Executive Director - Karla VanderZanden
Karla grew up on a small farm in western Oregon as an only child of older parents. The nearby woods that fringed the fields her family leased for their wheat became her haven. She began outdoor education as a high school assistant in Washington and Multnomah Counties Outdoor Schools for 6th graders (Portland area). Later, she fell in love with river-rafting in college at U of Oregon where she earned a B.S. in Recreation/Outdoor Education and an Elementary Education teaching certificate. She learned she could use the river as a classroom for nature studies and to promote active civic engagement. At 27 years old she was a member of a nine person team that completed one of the first river running descents of Karnali River in western Nepal on a 55 day expedition, aka "American Himalayan Whitewater Expedition of 1981.” They had no film crew, no radios and of course no cell phones. Karla also worked as naturalist at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies for 3 years where she created elementary level curriculum and teacher training program, taught adult courses, community education in Winter Ecology, and led snowshoe walks for public. In 1986, she earned a master degree in Natural Resources from Utah State University. She had moved to Moab in 1980 to work for BLM as River Ranger on the Green River, and later, three years on Westwater. She started CFI in 1984 with co-founder Robin Wilson, who died of cancer 1991.
Operations Manager - Dave Montgomery
Dave grew up "in the woods" of New England, with a strong attachment to the outdoors – hiking & skiing mountains, canoeing rivers & lakes, and climbing cliffs & peaks. He also had a predilection for environmental causes and activism. After college, he moved out west to climb & ski the “big” mountains. Soon after, he began a career in environmental activism, working with Greenpeace across the US and Canada. This eventually led to a few years of marine/ocean based work in such places as Antarctica, New Zealand, South America, and the Persian Gulf. Upon returning back to the US he transitioned into field biology, living and working in the Grand Canyon and northern Arizona. Then it was back to sea, working aboard an eco-tour ship sailing from Newfoundland, down the eastern seaboard, through the Panama Canal, along the west coast of South America, and ultimately back to Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica. He eventually found his way to Moab in the early 90's - drawn by the canyons and desert - and set down some roots. He's lived here ever since, with occasional sojourns in the form of self-support long-distance bike touring in New Zealand, Baja, and along the Great Divide. He’s worked in the bicycle industry, with tour companies, in music & stage management, and graphic design. He's also been self-employed as a luthier and woodworker. His background and experience in logistics and operations management brought him to CFI in 2013, where he looks forward to helping people learn about, and connect with, the beauty and wild nature of the Colorado Plateau.
Reservations Manager - Shannon Calabro
Shannon joins CFI after many years of working for various Federal Land Agencies throughout the West leading Trail Maintenance Crews. Her connection to Wilderness and appreciation for our public lands lead her to CFI, with hopes to facilitate these values in younger generations.
Marketing and Communications Manager - Resford Rouzer
Resford is a Moab native who has recently returned to work for CFI. A lifelong resident of Utah he spent his time away from Moab attending the University of Utah. During his undergraduate career, he completed bachelor degrees in environmental studies and anthropology. He continued his academic career – focusing on the intersections between the natural world and society – by completing a master’s degree in environmental humanities. His thesis ‘Moab and the Monument: An Oral History Project on Local Perspectives of a Greater Canyonlands’ set out to better understand the beliefs within the community of Moab regarding the Greater Canyonlands Monument Proposal.
Recruitment Coordinator / AmeriCorps VISTA - Sam Wolf
Sam is from Haymarket, Virginia, seated right on the edge that divides Washington, D.C. suburbs and the Piedmont’s rolling hills. She grew up exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains and the marshy coast of the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore, both of which she considers home. Her interests have always alternated between public policy and a love of wildlife, so she focused her time at James Madison University in Virginia studying international affairs and environmental studies. During college, Sam spent semesters in D.C. and in South Africa, and developed a passion for service. Her plans to serve in AmeriCorps brought her by chance to Moab, and she is so excited to be immersed in this colorful landscape and community.
AmeriCorps Environmental Educator - Chris Weiwiora
Chris was born in Buckhannon, West Virginia where he learned to read in 1st grade (Thanks Mrs. Rigger!). He grew up running barefoot on clover fields, picking berries in his grandfather’s patches, and zipping through The Hobbit as fireflies blinked in the wonderful Appalachian sky. Later, after living overseas, his parents moved their family to Orlando, Florida. He loves watching the graceful flight of sandhill cranes, hiking along the wide splays of saw palm fronds, and canoeing on the fresh water springs. Chris received Honors in the Major from the University of Central Florida where he worked as an editor at the Florida Review. During a gap year, he tossed 30-inch pies up in the floury air of Lazy Moon Pizzeria. Then, Chris moved to the Midwest to attend Iowa State University where he earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Environment and served as the managing editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. He and his wife Lauren Zastrow moved to Moab to experience and serve the awesome lands and rivers of the Colorado Plateau.
