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Additional BSWC funding now available!

MACD, in partnership with NRCS, is offering awards up to $7,000 in funding for the cost of a Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC) member for the 2024 term of service. A total of $21,000 is available. These awards are prioritized for Conservation Districts interested in hosting a BSWC member. There is a required 50% non-federal match associated with this award.


This funding is for projects that coincide with the following objectives:

  • Provide technical assistance to agricultural producers to develop conservation plans that address resource concerns identified through the 9-step conservation planning process (NRCS 9 step planning process).
  • Market and assist landowners in applying for and implementing Farm Bill programs to further the conservation of natural resources.
  • Increase communications and outreach to increase partner buy-in and conservation program participation by landowners.
  • Resource-based solutions in the following areas: range and cropland, forestry, water resources, soil health, wildlife, and conservation technical assistance.

If you are interested in this funding please fill out the application and return it to Brenna Rietmann at

If you have any questions please contact Brenna Rietmann at Applications are due by September 15, 2023

Application Here

BSWC Host Site Cost-Share Available!

BSWC Soils Team Funding Available:

MACD and Little Beaver CD, with the support of the DNRC Conservation Districts Bureau, have funding for conservation districts and partners to host BSWC members focused on soils-related programs and projects as part of a ‘Soils Team’ pilot.

Printable  Version – BSWC Soils Team Outreach Letter

If you are interested in hosting a BSWC Soils Team member, you need to do 3 things:

  1. Contact Kay Webb ASAP to let her know you are interested. Kay has time allocated to help CDs develop host site projects and ideas and facilitate co-hosting or sharing a BSWC Soils Team
    member. (406)778-2965
  2. Submit a BSWC Host-Site Application to Montana Conservation Corps (MCC). The deadline was Sept. 2, however, if your board needed time to decide, you may turn your application in by Sept. 16th at the absolute latest. Let Kay know ASAP if this is the case.  You can find more information on the overall BSWC program and the host-site application here.  And here is the link to the host-site application: 
  3. Apply for Soils Team funding by September 16th at 5pm. Printable Version: BSWC Soils Team Funding Application
  4. (Bonus #4!) Attend a BSWC intro call or Soils Team Office hours (see info below).

Please note: You will not need to commit to hosting a member until after you hear back about this funding. However, it is important that you get your BSWC host-site application submitted to MCC by the Sept. 2 deadline.


BSWC Soils Team members will provide conservation districts with added capacity to work on soil conservation through projects focused in areas such as education, outreach, monitoring, and demonstration sites. This added capacity will increase districts abilities to conserve soil locally by working with landowners and other partners. Approximately $33,000 is available.
Up to $9,000 may be awarded to each qualifying organization for:
1) Offsetting the $12,250 cost share payment for hosting a BSWC Soils Team member
2) Assisting your member with housing costs
Additional funds may also be available to host sites for:
1) Purchasing technology for use by the Soils Team member during their term
2) Providing funding for member travel.


Need more information?

Background on the Soils Team concept can be found in the Conservation Districts Soil Corps Feasibility Report 2022 and in the BSWC Soils Team Funding Application

There will be an introduction/orientation webinar for anyone interested in potentially hosting a BSWC member(s) for the first time.  This one-hour virtual meeting will cover the basics of the BSWC program and address questions of potential first-time host sites and supervisors. It is NOT required but highly recommended for any first time host site partners/supervisors.  

BSWC Intro Call – Wednesday, August 24th @ 9:00am

Zoom Meeting Link:
Call-in Number: (669)-900-6833    Meeting ID: 867 3583 1500

Additionally, there will be info sessions with Kay Webb (Little Beaver CD) and Becca Bolsough-King (MACD) regarding the Soils Team concept and available funding. If needed, another Soils Team Info Session will be scheduled for the first week of September. 

Soils Team  Info Session – Monday, August 22nd at 10:00am

Zoom Meeting Link:
Meeting ID: 813 9296 1567 Passcode: 110161 Call-in Number: +12532158782 or +13462487799

Soils Team  Info Session – Wednesday, August 24th at 1:00pm
Meeting ID: 838 5427 0571 Passcode: 087119 Call-in Number: +12532158782 or +13462487799

Please contact Rebecca Boslough-King at with any questions.

