Board of Directors and Staff

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Board of Directors

AmeriCorps Service Members

Trusted Advisors

Board of Directors

Harry Reid pays high praise to four Friends of Nevada Wilderness board members: Marge Sill, John Hiatt, Hermi Hiatt and Roger Scholl (click the link to read the PDF document).

photo_board_rscholl_200.jpgRoger Scholl, State Chair / Founding Board Member

Thirty-five years ago I wished Nevada, with millions of acres of largely unrecognized wilderness, could have one full-time person working to protect this legacy. Today I am filled with gratitude for the marvelous staff of Friends of Nevada Wilderness and those who support their work. It is deeply satisfying knowing dozens of magnificent protected areas are home to countless fellow creatures, hold answers to questions we have yet to ask, and offer a taste of my early experiences of discovery to my family, grandchildren and thousands of others.

As an avid outdoorsman Roger has explored most of Nevada's wild places - something he continues to do.

Dr. Scholl has a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Davis and is presently the semi-retired CEO of Alpha Analytical, an environmental testing firm, in Reno. He also served as Deputy Executive Director of the Wilderness Society in Washington D.C. for several years and was a founder of Friends of Nevada Wilderness. He has been a leader on Nevada wilderness issues since 1969 and was instrumental in the passage of the Nevada Wilderness Bill in 1989.

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photo_board_hhiatt_200jpg.jpgHermi Hiatt, Southern Nevada Vice Chair

Coming from Switzerland, a country where almost all landscapes below timberline have been sculpted by man, I deeply appreciate wild lands where man's hand is not much in evidence. Preservation of unique habitats and open space for flora and fauna is very important to me.

Hermi Hiatt, a volunteer with Friends of Nevada Wilderness since 1987, has been involved with almost every piece of wilderness legislation in the state. Her on-the-ground knowledge, mapping and inventory work especially in Clark County has had direct payoff with more areas protected as Wilderness. Hermi is active in other conservation organizations, and she is the past president of the Red Rock Audubon Society

Hermi is a professional plant ecologist who has worked extensively in the Mojave Desert and across the Great Basin. Her professionalism has brought a strong science-based component to Friends of Nevada Wilderness’ work. Hermi’s wealth of knowledge, big heart and willingness to volunteer have been instrumental to Friends’ success in conserving over three million acres of Nevada’s Wilderness.

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 photo_board_ldwyer_200x188_d40.jpgLarry Dwyer, Board Member

Wilderness has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais, I considered the entire mountain to be part of my own personal "backyard," and, as a student at UNR, I began to explore Nevada's vast variety of unspoiled wilderness. Over the last several years, I learned of the amazing work Friends is doing to turn these areas into designated wilderness so they'll be protected in perpetuity.

Larry, with a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Nevada, spent most of his career developing human and veterinary diagnostic tests. He has also worked with an environmental analytical laboratory and a solar installation company. Larry was actively involved in the 1980’s in Nevada’s Forest Service bill campaign that resulted in many new wilderness areas. Now, fully retired from regular work, he wants to spend more time helping Friends preserve and protect wilderness. He is an avid hiker and has climbed many of Nevada's peaks.

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 photo_board_jhiatt_200.jpgJohn Hiatt, Issues Chair

I devote my time and energy working for wilderness preservation because I greatly enjoy large open spaces which are not greatly modified by man's activities. I also believe wilderness areas are some of the best areas to view wildlife.

John Hiatt has been working on conservation issues primarily in southern Nevada for almost 30 years. He played a large part in wilderness protection for Forest Service lands in the 1980s and then focused his attention on BLM managed lands. He helped to both create and expand the Red Rock National Conservation Area outside of Las Vegas.

John is well versed in Las Vegas civic affairs having served as a member and chairman of the Enterprise Town Advisory Board since 1979; served on the Las Vegas Valley Citizens Groundwater Management Advisory Committee since its inception in 1998; and served on the Integrated Joint Water Planning Citizens Advisory Committee. John is currently serving as chairman of the BLM's Resource Advisory Council for the Mojave-Southern Great Basin region.

An organic chemist by training, with a Ph.D. from Yale University, John has been employed as a clinical and forensic chemist since 1973. John has been a member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Nevada Wilderness since 1995 where his extensive knowledge of a broad array of subjects has been invaluable in steering Board policy.

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Michelle_Napoli_FNW.jpgMichelle Napoli, Treasurer

Nothing makes me more content than getting out of the man-made environment and into the natural world – doing so has truly changed my values, my ethics, myself. I hope for others to make that same connection with our wild places, which we cannot take for granted and must protect for ourselves and for future generations.

