Matt Hays has been teaching high school science in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for twenty-eight years. He currently teaches AP Environmental Science, AP Biology, and AP Chemistry. In addition, he organizes hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing trips for his high school students and faculty. Matt is an avid hiker, backpacker, rock-climber, skier, and mountaineer. He has climbed all fifty-four fourteeners in Colorado numerous times, many in the winter. He has also climbed Mt. Whitney, CA and the Grand Teton in Wyoming via the Exum Ridge. He summited Mt. Rainier last summer for the second time; this time via the Emmons Glacier route. Also in the Cascades, Matt has summited Mt. Hood via the Hogback route. He would like to pursue more peaks in Mexico and South America. This Christmas he hopes to summit Pico de Orizaba, an 18,491 foot peak in Mexico. Long term, he hopes to have the opportunity to climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in the southern hemisphere (22,841 ft.) in Argentina. Denali is also on the radar.Matt Hays has taught high school science in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the past thirty years. Matt is retiring this May and is eager to begin another chapter in his life. Matt would like to pursue a career in wildlife/adventure photography. Not one to sit for long, Matt will continue to seek out peaks to scale, rocks to climb, ice to ascend, canyons to explore and long trails on which to walk for days. He is married to Peggy Hays who is one of the Junior Naturalist instructors with Family Nature Summits.
Linda Hamilton is a veteran hiker and outdoor enthusiast, having enjoyed and benefited from many years at the Summits. She works as an Environmental Education Specialist at Lory State Park in Bellvue, CO. She also worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. She continues to be involved in outdoor education, life style wellness programs, and various learning pursuits.
Traveling to Lulea, Sweden in 2013 with Betty Trummel (another NWF/FNS staffer) and others to share environmental education interests and skills while meeting new friends was an experience she’ll always remember. In addition, she enjoys being a master naturalist volunteer for her home-town community, as well as a now “accomplished” volunteer for post wildfires and flood restoration projects implemented by multiple state and local agencies. The needs for recovery of back country areas, open spaces, and river boundaries along the Front Range continue.
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Jim Halfpenny is an author, scientist, educator whose interest in COLD (altitudinal, latitudinal, and seasonal) has taken him to all seven continents and Greenland. Jim’s specialties include environmental ecology, animal tracking, and carnivores; his greatest academic love, bears, led to 22 years studying black, grizzly and polar bears. He also works with wolverine, lynx, cougar and wolves. Jim has written over 30 books and videos including his latest, Yellowstone Bears in the Wild and Track Plates for Mammals. He led the American East Greenland expeditions in 1975 and 1976 and is a Fellow of the Explorer’s Club and received the Antarctic Service medal. Jim is past Chairman of the Board of Directors, senior instructor, and past administrative liaison officer of the National Outdoor Leadership School. Currently Jim is President of A Naturalist’s World, an ecological education company. A past Research Fellow of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Jim was Director of the Mountain Research Station and the Long-Term Ecological Research program in the Alpine. He is listed in Who’s Who in the World 1989-1993, Who’s Who in Emerging Leaders 1989-1996, Who’s Who in Western America 1987-1997 and Who’s Who In Science.
A Vietnam veteran, Jim received the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat “V” and Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm. Jim received his Ph.D. in 1980 in Biology, Ecology, & Mammalogy from the University of Colorado. He received his B.S. in 1969 and M.S. in 1970 both in Botany & Ecology from 2010 Family Summits Classes – Lake Tahoe, California the University of Wyoming. At the University of Wyoming, Jim was on the President’s Academic Honor Roll, University of Wyoming and a four-year letterman in diving, swimming and water polo.
Amy Hahn grew up just outside of Washington, D.C. In 1988 she moved to Colorado and in 1989 led her first hike as part of the faculty of Family Nature Summits (then National Wildlife Federation Conservation Summits). She worked in the outdoor industry for 22 years as a product tester, sales rep and consultant, before turning her attention to the world of conservation, where she still works. She is a confirmed altitude junkie, and spends as much time as possible in the mountains of CO and WY near her home. She enjoys turning people on to playing outside, environmental stewardship, green habits and activism to address environmental degradation.
