About Us

Administrative Team

Nicole Stafford, Director

Woman drags christmas tree through snowy pine forest.

Our noble leader has been the ELC director since the summer of 2016. Growing up, Nicole lived in many different places. Since she has now lived in Fort Collins longer than anywhere else, we’ll let her claim it as her hometown. Nicole has degrees in Parks and Protected Area Management and Environmental Communications and finds solace, adventure, escape, and more in nature. She cares deeply about the natural world and wanted to ‘save the environment.’ While she still wants to save the world, a part of that has morphed into helping to grow good humans (her words). Her favorite programs are those that allow participants to discover nature on their own terms through semi-structured exploration – she believes in those moments, participants do the most learning and growing. Nicole hopes program participants leave the ELC feeling comfortable and confident in the local environment and that the student staff finds in the ELC a positive place to learn and grow. Like any good leader, Nicole brings the 30,000 foot view. She keeps the ELC’s mission and goals in mind through all of the work we do and all the decisions we make. Her personal values of growth, adventure, and connection are embodied in her work at the ELC. She brings idealism and, at the same time, pragmatism. When she’s not making big decisions, Nicole enjoys trail running, rafting, SUPing, crafting, exploring new places, learning, romping around outside, and snowboarding. Ask Nicole to demonstrate her secret talents: a mean raptor walk and a pretty decent crab imitation.

 

Kristen Wilkinson, Program Coordinator
Grad School
Majoring in Human Dimensions of Natural Resourcessmiling woman holds clam that she found on a tidal beach.

Our awe-inspiring program coordinator hails from Albuquerque. Kristen’s attention to detail, ability to problem solve, organizational skills, and willingness to serve as a sounding board for student staff keeps the ELC running smoothly. She believes that every child deserves the opportunity to have a connection to nature and wants to be part of facilitating that process. Kristen enjoys working at the ELC because she believes in the mission and gets to feel like she is making a difference. When she’s not problem-solving or helping student staff get out of messes, Kristen spends her time hiking, running, reading, knitting, and camping.

Fun Fact – Kristen’s favorite ice cream flavor is Tillamook mudslide, which is basically as much chocolate as you can get into an ice cream. Keep this in mind if you want to be on Kristen’s good side.

 

Student Staff

a group of staff members stands next to a frozen lake.

Spencer Lane, Service Coordinator and Site Maintenance
Senior
Majoring in Horticulture
Minoring in Plant Health

Spencer is our incredible site maintenance expert and volunteer coordinator who comes to us from his distant homeland of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Through his passion, dedication, hard work, and enthusiasm, Spencer keeps our trails, signs, bathroom, and classroom clean and welcoming. He enjoys working at the ELC because it give him the chance to make decisions and create projects. Spencer hopes to inspire students to see the beauty and value of plants. When he’s not out at the ELC working on a project or leading volunteers, Spencer enjoys gardening, playing guitar, and hiking.

Fun Fact – The animal that Spencer most relates to is the flamingo because he searches for balance in the same way that a flamingo balances on one leg. Very inspiring.

 

Parker Allen, Environmental Educator
Sophomoresmiling man leans over the edge of a wooden deck.
Majoring in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

Parker is from Fort Worth, Texas and does, in fact, own a cowboy hat. He grew up getting outside a lot and values both the time he got to spend outside and the people who encouraged him to explore the natural world. Parker also worked as a summer camp counselor. This experience is evident in his enthusiasm, high energy, and passion for teaching and mentoring kids. Parker began working at the ELC this year and he sees the ELC as a way to give back. He looks forward to showing kids how awesome the natural world is and why it is important. When he’s not talking about summer camp, Parker likes to climb, hike, and try his hand at baking bread!

Fun Fact – Parker is not half bad at ukulele, at least according to his mom (according to Parker). The animal that Parker most relates to is a Yeti because of his blond hair and his appreciation for snow, ice, and climbing mountains.

 

Chad Christiansen, Environmental Educator
Juniorsmiling man displays large fish that he has caught.
Majoring in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

Chad is our second staff member to hail from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is new to the ELC team this year. He is excited to use skills and knowledge from his experiences with remote wilderness trips to introduce a love of the outdoors to the next generation. While at the ELC, Chad hopes to see an increase in mindfulness in the kiddos he works with. He hopes to see them develop the ability to take away concepts and ideas from nature rather than physical objects, all while learning to respect themselves, their peers, and the environment. When he grows up, Chad would like to be an eco-therapist or outdoor recreation manager.