2022 Big Sky Watershed Corps Members

Josh Abrahamson

Host Site: Missoula County Weed District and Upper Columbia Conservation Commission

Born and raised in Milwaukee Wi, Josh spent his youth exploring the oxbows and oak groves of America’s Dairyland. He moved to Montana and obtained a degree in Resource Conservation from The University of Montana. During his time at the University he spent his summers working in both Yellowstone and Glacier National parks. Josh is excited to be a member of the Big sky Watershed corps program and cannot wait to help protect the resource he cares so much about. Being placed with the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission and the Missoula County Weed District working with Aquatic Invasive Species is a dream come true. In his free time Josh enjoys skiing, fly fishing, rafting, camping and birding. 

Alexander Amann

Host Site: Bitterroot Water Forum

Alexander grew up in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, where he learned to appreciate the importance of healthy freshwater ecosystems for wildlife, recreation, drinking water and community identity. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in the spring of 2021 with a B.S. in Environmental Science: Ecosystems focus with a minor in forestry and a keen interest in watershed management. After spending the remainder of 2021 as a forestry research technician in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, he is excited to be a part of BSWC to put his attention back into watershed health and restoration, which was the focus of his internships at UNH. Outside, you can find him hiking, kayaking, pursuing a hobby in photography, or perhaps playing a gig as a bassist and singer.

Casey Bereszniewicz

Host Site: World Wildlife Fund

Casey grew up in Eastern Massachusetts and spent a lot of his time in Boston and on the shores of Cape Cod. He went to school close by at The University of New Hampshire and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science with an ecosystems track. While at school, he studied abroad in New Zealand at the EcoQuest Education Centre learning about environmental science, natural resources and wildlife management in the country. After graduating from UNH, he received a graduate certificate from the University of Florida for Ecological Restoration. The past few years, Casey has worked in the energy efficiency field, as well as some environmental consulting and wetlands work. Restoration ecology and wetlands science/management are some of his favorite topics in the field, and of course, he loves his Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox.

Gabriel Bourgeois

Host Site: Flathead Lake Biological Station


I am from Lake Charles, Louisiana. I graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Environmental Management Systems: Resource Conservation in May of 2021. After graduation I moved to Missoula to be on an MCC trail crew for 6 months and fell in love with Montana so here I am again. I am excited to be a part of BSWC because I will gain first hand on the job experience relevant to my degree while getting to live in beautiful Montana. When I’m not in the lab I like to do all things outdoors; rock climbing, backpacking, fishing, skiing, etc. I also like to play guitar and I’m an up and coming pool shark.

Maggie DeFosse

Host Site: Montana Conservation Corps


Maggie originally comes to MCC from coastal southern Connecticut, where her love for all things aquatic began. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2020 with a degree in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. Since graduating, Maggie interned with her local land trust on several education, outreach, and fundraising initiatives. She spent the last year in Sheridan, Wyoming completing her first BSWC term, where she worked with another local land trust to establish the foundation of a water conservation program. Maggie is so excited to be back for a second Big Sky Watershed Corps Term and to immerse herself in a new community. Off the clock, Maggie loves to hike with her pups, read, cook, kayak, and road trip!

Erin Douglas

Host Site: Montana Audubon Center

Erin was raised in California and attended college among the redwoods at Humboldt State University. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Science and Management with a concentration in Ecological Restoration and double minored in Wildland Soil Science and Watershed Management. While in college, she worked as a laboratory technician at a soil fertility lab, as well as collected and cultivated plants for a wetland restoration project. Erin is excited to expand her knowledge on wildlife and habitat conservation while she serves a term with the Montana Audubon Center in Billings, MT. In her free time, you might find her rock climbing, playing board games, reading, or hiking.

Peter Dudley

Host Site: Montana Audubon

Peter developed a love for the natural world while growing up at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Charlottesville, VA. Graduating from Haverford College in 2018 with a B.A. in Anthropology and an Environmental Studies minor, with much of his coursework focused on community-based environmental work. He followed his love for native plants while working in public horticulture around Philadelphia, PA until early-2020, when he made the cross-country move for a Conservation Fellowship with the Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger Districts. Now serving his second term with Montana Audubon, Peter is excited to get back to work on the Audubon Conservation Ranching program, Citizen Science programs, and surveys with partner organizations around Montana. Drawing on his previous term and a passion for conservation that benefits ecosystems and people, Peter looks forward to continuing the important work of protecting Montana’s landscapes and wildlife.