Membership Coordinator - Lauren Zastrow
Lauren Zastrow grew up in Central Florida, soaking in its famous sunshine, sharing roadways and waterways with sandhill cranes, alligators, and manatees, and developing a lifelong fondness for east coast beaches. She worked for nearly five years at a sustainable agriculture nonprofit in Ames, Iowa, helping foster farmer-to-farmer networking and information sharing through farmer-led events and programming. She moved to Moab in February 2017 with her husband Chris Wiewiora, their cat, and curiosity to get to know this spellbinding landscape. She’s eager to use her organizational experience as a Membership Coordinator at Canyonlands Field Institute to expand its network of lovers of the land. Lauren is honored to work for organizations like CFI that work toward connecting people to their environment, which she believes instills values that help us humans live more responsible, fulfilling, and compassionate lives.
Naturalist Guide - Elizabeth Bercel
Elizabeth was born and raised in a suburban town nestled in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Her fondest childhood memories were exploring Saguaro-ridden valleys and looking for desert toads with her little brother. Her appreciation for the natural world expanded while gaining a degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona. After college, Elizabeth moved to Moab in 2014 to work as an intern at Arches National Park, not knowing much about Southeastern Utah. Mesmerized by the red rocks of canyon country, she fell in love with the rugged landscape and shared her passion through interpretation and environmental education. After spending a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer in the southeastern portion of the United States, Elizabeth was still unable to shake her fantastic memories of southeastern Utah. Thrilled to be back on the Colorado Plateau, she is excited to continue learning about the area and to aid others in experiencing the beauty of the high desert.
Naturalist Guide - Gina Roberti
Gina believes in the power of education to inspire awareness, appreciation and stewardship for the natural world. A geologist by trade, she grew up digging quahogs and exploring the estuarine shorelines of the Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island (the state with the largest coastline per capita!), along with ancient metamorphic rocks of the Appalachian Mountains. New to life in the west, she is continually amazed at the grandeur of exposures and diversity of young volcanic rocks. Since graduating from Brown University in 2014, she has worked various internships with the National Park Service through the Geologic Society of America's GeoCorps Program in southern Oregon and Idaho. Most recent field experiences include a field mapping course in rural Panama with the University of Bogotá(Colombia) and a fossil dig project in the Panama Canal.
Apprentice Naturalist Guide - Rachel Grabenstein
Rachel is from the beautiful town of Asheville, North Carolina. After working one summer in South Dakota, Rachel moved out west and has never looked back. She graduated from the University of Montana in 2016 with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and loved exploring north-west Montana on her weekends. During her summers off Rachel worked all over the west for the National Park Service, most recently at the Grand Canyon. Those summer travels inspired her passion for the Colorado Plateau and she is excited to share those feelings with others.
Apprentice Naturalist Guide - Sara Rigoliosi
Sara grew up camping, hiking, and exploring in North Jersey. Her love for art brought her to Scranton, Pennsylvania where she received a bachelor's degree in art therapy from Marywood University. After spending a semester abroad living in Florence, Italy and finishing her undergrad she realized that traveling and experiencing life is something that she wanted to do! She spent two years serving in AmeriCorps in South Florida and Oregon getting a feel for the different cultures and landscapes our country has to offer. After volunteering for two years, she made her way to East Africa for a 75 day backpacking trip, where she summited Mount Kilimanjaro! Realizing she loves the outdoors and wants to guide like-minded people like her through the wilderness has led her here with us!
Apprentice Naturalist Guide - Evan Smiley
Evan grew up in a small town in Connecticut’s rural suburbia, catching frogs, riding bikes, and hiking surrounding state’s highpoints with his family. He went to the University of Connecticut, worked with the outdoors program as a trip leader, and graduated with an Environmental Science degree. After school, he and his buddies biked across America, coast to coast. Since then he’s worked on a trail crew in CO, as a bike mechanic in CT, in a conservation corps in ID, and on a small farm in CA. Having worked on and with the land, Evan is excited to start working with people to foster a deep appreciation FOR this wonderful area.
Apprentice Naturalist Guide - Heather Reynolds
Heather grew up in the Wasatch mountains in Park City, Utah. Her childhood was filled with camping, fishing, and endless hours frolicking through sage brush. Her perpetual love of all critters initially led her down the path to become a Veterinarian. She moved to Salt Lake City and pursued a degree in Biology from Westminster College. During her time there, she completed two summers of undergraduate research on a feisty predatory songbird (Loggerhead shrike!), and discovered that instead of Veterinary school, her passion was with nature and wildlife conservation. So, she volunteered with elephants in Thailand, and with raptors with HawkWatch Int., but was always on the lookout for her next new adventure! Thanks to a friend who forwarded a job posting to her, she was able to accept a position as Apprentice Naturalist Guide with CFI in Moab. Heather is thrilled to share her enthusiasm for wildlife and the natural world with others while appreciating all the marvels that the Colorado Plateau has to offer.
