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Adult Field Course Instructors

  • Aerie School for Backcountry Medicine Instructors are emergency care providers and have firsthand experience managing backcountry medical emergencies as EMT’s and nurses. All instructors possess years of experience in the wilderness.
  •  Alan Leftridge:  is an interpretive trainer, an interpretive writer, and a meeting facilitator. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology at the University of Central Missouri, and a Ph.D. in science education and cultural geography at Kansas State University. His career has included teaching high school science in West Yellowstone, science courses at Miami University, and environmental studies at Humboldt State University. He has worked in the field of interpretation and education since 1972, as a public school science teacher, a university professor, a seasonal naturalist in Yellowstone National Park, and a wilderness ranger in the Mission Mountains Wilderness in Montana.   
  • Ashley Mason: is a veteran in the field of conservation education on Northwest Montana. Formerly a Glacier National Park naturalist, she has also worked with organizations such as The Glacier Institute, the Crown of the Continent Education Consortium, Swan Ecosystem Center, Flathead Land Trust, Road Scholars, and Upward Bound. She is currently the conservation educator for Flathead Audubon Society.  She received her B.S. in geology from Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. with minors in biology and music, and completed graduate studies in environmental studies at the University of Montana. She lives in Kalispell with her husband, two daughters, cat and six chickens. She loves to make her programs as fun as they are informative! 
  • Brian Baxter: earned his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Western Carolina University. He is a wildlife researcher and project coordinator for Silver Cloud Associates, a natural resource information company based in Libby, Montana. He has been involved in forest carnivore research in North America for the past fifteen years and is a member of the Western Forest Carnivore Committee. His published works include "On Silent Feet, Following the Lynx Pathways”, an article in Montana Magazine, January/February, 2002.
  • Brian Williams: started teaching 15 years ago at Boy Scout camp and has been enjoying it ever since.  He earned an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana during which time he created the Naturalist class for the MNHC that continues today.  He recently spent two years in South Texas leading bird-watching and wildlife tours on King Ranch, but he’s glad to be back in the land of snow and mountains teaching kids natural history once again.  Brian is the Assistant Education Director at the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula, and creator of the Montana Master Naturalist program.  Brian has graduated a dozen classes of Master Naturalists since the program’s inception in 2009.
  • Carol Medlicott: earned her M.A. and Ph.D in Geography from UCLA.  Currently, Carol is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Geography at Northern Kentucky University, located in the Cincinnati, Ohio, metropolitan area.  Carol's research lies in American historical geography, both in the period of early frontier expansion in the Rocky Mountain west and in the period of early 20th century tourism development in that region.  Her work has been widely published in journals, including the Journal of Historical Geography, and the journals of the Society for the History of Discovery and the American Antiquarian Society.  Carol has been coming to Glacier National Park for more than twenty years and has made it her summer home. She is interested in the changing patterns of human cultural adaptation to the landscape of the Park and surrounding region.
  • Dan Casey: Dan earned his M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University.  He is the Northern Rockies Coordinator for the American Bird Conservancy. He teaches birding classes at Flathead Valley Community College and is a board member and field trip leader for Flathead Audubon. He brings practical knowledge of bird identification from over three decades as a professional ornithologist.  He authored the Montana Partners in Flight Bird Conservation Plan,Birding Hotspots in the Flathead and numerous articles for Bird Conservation and Birding North America.
  • Dave Shea: earned his M.S. in Resource Conservation and his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from University of Montana. He has explored Glacier National Park during his thirty-five years as a supervisory backcountry ranger and biologist. In addition to working for the Park Service, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a wildlife biologist and botanist. Dave has published several works including Bald Eagle Concentrations in Glacier National Park, Animal Tracks of Glacier, and Glacier’s Bird and Mammal Checklists.
  • Dave Streeter: graduated with an economics degree from Hamline University in 1967.  He then obtained a graduate degree in Management from the Management Internship Program in Saranac Lake, NY in 1969. For the last 25 years he has been instructing and leading general naturalist non-credit courses for Elderhostel (now Road Scholar). The course Dave leads for Elderhostel is titled "Bears & Berries of Glacier and Other Related Topics”.  Dave has spent extensive time hiking the trails of Glacier National Park and studying it subjects.  He appeared as the featured instructor and hike leader in a CNN report on active senior citizens.  Dave possesses a wealth of naturalist knowledge on many Glacier National Park topics including: bears, mountain goats, pikas, wolves, wolverines, flowers, trees, geology, winter ecology, and alpine recreation.      
  • Denny Olson, a.k.a. “Critterman,” earned his M.S. in Zoology with a minor in Geology. He is a writer, actor and television personality. His master’s theses on loons led to a census technique still used in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He has published numerous books including Shared Spirits: Wildlife and Native AmericansSpecial Gifts: In Search of Love and HonorCougars: Solitary SpiritsWisdom Warrior, and Way of the Whitetail.                
  • Doug Chadwick: earned his M.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana. Doug conducted research on mountain goats in the Crown of the Continent ecosystem throughout the 1970's and published the definitive work: A Beast the Color of Winter in 1983.