Sunshine Flamer

Host Site: Flathead Rivers Alliance and Flathead National Forest

Sunshine was raised in Roswell Georgia, where she learned the value of conservation efforts while living on the Chattahoochee River. She graduated from Georgia college where she earned a BS in Environmental Sciences. She studied and conducted research on Sapelo island GA on saltwater intrusion in freshwater aquafers. Efforts to maintain and elevate aquatic ecosystems has been her passion. Sunshine is very excited to be joining Big Sky Watershed Corps where she hopes to get a further understanding of river conservation. In her free time she loves to hike, white water raft, and paint.

Nell Gehrke

Host Site: Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Nell grew up in southern Minnesota surrounded by corn and soy. She attended Augsburg University in Minneapolis where she earned a degree in Environmental Studies. Nell is happy to return to Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust where she previously served as a Conservation Intern in 2021. Nell hopes to continue developing a culture of community care on the trails in and around Bozeman during her BSWC term. Between service terms, Nell guided nine college students 800+ miles down the Mississippi River in a sail boat. A river rat through and through, you can find Nell biking to the water for a dip or taking her bright yellow canoe out on Montana’s rivers when she’s not working.

Nick Goelkel

Host Site: Montana Audubon Center

I am from Arlington Heights, Illinois. A suburb to the northwest of Chicago. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Through BSWC I am excited to be able to see more of the state of Montana and get to meet so many people sharing my interest in the natural world. I grew up taking vacations to places like Colorado, Florida, and Texas that instilled a strong love of our planet’s natural beauty and the creatures that call it home. I am looking forward to helping instill this feeling in others in my position in education and the Montana Audubon Center.

Raeya Gordon

Host Site: Madison Conservation District

Raeya grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2020. She studied Environmental Science, specializing in Ecosystem Restoration. Last summer Raeya served as a Montana Conservation Corps Conservation Fellow in Ennis, MT with the Madison Conservation District. After having a wonderful experience, she is excited to continuing working with MCD as a Big Sky Watershed Corps member. She’s looking forward to diving deeper into some of the work she started last summer, being involved with restoration and monitoring efforts, and continuing to learn about conservation in Montana. Raeya loves spending time outdoors and is excited for the many adventures this year will bring.

Mariah Hellebrandt

Host Site: BLM Butte Field Office

I was born and raised in Bozeman, Montana. I received my B.S. in Biology from Linfield University. I’m excited to be a part of BSWC to make a difference locally, in my home state, while growing professionally. I look forward to working with the Butte BLM FO to monitor watersheds and contribute to conservation and management of Montana’s natural resources. After graduating college, I served on a MCC trail crew which sparked my passion for field work and public service. Since, I have worked as a Biological Science Technician conducting Northern Goshawk surveys with the U.S. Forest Service, conducted Mojave Desert Tortoise surveys with the Great Basin Institute, and served as a Native Trout Conservation Intern with NPS in Yellowstone National Park. In my free time, I enjoy to recreate on public lands either hiking, fly fishing, or skiing. I also enjoy doing yoga and volunteering with local organizations.

Christopher Hobson

Host Site: BLM Billings Field Office

I’m from Richmond, VA and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with my bachelors in Environmental Studies with certificates in geospatial analytics and sustainable innovation. My time spent in college was focused on research in the fields of aquatic biology, invasive species management and natural resource management. More recently, I worked for a mapping and consulting company on a project for DCR to establish agricultural stream mapping for the state of Virginia. My free time is spent experiencing the outdoors in whatever form is available to me so I’m delighted to be serving as a BSWC member as there are countless opportunities.

Cory Hoffman

Host Site: U.S. Forest Service Northern Region and Montana Trout Unlimited

Cory Hoffman grew up in Missoula Montana, where he began hiking, camping and fishing at a young age. His studies at the University of Montana focused on aquatic life and ecosystems, where he earned a B.S in Wildlife Biology, a B.S in Ecological Restoration and a minor in Wilderness Studies. He has got to work with many great organizations in recent years participating in trail work, acting as a wilderness ranger, monitoring migrating raptors, as well as surveying sensitive mussel populations. In addition, he gained experience monitoring native plant and trout habitat restoration projects. He is thrilled at the opportunity to work with Trout Unlimited and the U.S Forest Service to help conserve water resources and protect fish habitat. When he is not exploring Montana by hiking, running and backpacking, Cory enjoys snowboarding, playing guitar and reading about history.