Michelle Napoli was drawn to the local mountains and the open desert spaces of Southern Nevada in 2010. A few years later she began volunteering with Friends of Nevada Wilderness, wanting to lend a hand in taking care of the places where she enjoys spending her free time hiking, backpacking, camping, rock climbing and canyoneering. As the Community Outreach Director of the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club from 2012-2015, Michelle recruited fellow outdoor recreation enthusiasts to work with Friends as well as other organizations and land managers on a variety of stewardship projects in the Las Vegas area. A 1994 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, cum laude and Commonwealth Scholar, Michelle has been working as a freelance business journalist for the past 20-plus years. She is a member of the American Alpine Club and the Access Fund, and a supporter of the Peconic Land Trust in her native eastern Long Island. Since joining the Friends of Nevada Wilderness Board in 2015, Michelle has served as its Secretary, a member of its Finance Committee, chair of its Development Committee, and is currently its Treasurer.

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 Karen Boeger, Founding Board Member

I was so fortunate to grow up at a time when much of the west was still wild and the dominant recreational uses were traditional: hiking, fishing, hunting and horseback riding. Within a generation, those opportunities have vastly diminished. I want to do all that I can to ensure that my grandchildren and their grandchildren will always have the same wilderness opportunities and life benefits that I was able to enjoy.

Karen, a retired school teacher and Nevadan "Desert Rat" and volunteer conservation activist for over 30 years, is a founding member of Friends Of Nevada Wilderness.

She has held the recreation position on the Northwest Nevada Resource Advisory Committee for the BLM and has been active on many wildlife and off road vehicle issues at the state legislature. Karen has also served on the Board of the Nevada chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and  the board of the Nevada Wildlife Coalition. Karen was reappointed to the Friends Board in 1999.

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Bubala_Cropped.jpgLouis Bubala, Secretary

Lou's introduction to Nevada Wilderness began in 2004 with a drive in the dark down the washboard Soldiers Meadow Road. He and his son spent a weekend volunteering for National Public Lands Day in the Black Rock Desert High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area and the rest is history as they say.

Lou has been actively involved with Friends of Nevada Wilderness ever since. In 2010, Friends recognized him for leading an annual school camping trip to volunteer in the NCA, exposing 30 students and parents to wilderness each year. Lou also has volunteered with Lahontan Audubon, coordinating school field trips to Washoe Lake State Park, and the Nature Conservancy, where he was the Indiana chapter's volunteer of the year in 2000. Lou is a graduate of Indiana University and the University of Oregon School of Law. A former reporter, Lou practices law with the Kaempfer Crowell law firm in Reno, Carson City and Las Vegas. Lou, his wife Jill, have three children; Louis, Zora and Maylyn and he lives in East Washoe Valley.

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Tim Buchanan, Board Member

Tim brings the unique combination of a life-long passion for Nevada’s wild landscapes and a professional background in corporate social responsibility and sustainability in the global mining industry. Tim has a BS in Mining Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines (1983) and a MS in Water Resource Management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (1998). Tim worked in the mining industry here and abroad for over 20 years. Most recently, he worked for Barrick from 2001-2017, serving as Senior Adviser/Director of the Energy and Extractives Advisory Services and then as Director of Corporate Social Responsibility. Here, Tim implemented engagement programs with traditionally “non-supportive stakeholders” such as leading environmental and conservation NGOs to build positive relationships.

Tim is currently serving as the Public Affairs Administrative Officer for the Office of the Mayor and City Council of Henderson. Tim has served on the Board of Directors of The Nevada Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, The Outside Las Vegas Foundation and the Western Shoshone Scholarship Fund. In accepting his Board nomination Tim noted: “My commitment to Friends of Nevada Wilderness is based upon the organization’s long and successful history of working productively with a spectrum of relevant stakeholders to develop sustainable wilderness protection proposals. Friends' ability to work across ideological, economic and philosophical divides and accomplish its mission is noteworthy in today’s polarized socio-political environment.” Tim joined the Board in 2018.

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float: left; margin: 10px;Connie Howard, Board Member

When I moved to Reno, Nevada in 1986 directly from Brooklyn, New York, I knew I had finally found a place that spoke to my heart and soul. I have since devoted much of the last 37 years to learning about and exploring the West and its unique and marvelous landscapes and wildlife. And, every day I am reminded that millions of urban dwellers do not enjoy the access to open spaces and public lands that are literally our backyard. Caring for these landscapes and understanding the increased pressures and threats from development and climate change has become fundamental to my personal goals.