  • Ellen Horowitz: earned her B.S. in Resource Recreation Management from Oregon State University with emphasis in botany, entomology and environmental interpretation. She has conducted field courses and natural history tours in and around Glacier for more than 35 years. Ellen currently works as a free-lance writer and instructor for Flathead Valley Community College and Road Scholar.
  • Greg Peters: lives in Missoula and works as an adjunct instructor of Biology for Missoula College UM and The University of Montana.  Greg loves exploring the open spaces and mountainsides around western Montana, finding flowers, birds, and the untamed wildness.  greg enjoys working in his garden and trying now combinations of locally grown food.  
  • Janet Paul Bones: earned her M.Ed. in Environmental Science Education from the University of Montana. She is a teacher in the Flathead Valley and has developed science curriculum for several local school districts. She grew up spending summers in Glacier and later became a Glacier Park ranger-naturalist and an interpreter for the U.S. Forest Service. Since 1992, Janet has been study leader for the Smithsonian Institution’s tour of Glacier National Park.   
  • Jeff Kuhn: earned his M.S. in Geology from University of Montana. He has worked in Glacier National Park as a seasonal ranger at the Belly River Ranger Station and at Park Headquarters for over ten years. He currently works as a manager and hydrogeologist for the Petroleum Release section of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
  • Jerda Smeltzer: earned her M.S. in Geology, with a focus on hydrogeology, geochemistry and microbiology from the University of Montana. She is a geologist, outdoor educator, naturalist and photographer currently working in the Rockies and Olympics. She has created Ancestral Voice Photography and her work has been exhibited in galleries across the west, featured in numerous publications including Montana Magazine, the Denver Post, Aussie Times and the Seattle Times and is highlighted on dozens of websites.
  • Jessica Crowley: Field Research Coordinator and Educator. Crowley has worked for ORI since 2005, studying Barn, Long-eared, Northern Hawk, and Snowy Owls. She has also studied the effect of avian conservation programs in human-dominated landscapes. She is also a talented educator, working for many conservation groups in western Montana. Crowley has a degree in Resource conservation and Wilderness Studies, from University of Montana.   
  • John Ashley: earned his B.A. in Biology with an emphasis in Natural History from the University of Montana. He has worked to conserve harlequin ducks in Montana, Alberta and British Columbia for more years than he can remember.
  • John Vore: is a 30-year veteran biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.  He spent the first half of his career as a researcher studying elk ecology in areas ranging from the mountain foothill grass-dominated habitats of southwest Montana to the thick, snowy conifer forests of the northwest.  More recently he was an area management biologist in the Bitterroot Valley and now works in northwest Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Swan and Flathead Valleys, and the southern Salish Range.  In addition to elk he has done considerable work on most other big game species as well as hoary marmots, ptarmigan, and porcupines.  His other interests include hunting, wildlife and bird watching, cross-country skiing, hiking, shooting, amateur gunsmithing in his shop, family, dogs, music and poetry.
  • Justin Barth: earned degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies from Pacific Lutheran University.  He has spent four years with the Glacier Institute working at Big Creek and Field Camp.  Justin currently oversees staff and operations of the Glacier Institute Field Camp and holds the Director of Education Position.  He grew up in the Flathead Valley where he spent summers recreating and learning in Glacier National Park.  This set the foundation for the appreciation and understanding he has of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem today.  On his days off, Justin enjoys skiing, running, and climbing peaks in the mountains surrounding the Flathead Valley. 
  • Karen Leigh: Inspired primarily by the beauty and spirit of her native Montana as well as travels abroad, Leigh offers original watercolors and commissioned work. With over 30 years of teaching experience, she is also available as a workshop instructor. Her work is included in the collections of Beringer Wineries, ConAgra Industries and the Smithsonian. She is featured in the Fall 2004 issue of WATERCOLOR magazine and was selected as one of twenty "Ones to Watch" in the 2003 Yearbook Issue of WATERCOLOR MAGIC. A Signature Member of the MTWS, she received the Gold Medal in its 2006 National Juried Show and the President's Award in 2008. Recently, Karen was selected to design an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree and was honored at a reception hosted by the First Lady at the White House. She has also been selected for inclusion in the 2008 and 2009 C.M. Russell "Masters in Miniature" invitational. Karen is a fourth-generation Montanan who has lived in the Flathead Valley near Glacier Park since 1970. She is a honors graduate of MSU with a degree in Graphic Design.    
  • Lowell Jaeger: Teaches creative writing at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana. He is author of four collections of poems: War On War (Utah State University Press, 1988), Hope Against Hope (Utah State University Press 1990), Suddenly Out of a Long Sleep (Arctos Press, 2009), and WE (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2010). Currently Lowell Jaeger serves as Editor of Many Voices Press and is busy compiling New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from western states. He previously edited an anthology of Montana poets, Poems Across the Big Sky. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize and recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council. He lives in Yellow Bay, Montana on Flathead Lake.   
  • Matt Larson: Field Researcher and Educator Larson has worked for ORI since 2008, including study of Northern Hawk and Snowy Owls. Through MILES scholarship program at University of Montana, and under mentorship of ORI, Larson designs and tests survey techniques for Short-eared Owls, a Potential Species of Concern in Montana. A graduate of University of Montana in wildlife biology, Larson is currently conducting advanced studies in both biology and education.   