Lyndsey Holloway

Host Site: Lolo Watershed Group and Lolo National Forest

I’m from Little Rock, AR and hold a B.S. from the University of Arkansas in Environmental, Soil, and Water Sciences. I am so excited to be a part of the Big Sky Watershed Corp in that I might further develop my training in the natural sciences. During my undergrad, I worked with a private environmental consulting firm, interned with a community farming non-profit, and facilitated a soil testing study. My hobbies include fly fishing, hiking, biking, camping and soon-to-be skiing.

Saige Jibben

Host Site: Lake County Conservation District

Saige grew up in Peoria, Illinois surrounded by corn fields. The summer before her senior year of high school she moved to North Carolina with her family, where she later attended college at North Carolina State University and graduated with a BS in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology and minor in Plant Biology. The summer of 2021 was her first time living out west where she served with MCC as a Conservation Intern with the USFS in Bozeman and fell in love with Montana! Saige is ecstatic to be back serving with MCC again and to help contribute to conservation while living in such a beautiful part of the country and learning so much. In her free time she loves taking care of her many houseplants, hiking, camping, and finding a good spot to slackline!

Lena Kara

Host Site: Glacier National Park

Lena is from Napa, CA and has a BA in Geography from Sonoma State University. She’s excited to be in Montana to gain new experiences with weather, people, and work. While living in Napa Lena worked for several years in solid waste education for the city, and still holds a passion for educational outreach. She is a huge fan of hiking, baking, baseball and the written works of Drew Magary.

Claire Kirk

Host Site: Flathead Lake Biological Station

Claire grew up in Grants Pass, Oregon which has given her a great appreciation for nature and conservation. She attended Oregon State University where she obtained a B.S degree in Natural Resources. Big Sky Watershed Corps is an exciting opportunity for Claire to further her passions in citizen science outreach and education. She has worked in a variety of roles as a trail crew member, farm-hand, undergrad Viticulture researcher, and lab technician for various on-campus labs. In her free time Claire looks forward to exploring the natural beauty in Montana.

Emma Korntheuer

Host Site: Hill County Conservation District

Emma grew up in the Bay Area of California where she grew to appreciate ecosystem dynamics at a young age. She graduated from the University of California Davis, School of Agriculture with a BS in Environmental Science and Management with a focus in Plant Conservation Ecology. She participated in undergraduate studies in pollinator interactions, horticulture, and rangeland science. Emma served with MCC previously as a trail crew member in the Payette National Forest. She is excited for the chance to develop her skills and benefit her host community. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, writing, and cooking.

Alli Lloyd

Host Site: Sheridan Community Land Trust and Sheridan County Conservation District

Alli is from Fredericksburg, VA and graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies from Boston College. She has previously served in Zambia as an aquaculture promotion volunteer in the Peace Corps. She is excited to be a part of the Big Sky Watershed Corps because she loves water conservation and management and its importance to both environmental and human health. Alli enjoys any aquatic activity whether its scuba diving, white water rafting, or kayaking.

Ali Mann

Host Site: Bridger Plant Materials Center

Ali grew up in suburban New York before moving to Northern California to attend UC Davis as an undergraduate. She earned a B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. At UC Davis she focused on agricultural research and worked in a soil nutrient management lab. Ali discovered her love of farming and science while working on her grandfather’s farm in Northern New York. In high school, she conducted an independent study on cover crops for weed control at a Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and enjoyed competing in both local and international science competitions. Ali has been riding horses all her life and loves to hike. She is excited to learn more about conservation efforts and explore Montana during her time as a Big Sky Watershed Corps member.