Guest Naturalist Guide - Ryann Savino
Originally from the granite-clad foothills of Northern California, Ryann was raised on summer days at the river and family camping trips in the Sierra Nevada. She earned a B.A. in Environmental Humanities from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington where she wrote her senior thesis on the Green River Watershed and her family history held within its silty flow. With a minor in anthropology, Ryann is passionate about people and place, stories and legacies. She first came to Southeastern Utah in 2012 via canoe and returned in 2013 as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Epicenter, a non-profit in Green River. She believes preservation of land is inextricably tied to the preservation of its stories and is thrilled for the opportunity to live, work, teach, and learn on the Colorado Plateau with Canyonlands Field Institute.
Guest Naturalist Guide - Nicky Haroldsen
Nicky was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah where she lived until she moved to Flagstaff, Arizona to attend Northern Arizona University. After graduating with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management with an emphasis in Outdoor Leadership she moved to Moab, Utah. Following her passion for running rivers and sharing her love for the outdoors with others, she found a good match in Canyonlands Field Institute. Between trips and various other jobs around the country and around the world she often made her way back to the red rock deserts of her native Utah and eventually put down roots here. In addition to running rivers she enjoys hiking, biking, gardening, yoga, and spending time with her partner, hound dog, chickens, ducks, and bees.
Guest Naturalist Guides - Eric and Charlene Atene
Eric and Charlene, both Navajo, have been guest guiding on CFI trips for years. Eric has always been attracted to the outdoors, ever since he was a teenager. And he has been working for CFI for much of that time, doing river trips and wilderness trips with pack stock provided by Rainbow Bridge Outfitters, the company he and Charlene own. Charlene grew up in Mexican Hat, Utah and when she is not out in the wilderness is a librarian at Monument Valley High School.
Guest Naturalist Guide - Xandra Odland
Xandra grew up in New York State, where she spent summers sailing and wandering around barefoot in the outdoors. Much time was spent hiking and adventuring with her family in New York, Michigan and New Mexico. After spending her senior year of High School in Mulhouse, France, she attended the University of Albany in New York. Although her studies focused on Anthropology and Psychology, she ultimately decided that the most rewarding experience had been teaching children and adults how to sail on the Hudson River. After completing a NOLS Rocky Mountain semester, she stumbled upon YMCA Camp Orkila, where she taught Outdoor Environmental Education and Expedition Sailing. In pursuing her desire to learn cool things outdoors and share them with others she has made her way to Moab to become a part of the CFI family.
Guest Naturalist Guide - Rebecca Martin
Rebecca came from Vermont to the Southwest in the spring of 1988 guiding a combination adventure/cultural programs involving Grand Canyon hiking, Rocky Mountain backpacking, a San Juan River trip and Navajo Mountain service/cultural exchange. Along with backcountry guiding and running a construction company together with her husband, Rebecca loves tending her garden, orchards, and flock of free range laying hens. Her passions include changing lives through experiential learning/community service, wild lands and spectacular landscapes, focusing on cultural diversity, archaeology, Native American shared experiences, photography and the power of silence. Rebecca has a Master’s degree in Intercultural Administration, specializing in Cross-Cultural Training and Advising, and an undergraduate degree in Perceptual Psychology and Cultural Anthropology.
Guest Naturalist Guide - Joel Tuhy
Joel Tuhy has been a full-time resident of Utah since 1980, and of Moab since 1992. He and his wife Cathy, married in 1982, have two grown sons. Joel earned an M.S. degree in 1981 from the University of Idaho. He is a self-described amateur naturalist, and his greatest interest and specialty (to the extent that he has one) is plants. This interest extends to relationships between plants and their habitats, which leads to companion interests in the geology, soils, weather, and even (for crying out loud) animals of the Colorado Plateau. Joel enjoys photography and prefers to use film with manual camera bodies and lenses. His favorite subjects are wildflowers, rising or setting full moons, and repeat views through-the-seasons of Moab-area scenes.
Guest Naturalist Guide - Tamsin McCormick
A native of Zimbabwe, Tamsin has lived in the Four Corners states of the US since 1977. She holds Bachelor, Master and PhD degrees in geology, and has been teaching college courses in geology on the Colorado Plateau since 1993. She has served as a naturalist guide on river and land-based trips since 1994 and joined Plateau Restoration as a Board Member in 1996. Tamsin is currently Adjunct Faculty at Utah State University in the Department of Environment and Society and Department of Forest, Range and Wildlife Sciences.
Guest Naturalist Guide - Shawn Crawford
Shawn has lived a full and varied life. For twenty years of his adult life he worked in the construction industry in varying capacities from day laborer to vice president of design and construction, overseeing the construction of hotels throughout North America and the Caribbean. Upon the birth of his only child, Alta, Shawn took what was once an avocational activity, hardshell kayaking, and turned it into the vocation of boatman. Shawn now has twenty five years or so on the river, in locations throughout the Pacific Northwest, Interior West and Southeastern United States. Shawn’s academic pursuits include undergraduate studies in Philosophy and graduate studies in Social Innovation and Sustainability. When not reviewing the philosophical works of Martin Heidegger or Zen philosopher Dogen, Shawn is either making plans for, or enjoying, his next river trip with his daughter.