Connie received her BA in history and literature from Middlebury College in Vermont. She moved to Reno to work at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in fundraising and public relations. While at DRI she authored the National Science Foundation grant that brought the Internet to Nevada. Connie continued her education at the University of Nevada, Reno taking a variety of environmental science courses relevant to her work at DRI and later as a Masters Student in Education. Connie worked for the University System for 15 years, serving finally as the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the University of Nevada, Reno. Connie then worked as a fundraising consultant for the Nevada Museum of Art, the National Judicial College and Friends of Nevada Wilderness, among other non-profit organizations. Connie believes that public lands protections are essential to the ecological health of our planet, biodiversity and human society. She hopes to help Friends of Nevada Wilderness continue its incredible record of 40 years of success in protecting the places we love.


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 Roberta Moore, Board Member

Growing up in Southern California, I escaped with my family to the High Sierras as often as possible. My father and I hiked the high country, and along those muddy trails and in those sacred places, my father instilled in me the value of wild places and how if we don’t protect them, they would soon disappear. Our diverse and beautiful landscape is a priceless inheritance we leave for our children and future generations. I want to share my father’s message, and now my own, with anyone who will listen.

Roberta, a retired National Park Service Ranger/Interpreter and co-editor of Wild Nevada: Testimonies on Behalf of the Desert, is a volunteer conservationist, involved in the Aldo Leopold Foundation Land Ethics program, and a writer and artist. She and her husband David are committed to developing land trusts in Nevada, to preserve and protect our wild landscapes. Roberta was elected to the board in 2013.

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 Tom Myers, Board Member

Tom Myers moved to Nevada in 1983 and has been entranced with the open spaces and wilderness of the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts ever since. 

Tom was conservation director for Friends in the late 1990s, having obtained some grants to map roadless areas and review development proposals that could affect Wilderness lands in Nevada.  Originally from Pennsylvania where the No Trespass sign is ubiquitous, Tom values the public lands of Nevada which he explores whenever possible.  Using a Ph.D. in hydro-geology obtained from the University of Nevada, Tom works as a consulting hydrogeologist on water rights and groundwater issues all over the country, primarily for conservation groups.  He has maintained a professional focus on Nevada by working to protect the waters of the Great Basin from attempts to develop groundwater basins by Las Vegas. Tom was elected to the board in 2014 and recently moved back to Pennsylvania but is still roaming around Nevada when he gets a chance.

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Dan Johnson, Board Member

"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread". - Edward Abbey

Dan was born in the foothills of Northern California but has called Reno, Nevada his home for the past decade. As the environmental coordinator for the Patagonia Service Center, he has facilitated thousands of volunteer work hours, many of which were spent with Friends of Nevada Wilderness. His Blue Helmet award for participation in Friends stewardship outings is one of his most prized possessions and commands a place of prestige on his mantle. Through his time in the Patagonia Environmental program, he has also gained insight into the world of environmental philanthropy and is excited to see it through the eyes of the grantee. Dan holds a BA in Secondary Education from the University of Nevada, Reno. In his free time, Dan embraces the seasons. When there is snow he can be found splitboarding in the backcountry around Reno. When there is sun he is most likely found knee-deep in a mountain stream casting flies to elusive trout. When there is rain he is out working in his backyard garden, and when the first frosts of fall come, he is hiking through the hills of Nevada searching for chukar and quail. Dan is elated to serve on the board of Friends of Nevada Wilderness and to help fight to keep Nevada's public lands wild. He was elected to the board in February of 2021.

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Jose Witt, Board Member

Growing up exploring the peaks and canyons of southern Nevada, Jose has deep ties to the Mojave Desert and its flora and fauna. He has ten years of experience in conservation work in various forms, including recruiting volunteers in stewardship projects and leading campaigns for public lands protection. As Southern Nevada Director of Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Jose worked with the various stakeholders to provide support for the proclamation of Gold Butte National Monument and helped build a national coalition to protect the Desert National Wildlife Refuge from military expansion. Jose was the Executive Director of the Southern Nevada Conservancy, leading a team of environmental educators to promote a deep understanding of Nevada’s natural landscapes. He currently is the Mojave Desert Landscape Director for The Wilderness Society, serves on the board of Friends of Nevada Wilderness and President of the Nevada Wildlife Federation.

In his free time, Jose enjoys long backpacking trips with his wife and dog as well as mountaineering and alpine adventures.

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In Memory

photo_board_msill_200.jpgMarge Sill, Founding Board Member (1924-2016)

I have always been happiest when I could feel at one with the natural world. I hope that wilderness and wild things will always be a part of the life of my extended family for generations to come. 

Marge Sill, founding board member and full-time volunteer conservationist, was a driving force behind Friends of Nevada Wilderness. She worked for and helped make every acre of Nevada's 3.37 million acres of wilderness a reality. Marge is lovingly known as the Grandmother of Nevada Wilderness and was and will remain to be an inspiration for several generations of wilderness advocates. We will miss you, Marge!