Host Site: Blackfeet Agriculture Resource Management Plan

Ben Masters

Host Site: Ruby Valley Conservation District

Originally from Florida, Ben spent the last 12 years in Virginia. He first gained an appreciation for the natural world through surfing and fishing along the Atlantic Coast. Ben graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Environmental Sciences. He spent the last few seasons interning in Australia and working as an ecological field technician in the Shenandoah Valley and throughout the mid-Atlantic. While serving with Big Sky Watershed Corps, Ben is excited to gain hands-on experience in restoration projects for the betterment of local watersheds and communities. In his free time, Ben can be found snowboarding, fly fishing, or drinking coffee.

Katie McCahan

Host Site: Yaak Valley Forest Council

Katie moved to Bozeman, Montana in 2011 with her family but is originally from the northeastern region of the US. She graduated from Montana State University in spring 2021 with a degree in Fish and Wildlife Ecology and Management. She has a background in trail building and maintenance, mainly in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana. She’s stoked to be a BSWC member and is excited to learn about water sampling techniques, local conservation efforts, and the unique ecosystems of the Yaak. She spends her free time skiing, hiking, and fishing, and loves a good book.

Joko McTeer

Host Site: Carter County Weed District

Joshua (Joko) McTeer, originally from Woodruff South Carolina, studied the geological sciences at USC (The University of South Carolina) in the city of Columbia. Longing for a new adventure far from home, Joko moved to Boulder, Colorado in August of 2020, and began doing volunteer work with the Boulder Open Spaces and Mountain Parks. During his time there, he decided that he wanted to dedicate his life protecting the public lands that he has come to love and enjoy, and started his service with the Western Colorado Conservation Corps in Grand Junction during the Summer of 2021. There, he learned about the Big Sky Watershed Corps whilst working on the Colorado National Monument. Joko is excited to learn as much as possible about the treatment of noxious invasive species and more about the biological side of the natural sciences with the BSWC. In his down time, Joko loves to study languages, play Dungeons and Dragons with friends, cook, and go on hikes in new places.

Kerri Mueller

Host Site: Missoula Valley Water Quality District

Kerri grew up in Wayzata where her proximity to one of Minnesota’s beautiful lakes instilled a love and passion for the outdoors. In May 2020, she graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris with a B.A. in Environmental Science and minors in Biology and Statistics. Since graduating, Kerri has worked in environmental remediation as an Environmental Technician and as a Water Quality Technician with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB). While working at MPRB, her passion for community connection to the environment grew as she interacted with the public during beach, lake, and stormwater monitoring around Minneapolis. Kerri is looking forward to working with the Missoula community as she helps lead the volunteer monitoring program with the Missoula Valley Water Quality District as a Big Sky Watershed Corps member. Kerri’s passion for the outdoors extends beyond work; she enjoys alpine and nordic skiing in the winter, and fishing, backpacking, and climbing in the summer.

Leslie Nelson

Host Site: BLM Billings Field Office

Leslie is a Southern California native who had a passion for all things wildlife from a young age. She graduated from North Park University in Chicago with a B.S. in Biology. Leslie’s time spent living in Asia, studying in Spain, and traveling globally has instilled in her a deep appreciation for different cultures and has fostered a global perspective in her approach to conservation work and natural resource management. She spent the summer of 2021 serving with the Forest Service in Red Lodge, Montana and is excited to continue taking part in public land management for multiple uses. In her free time, Leslie enjoys visiting new places, whether that be different coffee shops, hiking trails, or countries!

Tess Parker

Host Site: Gallatin Watershed Council

Tess has always had an appreciation for watersheds due to her growing up on a small island in the South Puget Sound in Washington State. Trading in saltwater for freshwater rivers and streams, she attended the University of Montana in order to explore the recreational opportunities that this state has to offer. She graduated with a B.A. in Organizational Communication, and in her free time minored in hiking and fly fishing. Tess has worked in a variety of fields, including leading a trail crew, marketing and outreach, and the service industry. She hopes that her year with the Gallatin Watershed Council will combine what she loves most about her past jobs: serving her community, the people and the place.

Jessica Ramirez

Host Site: Lewis & Clark Conservation District and Sun River Watershed Group

Jessica Ramirez is originally from San Antonio, Texas and graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University with her Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2014. After discovering her curiosity for ecology and marine life, she pursed a Master of Science in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston. Her master’s thesis researched salt marsh restoration after oil spills and was performed at the NOAA Ecotoxicology lab in Charleston, SC. After successfully defending her thesis in spring 2021, she moved to Colorado to work as a water and soil field technician on the EPA National Wetland Condition Assessment. Jessica is excited to further her career in conservation work and learn more about watershed management. In her free time, she likes to play disc golf, soccer, hike, read and travel with her partner and dog.