  • Michael (Mike) Schwitters: From Storm Lake, Iowa, is a retired Air Force Officer and meteorologist. He is retired from a second career as a retirement apartments manager in Choteau, Montana. He holds a master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Texas, Austin. Upon retirement he has actively participated in many wildlife related projects, mostly as a volunteer with various state and federal wildlife agencies.  One of his favorite activities has been to read codes on neckbands put on wild geese. His observations aid biologists in the study of the waterfowl populations.  He has recorded more than 53,000 codes in this pursuit.  His wildlife related projects have taken him to many states and provinces, the Bering Sea, the tropical Pacific and arctic Canada.  The volunteer activities have served as a means to accumulate a life list of North American birds of 797 species, and he has begun to add species to his world list.  He and his wife, Connie, have three adult children, Christopher, Patricia and Brian.
  • Patricia Fialcowitz: earned her B.F.A. in printmaking from Rosemont College. She is a biodynamic farmer, artist and craftsperson. She has been weaving exquisite harvest, market and storage baskets for her produce for over twenty years.
  • Ralph Waldt: served as a naturalist for The Nature Conservancy at Pine Butte Preserve in Montana for eighteen years and now acts as The Nature Conservancy Steward in the San Pedro River area in Southeast Arizona. His recently published book is entitled Crown of the Continent: The Last Great Wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Rick Sheremeta, ME, P.E.: Earned his ME degree in Environmental Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his BS in Civil Engineering from Union College (NY). Rick is a professional photographer and writer. His images and articles on travel, gear and photographic techniques have been featured in Outdoor Photographer, Shutterbug, Women in the Outdoors, Distinctly Montana and Viewfinder magazines. He is also a contributor to Tamron USA’s Pro-Learning Center. He has participated in numerous photographic exhibitions and is a Best of Show Award recipient in the Palm Beach Photography Centre’s – In Focus Juried Exhibit. Rick is a Licensed Professional Engineer (Retired) and is a contract photographer for the Associated Press.
  • Steve Wirt: earned his B.S. in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana. He has been a forester and a fire manager with the U.S. Forest Service for twenty-five years. Steve has worked extensively with vegetation classification systems and is a well-known wildlife and nature photographer.
  • Steven Gnam: has been photographing wildlife, landscapes, and people in adventure across the Western United States and Canada for over a decade.  Most of his work focuses on celebrating and protecting the wildlands of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest.  Steven has worked side by side with the nation's best wolverine biologists for the past five years in Glacier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and National Forest lands throughout the Crown of the Continent.  Through his professional degree, Steven has a skilled eye for studying the connection between humans and the environment.  See more of Steven's work at www.stevengnamphotography.com.
  • Tim Wheeler: is a geologist, lichenologist, mycologist and nature photographer who lives outside of Arlee, MT in the shadow of the Mission Mountains. He is currently working on the lichens of the Pacific Northwest both large and small, the lichens of the Valdivian Temperate Rainforest in southern Chile, and the Macrofungi of Montana. Tim received a BS in Geology from the University of Montana. Visit www.waysofenlichenment.net to view a sampling of his lichen photos. He can be reached at timothybwheeler@gmail.com.
  • Tom Bansak: M.S is an aquatic ecologist who works as a Research Scientist and Educator at the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station.  Ecologically he considers himself to be a generalist and has worked in rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, wetlands and groundwater investigating a variety of topics including water quality, biological communities (microscopic organisms, algae, insects and fish), invasive species and conservation issues.  Tom has been conducting research, teaching, guiding and exploring in Montana and beyond since the mid-90s.  Tom highly values experiential outdoor education for students of all ages, started teaching for the Glacier Institute in 1998, and instructed and served on the board of the Wild Rockies Field Institute for over a decade.  When not working, Tom is an avid whitewater kayaker and telemark skier. 
  • Tom Ulrich: earned his B.A. in Biological Sciences from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. As a professional photographer for thirty years, he has led photography workshops in many remote corners of the world. Tom won International Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and his work appeared in many publications including National Geographic Magazine, Life, National Wildlife, and Montana Outdoors. Also, he has published several books including Birds of the Northern RockiesMammals of the Northern RockiesOnce Upon a Frame, and Mt. Reynolds: The Story.   
  • Heather Nack-Culbreth: is an urban farmer, herbalist and Mama.  She graduated from U of M with a degree in Natural Resource Conservation, minoring in Wilderness Studies.  She spent several years working as a back country ranger for the Forest Service before getting her clinical herbalist certificate at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine under the late Michael Moore.  She worked as a ski patrol at Discovery Ski Area, and ran the first aid tent at the Montana Herb Gathering for several years.  Being outdoors;  working at Heritage Community Gardens, her own garden in Townsend, MT, and exploring the wildlands with her husband and daughter are top priority.  When she finds time she teaches classes offered by the community garden, and local adult education classes on wild plant id, medicinal, edible and useful plants (both wild and domestic), gardening and culinary courses.