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Staff

photo_staff_snetherton_200.jpg Shaaron Netherton, Executive Director

After climbing to the top of a wilderness peak and seeing the Great Basin unfold around me, I am filled with a sense of belonging that I never felt anywhere else. I am home!

Shaaron has served as Executive Director for Friends of Nevada Wilderness since July 2000, becoming the organization’s first full-time Director. She has built Friends of Nevada Wilderness into a strong, vibrant organization with a string of wilderness legislative successes leading to the protection of over 3 million acres of wilderness. She and her staff have also built up a nationally recognized Wilderness Stewardship Program working with all four federal agencies across Nevada to provide boots-on-the-ground restoration and monitoring for Nevada’s wildlands.

She has had a passion for Nevada’s wild places since moving to the state in 1978. Shaaron also serves as vice-chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance. Prior to accepting the ED position, Shaaron was a field manager with the Bureau of Land Management in Prineville, Oregon. She has 22 years of public land management experience in the BLM with 10 years in Nevada working specifically in the BLM’s Wilderness program. These duties ranged from helping to coordinate the State-wide intensive inventory, authoring two legislative wilderness EISs for eastern Nevada, and writing wilderness study reports. She has lived and worked throughout much of rural Nevada. She received her BS degree in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University.

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Darcy Shepard, Associate Director

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Darcy assumed the position of Administrative Director in 2011 after serving a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Friends of Nevada Wilderness, and was promoted to Director of Finance and Human Resources after successfully overseeing the organization’s first audit in 2013. Darcy graduated with a Bachelor’s from University of Nevada, Reno after studying Journalism and Political Science in 2010, and was certified in UNR’s Excellence in Nonprofit Management Institute in 2014.

Her passion for public lands and paper trails fosters a stable organization where people are encouraged to do their best work. During her tenure, the organization’s workforce and finances have seen stable, strategic growth, including a doubling of the organizational budget from 2011 to 2021. Her background in media arts inspired her to start the organization’s Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts, which she continues to steward over ten years later as a member of the Communications Team. Her favorite moment with Friends was winning the Leave No Trace February 2011 Bigfoot Challenge with an instructional video about dental hygiene in the Wilderness (available on the Friends of Nevada Wilderness YouTube channel). Additionally, Darcy served as Treasurer of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance from 2013-2018, overseeing the NWSA’s financial health and the addition of annual six-figure granting agreements with the Forest Service. Born and raised in northern Nevada, in her free time Darcy enjoys birdwatching and stargazing with her daughter Kestrel. 

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Chris Cutshaw, Northern Nevada Stewardship Manager

"To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” – Aldo Leopold

Chris grew up in Arizona and attended Northern Arizona University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Forestry. After graduation, he moved to Nevada where he fell in love with the sweeping valleys and wild nature of the Great Basin. Chris began with Friends of Nevada Wilderness as an Americorps volunteer for our Stewardship Department in 2015 and now works as our Stewardship Manager. Chris has worked as a technician studying the Mexican Spotted Owl and Greater Sage-Grouse, he has experience as an interpretive Wilderness Ranger in Yosemite National Park, is certified as a Wilderness-EMT, and does landscape and night-sky photography. He excels at creating safe and rewarding volunteer experiences for the public. His favorite part of the job is helping new volunteers experience wild Nevada for the first time. When he’s not working, you’ll find Chris backpacking, gardening, backcountry skiing, fishing, or cooking food.

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Jake Kastner, In-House GIS Specialist

 Nevada holds much of this country’s remaining secrets. We must protect them for our fellow explorers, so that they too may get lost while finding themselves.

Jake came to Nevada in August 2011 to pursue a Master’s degree in Geography at the University of Nevada, Reno. He grew up in western New York State and attended the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where he received a Bachelor’s of Science in Conservation Biology. Much of his childhood was spent hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and climbing trees in the expanse of nature the Adirondack Park has to offer. He has developed a strong connection with nature and it seems fate has brought him to help protect our wild lands here in Nevada.

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photo_staff_snetherton_200.jpgTara Nasvik, Trails Manager

Tara was born and raised on the coast of Florida. She graduated from the University of Florida and taught high school math for several years before heading west to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Ever since then, trails became her life as she explored long distance trails from Wisconsin to New Zealand. Tara began as a seasonal trail crew member back in 2018 and now manages the FNW Trail Program. Tara continually works to improve the quality of Wilderness trail maintenance throughout the state of Nevada. Her background in teaching contributes to her focus on mentoring and training trail crew members to have a safe, productive, and fun field season. Tara has been building her advanced crosscut and traditional tool maintenance skills over the years and is honored to contribute those skills to a community of Wilderness stewards. Spending so much time in Nevada’s truly remote Wilderness areas ignited more than just a passion for trails, but also a drive to protect our planet’s last remaining wild spaces. 