Kassandra Robakiewicz

Host Site: National Wildlife Federation

Kassie Robakiewicz is from Greensboro, North Carolina and recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in December of 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and a double minor in Sustainability and Non-Profit Leadership and Management. She is excited to be part of Big Sky Watershed Corps because she is looking to be challenged personally and professionally in the environmental conservation field and wants explore her passion of engaging with different groups of people as well as serving the environment. In the past 3.5 years, she has lived on the coast of North Carolina, the coast of Italy, and on the island of Hawaii shaping her hobbies around water related sports such as surfing, but she is excited to trade the sand in for mountains this upcoming term and try new adventures and activities.

Gillian Rowe

Host Site: Gallatin Conservation District and Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators

Gillian Rowe grew up in Barrington Illinois where she spent much of her childhood in suburban neighborhoods and the city of Chicago. Having recently graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in natural resources she was ready to take the leap and head west. Gillian moved out to MT in May 2021 to serve as an MCC fellow. After a summer of outdoor exploration, conservation district work, meeting new people and pointing out every cute dog she saw (which there were a lot of) she knew she needed to come back. Gillian is beyond excited to be back living and working in Montana for a longer term of service as a Big Sky Watershed Corps member.

Benjamin Schleicher

Host Site: Flathead Conservation District

My name is Benjamin Schleicher. I am from Grand Forks, North Dakota and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2020 with my Bachelor’s in Psychology. What excites me most about being part of BSWC is to gain new skills and professional experiences as well as make connections pertaining to other aspects of the conservation world. In my free time I love to hike, trail run, fly fish, ski, backpack, climb, and take pictures.

Bailey Servais

Host Site: Park Conservation District and Upper Yellowstone Watershed Group

My name is Bailey Servais, and I’m originally from Lakeville, Minnesota. I went to school at Montana State University in Bozeman, where I majored in Environmental Science and minored in Statistics. I am serving in Livingston, Montana with both the Park Conservation District and the Upper Yellowstone Watershed Group. I’m super excited to get involved with the Big Sky Watershed Corps because I am thrilled to get more involved in a community to understand the challenges that they face and be a part of the problem solving process for these issues. In my free time, I ski as much as I can. If there’s no snow, I’m probably climbing, attempting to learn the banjo, running, or kayaking.

Cara Shepard

Host Site: Clark Fork Watershed Education Program

Cara is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She developed her passion for the outdoors by spending weekends at her family cabin in Northern Minnesota, and exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness through family trips and a summer of outfitting. This past December she graduated from The University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in Environmental Studies. Her favorite experiences during her time at the University were getting her hands dirty in Montana soil during a summer internship on the local PEAS Farm, and spending two semesters working with the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program. Cara is looking forward to being a part of BSWC, gaining more experience in environmental curriculum development, mentoring incoming University interns, and connecting with enthusiastic Missoula youth!

Gabe Siegel

Host Site: Missoula County Weed District

Gabe hails from Bethesda, Maryland, a not-so-tiny suburb of Washington, D.C. He was introduced to the Mountain West at a young age through visits to his grandmother’s cabin in Moran, Wyoming. Grannie Annie, a biology teacher for 55 years, was always on the lookout for rare organisms to show Gabe. Gabe studied at Bates College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 2019. During the summer of 2021, Gabe joined MCC’s Immersion Crew based out of Moose Creek Ranger Station in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. This experience gave Gabe a new appreciation for the need to protect watersheds and Wilderness areas. He is excited to bring this passion to the Missoula County Weed District during his first term as a member of the Big Sky Watershed Corps. You can find Gabe enjoying a hike, devouring a breakfast burrito, attempting to train his roommates’ dog, or curled up with a book.