Brete Griffin has been looking for “birds” for more than thirty years and started out by chasing down the songs of birds he did not recognize while traversing the hills and hollers of his native West Virginia. Before going back to Toronto to get his teaching degree, Brete worked near Fort Sill, Oklahoma to help collect data for a longterm study on the threatened Black-capped Vireo. Brete has also worked to help raise awareness and support for bird conservation projects and research conducted by Bird Studies Canada in his community in the Toronto area by promoting IMBD activities and by conducting a Baillie Birdathon each spring for the last twenty+ years. He broke in with the Family Nature Summit program when they were in the Canaan Valley Resort in WV, now our 500th National Wildlife Refuge, and found breeding birds for the summiteers on his old stomping grounds back in 2001.
John Fielder – is a nationally renowned photographer, publisher, teacher, and preservationist. John has 40 Years of Promoting and Protecting Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park: John presents photographs from around the state, as well as images from his project photographing every lake in the park! There will be background music galore and stories of life in the backcountry. His photography has influenced people and legislation earning him recognition including the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award in 1993, and in 2011 the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s first Achievement Award given to an individual. Many of John’s Colorado books and calendars will be available for sale and signing.
Tina Egan has been attending Summits with her family for over 24 years and has volunteered at every summit she ever attended. Tina has been assisting on hikes at Family Nature Summits for over 10 years and can’t wait to get out hiking with Summit participants enjoying the coast of Maine. When Tina is not at a Summit, she savors time with her husband, Dave, and three kids (ages 25, 23 and 17). She also enjoys yoga and running. Tina works as a vocational counselor for persons with disabilities.
Dierks is the owner of WovenWord Press, a long time hand weaver and painter. She is an ordained priest in the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, works in a parish, as well as being part of a faith community in discernment.
She has a family of four adult children, one daughter and three sons, and five grandchildren who live all over the US and, at times, the world. She is married to Peter, a retired engineer. Her passion is community building and the recognition of the sacred all around us.
Joe Croteau is a high school teacher and fly fishing guide. He has been teaching fly fishing in the Rocky Mountains since 1995 and now owns and operates Sasquatch Fly Fishing (since 2000). His passion for teaching has lead him through many different experiences including working with youths in Outdoor Education, Elderly in crafts and design, history and geography in high schools, and fly fishing with all ages in the Rocky Mountains.
Ron Cisar – Earth Music – Ron is one of our faculty this year as well as performing his popular “Earth Music” for us. All of his hobbies revolve around nature from song writing, photography, reading, writing prose, poems and essays, hiking, kayaking, gardening etc. Ron has released two CDs of his original musical compositions, Earth Music and The Spell of Yellowstone. He has a very sincere enthusiasm about what he does and enjoys working with people of all ages. Be prepared to be entertained and delighted!Ron Cisar is no stranger to Conservation Summits. He has worked over 20 National Wildlife Conservation Summits from 1984 to 2004. Ron has served as Director of the Teen Adventure Program as well as an Earth Music instructor sharing his love of the natural world through his original songs. Ron has performed in 18 states and Canada. His programs have been scheduled and viewed by colleges, public schools, nature centers, and numerous regional, national and international conferences across the country including Project Wild, Bluebirds Across America, Missouri Department of Conservation, Girl Scouts of America, and the National Academic Decathlon Finals to name a few.
Ron has been an environmental educator his entire life. He presently teaches Environmental Science and Biology at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, IA. He has received numerous honors and awards in the area of education such as the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, Nebraska Conservation Educator of the Year and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Ron’s whole life involves the study of natural history. All of his hobbies revolve around nature from song writing, photography, reading, writing prose, poems and essays, hiking, kayaking, gardening etc. Ron has released two CDs of his original musical compositions, Earth Music and The Spell of Yellowstone. He has a very sincere enthusiasm about what he does and enjoys working with people of all ages. Ron’s personal goal is to enrich his student’s and/or participant’s life with the values of a true land ethic and to instill in everyone a passion for positive stewardship of the planet. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife Muriel. They have three sons.