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Kurt Kuznicki, Photography Specialist 

After you have gone out, gotten dusty and fallen in love with Wild Nevada, you then come to the realization that you have a responsibility to preserve and protect her for future generations.

Kurt brings a unique group of skills to Friends. Kurt worked in the private sector for over 30 years and 25 of those in a management position. Kurt has been successful in managing large construction projects and consistently bringing projects in on time and within budget constraints.

Kurt is very passionate about the protection and preservation of Nevada’s wild places and that passion shows not only in Kurt’s on the ground work but in his award winning photography. Kurt resides in Reno with his wife of 30 years, Barbara, and their two trail dogs Henry and Penny.

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Tyler MorrisTyler Morris, Springs Stewardship Coordinator

Tyler was born in Reno, NV but grew up in St. Louis, MO, however, It would seem that the desert was calling him back. In 2019, he moved back to Reno as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation where he got community members out into their local parks and open spaces as well as led interpretive hikes throughout the Truckee Meadows region. In the summer of 2021 he joined Friends as a Mount Rose Wilderness Monitoring Technician where he connected with volunteers and got them excited to explore Nevada’s Wilderness.

Tyler is thrilled to be back on the team as Springs Stewardship Coordinator. He has cultivated a deep passion for Wild Nevada. He hopes to share his passion for the state with community members and agency partners alike and continue to learn more about Nevada’s Wilderness. When not working, Tyler enjoys hiking, camping, road trips, reading a good book, or practicing photography.

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_IGP2599.jpgJulien Pellegrini, Wildlands Policy Manager

Since childhood, Julien Pellegrini, a fifth generation Nevadan spent his time following his father on hiking trips into mountain ranges learning plants, animals, history, and prehistory of the state. In high school, Julien served as the program manager for a genetic bi-state greater sage grouse project commissioned by the Nevada Department of Wildlife in which samples were collected in the field and analyzed in a genetics lab resulting in a paper. Later, as an adult, Julien attended the University of Nevada, Reno to earn a bachelor’s degree in secondary science education, but also studied wildlife biology, natural resource management, and archaeology. His life-long passion for protection of endangered and threatened species grew while employed with the United States Forest Service and Nevada Department of Wildlife and resulted in two noteworthy discoveries. Julien designed a study to locate active peregrine falcon nests within the eastern part of the state, and as a result, in 2004, he documented the first such sighting in White Pine county, the first outside Clark County, Nevada since the DDT era. Additionally, while with the Forest Service in the Bridgeport Ranger District, Julien set up high elevation camera stations throughout the Sierra Nevada Range and was able to capture a series of photographs of a red fox near Sonora Pass. By preserving and sending genetic samples (hair and saliva) to a mammologist at the University of California, Davis for genetic analysis, he was able to confirm the presence of the previously believed extinct species (Vulpes vulpes necator). Other sensitive species Julien worked with throughout the state include Columbian spotted frogs, willow flycatchers, pygmy rabbits, and northern goshawks. Throughout his adult life, Julien tirelessly and passionately endeavored to preserve Nevada’s cultural and natural resources and sensitive ecosystems, working for and with multiple state and federal agencies. Starting his newest chapter with Friends of Nevada Wilderness as the new Wildlands Policy Manager, Julien is excited to start working for you to help preserve our state’s wildlands and the diverse species and rich history that resides there.

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    _IGP2599.jpgKirk Peterson, Research Coordinator

How does a landscape contribute to the making of a person? You tell me. The vast, wild landscapes of the Mojave and Great Basin deserts played a formative role in my earliest childhood years. I learned that landscapes that do not expose the rock, earth, and stone skeleton that binds this planet together are alien and strange. In my teens, I witnessed the rise of mechanized access and recreation take an ever-increasing toll on the empty wild deserts I had grown to love. When I moved to Reno in 1979, I dedicated every spare minute to exploring, documenting, protecting, and advocating for the natural integrity and wilderness character of Nevada. Today I feel fortunate that my dedication to the beauty and wonder of the great American deserts can now be focused full-time through my work with Friends.

Kirk brings to Friends 30 years of experience traveling and photographing Nevada’s backcountry and wilderness, and - most recently - ten years as a National Park Service ranger. Over the past several years he has been collecting data on Nevada's dark skies, assisting the Forest Service with Wilderness Character Monitoring, and acting as the organization's Wilderness Historian.