Ashley Stepniak

Host Site: Montana Conservation Corps

Ashley grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she was raised with a deep appreciation for the outdoors and tight-knit communities. She graduated from Central Michigan University where she earned a B.A. in Public and Nonprofit Administration, a minor in Outdoor Education, and a Certified Nonprofit Professional credential from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. She studied abroad twice, once in New Zealand and once in South Africa, where her love for the connection of communities and nature deepened. Ashley is excited to return to MCC as a Big Sky Watershed Corps member after completing her first term as a Conservation Intern in 2020. She most looks forward to exploring the human-resource connection in Montana and learning how she can best promote stewardship of the Big Sky country and its watersheds. In her spare time, Ashley can be found hiking, taking photos of wildlife, or simply enjoying the fresh air.

Oakley Strausser

Host Site: Sacajawea Audubon Society

Hey, my name is Oakley! I am from Boulder, Montana, a small town of less than 2,000 people outside of Helena. I hold a Bachelor of Science and Microbiology from MSU. I am excited to start my service term with BSWC because I feel like it is the first step to building my path in conservation. I’ve already met some of the board members at Sacajawea Audubon Society, all of whom are volunteers, and as such are very passionate. I’m excited to learn from these people, grow, and do some conservation work along the way! 

Emma Swartz

Host Site: Home ReSource

Emma grew up in Madison, Wisconsin where she learned to love being outside. She earned a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Ecology and Environmental Science at Marian University in Indianapolis while competing as a collegiate cyclist. Emma has previously served with AmeriCorps through the Student Conservation Association at Mount Rainier National Park where she led citizen science research on toads and developed a passion for science communication. She has lived in Missoula, Montana for a couple years and was thrilled to be placed at the Home ReSource. She’s excited to be a part of the Big Sky Watershed Corps and connect with the local community through teaching zero waste initiatives. In her free time, Emma can be found coaching the mountain bike and nordic ski teams in Missoula, reading, and learning Spanish.

Mackenzie Tenan

Host Site: City of Missoula Stormwater Utility

Mackenzie is from Waynesville, NC in the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains where she was born. She received her bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC where she became passionate about sustainability when she studied Sustainable Technology. While she was here, she completed a summer semester in Peru studying ecological building and design and appropriate technology. After this, she worked in the design and engineering department at a local solar company in Asheville. When she felt that she needed something more, she decided to go after her master’s degree at Villanova University studying Sustainable Engineering while she worked at a local architectural millwork company as a project manager and scheduler, also in Asheville. She focused on Environmental Sustainability and Sustainable Systems and her passion for water quality grew immensely. Mackenzie is extremely excited about being part of the Big Sky Watershed Corps and working for the City of Missoula Stormwater Utility and feels it will be a wonderful gateway to future endeavors. Mackenzie loves hiking, gardening, and baking!

Pat Treacy

Host Site: Yellowstone Ecological Research Center

Pat grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, where his love for outdoor recreation and conservation began. He attended the University of Pittsburgh and graduated with a degree in Environmental Engineering. Pat now joins MCC as a Big Sky Watershed Corps Member. He is excited to participate in watershed research with his host site and interact with the community he is serving. In his free time, he loves to ski, climb, bike, and fly fish!

Ethan Weisgerber

Host Site: Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument

Ethan grew up in Indiana with a deep passion for the outdoors and wildlife conservation while growing up on his families hunting/farm land. This passion led him to pursue a B.S in Biology with a focus on wildlife ecology from Marian University-Indianapolis graduating in 2018. Upon graduation, Ethan stayed close to home to work as a veterinary assistant before following his calling in the conservation field in 2020 by taking a trail crew position in California assisting the BLM and Joshua Tree National Park with ecological restoration. Ethan is looking forward to join the BSWC after coming off an MCC Fellowship in Missoula where he worked with Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks doing aquatic invasive species control and monitoring of snapping turtles and bullfrogs. He is excited about learning new conservation practices pertaining to the watersheds of Montana and exploring what Helena and the Missouri Breaks have to offer during his time with the BSWC. When not working, you can find Ethan hunting, fly fishing, rafting, or hiking in the mountains.

Talley Withycombe

Host Site: BLM Billings Field Office

After spending far too much time on the roads between Oregon, Montana, and Texas, I am excited — and relieved — to call Montana home… for now, at least! Since graduating with a B.S. in Engineering Science from Trinity University, I have dabbled in many and varied interests with the hope of narrowing my career prospects to a specific discipline. This exploration of different subjects, industries, and disciplines led me to serve with the Montana Conservation Corps over this last summer (2021) in Bozeman, where I learned more about forestry and land management than I ever expected to. I am eager to build on the momentum from my last term by serving with the Big Sky Watershed Corps to learn more about land management practices and their role in conservation, as well as the Montana conservation community in general!

