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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A native New Yorker, Jane grew up spending as much time as she could outdoors in the North Woods of Manhattan, and later leading backpacking trips in New England’s Green and White Mountains. After graduating from Brown University with a degree in Classics and Mathematics with course work in ecology, biology, and environmental law and policy. she moved to Colorado to dig trails with the Southwest Conservation Corps and fell in love with the West. Jane made her way to Montana in Spring of 2018. She joined our staff in December and is living in Troy. She is thrilled to join the YVFC in its mission to protect this remarkable landscape, and eager to learn more about it and the communities of northwest Montana.
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Shawna grew up in Troy, MT. After graduating from Troy High School, she graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Anthropology and International Development. After returning to Troy in 2008, she worked for Troy Public Schools before taking on the development and implementation of the YVFC's Conservation Education Program. Over the years, Shawna's role has grown to include the Community Development Program allowing her to build on a healthier and more resilient vision for her hometown.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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 support, social media coordinator 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. She stays busy with her second job as the Advertising Director for a local newspaper. Ashley enjoys spending her time exploring and adventuring with her family and restoring the wild Yaak landscape with the field crew team.
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.