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Nora Richter, Northern Nevada Grants and Operations Manager

Nevada is an often-misunderstood gem in the western landscape. I am honored to call myself a part of an organization who is so committed to Nevada’s wild lands, and dedicated to education and outreach in Nevada’s communities. I am excited to align my lively spirit and vision with Friends of Nevada Wilderness and continue to develop the connection between the people and the land that I love. 

 Nora, who hails from Oregon, moved to Nevada in 2012 after wandering the West for a few years. She led trail crews in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Grand Canyon, Big Sur, and worked for a handful of conservation organizations before she settled in Nevada where she fell in love with the unexplored solitude which the desert has to offer. The first-hand experience that Nora gained working in some of the most remote areas of the West helped her understand the vast and pressing issues that face wilderness areas in the modern day. She was inspired to dedicate herself and her work to protecting the truly wild places that we have left for current and future generations to experience and explore.  

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Rachael RogersRachael Rogers, Southern Nevada Programs Technician

Being from Jacksonville Florida, Rachael always considered herself a beach baby, but after seventeen years in the southwest, she is a desert rat through and through. When she’s not working on her Environmental Science degree, you can find her hiking and singing, backpacking, camping, kayaking, or just hanging out with her dog. Rachael has volunteered with Friends a few times over the last four years and is excited to be working alongside many familiar faces. She just finished her very first AmeriCorps term over the summer conducting wilderness monitoring in Kyle Canyon and is excited to work on more projects in the future!

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Ed Ruiz Bio PicEd Ruiz, Trails Technician

Ed started his path down Trail work in 2016 as a volunteer for the PCTA, and over the next six years, he slowly developed a deep appreciation for the hard work required to keep trails open. In 2022, he decided to make a career change from outdoor recreation to conservation when he joined FNW as a Wilderness Trail Crew Leader.  Ed was drawn to Nevada for its wild and remote spaces and the solitude that is found in Nevadas’ Wilderness.

As a Crew Leader in the field, Ed enjoys building strong relationships with his crews and mentoring them in the art and science of trail work. In his position as Trails Technician, he is able to share his experience in the field with the FNW Crews, as well as support the program logistics year round.

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Jim StangerJim Stanger, Community & Development Manager

Before transitioning to nonprofit management, Jim spent over two decades working in the fields of information technology, web & media production, and training for a handful of companies, including a few internet startups and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Soon after moving to Las Vegas, his love of the outdoors and desire to pursue community service got him seeking opportunities to get involved in outdoor conservation and stewardship efforts. This soon led to a volunteer leadership position with Friends of Sloan Canyon in Henderson where he grew the organization's capacity & volunteer base and developed an Introduction to Backyard Astronomy interpretive program for families. During this time he became a strong advocate for protecting public lands, and his work to designate Basin & Range National Monument earned him an Advocate of the Year award from Conservation Lands Foundation.

Before moving to Reno Jim was the Development & Volunteer Manager at Southern Nevada Conservancy. He is a graduate of both CLF Emerging Leaders and Vegas Chamber’s Leadership Advance programs and is a Certified Interpretive Guide. When he’s not working he enjoys exploring sandstone canyons, road trips, photography, and stargazing.

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KKuznicki-2018_(2)(1).jpgMegan Tait, Northern Nevada Stewardship Coordinator

Meg joined FNW Trail Crew in 2018, working four seasons in Nevada's remote wilderness areas. Now she's joining the staff year round as the Northern Nevada Stewardship Coordinator. Meg was born in Florida, lived in Argentina, and is now an advocate for Nevada's Wilderness. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies she split her time between two very different worlds; the winter's researching two endangered butterflies in the Everglades National Park and the summers working trails in Nevada. The rugged mountains and the lush creeks of the high desert have changed her perception of desert and has fallen in love with its vastness and diversity. Carrying a pack, getting dirty, and camping out under the stars have become second nature to her. She is excited to explore and learn even more about Nevada's Public Lands. 

When she isn't in the field she is exploring the surrounding areas, kayaking, running, cooking, and taking photos of it all. 

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Brian Valle, Lead Springs Technician

Brian was born and raised along the Gulf coast of south Texas. His love for the outdoors and conservation began at a young age with frequent trips to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge where he gained an appreciation and understanding of the critical role salt marsh ecosystems play as refugia to rare and sensitive species.

After moving to Nevada in 2011, Brian began his career in wildland conservation as a trails and restoration crew leader. He has since partnered with the United States Forest Service conducting groundwater-dependent ecosystem surveys in Idaho, served an AmeriCorps term with the Scientists in Parks program monitoring springs and groundwater at Death Valley National Park, and partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Bureau of Land Management sampling and characterizing soil pedons across southern California and eastern Nevada. Brian has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Geology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is currently working on his Master of Natural Resources from the University of Idaho. If not out on a remote backcountry road, you can usually find him jamming with his buddies on drums or playing piano.