Amanda Zelnis

Host Site: Clearwater Resource Council

Amanda grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she developed a love of the outdoors through summer camps and long days playing outside in her backyard. This past December she graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Sociology. During her undergraduate career, Amanda immersed herself in all things water—from water equity research to water systems engineering to drinking water contamination service projects. Through the Big Sky Watershed Corps, Amanda is very excited to both learn from and serve local Montana communities who have lived in harmony with nature for generations. In her free time, Amanda enjoys cooking new recipes, trail running, reading, and skiing. She also hopes to experience some of Montana’s classic outdoor adventures such as fly fishing and dog sledding.

Jenna Zwanger

Host Site: BLM Butte Field Office

I am from Cambridge, Massachusetts and graduated with a B.S. in psychology and neuroscience from Northeastern University. I studied abroad in Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia and became even more devoted to sustainability and environmental conservation. I’m very excited to be a part of BSWC and to get involved with a new community out West. I’m looking forward to working with the public to enjoy the outdoors while protecting its resources. In my free time I like to hike, bike, travel, climb and scuba dive.

Alison Bowe

Host Site: Lewis and Clark Water Quality District and Lake Helena Watershed Group

Ali grew up in Eau Claire, WI where she developed a passion for agriculture, sustainability, and conservation! She received a degree from UW-Madison in Biological Systems Engineering-Natural Resources and Renewable Energy. Ali is excited to get her feet wet in hydrology fieldwork, and community education in the beautiful Montana Rocky Mountains! She has research experience in soil science and a background in regenerative farming. Outside of work, Ali enjoys yoga, trail running, reading and hanging out with dogs.

John Laut

Host Site: The Nature Conservancy Missoula

John grew up in North Shore Massachusetts. Adventures up north to nearby New Hampshire and Maine and summer camp at Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary instilled a love for nature in him at an early age. He attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Since graduating, he has worked a number of conservation jobs in both the public and private sector and is excited to serve as a serve as a BSWC member and become more familiar with Western Montana ecosystems. While not working John enjoys skiing, hiking, camping, soccer and spending time with his cat, Jak.

Marijka Lynch-Pastoor

Host Site: Five Valleys Land Trust

Marijka was born and spent a few of her childhood years in Helena. Since, she has always been drawn back to and had a desire to be in Montana. Throughout traveling and living all over the U.S., Marijka came to love all the natural wonders around her. She graduated from Holy Cross College in Indiana with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Global Perspectives and looks forward to using that background along with the opportunities that BSWC will bring to connect with people and nature while she pursues her passion for conservation. When not working, Marijka is usually outside taking pictures, trying new hikes or hot springs, or exploring the wonderful area that is Western Montana.

Lila Walker

Host Site: Sheridan Community Land Trust and Sheridan County Conservation District

Lila grew up in Richmond, VA where they learned to love the mountains and rivers that they played in. For college, they went all the way across the country to Walla Walla, WA, where they got a degree in Geology from Whitman College. During their time at Whitman, they discovered a passion for living and working outside and gained an appreciation for the power of water. They have spent a summer with the Wyoming Conservation Corps and another summer hiking the Tabaco Root Mountains of Montana for a geology field camp. Lila is excited to return to the MT/WY area and to learn more drought and water management. When not at work they are excited to hike and explore the Big Horns and do some climbing.

Kelsey Wetzel

Host Site: Gallatin River Task Force

Kelsey grew up in Helena, MT and Ontario, OR, and has spent many years living all over Utah. She loves the Mountain West and is still inspired by its beauty every day. She has a BS in Nursing from Brigham Young University, a BS in Geology from Utah State University, and a MS in Geology from the University of Idaho. She is excited to be a part of the Big Sky Watershed Corps and learn more about water conservation and community education and outreach. In her free time, she likes to read, take naps, or be outside enjoying the fickle but lovely Montana weather and staring intently at rocks.

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Published quarterly, The Montana Conservationist features stories about conservation districts and our partners.

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