yaak River Road. Claire is delighted to make her home on the Yaak and be part of the team that is protecting, restoring and connecting this landscape.Contact Claire at email@example.com
Sierra Owen, Headwaters Field Crew – Sierra is the backbone and grounding force of the Headwaters Restoration Partnership project and, in her own words, shares the experience of working with the YVFC. Fifteen years ago I took a summer job working for the Yaak Valley Forest Council not realizing how indelibly my life would be changed by it. That summer I spent in the field working for the Headwaters Sediment Source Survey project, which had the admirable if daunting goal of surveying (on foot) the length of every stream in the headwaters of the Yaak watershed. As I crawled, climbed, and scrambled through the nooks and crannies in the forgotten corners of the Yaak, my eyes were thrown wide open to the astonishing variety and abundance of life in this forest. Following the streams as if they were the arteries of the forest, I saw for the first time how many diverse and connected ecosystems are crammed into this relatively small local landscape. The abundance of life and life-giving things in our forests was like nowhere else I'd ever seen, and I understood for the first time what it truly meant to call this place my home. Fifteen years later my life here has grown to include a husband, two amazing kids, and eight acres of heaven. Still, every year from the time the snow leaves until it returns I am out putting boots on the ground and miles under my belt for the YVFC and for the forest. And we are thankful she been here with us all these years protecting and restoring this landscape.