Fun Fact – If Chad was stranded on a deserted island, he would bring a pilot, gas, and a helicopter. If we were stranded on an island, I think we’d bring Chad for his good ideas.

 

Julie Dauer, Environmental Educator
Seniorsmiling woman poses with her dog on a beach.
Majoring in Watershed Science

Julie is from Longmont, Colorado and likes to go with the flow…At least, we think that’s what she meant when she said she enjoys studying rivers. New to the ELC this year, Julie is excited to incorporate our awesome site into teaching. She thinks programs at our site allows people to go home and be able to recognize similar things in the community that they discovered at the ELC property. Julie appreciates the sense of wonder and curiosity that children find in nature and the fact that kids can be hilarious! In the long run, she hopes that a child will feel more comfortable trying new things in nature so that when they’re older, they can show others how awesome it is to be in, learn about, and save the environment. In her free time, Julie enjoys backpacking, skiing, trying new restaurants, listening to live music, traveling with her family, and playing volleyball and basketball.

Fun Fact – Julie defines “cool.” Her secret talent is her ability to ride a longboard “pretty well” (her words). She also recently learned how to ride a motorcycle!

 

Kiera Deneham, Environmental Educator
JuniorWoman standing outside holding a large snake.
Majoring in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

Kiera is mostly from Colorado Springs – among other places – and made her debut at the ELC this summer. When she was in 5th grade, she had a teacher that changed her entire outlook on the environment and exploring nature. Ever since, Kiera has made it her goal to share that passion with others. Throughout this lifelong quest, Kiera is always sure to bring her positive attitude and lots of laughter! Her hope for the youth in our programs is that they all discover something new. Some have never seen macroinvertebrates, others have never caught a toad, and a few have never built a tree fort. Kiera would love to help them experience these special moments in nature. By discovering the wonders of nature and learning about why it is important to us, she hopes that the ELC can teach future generations why we need to protect and fight for our planet. When she grows up, Kiera would like to be a conservation biologist or an educator.

Fun Fact – Kiera plays trombone in the CSU Marching Band, so she’s basically a celebrity! She can also ride a horse with no saddle. The real question is: can she do both at the same time?

 

Hannah Dresang, Environmental Educator
smiling woman stands outside.Senior
Majoring in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology
Minoring in Global Environmental Sustainability

Hannah is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She started working at the ELC two years ago and loves to share her passions and help kids appreciate nature. Hannah’s open-mindedness makes everyone feel welcome in the ELC community and allows her to appreciate many points of view. Working at the ELC has given her new perspectives and a new place to call home. Hannah has a wide variety of interests and enjoys running, hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, painting, reading, and writing. Looking to the future, she would like to work within communities in developing countries to promote sustainability and improve quality of life.

Fun Fact – If Hannah was stranded on a desert island, she would bring a comedian to make her laugh, a good friend to rely on, and an expert at living on desert islands. If she got off the island, she would probably head to Madison, Wisconsin to get her favorite ice cream flavor: orange custard chocolate chip.

 

Anna Eick, Environmental Educator
Senior
Majoring in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources
Minoring in Conservation Biology

smiling woman holding a camera stands on wooden bridge.

Anna is from Colorado Springs. She loves getting outside and working with kids, so working at the ELC has been a win-win. Anna describes herself as an introvert but believes that this secret power gives her the ability to connect with kids who are more shy or less inclined to jump into the programs’ activities. She hopes to show kids that science and nature are accessible to anyone and not restricted to certain personalities. Anna also hopes that as these kids grow up, they would become a voice for the natural places in their communities. Anna enjoys photography, reading, hiking, camping, and napping in her free time and would love to work as an environmental interpreter for the National Park Service someday.

Fun Fact – Anna’s favorite flavor of ice cream is grasshopper. Before you get grossed out, grasshopper is a mix of cookies and cream ice cream and mint chocolate chip ice cream – no bugs involved!

 

Tyler Eisenhand
Senior
Majoring in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources
Minoring in Business

smiling man stands on a road that stretches off to the mountains in the distance.

Tyler started his work at the ELC in 2017. Tyler originates from Indian Hills, Colorado and is currently a junior at CSU. Also a gymnastics coach, Tyler brings his willingness and ability to listen to others and adapt plans accordingly to the ELC. He feels that one of the most important things he, as an environmentalist, can do to ensure a better future for our planet is to encourage play in and connection to nature. When he’s not romping around the forest or teaching backflips, Tyler enjoys paddleboarding, hiking, and skiing.

Fun Fact – Ever practical, Tyler would bring a boat, compass, and flashlight with him if he was stranded on a deserted island.

