Maria's professional and personal connection to the Swan Valley runs long and deep. Over the last 30 years her career has kept her close to the Swan where she first worked as a Botanist for the Flathead National Forest, then later as the Western Montana Science and Stewardship Director for The Nature Conservancy where she played a key role in the conservation of over 310,000 acres through the Montana Legacy Project. Maria's diverse career brings 25 years of professional experience in the fields of Wildlife Biology, Forestry, and Plant Ecology. Since 2013 she has led our exceptional staff in carrying out impactful conservation, stewardship, and education programming.
Andrea's career as an educator spans 30 years of work in the fields of environmental education, classroom science teaching and, since 1999, designing and teaching college field programs in the Swan Valley. Seasonal experience as a leader of trail crews and volunteer biological survey crews for the Forest Service complements her academic training in geology and natural history. This background inspires her work on bridging the gap between conceptual understanding of the natural sciences and transformative field education. Andrea leads the effort to coordinate the Swan Lands Native Fish Committee, a collaborative group working to assess westslope cutthroat trout populations in the Swan.
Born and raised in the Swan Valley, Luke has developed deep roots and personnel connections with the landscape. He has spent most of his life learning the land, people, and wildlife of the Swan, and studied its interconnected processes and relationships. In addition to serving as a wilderness ranger in the Mission Mountains Wilderness for 12 years, his career within the Swan Valley has entailed a wide spectrum of field biology projects that have focused on wildlife species such as grizzly bears, wolverines, and Canada lynx. Since 2014, Luke has directed conservation programs that include: assisting private landowners to restore and conserve wetland and riparian habitats, maintaining and improving water quality, helping people and bears coexist, monitoring of wildlife and native fish species, wilderness management, and promoting responsible forest stewardship.
John's Professional Land Management career has included work in the states of Washington, Alaska, and Montana. John retired from the US Forest Service after 30 years in the Swan Valley, with experience in Wild Fire and Fuels Management, Timber and Silviculture Management, and Stewardship Forestry. Throughout his career John has worked with multiple agencies and diverse collaborative groups. John also enjoys traveling and hiking throughout the western United States with his wife Jane, a retired Forest Service biologist.
Adam began his career in the Swan Valley after completing the Landscape & Livelihood Field Semester in 2004. Since then he has immersed himself studying the ecology of the northern Rockies, with a special emphasis on interpreting wildlife tracks and sign. Adam is the field coordinator for the Southwestern Crown Carnivore Project, an assessment of Canada lynx, wolverine, and fisher populations in our region. He is also one of the founders of Swan Valley Bear Resources, a cooperative that works to reduce bear-human conflict. Adam brings a wealth of ecological literacy from the field into Biogeography, Field Ecology of Threatened and Endangered Species, and our tracking classes. When he isn't teaching or working in the field, you can find Adam in the woods maintaining our remote wildlife cameras.
Education Program Coordinator
Rebekah Rafferty was originally drawn to Montana for her Master's work studying wolves and the ability of cattle ranchers to mitigate livestock depredation. This interest in the human dimensions of natural resource management led her to Northwest Connections in the Swan Valley in 2011, where she received excellent mentorship in the practice of community-based conservation grounded in ecological literacy. Currently, Rebekah coordinates Swan Valley Connections' collaborative conservation activities to inform holistic land management, serves as a lead field technician for wildlife monitoring projects, and teaches college and adult field programs. Rebekah integrates her knowledge of policy, professional experience in collaborative conservation, and passion for natural history into everything she teaches, including Forests and Communities, Wildlife Policy and Rural Communities, Community-Based Approaches to Wildlife Conservation, Animal Tracks and Sign, and Custom Programs.
CONSERVATION & Education Program Associate
Sara Halm has worked as a field technician for Swan Valley Connections' Rare Carnivore and Native Fish programs for the past two seasons. With a background in environmental science and wildlife biology, Sara works in the field as well as teaching courses, coordinating evening programs, adult workshops and elementary programs. She is passionate about connecting people to their environment and cultivating enthusiasm for nature. Before moving to Montana, Sara spent time in elementary school classrooms, nature centers and aquariums working with all ages to facilitate an appreciation for the natural world. Sara first came to Montana as a Wildlife in the West student in 2011, and has been enamored with the Southwest Crown and the Swan Valley ever since.
Corinne (Cory) Froning
Beck Creek Garden MANAGER
Cory grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan where she studied Social Theory and Practice and Sustainable Food Systems. Her lifelong love of cooking, along with studying food systems and urban farming in Detroit, instilled in her a passion of learning other cultures' methods of growing, distributing/accessing, and cooking food. Cory is extremely excited about her position as the garden intern at Beck Creek Garden which will allow her to hone in on her small-scale farming skills and cultivate her love of bringing people together through local produce, recipes, and shared meals. She is a Landscape & Livelihood (2015) alumni and is grateful to be back in the beautiful Swan Valley.
Conservation Education Intern
Julia grew up on the east coast, but has spent much of her recent time in the Great Lake State, graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in Environmental Science and Sustainability. She is passionate about community-based education and conservation, fiction and writing, and experiences in nature as a means to bring people together. She is anxious to get her hands dirty after years of schooling, and is grateful to be a part of SVC's ecological monitoring efforts in the Swan Valley. She is a Landscape & Livelihood 2015 alumna, and is so excited to continue to learn from this incredible place.
Uwe tracks income, expenses, billing and match details for multiple grants. He prepares payroll information, pays bills and reimbursements, plus prepares financial reports for grants. Uwe prepares monthly reports for the Board of Directors and works with SVC's Board to prepare the annual budgets. He coordinates with the Treasurer to manage and track investments. In addition to his accounting responsibilities, Uwe helps with planning and fundraising. He lives in Kalispell with his wife and two children.
Office Manager and visitor services
As office manager Leanna assists SVC's Executive Director and keeps office operations running smoothly. Leanna also provides visitor services for the thousands of people who come to the Condon Work Center every year. She serves the public by providing information, answering questions and assisting visitors with obtaining maps, firewood and burning permits, and more.
Grace has worked in several capacities with military and government agencies in Virginia before moving to the Swan Valley in 2005. Grace provides financial and clerical support services to all of Swan Valley Connections programs.
Susan hails from the fast-paced world of advertising and throughout her 25+ year career she has produced a myriad of print, television, radio, and digital projects. Susan manages the website and oversees our marketing and communications.
Resident Canine Ambassador
IMAGE: Top - Cori Stanek