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Clarice Wheeler, Senior Programs Coordinator

Clarice was born and raised in Las Vegas. She graduated with her Bachelor's of Science in Earth and Environmental Science from University of Nevada, Las Vegas and has worked all over the southwest as an interpretive naturalist and as a field tech doing vegetation, soil, and springs monitoring. Most of her early experience on our public lands occurred when she got to college through school, with friends, and as a volunteer with us - especially at Alternative Spring Breaks like Gold Butte 2017.

Clarice now leads the same projects like Alternative Break that she attended as a volunteer, and energizes the community to take action on conservation issues through the annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Las Vegas.

She considers herself a desert rat through and through and enjoys helping our community connect with the magic of Nevada's public lands. When she's not getting dusty at work, she enjoys hiking, birding, baking, running, and making ceramics.

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Olivia_Bio_pic.jpgOlivia Wolff, Northern Nevada Programs Coordinator

Olivia joins us from the Appalachian foothills of Pennsylvania. She recently graduated with a master's degree in Environmental Studies from Ohio University and is excited to continue learning about the work behind conserving public lands. She has a background in sustainability and is looking forward to making connections between the importance of designating land, climate change, and the balance between maintaining wild spaces and providing recreational opportunities.

As our summer/fall stewardship AmeriCorps for the 2021 season, she feels fortunate to have experienced the expansiveness of Nevada's landscapes with such passionate staff and volunteers. She's excited to be on board as the new Northern Nevada Programs Coordinator working with both the Outreach and Stewardship departments and becoming more involved with volunteer projects. When she's not working you can find her exploring trails around Tahoe, climbing, snowboarding, looking at rocks, or planning her next adventure.

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AmeriCorps Service Members

Etienne NunezCameron Harris, Springs Monitoring Technician

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in Oswego, IL. I then moved to Stevens Point, WI where I graduated in August 2023 and got a bachelors of science degree in Wildlife and Ecology Management minoring in captive wildlife and biology. While attending the university I was a 4-year collegiate swimmer, a co-leader on the Woodcock project for the student chapter of The Wildlife Society and volunteered for the Herpetology society. To complete my degree I was an intern at Henry Vilas Zoo as an animal care keeper for the summer of 2023.

Then I moved to Las Vegas, NV and became an AmeriCorps that served for Friends of Nevada Wilderness. I became an AmeriCorps because serving the community in my expertise is one of my biggest goals and I am passionate about environmental stewardship. I love teaching and showing the community the intricacies of the ecosystem while also researching and collecting data to see changes throughout the ecosystem. 

I wanted to become an AmeriCorps that monitors springs because of the important role that they play in the ecosystem here in Nevada. The microbiomes, plant communities, and wildlife that converge on these sites draw me in personally. I love to learn about the way these niches combine and the symbiosis between them in this ecosystem and how important each one of them are in the sites we visit.

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Etienne NunezEtienne Nunez, Springs Monitoring Technician

Etienne Nunez is an AmeriCorps member serving with Friends of Nevada Wilderness as Springs Monitoring Technician in southern Nevada. Currently studying environmental conservation, Etienne is driven by a passion for preserving the delicate ecosystems of our state. With a particular focus on hydrology, they aspire to become a hydrologist to continue to protect and maintain the function of water in our ecosystem.

In addition to their professional pursuits, Etienne dedicates numerous hours to volunteering with charities across the Vegas Valley, showcasing a deep commitment to environmental stewardship and community well-being. Beyond work and studies, they find joy in road trips, camping, and hiking; fostering a strong connection with nature that fuels their dedication toward stewardship.

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Jesus Quintana-MendozaJesus Quintana-Mendoza, Springs Monitoring Technician

“Be kind to people, be ruthless to systems.” – Michael Brooks

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada to a Mexican immigrant family. I graduated with an Associate’s degree in Political Science from the College of Southern Nevada and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. I initially intended to be a sociologist with a focus on social and economic inequality.

Before pursuing a career in sociology, I opted to take seasonal work as a Native Seeds Technician with the Great Basin Institute. My work in improving the habitat of the Mount Charleston Blue Butterfly, via the Seeds of Success project, inspired me to switch career paths and pursue conservation work. This experience, alongside assisting in restoration projects in the Spring Mountains, developed my new passion in protecting Nevada’s public lands.

After an extended medical break, I’m excited to be serving as a Springs Monitor Technician for Friends of Nevada Wilderness! I’m most excited to serve alongside FNW because I know the contributions I make in this position are meaningful and ultimately protect Nevada’s public lands for my family to enjoy. My hobbies include long-distance running, hiking, playlist curating, and most importantly, Pokémon.