 

Ally Gran, Environmental Educator
Senior
Majoring in Forestry with a concentration in Biology

smiling woman stands with a snowy background.

If you’re trying to find Ally on a weekend, you should probably check the nearest national parks or fourteeners before looking anywhere else. This adventurous tree-hugger (literally – her hobbies include hugging trees) hails from Rochester, Minnesota. Ally’s charismatic, enthusiastic attitude shines through her passion and excitement for the natural world. She enjoys working at the ELC because she feels that the ELC provides an amazingly unique environment for kids with curriculum that allows for learning as well as exploration. Students are often learning without knowing it because they are having so much fun! When she’s not on an adventure, Ally works on her minivan to make sure she can make it to the next thrill!

Fun Fact – When asked which animal she would most relate to, Ally said she relates to a Douglas-fir because she is tall, likes to go out on limbs, always strives to get a good view, can grow happily in many environments but thrives in certain conditions, stays close to her roots, and drinks plenty of water. While this is a great description, Ally might want to review the differences between plants and animals…

 

Silje Hayes, Environmental Educator
Seniorsmiling woman wears a large backpack in an open field with mountains in the background.
Majoring in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

Silje (pronounced SIL-yuh) is from Littleton, Colorado and is excited to pursue her passion in outdoor and environmental education at the ELC this year. Silje is the definition of a “happy camper” and brings her sunny outlook to every program. She hopes that the children she works with form a relationship with nature that escalates into a lifelong romance with the outdoors, inspiring them to care for the earth’s resources throughout their life. Silje believes that this relationship with the outdoors will be beneficial for the future our planet! When she grows up, Silje’s dream is to work for the National Park Service as an interpretive park ranger around the country.

Fun Fact – Silje has worked at Disney World! Ask her for Disney trivia or to help you plan your dream Disney vacation.

 

Dan Kelly, Environmental Educator
Senior
Majoring in Fish, Wildlife, & Conservation Biology

Man stands in front of a mountain background, looking thoughtful as he holds a bowl and spoon.

Dan is from Centennial, Colorado and enjoys rock climbing. He has a passion for wildlife biology field techniques and a zeal for engaging kids with the parts of nature that are usually too “messy” for their teachers to consider emphasizing. This includes creating displays of animal bones, taking kids off trail, and having students examine animal scat. Dan hopes that the kids that he works with will find that learning can be hands-on and exciting and that they will discover a profound love for nature within themselves, so that they will spend more time in it and protect it. When he grows up, Dan would like to be happy…and also a mountain guide.

Fun Fact – The animal that Dan most relates to is the raccoon because it climbs, eats everything, and likes to break the rules. His secret talent is his ability to bend a bottle cap in half with one hand.

 

Aaron Provencio, Environmental Educator
Senior
Majoring in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology with a concentration in Wildlife
Minoring in Spanish Language smiling man stands in a jungle.

Although originally from Beavercreek Ohio, Aaron has lived in Fort Collins for most of his life. Aaron is an ELC alum and hopes to guide the future of the next generation like the ELC once did for him. He hopes that one day environmental education will be standard practice, environmentalism commonplace, and that places like the ELC will be made obsolete simply because everyone will be receiving environmental education in their families and schools. Until that day, Aaron will continue to bring his energy and little-to-no volume control (his words) to show people how cool it is to be able to spend time in nature. When he’s not teaching kids how cool nature is, Aaron enjoys reading, mountain biking, spending time with friends, watering plants, and not cleaning his room.

Fun Fact – If he could choose an animal adaptation, Aaron would want gills. If he could breathe underwater, he would go to all sorts of places that humans can’t go and find buried treasure and all that good stuff.

 

Nick Tonetti, Environmental Educator
Seniorsmiling man stands with arms outstretched in between two large red rock formations.
Majoring in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Minoring in Spanish

Nick hails from ye olde Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but fell in love with Fort Collins after a visit with his dad. Nick loves to see kids having fun in nature and considers it his responsibility to cultivate this enthusiasm and share all the fun things that he knows about nature! He brings a strong sense of empathy to our team, allowing him to relate to even the quietest in his group. Like all of us here at the ELC, Nick knows how important it is to foster a personal connection with the outdoors from a young age, and to let that connection inspire us to protect the natural beauty around us. When he’s not inspiring others, Nick enjoys hiking, painting, and taking pictures. Someday, he hopes to work with the Peace Corps.

Fun Fact – Nick does not like heights (and we don’t blame you, Nick!). But if he had to have any animal adaptation, he would want to have wings so he could fly and overcome his fear of heights!