Jessie Black

Jessie BlackJessie graduated from Fort Lewis College with a B.A in Environmental Studies and a minor in History. She is currently part of the Teton Science Schools Graduate Program. Located on the border of the Grand Teton National Park, the Graduate Program focuses on placed-based education involving the ecology, geology, and cultural history of the Teton Range and Jackson Hole. Along with field science education and ecology courses on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the graduates gain experience teaching through practicums at public and independent schools. She plans on completing her Masters of Science in Natural Science/Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming after completing the year-long program at Teton Science Schools. The TSS Graduate Program works with multiple partner universities that offer master degrees in the sciences or education.

Contact: Email Jessie

Brandon Francis

Brandon FrancesBrandon began his work with sustainable food systems at the Old Fort Lewis in Hesperus, Colorado where he completed an internship and apprenticeship in sustainable agriculture methods. After graduating with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, he joined the Farmer In Training (FIT) program at the Old Fort and is conducting a high elevation three sisters experiment with seed varieties endemic to the Southwest. He has also been working as a Research Laboratory Technician for NMSU Agricultural Science Center in Farmington, New Mexico, which began as part of his senior thesis for the Environmental Studies major. He initially was hired to build backyard gardens for participants on the Navajo Nation along the San Juan River as apart of a human study, to see the effect it would have on their behavior. As an employee of the Experiment Station, he helps conduct gardening workshops for a community gardening program called Yéego Gardening, in another effort to reconnect Diné people with agriculture. This led him to become deeply involved with the communities along the San Juan river and form lasting connections which endure today. During the Gold King Mine spill of 2015, he become involved in three ongoing studies regarding the continued monitoring of the health of San Juan and Animas rivers. Brandon says, “I am putting to use the skills I acquired at Fort Lewis College and loving every second of it.”

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Beau’s Kiklis

Beau graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2014 in Environmental Studies with minors in Economics and Adventure Education. Currently, he works as the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance Organizer for Conservation Colorado, who's mission is to protect Colorado's environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. In his role, Beau manages the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance, a collective of over 160 Colorado based companies united to advocate for the protection of Colorado's environment, and oversees Green Leaders; the organization's corporate partner program. Prior to being the COBA Organizer, Beau worked as a Grassroots Field Organizer with Conservation Colorado and a Program Assistant with The Wyss Foundation, and during his time at Fort Lewis College worked in the Student Outdoor Leadership program at Outdoor Pursuits as a Senior Trip Leader. Beau attributes his passion for protecting the environment and empowering disenfranchised communities to take action to his experiences within the Environmental Studies program at Fort Lewis College and time spent living and adventuring in and around the San Juan Mountains and Colorado Plateau.

Christoper Ridener

Christopher RidenerI am a student in a Master of Arts program at University of Colorado - Denver, called Applied Geography and Geospatial Science. The MA is a program in the Department of Geography and Environmental Science. The program allows for the integration of Geospatial Science to examine environmental issues. Last summer the MA was approved as a Professional Science Masters by the PSM national office. PSM certification mandates that 50% of the curriculum is based in STEM classes and 20% is based in professional development, encouraging the integration of science disciplines into professional occupations. The program has a broad range of research concentrations, and I am probably going to base my studies on environmental issues present in today's Food Systems. This semester one of my classes is an Urban Sustainable Agriculture Field Study.  CU- Denver owns an urban farm that serves as a research facility, where we study sustainable farming techniques and the Political Ecology of urban farming.

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Max Kirks

Max KirksMy passion for sustainable agriculture began while pursuing a BA in Environmental Studies at FLC during which I was also the Compost Team Leader at the Environmental Center. After graduating in winter of 2014, I began a 6-month apprenticeship at a small farm in Norwood, CO where I gained hands-on skills in market gardening practices, integrative livestock management, as well as the fundamentals of operating a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Upon the completion of my apprenticeship, I was eager to continue my agricultural career and decided to take the plunge into owning my own small farm. This past summer I started High Pine Produce out of Hesperus, CO where I rent land from the Old Fort Incubator Program. I utilize intensive planting practices, minimum-tillage, and intricate crop rotations in order to supply a 25-member CSA as well as supply wholesale accounts organic leafy-greens in the Durango area. Low start-up costs are often essential to the success of small-scale farms and I was able to start my business with zero debt and no personal investment thanks to our CSA program and GoFundMe crowd-sourcing campaign. I am looking forward to expanding my operation next year as well as establishing further connections within the community in order to bring Southwest Colorado closer to food security.