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Carlos ReynosoCarlos Reynoso, Springs Monitoring Technician

“You always told me that it was coming - that a new era would come along, pulled along by an unstoppable tide. The Age of the Daring Ones” - Trafalgar D. Water Law

I was born in Laguna Beach, California but made the transition from the coastline to the desert terrain back in 2006 while having small living stints in the state of WA and Mexico. I’m currently pursuing a Bachelors in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Conservation and Ecology online at Arizona State University. 

In 2022, I first joined Americorps through a Community Volunteer Ambassador internship with the National Park Service and Conservation Legacy based in Lake Mead near Boulder City, NV. This position helped me discover my true passion for the different projects involved with conservation work!

I first found interest for the wilderness when I was child when I started scanning the tidepools from the different beach sites in Southern California and later being introduced to Yosemite National Park! Since then, my love for our natural resources such as wildlife, vegetation, and ecology has only grown. In the last couple of years, I’ve been able to gain more insight into these subjects when I started birding with Red Rock Audubon. Now, every nature walk that I take feels like an adventure through the different routes within a Pokemon game. 

Adventure is the name of the game for me, I love to hike and take photos of the different places I visit whether that’s domestically or internationally. When I'm not outside exploring, I love to eat hot cheetos (still occurs during outside time) and read/watch manga & anime but my favorite of all time is One Piece, a popular series that has been in serialization for the last 26 years!  

My goal is to continue learning about the different elements involved in conservation work and to find my calling in regards to career positions. 

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Trusted Advisors

photo_staff_pbruce_200.jpgPat Bruce: Stewardship, Safety, and Policy (1964-2024)

I can’t tell you how good it feels for me to be working with FNW. Now I can give back to this great state on a grand scale. As a part of Friends, I am able to take regular folks who are concerned about their public lands out on our projects and introduce them to the special places in Nevada, the last of the Wild West.

Pat worked for Friends from 2006 to 2023, responsible for developing our award-winning Wilderness Stewardship Program, coordinating with agencies and volunteers to get projects done on the ground. Pat brought a wealth of experience, including years of managing volunteers and programs from Boy Scouts to archaeological field schools at University of Nevada, Reno. Pat was born in Scotland and has lived in Nevada for nearly 30 years. He and his dog, Dixie, loved introducing newcomers to Nevada's backcountry. Pat loved Nevada's wild open places and liked to see himself as an "early man" seeing the land through the eyes of those who came before. With a BA in anthropology, Pat focused on early man sites in the northern Great Basin. Pat mentored many of the current staff, and is responsible for hiring the next generation of leadership at Friends of Nevada Wilderness. Thank you, Pat.

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Bart Koehler: Policy

You talked about inspiration. I’ve been blessed to be able to follow my calling. I’ve never been able to figure out what I like better about this job: whether it’s helping to protect wonderful places up there in the wild lands, or working with all the wild and wooly characters that rise to the occasion, and the strongspirited people that come to the forum and stand up for what’s right.

Bart Koehler has been instrumental in protecting more than 9 million acres of Wilderness and wildlands across the West and Alaska. Currently Bart splits his time between Arizona and Alaska, but holds the Silver State in his heart wherever he goes. Read more about Bart from the Alaska Audubon.

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 Eric_M_Roberts__AIA_Wilderness.jpgEric Roberts: Business Outreach

Growing up in the shadows of the Wasatch and within a quick drive of the Uintah mountains, I have always cherished every opportunity to reconnect with nature and enjoy all that the wild world has to offer. Since my relocation to Nevada in 2004 I have been converted to the beauty of Nevada’s desert, its delicate and rugged landscape, and its open expanses of natural beauty. As an architect and maker and designer of man-made things, I cherish the untrammeled expanse of natural beauty that exists here in Nevada. My heart is warmed by the natural design of Little Finland and its intricate rusty-red and salmon colored elegance; or, the design of native plant species that lie dormant on the desert floor waiting for the slightest trace of moisture so that they can burst forth into life! Nevada’s wild places are truly a treasure.

Eric is President and CEO of Knit, an architectural firm with offices in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Seattle. He specializes in sustainable design technologies and is responsible for developing a firm-wide vision for improving building performance. Eric holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Idaho as well as a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Architecture from the University of Idaho. He is past President of the American Institute of Architects Las Vegas and Nevada Chapters. Eric and his wife Cathy have five pretty great kids and make Las Vegas the launch pad for their current adventures. A former board member, Eric now advises Friends on how to engage the business community and serves as a key ambassador between Friends and the Las Vegas community.


 

 

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